Statement from the Judicial Communications Office: Mr Justice Openshaw
A media report on a judge reported as saying “I don’t really understand what a website is” has been taken out of context.
News reports have appeared implying that Mr Justice Openshaw, in the course of proceedings, did not understand the term ‘website’.
In fact the Judge is currently in the fifth week of presiding over a trial which is largely based on computer generated evidence. Evidence is being provided by expert witnesses that will inevitably be of a specialist nature.
Trial judges always seek to ensure that everyone in court is able to follow all of the proceedings. They will regularly ask questions – not for their own benefit – but on behalf of all those following a case, in the interests of justice.
In this specific case, immediately prior to the judge’s comment, the prosecution counsel had referred to various internet forums with postings of comments relevant to the case. Mr Justice Openshaw was simply clarifying the evidence presented, in an easily understandable form for all those in court.
Mr Justice Openshaw is entirely computer literate and indeed has taken notes on his own computer in court for many years.
Unfortunately for His Lordship the words that he spoke will have reinforced the impression among the less-cerebral classes that the judiciary as a whole are a lot of out-of-touch old duffers who have trouble remembering how to tie their shoelaces.