Monday, January 05, 2015

Here We Go Again

One of my most cherished possessions is a leather diary cover that I was given when I was sworn in in (ahem) 1985. It bears, in faded gold embossing, the legend "Justices' Year Book" and the proud arms of the ancient county of Middlesex. It remains in daily use.

I was appointed to the Commission of the Peace for Middlesex and at the swearing-in at the then newly-built Southwark Crown Court we were shown the Commission itself, sumptuously lettered on vellum, and assured that this was the document, signed by Elizabeth R and sealed with wax, from which we were to draw our authority to deal with the scoundrels and ruffians (I paraphrase) of Her Majesty's county of Middlesex.

I have the diary before me, and for the last ten years and more I have had to buy my own refill (best part of a tenner with postage). In earlier times we were given a diary insert ( a sad, cheapo thing) and a directory of our bench colleagues. That went too, in a panic about confidentiality.

So I opened the diary today and entered my allocated sittings, along with the usual family reminders,

So what will the year hold? I have a bad feeling about the inevitable May election. If the recent opening shots in the campaign are any guide the level of argument is likely to descend to sloganising at best.

Mercifully, no party seems so far to have lit upon the criminal justice system as grist to the populist mill. Cross your fingers, friends, and let us hope if not for the best but for the least worst.

Happy New Year.


  1. What about Sadiq Khan's comments re "pop-up courts" reported in the Guardian on December 26 - it seemed like a plagiarism of a coalition minister in October but was taken seriously by one union leader see letters to Guardian.

  2. Middlesex magistrates have long had a rather dodgy reputation. See here:


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