Cherie Blair/Booth not guilty of judicial misconduct, says one judge about another judge
Back in January of this year, our erstwhile much-loved and sorely missed First Lady Cherie Booth/Blair acted as Recorder (ie, quasi-Judge) in the case of Shamso Miah. This man got into an argument with a stranger, hit him, and broke his jaw. In court he pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm. Sentencing guidelines indicate a prison sentence of six months for this offence. But Ms Booth decided otherwise.
I am going to suspend this sentence for the period of two years based on the fact you are a religious person and have not been in trouble before,” she told him at Inner London Crown Court.
You caused a mild fracture to the jaw of a member of the public standing in a queue at Lloyds Bank. You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour.
Cherie Booth, quoted in the Telegraph
This decision upset many people, not least the National Secular Society which made a formal complaint.
What would have happened if he had been an atheist? Would Mrs Blair/Booth have refused to suspend the sentence on the grounds that non-believers have no guiding principles that tell them that smashing people in the face for no good reason is not the right thing to do?
This is a very worrying case of discrimination that appears to show that religious people get different treatment in Cherie Blair’s court.
NSS quoted in the Guardian’s Comment is free
Was Ms Booth being discriminatory? Does being a practicing member of a religion mean that you should get a lesser sentence than an irreligious person? That’s not for me to decide. But it certainly seems that there is a case to answer.
And answered it has been.
After receiving a number of complaints about comments reportedly made by Cherie Booth QC in her capacity as a Recorder, in connection with the trial of Shamso Miah, the Office for Judicial Complaints investigated the matter in accordance with the Judicial Discipline (Prescribed Procedures) Regulations 2006 (as amended). That investigation has concluded and found that Recorder Booth’s observations did not constitute judicial misconduct… no disciplinary action is necessary.
Statement from the Office for Judicial Complaints – Recorder Booth QC
I find this particularly worrying; not specifically that she is off the hook, but that there is no explanation. This is one judge deciding on another judge, in secret and without explanation. Cameron and Clegg are opening up Government to greater scrutiny and accountability. But the judiciary governs us more than parliament does. Parliament is responsible for making new laws and deciding how we will be governed in the future. But it is the judiciary that decides how we are governed right now through its imposition of the infinitely greater number of existing laws. Just as parliament is being forced into the open, so too should the even more secretive and more powerful judiciary. Isn’t justice meant to be seen to be done?