The Curmudgeon


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Delicately Balanced Fundaments

The empty suit at the Ministry of Understanding A Little Less and Condemning A Little More has responded to the controversy over six-week internment in its usual measured fashion, by working itself into a lather over yet another aspect of the judicial system which is overdue for abolition. This time it's the right of defendants to know who is testifying against them. The Government has already announced a bill "introducing a statutory base for anonymous evidence - where witness intimidation is an issue"; but since the law lords have committed another indiscretion, the matter has become the suit's "major preoccupation", outweighing even the need to build more profitable prisons. "To see clearly guilty people walking free is just awful," mourned an assistant commissioner of the instant and utter Metropolitan Police, which is headed by someone called Blair. As a result, the suit is looking at the matter "very urgently indeed"; in fact, the suit was looking at the matter even as it spoke on the Today programme on BBC Radio, which may help to explain the level of coherence it achieved: "It's absolutely fundamental that defendants should be able literally to see and hear the evidence before them," it said. "But you then have to balance that with what actually happens in real life these days, where you've got very serious gun and drug crime where it's not just an individual will get a phone call." After all, court proceedings do not happen in real life, and fundamentals must always be balanced with the need to look tough in this morning's headlines. The suit insisted that the Government is "committed to ensuring there was a balance between the need for a fair trial and to ensure that defendants did not go free because of a culture of intimidation"; the need for a fair trial being so absolutely fundamental that it has to be weighed against the need to convict people.


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