Saturday 15 March 2014

Read and weep Lord High Chancellor

"The Prisoner comes to the Bar as an innocent man and is to be regarded as an innocent man.  He is entitled not only to every right but to every privilege which is granted to every other person in Court.  When your Lordship comes into Court we all stand up because your Lordship represents the Majesty of the King , and when your Lordship sits down we are all allowed, by that courtesy to resume our seats in such ease as enables us to perform our respective duties,and I submit that that courtesy should be extended as much to an unconvicted prisoners as to anybody in Court.

I am extremely sorry that I should make a demand which is unpleasant to your Lordship, but there is something which all Counsel must do, and that is that they should have courage in defending the rights and in defending the liberties of their clients and the constitution of this country has never been more jealous than in pruning all relics of harsh and cruel treatment of prisoners.  For these reason I submit that as a matter of right the prisoner, unless there is danger of his escape, should be allowed to be seated."

So submitted Maurice Healy of Counsel to Mr Justice Horridge at Derby Assizes in 1922 and his client was allowed to sit and thereafter all Defendants were and are usually invited to sit after being arraigned.

Ought to bring a tear to Grayling's eye - because it's that advocacy, that sentiment, that essential bulwark of oral argument standing in the way of the prosecuting state and the unfair tribunal, that guarantee of all that is right and good in our country's devotion to the Rule of Law, that he's out to degrade and demolish in pursuit of something less costly but also less good.  

Read and weep Lord High Chancellor.

Derby Assizes: