I received a letter, today, from the House of Commons. Upon opening it, I found that it was a personally addressed letter from the Rt Hon Alan Johnson (my MP). I’d emailed him expressing concerns about the, so called, ‘Twitter Joke Trial, in early November. He said he was going to pass my email onto the Lord Justice Kenneth Clarke QC MP, and that he’d contact me again when he heard something.
I’m going to include a full transcript of the letter (and the attached response from Lord Justice Kenneth Clarke QC MP). As the letter was addressed to me, personally, I don’t see there being a problem with me including them in a public format. If, however there is some problem with this, I will of course take this post down.
As these are direct transcriptions, I take full responsibility for any grammatical or spelling mistakes.
First the letter from Rt Hon Alan Johnson:
Further to our e-mail exchange in November, please find enclosed a copy of a response from the Lord Chancellor which I received just before Christmas.
I hope this is of some help.
Signed: Alan Johnson
Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP
Attached to that, was a response letter, intially sent to Rt Hon Alan Johnson, a copy of which was forwarded onto me.
Thank you for your letter and enclosures of 19 November on behalf of you constituent, Jamie Taylor. My Taylor is concerned at the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to prosecute Mr Paul Chambers and the decision of Her Honour Judge Davies in dismissing his appeal.
As you may be aware, I share responsibilities with the Lord Chief Justice for judicial conduct under the provisions of the Judicial Discipline (Prescribed Procedures) Regulations 2006 (as amended). Our responsibilities cover matters relating to allegations of personal misconduct in the way that a judicial office holder has behaved, whether inside or outside the courtroom. Whilst not meant to be an exhaustive list, examples of potential personal misconduct would be rudeness, aggressive behaviour and the use of insulting, profane, racist or sexist language. If, after investigation, we find that personal misconduct has occurred, the disciplinary options open to us range from a formal warning through to removal from office. Officials at the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) support me and the Lord Chief Justice in our responsibility for these matters.
However, we are not able to consider or intervene in complaints about judicial decisions. Judges are and must be independent of the executive and the decisions they take in their courts must not be subject to executive interference. Judges are required to form a view of the written and witness evidence before them and they are fully entitled to express their view of that evidence in court.
It is one of the fundamental principles of our constitution that ministers do not comment upon decisions taken by Judges during the course of judicial proceedings. Therefore it is not appropriate for me to comment on or intervene in the findings or decisions of Judge Davies in the case of Paul Chambers.
The Lord Chief Justice and I strongly believe that the public must have confidence in judicial office holders, and we take seriously any allegations against them of misconduct. At the same time, however, we must uphold the principle of judicial independence. The only way in which a judicial decision can be challenged is through the appeal system. I understand that Mr Chambers is intending to submit a further appeal to the High Court.
I do not have responsibility for the CPS and I can only suggest that a separate letter is sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in order to raise concerns of your constituent in that regard.
I am sorry not to be able to be of more assistance, but I hope that the information provided in this letter is of some help. I enclose a copy of this letter to send to Mr Taylor should you wish to do so.
Signed: Kenneth Clarke
To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting a response from Lord Justice Kenneth Clarke QC MP, because I felt that a letter from a small fish in a big pond wouldn’t even make a splash.
At least we know where to go from here, eh?