OPINION - The Standard View: Justice behind closed doors is no such thing

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

Justice is supposed to be blind, but not like this. Behind closed doors, unlawful fines have been handed out to parents for truancy offences, women have been prosecuted while being unaware of cases against them and a sick pensioner convicted for visiting his allotment during the Covid lockdown.

These secretive — and disgraceful — cases have been brought to light by the Evening Standard’s Tristan Kirk in the course of a tireless three-year investigation.

The single justice procedure, which is behind these cases, is admirable in theory. It is intended to speed up processes and allow the daunting cases backlog to be cleared. In practice, however, it is disastrous.

The Ministry of Justice told MPs this year that it was quicker while “still being fair, transparent, and rigorous”.

Transparency cannot exist behind closed doors. Fairness does not, to this newspaper, sound like giving a £781 fine to a man who accidentally failed to pay £4 to a government agency. And where is the rigour in fining a pensioner in a care home for not having car insurance?

Cutting the courts backlog is one thing, but it cannot come at the expense of cutting corners. Because if it does, as our investigation shows, ordinary Londoners suffer. The Ministry of Justice must act to stop this fast-track system delivering the ugly paradox of unjust justice.

Get a grip, ministers

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan may feel aggrieved that her comments yesterday, not intended for broadcast, made their way onto the airwaves. It was unfortunate that she was caught saying she was frustrated nobody had noticed what a “f***ing good job” she was doing during the school building concrete crisis.

It was unfortunate that schools minister Nick Gibb this morning described the Government’s response to a crisis of its own making as “world leading”. It was unfortunate too that Ms Keegan was on holiday in Spain while more evidence of unsafe concrete used in buildings came to light. But most unfortunate of all is that pupils who should be at school, are not. The picture emerging is that of Department for Education ministers who have been sitting on their posteriors — and now they’ve started putting their feet in their mouths.

Fashion Christmas

For fashion, Christmas is coming early — quite literally. On December 4, The Fashion Awards will light up the Royal Albert Hall once more. South Londoner Kai-Isaiah Jamal is among those nominated for model of the year. Three cheers for the British Met Gala.