Philobiblon: The good news and the bad news

Friday, April 21, 2006

The good news and the bad news

The Australian state of NSW has introduced a provision for previously given evidence to be used in rape trials should a retrial be required (which usually occurs for technical legal reasons). This followed a case in which a rape victim, understandably, declined to go through the ordeal of giving evidence a second time. That's the good news.

The bad news is that this is such a low priority for officials that nothing has been done to install cameras to tape evidence in case it should be required (which in these days of cheap electronics should surely be a pretty simple, and not very expensive, task.)

So courts are having to rely on transcript evidence, surely second-best for justice.
Then definitely the bad news, at a school in Britain pupils are to be subjected to THREE DAYS of religious nutter creationist propaganda.

As its supporters have become more vocal, creationism has become an increasingly contentious subject in the UK. The Archbishop of Canterbury recently warned that creationism should not be taught in schools, and the National Union of Teachers last week demanded new laws to prevent the teaching of creationism in science lessons.
Organisers of the trip declined to reveal the name and exact location of the Lancashire school on Mr Mackay's speaking tour, citing the need to protect staff and pupils from unwelcome attention.
...Mr Mackay, who has a geology degree, has conducted digs around the world where he has excavated fossils which he claims prove that the Bible was literal truth.
His website argues that the theory of evolution was introduced by Satan and that the idea has already undermined Western society and must not be allowed to spread to the Third World.

Then a well-done to Tim Worstall, the "Britblog roundup blogger", who has a comment piece in The Times today on the cuts to compensation for miscarriages of justice.

The proffered reason, to save £5 million a year, is simply beyond satire. The Government, in its infinite wisdom, annually disposes of about £500 billion of the nation’s production: denying those innocents unjustly banged up will save some 0.001 per cent of public expenditure. Just to provide some context, the £5 million saving is less than the £5.7 million spent in 2003 on subsidising the swill bins at the Houses of Parliament. No, it can’t be about the money.
The mark of a liberal society is that more care and attention is paid to those innocents wrongly found guilty, than to the guilty who escape justice. Any criminal justice system designed and run by fallible human beings will make mistakes. The important thing is how we react when a miscarriage of justice occurs. Shamefully, under the Home Secretary’s proposals those who find their guilty verdict overturned at their first appeal will have no right to compensation. For others compensation will be capped at £500,000.

Tim and I disagree on many things, but on this I entirely agree with him.


Blogger clanger said...


This sort of crap needs to be stopped before it gets a toe in the door. The NUT idea of a legal ban on teaching complete bollocks as science is a very good idea and needs to be pushed hard.

Nothing wrong with having a creationist nutter as a guest specimen in religious studies lessons for older pupils.

If he is invited to a school to give a science presentation rather than an RE one, then thats reason enough to sack the head.

Or perhaps we should lobby for a DfEE sponsored tour to introduce the many delights of pastafarianism into the lives of UK schoolchildren.


On the issue of compensation, if the system itself is absolved of blame (inherent in a refusal to compensate) then the fault must lie with the individuals who assisted in the process of denying you your liberty.

So you'll have to sue in the courts, those responsible for you being found (incorrectly) guilty: the original jury members, judge, solicitors, and witnesses, individually and personally.

If they do not permit this, your only mechanism for obtaining justice will be to go after those responsible for you being incorrectly banged-up with a baseball bat.

A just and effective criminal justice system is a civil and civilised alternative to hitting people with baseball bats.

Natural justice demands that if the former no longer functions, or is no longer available on grounds of cost, as a right and a public duty, we must return to the latter. So its a good idea not to cut costs by refusing people just recompense when your rickety judicial system naffs up.

4/21/2006 02:59:00 pm  

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