i Editor's Letter: Stefano goes Daily Mail on judge who called burglary 'brave'


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The Independent Online


Look away now if you must, but I'm going to go all Daily Mail on you. Not about the couple who shot burglars at their home, and will not now be charged (more morally complex than some would have us think); nor about Theresa May's astonishing admission that the Border Agency will not be fit for purpose for years (complicated by the inverse correlation between hot air and cold cash). No, it's about THAT judge.

You know the one (p5), Judge Peter Bowers, who said presciently: "I might get pilloried for this", before continuing: "It takes a huge amount of courage as far as I can see for someone to burgle somebody's house. I wouldn't have the nerve." Yep, he said that!

The PM, MPs and the public have indeed pilloried the judge, now being investigated by the Office for Judicial Complaints. Usually, I am not one to follow the judge-bashing herd, especially as – bizarrely, because I'm surely not old enough - I have a friend who has become one. His stories make your toes curl. All human life passes before his eyes, and it isn't edifying. But, he is common-sensical, honourable, erudite and sees his job as a vocation. Being a judge really is not easy.

None of which excuses Judge Bowers. There is no courage in being a burglar. As the PM said, it is "cowardly", heinous and leaves victims with a terrible sense of violation where they should feel most secure. In its wake, it trails distress for years in young and old alike. There is surely a middle ground between shooting all burglars and wrongly attributing courage to them. But for Judge Bowers, there is no middle ground. He is just plain wrong.