Lord Irvine helps blind magistrates

A long-standing campaign for blind people to be allowed to serve as magistrates paid off yesterday as Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, announced he was seeking to appoint a pilot complement of six over the next 12 months.

The move was welcomed by the Royal National Institute for the Blind. Chairman John Wall, the only blind person in Britain to hold part-time judicial office in pre-trial High Court hearings, said: "Blind people can judge as well as their sighted peers, especially as they will not be distracted by irrelevant considerations such as a person's appearance."