Judges and common sense too often share little in common. In recent weeks an Afghan rioter was let off for bombarding police with rocks because he had a difficult childhood. Then a burglar was complimented for his “bravery” in breaking into somebody’s home.
They came after a sex offender was freed after the judge ruled his victim had been “coming on to him” – the victim being a seven-year-old girl.
Credit due therefore to the Lord Chief Justice – the appropriately named Lord Judge – who marked the start of a new judicial year with a press conference in which he bucked the trend and said what most outside the wig and gown brigade were already thinking.
Firstly, it is ridiculous that Abu Hamza, the hook-handed hate preacher, managed to string out his extradition process for eight interminable years by constantly lodging appeal after appeal, often by citing the flimsiest of claims of new evidence.
That this saga progressed in such a fashion is an affront to British justice. Thankfully the most senior judicial figure in England and Wales agrees – indeed was reduced to “fury” by it – in a welcome sign that such an embarrassment will not be allowed repeated. It must be particularly offensive to British taxpayers that the likes of Hamza, who spend so much time insulting our way of life, are allowed to live off the hard work and industry of law-abiding citizens.
Lord Judge’s second point was just as gladdening, however. Those who find burglars inside their house, he said, should not be expected to remain calm and so not be handled like a criminal if they resort to using force to defend themselves.
Such a concept – that being threatened by a stranger in the sanctity of your own home might bring down a red mist – should not be earth-shattering.
But it comes after Andy and Tracie Ferrie, a married couple who defended their isolated Lancashire cottage from intruders, were locked up by the very police they had trusted would protect them.
Hopefully Lord Judge’s intervention will now help restore some sanity to a system that too often gives every appearance of misunderstanding who is actually a victim.
Not that such a shift will come in time for those already let down, like the Ferries. Having now had enough of modern Britain, they are off to live in Australia.
Evgeny Lebedev is the Editor-in-Chief of indepedentvoices.com