Leading article: Injustice seen to be done to Josie

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The Independent Online
IF THE law can be an ass, then its agents can be donkeys. Courts and tribunals make all kinds of cash awards. So do various civil and criminal agencies. They often appear random. A huge award here is followed by a derisory payment there, with no sense that behind them lie any coherent principles.

So it isn't just mild puzzlement that greets the refusal of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to augment the puny annual sum paid Josie Russell as the surviving victim of that murderous attack which killed her mother and sister. We feel angry too at the whole system - at its vagaries, its absence of rationale, its silence. Once again, questions are raised about decisions taken by a quango. Yet how is the board's astonishing non-exercise of its discretion in the Russell case to be challenged - except by using the very legal system which otherwise seems so haphazard? Justice is a seamless web. The public's faith in policing, detection, prosecution and disposal is harmed by decisions - wherever they are made - that injure fundamental ideas of fairness. This is one of them.