LETTER: Judging a balance of right and wrong

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From Mr John Henderson

Sir: John C. Welch clearly had an unhappy experience of being a lay magistrate. I can recognise from my own, rather more limited, experience on the bench his concerns about the attitude of his colleagues, who use their appointments for making social contacts. However, such attitudes are far from typical and are becoming increasingly rare. Recent directions from the Lord Chancellor on the chairmanship of benches and of courts have brought about changes and improvement. Training is improving.

Both school governors and health authority members under some circumstances are required to act in a quasi-judicial manner.

Does Mr Welch really want a system where the verdict in a trial is the judgement of one individual? Appeals to the Crown Court are heard by a judge sitting with two magistrates.

Yours faithfully,

John Henderson

Alton, Hampshire