Friday, August 17, 2012

Lord Justice Goldring seeks to silence Magistrate bloggers

Magistrates or Justices of the Peace constitute a distinctly English approach to the dispensing of summary justice and have been doing so for some 650 years. They are classified as members of the judiciary but are unremunerated and are appointed as representative of the community in which they work or live. As such, they are drawn from backgrounds as diverse as the population as a whole. Their interests are equally diverse: amongst these 25,000 JPs, about four or five write regular anonymous or pseudonymous blogs on their experiences in the courtroom and topics of similar interest. These literary efforts have provided even His Grace with knowledge of which he would otherwise have been unaware (especially that of the excellent Justice of the Peace). Indeed, His Grace is well known for his appreciation that a common law is essential for the temporal and spiritual well being of his communicants and all people.

It would appear that the aforementioned Senior Presiding Judge is of a different opinion.

Last week he issued the following guidance:-
Blogging by Judicial Office Holders

This guidance is issued on behalf of the Senior Presiding Judge and the Senior President of Tribunals. It applies to all courts and tribunal judicial office holders in England and Wales, and is effective immediately.

A “blog” (derived from the term “web log”) is a personal journal published on the internet. “Blogging” describes the maintaining of, or adding content to, a blog. Blogs tend to be interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments. They may also contain links to other blogs and websites. For the purpose of this guidance blogging includes publishing material on micro-blogging sites such as Twitter.

Judicial office holders should be acutely aware of the need to conduct themselves, both in and out of court, in such a way as to maintain public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary.

Blogging by members of the judiciary is not prohibited. However, officer holders who blog (or who post comments on other people’s blogs) must not identify themselves as members of the judiciary. They must also avoid expressing opinions which, were it to become known that they hold judicial office, could damage public confidence in their own impartiality or in the judiciary in general.

The above guidance also applies to blogs which purport to be anonymous. This is because it is impossible for somebody who blogs anonymously to guarantee that his or her identity cannot be discovered.

Judicial office holders who maintain blogs must adhere to this guidance and should remove any existing content which conflicts with it forthwith. Failure to do so could ultimately result in disciplinary action. It is also recommended that all judicial office holders familiarise themselves with the new IT and Information Security Guidance which will be available shortly.
Being unaware of any judge who is blogging anonymously on the law, it would appear that this so-called guidance is aimed at silencing those few magistrates who have given the public an insight into the day-to-day workings of the courts, warts and all. His Grace must assume that the good Lord Goldring is as familiar with the European Convention of Human Rights Article 10 as His Grace is with the Gospel of St Luke. For those who are not cognisant, the Article says:
Article 10 – Freedom of expression
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
It would therefore appear that this 'guidance' is issued 'for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary'. This being accepted, it follows that a magistrate cannot blog without negating the meaning of that phrase. This approach by Lord Goldring appears to be in conflict with that of Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbiry, Master of the Rolls, who, in a speech on 16th Marcch 2011, said: "The importance of open justice arises from the role it plays in supporting the rule of law. Public scrutiny of the courts is an essential means by which we ensure that judges do justice according to law, and thereby secure public confidence in the courts and the law.”

His Grace has experienced the effects of the law misguided, and it would seem that similar forces are at work in the edict of the Senior Presiding Judge. It would be beneficial for His Lordship and the people of this nation if he were to revise his 'guidelines' such that magistrate-volunteers might retain their traditional freedoms while maintaining their confidence in him. Responsible blogging magistrates should not be threatened into silence on pain of removal from office.


Blogger Dreadnaught said...

... because it is impossible for somebody who blogs anonymously to guarantee that his or her identity cannot be discovered.

Getting this DoDo/Hanna Kavannagh/Twigg/DeNova etc ad nauseum? - Jerk.

17 August 2012 at 10:25  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr Dreadnaught @ 10.25, to this communicant Kavanagh, Twigg and De Nova have a completely different style of writing to Dodo and to each other.

Are you saying these three names are Dodo false-flag fronts?


17 August 2012 at 11:56  
Blogger Berserker said...

Ee what a to-do!'

Now if it was another Belle de Jour or Diary of a Call Girl one could imagine the youth of England getting up in the morning and knuckling down to find who exactly was this anonymous.

But it would take some dedication, if anonymous has an email account encrypted and used anonymizer and takes all the usual precautions - surely the Russians and Chinese hackers are not going to be interested in what a Mr Muddlecome JP has to say about a broken window in Oswaldtwistle. 'Ee what a to-do!'

... This guidance is issued on behalf of the Senior Presiding Judge and the Senior President of Tribunals. It applies to all courts and tribunal judicial office holders in England and Wales, and is effective immediately.

First, it is a guidance only! So why the aggressive language... 'effective immediately'.... acutely aware... (blogs) which purport to be anonymous (are they anonymous in disguise?)... must adhere to this guidance...

Is this not the language of the jolly old bailiffs! As George Orwell wrote: ...Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.

17 August 2012 at 12:02  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I Sure am Mr Belfast. But you must draw your own conclusions as has Mr Blofeld.

17 August 2012 at 12:14  
Blogger bluedog said...

But Mr Dreadnaught 12.14, I'm not Belfast!

Let's assume that was a typo, and you meant to write bluedog. In the case of Kavanagh, her own posts have been defended by her uncle, Lavendon. Are you saying that Lavendon is a Dodo front too?

17 August 2012 at 12:49  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Alright chaps, I have something to confess. I am Dreadnought. And Ernst. And Len. And Dodo. And Cressida. And Bluedog - you sly dog, don't deny what you know to be true.

At first I thought it would be funny to provide a range of unbelievable "larger than life" characters for the commentary blog, to stimulate "lively debate" - mostly with myself.

I now realise this was wrong, and ask my own forgiveness.

I am not, however, nor have I ever been, AnonymousInBelfast.

This is a gross slur on my integrity, and I demand to see proof of these outrageous accusations.

17 August 2012 at 13:10  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

My true apologies Mr Bluedog and also to MR Belfast - genuine mistake on my part.
As I said you must draw your own conclusions. There is evidence for my assertion but this is not my Blog to usurp. There are ways to unearth Trolls, but I have no intention of telling this one, how to virally infect honest Bloggers such as HG and no doubt yourself, with impunity.

But this is not a new issue; DoDo confessed when taken apart by DanJo some time back. Once a Troll always a Troll but they do get careless and over confident in conducting their delusions and sad fantasies.

17 August 2012 at 13:21  
Blogger David B said...

"It would be beneficial for His Lordship and the people of this nation if he were to revise his 'guidelines' such that magistrate-volunteers might retain their traditional freedoms while maintaining their confidence in him. Responsible blogging magistrates should not be threatened into silence on pain of removal from office. "

Hear hear!

David B

17 August 2012 at 13:52  
Blogger Cressida de Nova said...

OK Belfast I take offence that you have labelled me an unbelievable larger than life character and lumped me in with a bunch of looney toons.
It will take some considerable grovelling to get back into my good books and I will be sending you the bills for my extra sessions in therapy.

17 August 2012 at 16:10  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Well, I'm glad that has solved everything. I knew that there was something wrong with me and now I know!

I'm just a puppet on a string...

17 August 2012 at 16:16  
Blogger Old Blue Eyes said...

Lord Justice Goldring should stick to convicting blaggers and leave bloggers alone.

17 August 2012 at 16:18  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Ah Cressida,

How good you to contradict me, and so continue the illusion that we are different people.

Genius, if I don't say it myself ;)


You'll notice no comment is forthcoming from Bluedog. That's because I haven't logged on as him yet :D

17 August 2012 at 17:23  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

"looney toons"

*chortles in a suspiciously Ernst-like manner*

17 August 2012 at 17:23  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Very interesting Your Grace. The strength of the magistrate system in this country is that it is comprised of ordinary everyday folk. Folk who visit pubs, have interests, including blogging, and who have ‘off’ days too, as well as ‘peculiarities’…

As a teenage motorcyclist, the then Junior Inspector had the misfortune to be pulled over by a ‘jam sandwich’, and told to produce his documents at the local police station within seven days. Damn awkward that, as his MOT had expired several weeks earlier.

So, notification came in the post to appear before the bench. Discussing this with his pals, the Inspector was advised there was one particular JP who had a real downer on young motorcyclists. He was considered a hanging judge in that respect.

Turned up in ill fitting interview suit and a quick word with the court officials reassured your man he was spared this nemesis. Was never-the-less fined £ 10 and 3 points. The former being a most grievous blow to a young fellow who liked a pint at the then 30 p for pale ale. Had a few dry evenings contemplating the futility of crime over that, I can tell you !

Footnote. One lad was brought before aforementioned scourge and fined £ 20 for speeding. He offered to pay it off at 50 p a week whereupon the furious JP stood up and said “This is not a mail order catalogue, you know !”

Rather forgot what the point of this post was now, {…AHEM…}

17 August 2012 at 17:32  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

17 August 2012 at 18:01  
Blogger Hannah Kavanagh said...

Hi Everyone,

I thought that His Grace has said that we were not to discuss the issue of blogger's identity on pain of excommunication and deletion?

As for me being a part of dodo's imagination, I am not coping well with being a bit of some-one else's motor neurons.

As for trolling, I wonder who has been the trigger for disrupting and posting a comment off topic?

To Dreadnaught I wish him a happy Shabbat Shalom and hopes he goes back to being nice Mr Dreadnaught ,not ghastly oaf Mr Dreadnaught.

17 August 2012 at 18:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

17 August 2012 at 18:55  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Okay, okay, enough already! I confess.

I am actually Dreadnaught and took him over some time ago. Amongst others, I control Ernsty and len to discredit their opinions.

I operate by remotely by controlling the will of other bloggers - with the exception of cressida de nova who is far too astute.

17 August 2012 at 20:06  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...


Ah yes, but perhaps your personas are now rebelling, a la westworld...

17 August 2012 at 20:19  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Are you me? I have these curious black-spots in my memory that very worryingly coincide with posts made by you and the Inspector.

Are you in fact my dark Id?

Ahem. On the subject (one of my personas should stick to it): surely there is a bureaucratic solution? Give all the Magistrates official blogs, supervised by the Senior Presiding Judge's office?

They would all be utterly dull, entirely unread, and eventually, unwritten. Problem solved! :P

17 August 2012 at 20:45  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

I liked the response to one of the posters on Hannah's blog that suggested she couldn't be Jewish because of her surname is apparently Irish and doesn't sound Jewish. I am pleased her brother put that chap firmly in place- as well as giving us a basic education on Jewish names etc.

17 August 2012 at 20:49  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Belfast. ‘AHEM’ is copyright, see you in court...

17 August 2012 at 20:51  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Goldring and tiddles is it?

A showdown with these self appointed jumped up twits is inevevitable

Ah Goldring, we meet again!

17 August 2012 at 22:04  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


I shall enjoy being both a witness for the prosecution and the defence.

Pip pip!

17 August 2012 at 22:40  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

AHEM, good Inspector, just remember who you really are, WHAT!

Belfast, I would love to claim credit for your posts and for Albert's too. Alas, the quality and manner of your contributions put this poor old bird to shame.

Mr Twigg, I am omnipotent so far as my subjects are concerned. Rebellion is not an option.

Now where is my nemesis Atlas these days?

*Chortles*, *chuckles* and *loud guffaws*.

The singular Dodo the Dude:
"The ubiquitous one-man inquisition" and ... the most tedious communicant upon His Grace's blog”

17 August 2012 at 22:53  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Belfast, pip pip ! is also... Oh, what the hell...

17 August 2012 at 23:20  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Thanks Dodo - you're not so bad either, if I don't say so myself!


18 August 2012 at 00:00  
Blogger len said...

Perhaps all bloggers identities should be revealed as anonymity encourages 'trolls' who would not have the courage to make some of their remarks if they could be easily identified.

18 August 2012 at 07:33  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Opinions 'that might cause offence' not allowed to be expressed?

cause offence to whom? The editor of the Guardian? Peter Tatchell? Shami Chakrabati? Jim Nachtie? Richard Dawkins?

Its only a short step from saying can't be expresed to can't be held.

Wake up England, its getting late.

18 August 2012 at 11:02  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

PS sorry should have said 'damage public confidence' rather than 'cause offence' but the point remains the same.

I am going to write to Nigel Farage and beg that UKIP makes as a central plank of its 2015 general election prospectus a commitment to an unequivocal freedom of speech, writing and thought law similar to the US 1st amendment guaranteeing free speech.

18 August 2012 at 11:06  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

len said ...
"Perhaps all bloggers identities should be revealed ..."

Feel free to disclose yours and leave others to decide for themselves.

Go on then ...

18 August 2012 at 22:49  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...


If we followed your logic we would not have the Archbishop Cranmer site.

19 August 2012 at 15:32  
Blogger len said...

Dodo..(18 August 2012 22:49.) .. I already have partially)revealed my true identity my name is actually len or leonard if you prefer.Although I do not need to conceal my name because of serial 'trolling 'as some I might mention.
So I believe have you(revealed your name(by accident not intention) although you seem to seem to prefer to be known as the' Dodo' (which seems to take priority since your other 'identities' were rumbled by H G.)

Paul Twigg.... Who Knows 'Cranmer' may reveal his true identity himself one day because those who pursue truth do not need' a figure to hide behind' although they are perfectly at liberty to do so if they choose.
My point was(if you missed it) was that 'trolls' hide behind anonymity and use it as' a cloak' to reveal their own(nasty, hateful,spiteful, vindictive natures.)

HG is plainly not in this category and' Cranmer' as a leading figure of the Reformation had the courage and the integrity to make a stand (to the point of a painful death) for his beliefs and the pursuit of Truth.

19 August 2012 at 22:00  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Sure... but the author of this site isn't actually the historic person Thomas Cranmer. So he hasn't actually died for his faith. Has he?

For all we know, this blog could be courtesy of someone enjoying Her Majesty's hospitality at Pentonville.

(Actually, I have long maintained a suspicion - well more of a perverse fancy - that Cranmer is in fact a woman.)

The real virtue of epithet/anonymous identities is that they let you avoid, in the short-term the kinds of ad-hominem attacks derived from the minutae of one's life. In theory it allows people to base their response on the words they actually read, rather than on a profile that tells the world (without means of determining validity) that "Yes we can" and "I like Pot Noodle". In practice, continued blogging and commenting usually provides some sort of notoriety - but at least the prejudices are based in some sort of experience right?

20 August 2012 at 00:28  
Blogger len said...

Cranmer is a 'flaming torch'which attracts all like moths seeking the light, true believers ,atheists and those whose' religious orders' have cast a dark shroud over them encompassing them and enveloping them.All are drawn towards the light.Some(many) try to extinguish the light but may it shine long and steady and enlighten those who encounter it.
True Christianity should be like a beacon attracting and drawing all towards it.

20 August 2012 at 08:02  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Leonard, do calm down!

These 'flights of fancy' are not good for you. You're evidently on the cusp of one your 'up' periods.

21 August 2012 at 00:46  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Ernst's current favourite discredited statement.

"I 'control' Ernsty .... to discredit their opinions." I continually show that you and 'others' are applying RC legend, fable and myth and it does not hold water.... we both must be doing something wrong? * Huge Chortles*

Dream on Bird.

Ernsty *Splutters into clenched fist*

21 August 2012 at 12:06  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

Oh No!

The mad, whirling Inspector
Pirouette, aka , has returned with his delusions.

You sir, are either crazy or malicious - or both. Get some professional help.

21 August 2012 at 21:53  
Blogger The Way of Dodo the Dude said...

*aka Ernsty*

21 August 2012 at 21:55  
Blogger Gladiatrix said...

Dear Cranmer

There is a misuse of terminology in your article. Magistrates and JPs are not the same thing. Magistrates, now known as District Judges, are qualified lawyers and salaried employees. JPs are laypeople.

25 August 2012 at 13:39  

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