QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE DAVIS
|PETERBOROUGH MAGISTRATES' COURT||(DEFENDANT)|
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MR DAVID O'MAHONEY (instructed by Crown Prosecution Service) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
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"Guy should be told to pull his head in. A whole afternoon was wasted by this pointless exercise. Some Crown witnesses who were sitting at the back of the court thought it was like watching a pantomime."
The fourth point was a complaint about the procedure being allowed to be regarded as a part heard hearing. The fifth point was this -
"Perhaps consideration should be given to making an application to disqualify Mr Torrens from sitting in this case as clerk for perceived bias. This may help him think next time."
"The last time I complained formally about Guy I was kicked out for lack of evidence. However I am prepared to formally complain again but not on this document as it is. Can you re-word and depersonalise it ..... Let's make it look like a considered complaint not an angry whinge."
He went on to make comments about adherence being needed to the Rules and other comments about what had happened.
"As I understand it, you are more interested in exploring the wider issue of the robustness of PTRs and whether courts should permit deviation from indications given at that stage than the narrow issues arising in this particular case. That said, and apart from anything else, I can't understand why Guy regarded the case as part heard .....
On the wider issue, I am inclined to agree that there is an important principle at stake here, namely that PTRs should be conducted robustly and that parties should generally be considered bound by agreements reached at them ..... "
There is then a suggestion as to discussing an appropriate formula that "we could spread amongst our respective troops".
"No problem Richard. To make it clear though I have nothing personal against Guy, outside of court I find him quite easy to get along with. Thank you for your prompt attention and I am more than happy with whatever you deem appropriate."
In due course Mr Crowley sent an e.mail to Mr Daber, also on 23 February 2006, stating:
"Spoken with John. Content you raise it with Guy in your own way."
"In the absence of any explanation before me the only conclusion I can reach, which I do, is that Mr Torrance was replaced by Mr Davi[e]s as a result of the complaint about Mr Torrance conveyed to Mr Daber in the 15 February 2006 e.mail. I accept that Mr Crowley did not intend that to be the outcome. I accept that he did not consider that might have been the outcome ..... "
"I do not consider, in this case that there had been any serious abuse of power nor an unfair manipulation of Court procedures."
"Provided it is appreciated by magistrates that this is a power to be most sparingly exercised, of which they have received more than sufficient judicial warning ..... it appears to me to be a beneficial development ..... However, in the case of magistrates this power should be strictly confined to matters directly affecting the fairness of the trial of the particular accused with whom they are dealing, such as delay or unfair manipulation of court procedures."
"The jurisdiction to stay can be exercised in many different circumstances. Nevertheless two main strands can be detected in the authorities:
(a) Cases where the court concludes that the defendant cannot receive a fair trial;
(b) Cases where the court concludes that it would be unfair for the defendant to be tried.
In some cases of course the two categories may overlap."
This is, of course, an approach also adopted in numerous subsequent decisions by reference to Article 6 of the Convention.
"I understand that concern and the wish of the Branch Crown Prosecutor with his general responsibilities, to discuss a significant point on the administration of justice with the Clerk to the Justices. However to do so in relation to a specific case, where a ruling against him had been made and where there was to be a further hearing was, in my judgment, wrong."
A little further on at page 10, Lord Justice Pill said:
"In my judgment the procedure which I have described does create a sense of unfairness and, indeed, unfairness to an extent that the court should intervene." See also the comments of Mr Justice Newman at page 11 of the transcript of the report.