11/05/2005

The Curious Case of Judge Timothy Workman

I do not do judge-bashing on this blog. It is a hateful, redundant pursuit, best left to abortion activists and partisan Republicans.
However, a news report appeared yesterday which did raise an eyebrow.
According to the Daily Telegraph, on Thursday Timothy Workman, the Senior District Judge at Bow Street Magistrates' Court, and therefore the biggest of beaks, apologised to Haroon Rashid Aswat, an Islamist terror suspect , for being forced to appear in court on Eid.
Aswat, cheeky bastard that he is, is reported to have said,
"It is the most important day of my religion today - Eid.

"For me it is not a problem, I can understand it is about technical difficulties but for these people doing these bombings in [Britain], they are very simple minded, they take it as an insult.

"The people who do bombings, this is the reason, they have not been shown respect in their religion."
Judge Workman is reported to have replied,
"I am very sorry, if I had known we would have picked a different day."
A cursory glance at the public record indicates that Timothy Workman is probably one of the best judges we have, if only because anyone can twist his record to suit their own purposes. A judge who refused the Russian government's requests to extradite the Chechen Islamist Akhmed Zakayev and the oligarch thief Boris Berezovsky, and who issued an arrest warrant for Israeli general Doron Almog, Workman has also ordered the extradition to the USA of Islamist terro suspect Babar Ahmed, refused bail to Moutaz Almallah Dabas and who oversees the process surrounding Abu Hamza al-Masri and the July 21 bombers.
However, the situation whereby one judge at the lowest level of the system appears to oversee every single extradition case of moment has arisen because of a quirk of law; and for the avoidance of doubt Judge Workman's extradition cases seem to form only a small part of his judicial duties, which will be drearily familiar to anyone who has ever been involved in the administration of justice for the bungled and the botched.
By law all extradition cases are handled in magistrates courts. The big cases go to Bow Street, the most difficult to the senior judge.
This is a system which is begging for New Labour to abuse it. If such cases must be heard in London, there should be no reason why such cases could not be farmed out to other magistrates' courts in the capital, and for them to be docketed as ordinary cases to be heard in front of the next available magistrate. It is Workman's function to be a magistrate, not a specialised extradition judge.
We should be grateful that we do have independent judges like Timothy Workman, regardless of whatever comments he might have to make about the undesirability of Muslim suspects having to appear on Eid, which one is far more inclined to excuse as coming from a desire to be seen as even-handed than from the politically correct nonsense of Gillian 'Fatima' Parker; but the way in which power is flowing from the people to the executive in this country, reform of the judicial extradition system might just be necessary to ensure its independence.

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