Sunday, September 23, 2007

Miranda Grell Case: Judge Believed All Witness Testimony

The East London Guardian reports :

District Judge John Woollard said he had no reason to doubt the testimony of two witnesses, Kevin Sorkin and ex-partner Naomi Robinson, who told Waltham Forest Magistrates' Court that Grell had told them then Liberal Democrat councillor Barry Smith has a sexual interest in young Thai boys.

Despite admitting she was an impressive young lady who had carved out a remarkable career for herself, Judge Woollard rejected her claim that she was the victim of a conspiracy hatched by her political rivals in revenge for the loss of the previously safe seat.

He said there was no evidence Mr Smith, local Liberal Democrat councillors and the five witnesses who testified against her plotted Grell's downfall.

Fining her £1,000 with £3,000 costs, Judge Woollard admitted the verdict spelled the end of the popular representative's promising political career.

Grell is the first person to be convicted for making false statements against an election rival under the 1983 act.

There's more at the link.

So that is clear at last. Local reporting trumps the Nationals and the broadcast media for proper coverage.

The judge did believe the testimony of the prosecution witnesses. It will be for another court on another day to judge the judge's judgement.

I welcome the use of this act for this purpose after 24 years. There is far too little action on electoral bad practice of all kinds.

And as I have posted previously I would like to see far greater intervention with serious consequences at the time in the case of lying and smearing and hoaxing and cheating. More pointers to the Electoral Commission here.

AND SORRY "LUKE": This just ain't funny. Hasn't the poor woman suffered enough without being smeared irredeemably in this way?


Luke Akehurst said...

How dare you! I'll have you know that dating me is nothing to be ashamed of and certainly nothing to be described as "a smear". And don't pick on me. Everyone and their dog has been seen out with Miranda Grell.

Chris Paul said...

Lots of people ... but not you "Luke". You are just trying to jump on the bandwagon here. Admit it.

Matt W said...


Thanks for digging on this.

I stand by everything I have said, and would concur that we actually need rigorous enforcement across the board.

If you can find anything factually wrong with my post, I'd be happy to correct it.

Chris Paul said...

Thanks Matt

Now I've found the proper court reporting, finally, I am feeling less agitated about what I thought might be even more sensationalised than it turns out to be.

My greatest concern now is the quality of the judge and the process. Stipes at large have a reputation for making bad decisions to be blunt.

I made a comment over at the local paper. A response said that the judge had made some kind of judgement that some of the witnesses were too stupid to lie, whereas MG was/is bright.

It is not a good thing for being quite bright to be made equivalent to being likely to lie! Or being not very bright being made equivalent to being 100% truthful at all times.

These stipes don't need to have much courtroom experience to get the job. But unlike for voluntary magistrates they do have legal training and practice and this can be a case of a little knowledge etc.

And there is a perverse relationship - in some but by no means all or most cases - between how well their own practice is going and how interested they are in sitting as judges.

Not found out much about this guy yet.

I'm absolutely certain that there will be an appeal and I think that it is right to be testing this case - after 24 years it is not the most straightforward we could have to set the standards.

If everything was being properly enforced throughout then this would not be controversial as the milder gossip which MG admits would be enough to see her convicted.

That might raise the question of whether a three year bar is appropriate for every piece of dodgy campaigning and smearing - there is a continuum - but whatever happens on appeal and counter appeal and so on it is a good thing that campaign manners can now be framed legally.

Incidentally for reasons that may be apparent I'd like to see these kinds of punishments dished out for misrepresenting political situations as well as political opponents. Hoaxes for example.

Best w
Chris P

Manfarang said...

And there is also the good old fashioned defamation law- since Grell admitted making false statements to the police there would be a good case against her.
While your are doing your barrack room lawyer act Chris check out the law on contempt of court.

Gareth W said...

Is there any commentator here or elswhere who would convict on the word of a Lib-Democrap candidate ?

For too many bear the scars of LD smears.

But I agree its time the Electoral Commission tightened up. As it seems at the moment it is only Labour who have to obey the rules.