Judge Sir Paul Coleridge
Just recently, Judge Sir Paul Coleridge was disciplined by the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office (JCIO), whatever that is. His offence? Simply supporting the traditional view of marriage — a view that until a few years ago was absolutely standard and unquestioned. A view which is still held by large numbers of citizens, and religious groups, in this country. A view which is sanctioned by history and culture and reproductive biology.
Note that the JCIO was not merely disagreeing with the Judge. It is (I assume) perfectly entitled to hold a different view. There are many people (and a number of strident lobby groups) who would fundamentally disagree with Judge Coleridge, and in a free country they are entitled to do so, and to express their opinions in forthright terms. But they were not simply taking a different view. They were actually denying his right to express that opinion, and threatening him with disciplinary measures if he persisted. This is an overt attack on free speech — something on which we used to pride ourselves in this country.
Another Judge who copped a lot of flak for expressing a widely-held opinion is Sean Morris, the Recorder of Lincoln, on my East Midlands patch. He was hearing the case of a Romanian thief, part of a gang that targeted elderly people at cash machines. Judge Morris complained that sentencing was delayed because of the inordinate amount of time it took to get background information from the Romanian authorities (I hope that that champion of European policing Bill Newton Dunn is paying attention at the back there). He further asserted that Britain’s borders were “like a sieve”, and he feared that the courts would be flooded when our borders are opened to Romanians and Bulgarians on January 1st.
So far as I know, Judge Morris has not been disciplined. But the bleeding hearts have been out in force, complaining that he has stigmatised foreigners and immigrants, that he is scaremongering and raising unnecessary alarm.
Both of these judges are simply reflecting the concerns of large sections of the community, and in both cases they have been attacked (and in one case threatened with disciplinary action) not for being unfair or wrong, but merely for stating an honest and reasonable opinion.
We face threats to free speech on the one hand from politicians who want statutory controls over the press, and on the other by rampant political correctness. We should drink a toast to Judges Coleridge and Morris, and resolve to do all it takes to protect free speech in our country.