British Secretary of State for Justice sacks only Romani magistrate for criticizing Police

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Jack Straw, the Secretary of State for Justice (now there is a joke), has sacked a magistrate, the only (probably) Romani magistrate (judge) in the entire country, for daring to criticize the police for failing to protect her daughter from being physically assaulted at school.

Mr Straw, the Secretary of State for Justice, has written to the magistrate saying that while he understands a mother's desire to help her daughter, her criticism of the police means she can no longer be trusted to be impartial in court.

This while other magistrates and judges do, often publicly, criticize the police without any repercussions. Nor should there ever be any repercussions for doing this for this is the job of the judiciary if and when this is necessary. Dismissing a magistrates just because he or she criticized the police for failing to do their duty in unacceptable, regardless of which ethnicity this judge should be. To further imply that, having criticized the police the magistrate could no longer serve on the bench because she could no longer be trusted to be impartial in court when the police is concerned.

"We have concluded that, although you acted with the best interests of your daughter, your behaviour has led to your impartiality being brought into question,” Jack Straw writes in the letter. “It is clear that by mentioning you were a magistrate and then criticising the police, the two issues became linked and therefore there is doubt whether you would be able to consider matters involving the police impartially.”

This is not just outrages, it smacks of British Justice becoming a mockery and a lackey to the State – once again.

Shay Clipson, 50, a magistrate from Grimsby, Humberside, who is believed to, probably, be the only Romany magistrate on the bench in England and Wales, had asked police to help protect her 13-year-old daughter from a gang that had been bullying her in and out of school.

She claims her daughter had been subjected to beatings, racially abused, spat on, had cigarettes stubbed out in her hair, and had been thrown into the traffic on a very busy road.

Ms Clipson said that on September 20, 2007, her daughter had been told by a key member of this particular gang that she was going to be subject to a beating, possibly during the lunch break, failing that definitely on her way home. Neither the headteacher nor the head of year would make themselves available to speak to to Ms Clipson, the mother. She then told the school that in that case she would have to involve the police."

But, she said, the local police made it clear that they would not intervene. When Ms Clipson complained about the officers' alleged inaction, the police reported her behaviour to the local bench committee and then to Mr Straw, who upheld her dismissal.

Police were later forced to investigate when her daughter was badly assaulted by a family member of the same gang. In a separate incident, recorded on mobile phones and uploaded to YouTube, Ms Clipson's daughter was kicked unconscious on the school playing field.

But Mr Straw, in a joint ruling with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, found that by raising the fact that she was a member of the local magistracy, Ms Clipson cannot be trusted to do her job any longer with impartiality, especially as far as issues with the police are concerned.

This is absolutely ludicrous, and I am sure that the likes of the police officers in Grimsby, like a certain Detective Chief Superintendent, as well as the Secretary of State of Justice, and the Chief Lord Justice, are well aware of that. Especially in light of the fact that other magistrates and judges freely, as they should be able to, criticize the police as and when necessary and no one had a problem; then, nor should they have a problem with that.

David Howarth, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on justice, said: "Mr Straw's action is shameful and very heavy-handed ... Why can't a magistrate criticise the police? ... The police should not be able to end the career of a magistrate just because they don't like being criticised."

Ms Clipson said she feels let down by the system. "I was acting as a mother who had good reason to be both furious and to question the lack of competence and ethics that were being displayed. Not only was my child terrified for her safety, this campaign of terror was based on racism, mainly her Welsh accent, and possibly her Romany background, yet the police were not doing enough to support her."

The main reason, as can be seen from the case proper, is the ethnic background of the family, the child and the magistrate, Ms Shay Clipson. The police is institutionally racist, as was found with reference to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry (though there may have been reasons as to why the inquiry by the Metropolitan Police was in fact conducted the way it was), and they are most racist as far as Romani-Gypsies and Travellers are concerned.

In my very presence, when dealing with police on various matters, despite the fact that they are aware of my ethnicity as a Romani, they will use words like Pikey, Gyppo, and such, though not directed towards me but when they are talking about members of the Romani-Gypsy community and the Traveller community.

Therefore one can but surmise that the reason the police had chips on their shoulders when told by Shay Clipson that, when the police told her that they could do nothing in this case, and she told her that she knew different and that they could act according to the information from the “Bench Book” and she told them that she knew because she is a magistrate, they, the police, did not like being told thus by a mere Gypsy woman.

Where is this country coming to, and, as far as we Gypsy are concerned not this country alone, but the rest of the European Union?

Is this a taste to come for Gypsies in Britain, yet again that, if they are in good positions and they have a run in with the likes of those police officers and they know better than the officers and mention this that they will end up in trouble. We must remember that we once had a fine police force, though they mostly have had a problem with Gypsies, but after the 60's the police in this country, in the main, has become a joke, and has been riddled with corruption, Lodge involvement – their own Lodges even – and other underhand dealings. This was never cleared up and officers who “blew the whistle” found themselves on spurious charged and set up.

I rest my case...

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008