The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Westminster Sees The Glasgow Kiss

A Member of Parliament has been charged with Common Assault on three people in a bar in the Palace of Westminster. The case is likely to be heard at Westminster Magistrates' Court (the offences being summary-only) and it would be no surprise if the case were to come before Howard Riddle, the Chief Magistrate (Senior District Judge (MC).

I had a quick look at the guidelines for Common Assault, and they include, inter alia, the following:-
Factors indicating higher culpability: 1. Use of a weapon to frighten or harm the victim 2. Offence was planned or sustained 3. Head-butting, kicking, biting or attempted strangulation 4. Offence motivated by, or demonstrating, hostility to the victim on account of his or her sexual orientation or disability 5. Offence motivated by hostility towards a minority group, or a member or members of it 6. Abuse of a position of trust 7. Offence part of a group action
Factors indicating a more than usually serious degree of harm:
8. Injury 9. Victim is particularly vulnerable or providing a service to the public 10. Additional degradation of the victim 11. Offence committed in the presence of a child 12. Forced entry to the victim’s home 13. Offender prevented the victim from seeking or obtaining help 14. Previous violence or threats to same victim

Reports suggest that head-butting was indeed present, and it is, I imagine, arguable that point 5 might apply, since Conservatives have been a minority group for some time now. It is a little more questionable whether the MP victims were 'providing a service to the public'. You will have your own view about that. In the event of a conviction the court must consider compensation. Since the alleged assailant claimed two hundred thousand quid in expenses last year, he can probably afford to cough up. I can't see him passing the Legal Aid means test though.