In fighting for her father, Wanda found herself convicted and sentenced to jail in her absence, and without even the benefit of legal representation – only for the fact of the imprisonment to be kept secret on the order of Judge Martin Cardinal. He would not even allow Wanda to be named.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, this is wrong. There is never in what passes for a free society for an individual to be convicted in absentia and then jailed. It is even worse when this is done secretly.
Furthermore, this is by no means the only case. Booker, who adds a commentary to this news report, has been trying to place on the record another egregious case where a son is trying to protect his father from the depredations of the social services. Again, judges are imposing gagging orders, using powers they do not appear to have.
Thus, the Mail does right to publicise this case, adding to the continuing toll of cases going through the families courts, where unnecessary and unhealthy secrecy is being imposed – for no better reason, it seems, to protect officials from deserved criticism.
But while one applauds the Mail, there is also a sense of the fatuity of media campaigns. There was a time when even Booker and this lowly author, writing of some outrage, would receive a ministerial call the day following publication, and things would get done.
These days, officials and politicians appear immune to all but the most strident and intensive campaigns – where virtually the whole press corps joins in and goes into hysteria mode until the issue is sorted. And clearly, this can only happen on a very limited number of occasions.
As for judges, the arrogance of office is now such that these appointed officials seem to have lost sight of the reason they are appointed – to serve the interest of justice. They are placing themselves above the law, and we are all at risk.
Thus, it seems to me, that somehow we need to redress the balance. Further, it is self-evident that we cannot rely on the establishment to respond. Ministers have been approached many times, and have yet to act. It is unlikely that they will act.
Having given this a great deal of thought, it seems we are back in Harrogate Agenda territory, for the second time in two consecutive posts.
When it comes to our six demands, readers will recall demand four, which states this:
4. no legislation or treaty shall take effect without the direct consent of the majority of the people, by positive vote if so demanded, and that no legislation or treaty shall continue to have effect when that consent is withdrawn by the majority of the people.This, in itself it not a great deal of use to us, but I have been mulling over an amendment, and have come up with this new text:.
4.no legislation or treaty shall take effect without the direct consent of the majority of the people, by positive vote if so demanded, and that no legislation, treaty or decision shall continue to have effect when that consent is withdrawn by the majority of the people.The key difference here is the addition of the word "decision", creating a situation where any official decision can be challenged by way of a referendum – a sort of people's judicial review.
In the Maddox case, this power could perhaps have been used in several different ways, but the one that would appeal most (to me) is the power to challenge decision to appoint Martin Cardinal as a judge. In effect, the power gives people to right to fire officials when they go off the rails.
In my view, any judge who can go about jailing someone without a hearing, and who sees nothing wrong with keeping his action secret, deserves to be fired. For many reasons, there are many other public officials who deserve to be fired.
And the very fact that the people, their paymasters, are able to fire them, would be a powerful tool to keep them in check. All of a sudden, an appearance in the Daily Mail would mean something again. At the very least, it would remind them who their masters were.