Douglas Carswell

29 DEC 2009

Who elected Kier Starmer?

It used to be the case that elected law makers made the law, judges interpreted it, and public prosecutors brought charges on the basis of it.

We've seen how judges increasingly like to interpret what they think the law ought to be, rather than what it is. They do so citing all manner of texts and charters, rather than primary law made by people you voted for.

Now it seems the chief public prosecutor, Keir Starmer, isn't content to leave law making to elected legislators either. He's announced his opposition to changing the law in favour of home owners protecting their property from burglars.

The law regarding intruders "works very well", he pronounced on Radio 4. Why? Well, he continued, CPS officials very often did not bring prosecutions where a householder had used force because it was judged that no jury would consider it unreasonable.

Ponder that carefully. In other words, CPS officials seem to be determining guilt or innocence without cases coming to trial. Isn't it for juries to make that call?

Surely, whatever you think about the rights of homeowners, it is for Parliament to determine the law, and juries to determine guilt, not for Mr Starmer and co? Perhaps if the CPS wasn't second guessing juries, we'd see for ourselves that the law is unsatisfactory, and demand change.

The last century saw a steady erosion of many of the democratic checks and balances that under pinned our justice system; grand juries abolished, trial juries curtailed or scrapped in certain instances (thin end wedge?), quango control over local constabularies, elitist judicial activism.

Perhaps this century requires a counter revolution to make the justice system answer to ordinary law abiding people like it used to? How about elected public prosecutors? It seems to work elsewhere.

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