Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I am pleased to report that my application to become a Magistrate has continued to the next step - I have a first interview in three weeks time.

To accept the interview, I was expecting to have to sign some sort of parchment scroll with a shield on it in blood. In fact it was just a "delete as applicable" at the bottom of the letter.

Thanks to those of the readers who are my referees - you may be getting scary official-looking letters through your doors soon.

I'm doing some swotting-up and have found out that should I be successful I need to make the following oath.

(Clears Throat)
"I, Stanley Gamla, swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second, in the office of Justice of the Peace and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of the Realm without fear or favour, affection or ill will."

Hmm. Which made me wonder if it is even possible to be a servant of the Crown and yet be quite as anti-Monarchist as I am.

The Crown invented the idea of lay magistrates in the year 1195. In that year Richard 1 commissioned certain knights to preserve the peace in unruly areas. They were responsible to the King for ensuring that the law was upheld; they preserved the 'King's Peace' and were known as Keepers of the Peace.

I can just imagine these 12th Century Magistrates - obviously the baddest-asses among King Richard's knights. I'm guessing their ideas for "perserving the peace" did not involve ASBOs and Community Service. I'm guessing the only kind of "suspended sentence" they imposed was by suspending wrong-'uns by the neck from the nearest tree.

The Crown invented the idea of magistrates and even in our more sedate Constitutional Monarchy, the whole legal system is, at least in theory, subordinate to the Crown. I really should not have been so surprised - the signs are all around. "Crown Court". "Queen's Counsel". D'oh !

That said, the Prime Minister himself is a servant of the Crown, but we know what kind of mayhem would ensue if she ever, ever interferred even slightly in his decisions.

So, if I ever get to that stage, I would be happy to take that Oath. But maybe I'll mumble the bit about the Queen and be very, very clear on the bit about treating people fairly.

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