Latest Issue

The appeal of the court

Something unexpected appears to be happening to the ancient institution of the magistracy-in some parts of Britain it is evolving into a progressive, self-questioning organisation. Jeremy Clarke has often been on the wrong side of the bench. Here, he finds reasons to be cheerful about justice

By Jeremy Clarke   October 1995

At the head of a tidal estuary in South Devon, the sash windows of the 18th-century customs house which now serves as a courthouse have been forced down as far as they will go and the geraniums in the window boxes are shedding their etiolated petals on to the hot pavement. The driest and hottest summer since the place was built is no longer an automatic conversational gambit. Inside, jackets have been removed and ties are awry. Mr John Hansell, the normally punctiliously attired defence solicitor and slow spin bowler for the local village side, has his sleeves rolled up…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect