Some 100 judges and magistrates receive threats over past five years

A hundred judges and magistrates have received written threats connected to cases they presided over during the past five years, the Ministry of Justice has revealed. The admission that those on the bench are subject to such a high level of intimidation comes after a whistleblowing legal action launched by a district judge. Claire Gilham’s claim before an employment tribunal includes details of a death threat she received while hearing family cases at Warrington county court. 

The influx of unrepresented litigants in person, who are no longer entitled to legal aid to pay for lawyers, has added to the difficulties family judges face in controlling emotive child custody hearings.

Shailesh Vara, the justice minister responsible for courts and legal aid, gave annual figures showing how many judges and magistrates in England and Wales reported receiving threatening correspondence: in 2011 – 20; in 2012 – 12; in 2013 – 19; in 2014 – 18; and in 2015 – 31.

The minister said: “We have a robust security and safety system in place to protect all court users. Any threats to judges or magistrates are taken extremely seriously, and within Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service there is a security team to co-ordinate effective judicial security and incident investigation, working closely with senior judiciary and police agencies to provide the necessary support.”

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