Miranda Grell and the case of the mysterious court transcript

Well, well, here’s a puzzle.

In response to my previous blog posting about the Labour councillor convicted of smearing her opponent, Joanne made numerous comments defending Miranda Grell, including this one:

Rubbish. I have read the transcript of the trial and Grell said during that trial that she thought Mr Smith’s partner was 19 because she had seen him with her own eyes and that is the age he looks. She said nothing about knowing or not not knowing about him being 39. Read the transcript before sounding off.

and also:

Read the transcript.

not to mention:

I have read the transcript

and then:

I have just had a look again at my copy of the transcript

and also this:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, read the transcript

which was followed by this:

the transcript’s available from Waltham Forest Magistrate’s Court

and even:

The transcript can be obtained by phoning Waltham Forest Magistrate’s Court and requesting a copy 

So, I think you can guess what I’ve done, can’t you? And here it all starts to go wrong for Joanne:

1. Records from the court case are not handled by Waltham Forest Magistrates Court but instead in Redbridge. Ringing Waltham Forest doesn’t get you to the right place.

2. The answer to my question about whether a transcript was made? “No”. And when I asked again just to be sure? “There won’t be a transcript”.

3. The only records that are available – the notes of the legal advisor (which isn’t a transcript) – are not available on request over the phone. (You have to write in with reasons).

Draw your own conclusions. Mine? I’m impressed with someone’s ability to read a document that doesn’t exist. It’s a handy skill.

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  • There will be a transcript of this case, like all such cases, incase it goes to appeal. However, this person would not have been able to obtain a copy unless they were a member of the defence’s legal team.

  • I’m not convinced Mark. My question to the court staff was whether a transcript existed. Answer – “no”. It wasn’t “not available to you”, but not existing, full stop.

  • All I can suggest then it that it is called something else – but they will take a verbatum record of statements made. Thats where the expressiona ‘for the record’ or ‘let the record show’ comes from.

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 12th Nov '07 - 3:44pm

    Mark (at 1 and 3)

    No, there are NO TRANSCRIPTS at the Mags Courts. The Ministry of Justice doesn’t provide money for them to be recorded as there are in the transcripts.

    If there is an appeal from any Mags Court it is done by re-hearing the evidence or from the notes made by counsel and the court clerk. It really is that 19th century!

  • I didn’t just use the word “transcript” in my questions – I talked more generally about any account of the trial.

  • Ian Roebuck 12th Nov '07 - 3:58pm

    No Mark, “they” don’t, not in Magistrates’ Courts.

    Solicitors will take their own notes during the case, to guide their questioning during cross-examination and the points they wish to make in closing remarks;

    the legal adviser will take notes, principally on legal submissions made by the parties, so (s)he can help the Bench with points of law;
    the Magistrates will make their notes of what they see fit, as in the end they are required to decide on the evidence.

    But none of these notes constitute an official transcript and they are not available to anyone else.

    All that is available on the record are the written reasons which the bench have to give for finding the verdict they did.

    As far as appeals are concerned, it is possible to appeal on the basis of “case stated” and in that case the defence can ask for the bench to be more specific over evidence they have relied on in coming to their verdict – but again that is not a transcript and very rarely happens now written reasons are given.

    “For the record” I have been taking the chair in Magistrates’ Courts for over 25 years. More often than not, if there is an argument between advocates over what has been said in evidence, I am able to find something in my notes to resolve the issue, but I know they are principally an aide-memoire and will omit a lot of detail.

    That is, of course, one reason why there are three magistrates – who each will recollect different detail.

    But to go back to the main point. There is no official transcript; it is an offence to tape record proceedings in a magistrates’ court and the official record consists of the agreed written reasons given by the bench for their decision, and that decision.

    Oh, and if there are points of law raised, as distinct from evidence, there is the legal adviser’s note of the submissions made, the legal advice given, and the bench’s ruling.

  • Thats exactly what its called, ‘notes’ from the clerk.

    Bad luck Antony on a bad showing the in teuros anyway.

  • Hywel Morgan 12th Nov '07 - 7:54pm

    “Thats exactly what its called, ‘notes’ from the clerk.”

    But those aren’t in any way what could constitute a transcript – and the points made in the other thread were of a very specific nature about what was and wasn’t admitted.

    I suppose it is possible the defence produced a written statement of what it was admitted she said but that would be very odd and serve a limited purpose. In any case Joanne was very clear that she was referring to a transcript.

  • We come back to the original point – why raise the subject at all? I doubt if any 39 year old looks 19! I wish i looked 20 now that i’m 40!

    Again I say don’t put any Labour people in charge of figures – you’ll end up with a disaster!

  • Geoffrey Payne 12th Nov '07 - 10:37pm

    Mark, I am glad you looked into this, because I would like to have done but did not have the time.
    How ironic that Miranda is accused of lying, and she is defended by someone called Joanne – who was also lying.

  • It should be no surprise that the lies just keep on flowing in this case. The people involved are clearly living in a fantasy world where the boundaries of reality have been blurred by a huge construct of endless lies.

    It is true that people can tell so many lies, and say them over and over so many times to themselves, that it becomes very hard to distinguish reality from fantasy. Miranda and her most active supporters are clearly in that zone now…

    Regarding the appeal, while it is a disgrace that the Labour refuses (as usual) to accept the law of the land as applying to them, Lib Dems should be pleased that they will throw away another 30k of their money on this case, that cant then be thrown at a marginal.

  • Mark,

    I’d rather come 5th in a list of 10 Lib Dems than find myself in your position- anonymously defending the dishonest defender of a homophobe, liar, and convicted perverter of the electoral process.

  • Chris Paul wrote: “And I do think all coverage of the case should include the fact that Miranda Grell protests her innocence and is appealling the verdict.”

    Reggie and Ronnie Kray and Charlie Richardson also protested their innocence.

    Chris Paul also wrote: “Otherwise those failing to mention this are not close to providing factual coverage and might even be running a risk legally.”

    Codswallop. Until it is set aside by a superior court, the verdict stands.

    Sufficient witnesses gave evidence in court to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Grell manipulated homophobic sentiment in order to get elected to Waltham Forest LBC.

    There are many in the Labour Party who condone Grell’s behaviour, and others who will continue to deny it, despite the evidence.

    Perhaps those Labour members who take these deplorable attitudes should consider the damage they are doing to their party’s reputation.

  • passing tory 13th Nov '07 - 12:34pm

    Chris P,

    I may not be the biggest Lib Dem fan but in this case (both the case itself and “Joanne’s” follow-up) the Lib Dems seem to be in the right and the Labour position stinks to high heaven.

    Trying to make excuses for the sort of behaviour Miranda Grell displayed is simply not on. Even if she had thought that Mr Smith’s +1 was 19 she should have sought to verify the fact before spreading gossip. She does not deserve to be in public office if she did not realise the impact that the rumours she was spreading were likely to have and so understand the importance of making sure her facts were correct first.

    So Grell is either v.stupid or mendacious. I have long suspected that these might be seen as virtues in parts of the Labour party but I am surprised to see them being promoted so strongly.

  • Geoffrey Payne 13th Nov '07 - 1:25pm

    Chris Paul, no doubt the legal process will take it’s course, that is one issue.
    What we are getting worked up is what Miranda has admitted to, even if it doesn’t break the law.
    She admitted in court that she told voters that her opponent is in a gay relationship with a 19 year old Malaysian.
    Now why would she say such a thing?
    It has no relevance as to whether her opponent can do the job or not. It is really none of her business. She was obviously hoping to benefit from homophobia in order to win votes.
    In my opinion that should make her persona non grata in the Labour party or anywhere else.
    What I detest is the deliberate blind eye being turned to what she herself has admitted to, by people who are supposed to be in favour of gay rights.

  • It’s clear to me that people here have no idea what went on at Ms Grell’s trial and are hedging their bets. What the name of the account of her trial £transcript” or otherwise the facts remain that no one on here apart from the mysterious “Joanne” appears to have read it! Until then, everything written about this case is just a lot of hot and probably inaccurate air.

  • Sorry that’s “whatever the name of the account of her trial”…Pushed publish too quickly there.

  • passing tory 13th Nov '07 - 3:55pm

    Are you sure, James? As Geoff P correctly points out, what on earth was Ms Grell doing even making an issue out of Mr Smith sexuality on the doorstep? If Labour really thinks that this is appropriate behaviour then it should hang its head in shame.

  • Ralf Jennings 13th Nov '07 - 4:01pm

    I think there probably is a written account. I do not know about a transcript of the court hearing but there will be a record of her police interview. If she admited things when she was interviewed may this is what Joanne means. May be that was read out in court and what Joanne has read. Before rounding on Joanne as some kind of fraud perhaps you should check this first.

  • Hywel Morgan 13th Nov '07 - 4:51pm

    “What we have instead, including in comments here, is in effect a denial of appeal rights.”

    I can’t find anywhere where someone says this. What people are saying is it isn’t true to say that someone who has been convicted shouldn’t be regarded as having been so done until the appeal is resolved.

    Even if an appeal were to succeed all that would mean is that Ms Grell was not proven to have committed the details of the offence beyond reasonable doubt. She may still have engaged in conduct which was well below that expected of a public representative. This was the point I made about the 2 Burnley councillors – even if not convicted or the convictions reversed on appeal there was still ample evidence (no transcript needed – I saw some of the trial first had) to have them thrown out of the party.

  • “what on earth was Ms Grell doing even making an issue out of Mr Smith sexuality on the doorstep?”

    Who says she was? I think I’ll join the hint for the elusive court notes/ transcript so I can the facts for myself.

  • I usually think that what Chris Paul says is worth paying serious attention to because even if I disagree with him the points he raises are ones which need to be argued. But to say that ‘Hairs are being split’ in this instance is just ridiculous. Look again at Mark Pack’s article at the beginning of this discussion: he quotes ‘Joanne’ saying over and over again that there is a ‘transcript’, which in normal english denotes a verbatim account of something. She was repeatedly attempting to close down the discussion by claiming a superior knowledge of the case which she could not in fact justify.

    Incidentally, wouldn’t it be normal if one was guessing how old someone looks to say they looked ‘about 20’ rather than that they looked 19?

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 13th Nov '07 - 8:11pm

    This “appeal pending” point has a shelf life.

    The time limit to commence appeal by fresh hearing at the Crown Court is three weeks, the same time limit applies to appeal by case stated (i.e. on a point of law) to the High Court. The time limit to commence appeal by judicial review (to say the judge’s decision was irrational, unreasonable, or ultra vires) is 3 months.

    I agree with James, it might be interesting to know who Joanne is.

  • Just a thought. Is it possible that Mirada and Joanna are the same person after all there has been a lot of fibs said. Is this another?

  • Sorry my keyboard a bit iffy I did mean Miranda

  • Ian Roebuck 13th Nov '07 - 8:57pm

    Chris Paul in quoting Evan Price explicitly makes my point, whether a bench of three lay magistrates or a district judge, the only official record is the written justification of the verdict, and that is very far from a verbatim record.

    In my experience all such justifications follow a practice which my first Justices’ Clerk expounded to me many years ago – be explicit in your judgments and circumspect in your reasons. The former will almost certainly be sound but the latter give grounds for appeal.

    So if part of the defendant’s own evidence shows that (s)he is guilty of the offence alleged you confine yourself to pointing that out rather than gild the lily by citing prosecution evidence which supports the verdict.

    Though if the defence has attacked the credibility of those witnesses it is good practice to indicate formally if you find them credible. which as I understand it was the case here.

  • Geoffrey Payne 14th Nov '07 - 10:48am

    Chris Paul, your reply to my point is to correct my plural into a singular. In doing so, you ignored the substantive point I was making.
    For the sake of argument lets assume she told one voter (although her Labour colleague who testified against her said it was many).
    She still crossed the line for the reasons I gave in 18. Your “correction” in comparison looks pedantic, and that frankly you do not care that she used homophobia to win votes. All this despite what in theory you are supposed to be signed up to as a socialist and someone against homophobia.

  • Ralf Jennings 14th Nov '07 - 12:40pm

    Dont you think too much is being made of this. I have now made some enquiries. There was a transcript of the police interview which was read in court and Miranda stood by the things she had said then. So that is probably what Joanne saw. I imagine it would not be avialable to the public though so she is probably a friend…but if its the truth!

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