Thursday, 23 December 2010
Britain is no longer a country for Judge James Pickles
Judge James Pickles, who has died at the age of 85, was an interesting mixture of conservatism and liberalisim who :
* was born into a long line of Yorkshire stonemasons, had a great-grandfather who worked in the Law Courts in London, an uncle called, Wilfred Pickles, who was a radio broadcaster in the 1950's and a father who made a fortune as an architect and financier in Halifax where he became Mayor.
* read 'law' at Oxford University, was 'called to the Bar' in 1946, practised at Bradford from 1949 until 1976 and was then appointed a 'Judge' on the 'North Eastern Circuit'.
* in 1987, published 'Straight from the Bench', in which he argued, that prostitution was a 'necessary evil' and should therefore be controlled through licensed brothels.
* called for the legalising of marijuana.
* became, additionally controversial, when, in 1989, he jailed a young woman who was too scared to give evidence against her abusive partner and jailed a shoplifting single mother, suggesting leniency might encourage women to avoid prison through pregnancy.
* made remarks in court, such as: "Who are the Beatles?" and said of the Spice Girls: “They arrived on the scene breasts first, but I don’t know their names.”
* in 1993 said : “We’ve got to toughen up with criminals. As a judge, I was quite tough and believed that wicked people should be clobbered. Prison, in my view, does deter, punish and contain.”
* earned the enmity of Lord Hailsham, the former Lord Chancellor, who he described as a “brooding Quixotic dictator” and years later, after he had retired, went even further, describing him as “an arrogant, pompous, toffee-nosed Old Etonian”.
* described the Duchess of York as a “scrubber”, Freddie Mercury as a “greedy bisexual” and the former Lord Chief Justice Lord Lane as a “dinosaur”.
* helped to dismantle the 'Kilmuir Rules', which prevented judges speaking out in public without the Lord Chancellor’s permission and criticised the legal system for being infected by conservatism, complacency and conformity.
* retired as a judge in 1990 and wrote tabloid journalism, several novels, memoirs and radio plays and when interviewed declared: “I am the human face of the judiciary, unlike the majority who adopt a Trappist-like silence.”
* wrote a column for 'The Sun' newspaper and later transferred his services to The 'Daily Sport', in which he described the then Transport Minister, Steve Norris, as the 'fornicating ferret'.
* appeared on TV in 'Have I Got News for You' where, when Ian Hislop told him :
"It was a pleasure to be sitting opposite a judge", he replied: "It's a great pleasure to be sitting opposite someone who should be in the dock."
Unfortunately, this is the only clip I could find of him being interviewed by Sacha Cohen in his personna as 'Ali G'.
Had a daughter, who is an actress who appeared in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' and a sister who appeared in the US sitcom 'Friends'.