The Apparent Misconduct Of Judge Irwin

Did Judge Irwin's apparent attempt to conceal evidence that Martin Smith's accuser had previously made demands for money and a car to be given to her by Lianne Smith constitute misconduct?

Lianne gave evidence from a Spanish prison over a poor quality video connection and frequently interrupted by Spanish officials who apparently did not seem to grasp the seriousness of the occasion.

Judge Irwin would have had influence over the decision not to produce her in Court in person. This inevitably diminished the ability of the Jury to properly assess her as a witness. The amount of time that she was allowed was limited. When she appeared on the screen, Martin, his voice breaking with emotion, was heard to say "Tell them Lianne, tell them". She, of course, heard nothing of this.

The most crucial part of her evidence was her account of Martin's accuser's behaviour changing after falling under the influence of a "friend" whilst in the first year at University, and moving in with her friend's family. During that time she apparently suffered a broken arm and made the bizarre statement "I am pleased. I am like my new family now". Lianne told how, on IIRC the 8th August 2008, outside a major department store in Manchester, Martin's accuser asked to be given "money and a car like my friends parents have given me. If you do not I’ll do something to make things bad for both of you". Lianne refused. A few days later Martin's accuser went to the police and made allegations that Martin had been secretly assaulting her over several years.

Lianne then gave an account of an experience that she had had when she was employed as a teaching assistant for disturbed children in a primary school. Martin's accuser was 14. A boy in Lianne's care had threatened to make bogus allegations against her and she had asked to be redeployed. Martin's accuser was aware of this and Lianne's concern about it.

When the allotted time on the video link expired Lianne was unable to give further evidence and the Jury were denied an opportunity to see her being properly cross examined.

This is the point where Judge Irwin became obviously nervous. After looking peevishly in the direction of the public gallery, he sent the Jury out of the courtroom, waking the sleeping juror, and called the prosecution and defence barristers before him. This was the first time that most of the witnesses in the public gallery had seen them. They were ladies with similar plumy accents and were difficult to distinguish from each other verbally.

The Judge made a show of admonishing both of them for "overlooking" the evidence that Lianne had just given when examining Martin's accuser. Neither barrister had upheld their sworn obligation to uphold justice. The prosecution had withheld evidence that indicated the malicious motive Martin's accuser had, and the defence had allowed that to happen.

The Judge was clearly at fault as well. Until recently, there was a convention that Judges, in the interests of impartiality, should know nothing of the case until the day of the trial. This, together with so many of our constitutional safe guards has been whittled down with the connivance of politicians. The present situation is that in each case there is a pre trial "plea and directions" hearing before the Judge who will take the trial. The police, prosecution and defence are all present and all the evidence is disclosed between the parties.

In this case the Judge has the greater share or responsibility in allowing vital evidence to be withheld.

An impartial observer might suspect this was what had been planned all along. Lianne was not allowed to be present in the Court. The time limitations placed on the video link and the frequent interruptions could well have prevented her from saying all that she had to say. The Jury would have been none the wiser and if the Judge had his way in turning the Court into a secret “Star Chamber” (forbidden since 1641) no one else would have known about it.

This was the time when several gentlemen who appeared to be police officers and had been noticed trying to be inconspicuous in the public gallery were seen to send text messages. One of them was followed to the other side of the Court complex, about 100 yds. away, where he turned into a blind corridor, stopped and made a whispered mobile phone call.

Having been found out, the prosecution barrister made the startling revelation that Martin's accuser, who had given her evidence three days previously and had been released from her obligation to stay "was in the building". At this fortunate turn of events, Judge Irwin recalled her to the witness box.

The defence barrister asked her if she recalled having made the demand for money and the threat to her mother. She said "no" in an unconvincing manner. Apparently satisfied with a notably insipid effort at cross examination the defence withdrew. Judge Irwin took a turn. He asked Martin's accuser questions to the effect of "are you telling the truth?" She said that she was. Apparently content with this he again released her from the Court.

The final verdict is history. How it was reached looks like conspiracy.