Court interpreter cuts ‘leading to miscarriages of justice’

By Oliver Hotham

The lack of qualified legal interpreters is creating miscarriages of justice, according to legal interpreter campaign group Interpreters for Justice (IFJ).

They are citing the new policy of outsourcing interpreting services for the justice system to an interpreter agency for the mistakes.

Professor Guillermo Makin, a leading member of IFJ, said in an open letter to justice ministers Ken Clarke and Crispin Blunt that the Ministry of Justice should "listen to reason and to put an end to this debacle."

He continued: "Both Mr Clarke and Mr Blunt clearly do not have the situation under control; however, we are certain that an effective system for the provision of interpreting services to courts is achievable if proper consultation with the interpreting profession takes place."

Critics of the outsourcing program are citing numerous examples where the incompetence of an interpreter has led to the strong possibility of a miscarriage of justice.

Among them is the case of a woman who had undergone violent sexual abuse who was not provided with an interpreter.

They also cite the case of a cafe owner who was asked to translate at a paternity case, with no formal qualification in interpreting.

The groups are submitting a dossier of over 200 cases of the ALS failing to adequately provide interpreter services, in the hope it will change the Ministry of Justice's position.

The Ministry of Justice previously dismissed the issues as "teething problems".