ALS interpreters "only know basic English"
On 14th February at 10 am I arrived at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court. The defendant was invited into the courtroom and sat in the public gallery, and I followed. By 11:30 there was still no Lithuanian interpreter, the clerk kept making frantic calls after every case, all to no avail - there was NO interpreter available. I briefly spoke with the usher who said she wasn't surprised at all anymore. She looked tired and disappointed, and said that she would try to call them once again. The case had to be adjourned - which the defendant's wife had to interpret for him (I will not comment on that).
I then plucked up all my courage and made my anti-ALS speech in front of the magistrates, clerk, usher, defence solicitor, the whole entourage. They were puzzled at first, but then I showed them the BBC article and they started asking questions. The usher said that she had heard of the article, but hadn't had a chance to read it! Well, now she has. The clerk advised me to speak to the front office, so I did. The officer said straightaway that the ALS interpreters were terrible - "they only know basic English". She was happy to keep a copy of the article and the leaflet we prepared.
The best part of it (for me) - as I was leaving I was approached by somebody who was in the courtroom during my speech (an independent motoring offences' researcher) who said that I was 100% correct in stating that every defendant or witness has the right to access a qualified and vetted interpreter, and that there should never be friends /relatives / unqualified wannabes interpreting in the courtroom.