Stand-in and a beautician act as ALS interpreters in a murder trial
A murder trial should be a serious process with grave responsibility for all taking part. So can an unassessed stand-in and a beautician be used instead of an interpreter? It seems so from these reports:
13/07/2012 Winchester Crown Court
Interpreter: ML, Booked through ALS
Case: RK, facing a charge of murder.
Instead of arriving at 10 am as booked, the interpreter arrived at 10:45 am. When interpreting the witness’s oath, he said 'swear by Allah' instead of 'Waheguru', thereby changing the religion of the witness from Sikh to Muslim. Several parts of the evidence were omitted. The final straw was when he interpreted 'bitter' instead of 'irritable' in answer to a fairly crucial piece of evidence.
Noticed by: Junior Counsel for defence, Mr. G
How bad: Witness evidence had to be constantly interrupted and gone over again.
The Counsel asked for a break and discussed the problem with the Judge. ML was recalled into the witness box and asked if he was registered with Applied Language Solutions. He said he had sat the assessment a few weeks before and was still awaiting an interpreter number. When asked how he came to be at court, he replied that his wife, Mrs. SL, had been contacted by ALS but as she had another commitment, she sent him in her place. The Judge released the interpreter and adjourned the case till Monday thereby wasting an entire court day. The Judge made a written note of everything.
Interpreting mistakes were also noticed by Punjabi-speaking members of the public in the public gallery who approached the defence counsel to tell him. I have been told by the court clerk that the Judge is in email correspondence with ALS. The incident was reported in the local press.
Continued on Monday, 16/07/12
Interpreter: S?, Booked through ALS
The case was listed for 11:30 but there was no ALS interpreter till 13:30. A very nervous lady called S. said she was a beautician in Southampton (where the alleged murder took place) and that her clients had been discussing the case with her. She had interpreted in hospitals before and this was her 5th or 6th ALS job. She still had no ALS ID.
During the course of interpreting it became evident that she had very poor knowledge of English. She did not know the meaning of the words 'friction' and 'deterioration', both crucial to the evidence. After the witness (the same witness as on Friday 13th July where the problem with another interpreter Mr. L resulted in an adjournment and the witness having to return on Monday) finished his evidence, the Counsel discussed her lack of interpreting. She came up to me and in the presence of Punjabi-speaking Junior Defence Counsel, admitted she did not know what 'deterioration' meant and asked me to explain the meaning to her. I refused. After that two witnesses were lined up to give evidence via a video link from India. She said she had never done this before and it was suggested that I take her place. In open court, with the discussion being recorded, the Judge asked if I would be willing to do so. I refused saying it was the responsibility of ALS to provide competent interpreters.
Noticed by: Punjabi-speaking Junior Defence Counsel, Mr G.
These reports redacted from those filed at rpsi.name/default.