Westminster Magistrates' Court is unusual in that a very high percentage of cases need an interpreter. Everybody knows that and Capita TI claim that they have it covered. Really?

On 1st November Capita TI failed to provide an interpreter for a first appearance. There is a note on the solicitors' file: "No interpreter available until 5th Nov." It was impossible for the solicitor to take instructions and the case was re-listed for the 5th. On that occasion an interpreter was present and a Not Guilty plea was entered. The solicitor wanted to proceed with a bail application and on the instructions of their client contacted a family member via the interpreter. The solicitor told the family member to attend Westminster MC within the next hour and a half, to bring all the relevant paperwork and security money or the defendant would be remanded in prison. The interpreter spoke to the family of the defendant, the court waited for a couple of hours, nobody turned up and the defendant was remanded again. He is still in prison, awaiting trial.

Two days ago I was asked by the solicitor to contact the family of the defendant once again to explain to them about the next bail application and to ask them why they never turned up at court. What I heard was quite astonishing: according to the family member, the court interpreter had told them that if they failed to turn up at court within the hour they would be arrested and sent to prison. The defendant's family member said he had no idea why he would be arrested, that's what the interpreter had told him.

I wouldn't wish to speculate as to the likelihood of the court granting bail, had a family member attended court with security money and proof of address, but the defendant has no previous convictions and has been in prison for almost a month now. Another of Capita TI's expensive failures and a potential miscarriage of justice.

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