As the national press went into overdrive on a poor young woman (who will henceforth and forever be ‘ME Girl’) and the moral issues raised by her mother’s merciful action in killing her, it was – for once – a judge who asked the obvious question: why are we here?
Why had the DPP and the CPS combined in an act of cardinal stupidity and brought the case?
In truth, it isn’t quite that simple: the case was being heard because the mother broke the law. And in a broken culture, killing people sort of has to be wrong – otherwise every Shipman in England would be at his work.
But being a judge – who is, at the end of the day, merely a slightly more eccentric form of lawyer – Mr Bean (yes, quite) asked why grounded sense hadn’t prevailed. He should’ve asked two rather more specific questions.
First, what did these two quangos think they were doing shelling out this amount of cash on a test case? The ‘average’ CPS-approved case costs the taxpayer around £10,000. Lord alone knows what this farrago cost – a hundred grand? Half a million?
Even if the case cost, say, £150,000, that’s another fifteen yobs/burglars/fraudsters etc who will carry on unprosecuted as before – with a broad smirk on their bare-faced cheeks.
It would have been cheaper for two silks equipped with a large flask of coffee to sit in a room for a year and come up with a better law. Most importantly, this would not have involved dragging an already guilt-infused family through a long process which might have ended in a prison sentence. Ah but, ah but….no fee in doing that, squire.
Second – and closely related to the first – what sort of unearthly mind is it that thinks the best way to iron out a massive and complex moral-legal point of law is at the expense (and on the time) of the prosecution system? Had they perhaps not noticed that the waiting list for Court time is even longer than the queue for prison?
Such behaviour only confirms the ordinary Brit’s growing belief that every institution in the Nation has dumped its real function in favour of an easier one. To paraphrase the old Python sketch, why prosecute the violent when you can play philosopher with the innocent?