Monday, December 08, 2014

What's in a name?

Richard Terrence Peter Hollingworth was until recently a district judge, as well as adjudicating immigration cases. Faced with a case involving a victim whose name was Patel, he shocked prosecutors by demanding that she should attend court the same afternoon, because someone with that name and ethnic background probably worked in a shop or off-licence and wouldn't have any difficulty taking time off work. "She won't be working anywhere important."

I'm sure judges make stupid remarks all the time, but on this occasion the prosecutor (rightly) made a fuss, and the judge is now (rightly) sacked. Although the racism is unpleasant, that is not the only shocking element of the story. The point about being a judge is that you are not supposed to jump to conclusions, racist or otherwise. Although judges may well believe privately that working class jobs are less important than proper jobs (like, for example, law) they shouldn't base their decisions on these beliefs. And the notion that someone working in a shop (or off-licence) can easily take time off at short notice shows gross ignorance about how the other half live. Let's not jump to conclusions, but when an Englishman has three or more Christian names and an old English surname this can be an indicator of class background.

As it turned out, the victim of Mr Hollingworth's racism doesn't work in a shop. She is 20 years old and studying law. She was horrified to learn about the judge's remarks.

If Mr Hollingworth had said "oh, she's only a student, studying isn't a proper job", he'd probably have gotten away with it.

Perhaps now Mr Hollingworth can go back to college and study law properly. Or he should try working in an off-licence. At least from now on he won't be working anywhere important. As the Hollingworth family motto says, "Disce ferenda pati: learn to suffer what must be borne".

Immigration judge Peter Hollingworth faces race remark investigation (BBC News, 7 December 2014)

Nigel Bunyan, Judge resigns after making racist remark about victim (Guardian, 7 December 2014)

Ben Tufft, Immigration judge Richard Hollingworth forced to resign after racial slur: 'With a name like Patel, she won't be working anywhere important' (Independent, 7 December 2014)

News Release: Judge Hollingworth (8 December 2014). Judge Peter James Michael Hollingworth, 63, who sits as a judge in the First Tier Immigration and Asylum Tribunal and also as a Deputy District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts)  wishes to make clear that he has no connection with Judge Terence Richard Peter Hollingworth, 63, who sat in the same courts and who you reported as having resigned from the Magistrates’ Court and being under investigation as an Immigration Judge. 

Wikipedia: Hollingworth Surname
Wikipedia: Bourne and Hollingsworth

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