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Contempt of Court

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 12th February 2015.

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Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the letter sent on 2 February 2015 to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley by HM Courts and Tribunals Service's Performance, Analysis and Reporting Team, what the (a) name of the judge, (b) date and (c) period of committal was of each court order issued by the High Court to the Prison Service for contempt of court since November 2014.

Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the letter sent on 2 February 2015 to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley by HM Courts and Tribunals Service's Performance, Analysis and Reporting Team, what the (a) name of the judge, (b) date and (c) period of committal was of each court order issued by (i) Birmingham County Court, (ii) Birmingham High Court and (iii) Birmingham Family Court for contempt of court since May 2013.

Photo of Shailesh Vara Shailesh Vara The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Details of contempt of court hearings are not held on Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) case management systems, and HMCTS do not centrally collate data on contempt of court cases. Contempt of court can cover a wide variety of circumstances and can be committed by a party in a case or by someone unconnected with specific proceedings such as a juror or a member of the press. Those relating to a specific case will be noted on the court log or daily list and the warrant retained on file. Those not relating to specific cases will be recorded on daily lists and warrants stored along with other orders.

The High Court in London has been able to check its records since November 2014 and have imprisoned two people for contempt of court, both of which were heard in open court. The details are provided in the table below:

Division

Judge

Date

Period

Queens Bench

HHJ Seymour

20-11-14

3 Months

Chancery

Justice Asplin

2-2-15

3 Months

However, in order to identify any cases where a contempt of court occurred in the courts in Birmingham HMCTS would have to manually check every court file at each court for the relevant period. This would incur disproportionate costs.

Whilst prisons log the offence for which prisoners are sent to prison, they do not record the details that have been requested. In order to obtain the requested information, the individual records of all prisoners currently held in prisons, together with those that have been discharged during the period requested, would need to be located and individually checked. This would incur disproportionate costs.

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