District judge Claire Gilham is suing the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), having said that budget cuts and slashed legal aid have put pressure on the legal system and even exposed the judiciary to violence.
In an interview with The Guardian, Claire Gilham illustrates starkly the impact of austerity measures including staff cuts on increased risk of danger in courtrooms:
“When they merged the court they cut back staff. There wasn’t any physical space. One person walked into my four-metre-square office [where cases were also heard] and launched herself at me; she had to be restrained. The hearing continued with her suspended in the air.”
In 2009 Gilham was appointed to Warrington county court, two years after which the MoJ closed Runcorn county court in a round of austerity-driven court closures, with the work transferred to Warrington. Gilham expressed her concerns about the lack of accommodation, increased workload and the risk of danger to court staff, but her request for better courtroom accommodation was turned down.
Gilham eventually experienced a nervous breakdown in 2013 and has not returned to work since.
To read the Guardian article, please click here.