Lord Woolf blames media for furore

By Roger Pearson

Britain’s top judge, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, has rounded on the media over the furore that followed his new sentencing guidelines before Christmas, blaming misinterpretation for the controversy.

Public outcry followed Lord Woolf’s comments, which were seen as a move towards allowing repeat offenders to walk free from court.

But in a public statement this week, he claimed media commentators had been wrong to suggest the courts were dramatically altering their approach to sentencing domestic burglars and branded reporting of his guidelines before Christmas as “inaccurate”.

Lord Woolf said: “The judgment is not a charter to offenders to commit burglary, as has been suggested. Nor is it a body blow to the efforts of the police to detect offenders who commit burglary. On the contrary, the principles in the judgment will act as a deterrent, while at the same time contributing to achieving the reduction in re-offending that is so important if the public is to be protected.”

He said he wanted to “correct the inaccurate reporting that has taken place, because if allowed to stand, the inaccuracies will unjustifiably undermine the confidence of the public in the criminal justice system”.

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