Prison term for war veteran, 85, ‘lawful’

An 85-year-old Second World War veteran given a six-month jail term after recording court proceedings was not unlawfully imprisoned and had “displayed utter contempt for all lawyers and judges”, a High Court judge said yesterday.

Pensioner Norman Scarth, of Bradford, considered most judges he had dealings with to be biased against him and imprisonment was not an infringement of his human rights, said Mr Justice Wyn Williams.

Scarth was jailed at Bradford Crown Court last month after circuit judge Jonathan Rose found him to be in contempt of court, Mr Justice Williams was told during a High Court hearing in London.

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He had recorded proceedings in a case at the Crown Court and was summarily dealt with by Judge Rose, the High Court heard.

Scarth, who represented himself and appeared by video link from Leeds Prison, used a piece of ancient common law in an attempt to have his imprisonment declared unlawful by the High Court.

But Mr Justice Williams refused to grant a writ of habeas corpus after ruling that there was no basis on which to conclude Scarth had been imprisoned unlawfully.

Mr Justice Williams said: “Superior courts, such as the Crown Court, have jurisdiction to deal summarily with all types of contempt, including contempt ‘in the face of the court’.

“The recording of proceedings before a court is capable of amounting to contempt if no permission has been obtained.”

He added: “In my judgment, it was open to the judge to conclude that contempt had been committed.”