The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, November 30, 2003

At last, some common sense on juries - from Jeremy Clarkson...

There ought to be a name for the ratio that the amount of fame a personality has in his own country bears to the amount of fame he has worldwide (but, since there isn't, let's call it the Plawg ratio.)

Some personalities will rate close to 1: Clinton, say, or Charlie Chaplin. Others, something fairly stratospheric: Katie Couric or Jonathan Ross.

Jeremy Clarkson's Plawg would be 1,000 or more: he's a British TV pundit specialising in cars, who fancies himself as a plain-speaking, anti-PC guy's guy (though no one is allowed to be that on British TV!). The descendant of the Terry-Thomas type from the 1950s, all cravats and MG sports cars, taking a spin with the little lady to a road-house on the Hog's Back.

Yet, for all that, he's had sufficient sense to go into print to condemn the institution of the jury (London Sunday Times today). Which I have done here before (as on September 9 2002).

I reckon that, in hundred years time, the idea of entrusting fact-finding in complex cases with life-or-death consequences to a bunch of folks deliberately chosen for their lack of expertise in this highly exacting task will seem as alien as the institution of slavery.

(The first fly-on-the-wall documentary set in a jury-room will kill the whole business stone dead.)


There was, it comes back to me, a Clarkson who was one of the leaders of the movement in Britain for the abolition of the slave trade - Thomas Clarkson, that is. Any relation to Jeremy?

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