Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford court contempt man, 85, legally jailed

An 85-year-old man jailed for recording court proceedings was not unlawfully imprisoned, a High Court judge said.

Norman Scarth, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, had "displayed utter contempt for all lawyers and judges", Mr Justice Wyn Williams said.

Scarth was jailed for six months at Bradford Crown Court last month after judge Jonathan Rose found him in contempt of court.

He had used an unspecified device to record crown court proceedings.

Scarth, who represented himself and appeared by video link from Leeds Prison, used a piece of 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."

Mr Justice Williams said Scarth, who told the court that he was a World War II veteran, had not been legally represented when he appeared before Judge Rose.

"It would have been desirable had a lawyer been appointed to represent (Scarth) in what were summary proceedings for contempt," said Mr Justice Williams.

"Nonetheless, I am not persuaded that the fact that (Scarth) was unrepresented of itself constitutes an infringement of his (human) rights."

He added: "Throughout these proceedings (Scarth) has displayed utter contempt for all lawyers and judges. In my judgment, it is unreal to suppose that (Scarth) truly wished to have a lawyer represent him before His Honour Judge Rose."

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