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Memoirs of a Newbury magistrate

Three decades of drama from the bench revealed in new book

John Garvey

Reporter:

John Garvey

Memoirs of a Newbury magistrate

MORE than three decades of drama, experience, fun and – ultimately – disappointment on the West Berkshire magistrates’ bench have been distilled into a book.

Peter George served as a magistrate in Newbury for 33 years during which he felt he was “doing something worthwhile for the community” in which he lived.

But with the increasing replacement of “proud local judicial independence” by “control from the centre,” and growing insistence on strict adherence to sentencing ‘guidelines’, he saw which way the wind was blowing.

Mr George duly resigned before the final demise of Newbury’s courthouse this year.

He has a wealth of fascinating memories, however, and has poured them all into a paperback entitled No, I’m His Twin Brother – memories of the way it was in court in West Berkshire but sadly is no more.

The revolving cast of characters features many former court colleagues, including veteran solicitor Ian Campbell and district judge Terry English, now semi-retired and retired, respectively.

There is also a wealth of anecdotes culled from exchanges with the court “customers” over the years.

But there’s an underlying poignancy as Mr George reflects on the loss of local justice.

In a postscript he speculates, only half jokingly, that sentencing will be done by computer in the near future.

The book is available, priced £5, from Shoemakers Christian Books and Coffee Shop in The Arcade, Newbury.

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