Interpreter scheme slammed as 'shambolic' after Echo expose

Interpreter scheme slammed as 'shambolic' after Echo expose

Interpreter scheme slammed as 'shambolic' after Echo expose

First published in News
Last updated

A POWERFUL committee of MPs has branded a Government department as “shambolic” after the Daily Echo revealed a murder trial had to be temporarily halted because an unqualified man stood in for his interpreter wife.

The judge suspended the Winchester Crown Court case when it became clear that Mubarak Lone was failing to translate key phrases fully and even got the oath wrong for a Sikh witness.

The Ministry of Justice was yesterday criticised over its handling of a contract for court language services, with MPs saying it had ignored warnings the quality of services would be sacrificed when it outsourced the work.

Committee chair, Sir Alan Beith said: “The Ministry of Justice’s handling of the outsourcing of court interpreting services has been nothing short of shambolic.”

The contract with Applied Language Solutions (ALS), now known as Capita Translation and Interpreting after it was taken over, led to court proceedings being held up and even cases collapsing after it launched early last year.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said while there had been “significant” issues at the start of the contract, the department had seen dramatic improvements after taking “swift and robust action”.

A lack of registered interpreters, resulting in poor quality of services and a struggle to meet demand, was among the problems faced by courts, the committee said.

During the 2012 trial of Rajvinder Kaur, who was accused of battering her mother-in-law to death with a rolling pin at her home in Broadlands Road, Southampton, unqualified Mr Lone had turned up to stand in as an interpreter for his wife, who was busy.

He arrived 45 minutes late, and a junior defence barrister who happened to speak Punjabi then realised he was failing to translate important phrases in full for mother- of-two Kaur’s husband, Iqbal Singh.

An investigation later revealed Mr Lone was not qualified or registered.

Kaur, 37 at the time of the trial, was later jailed for life after being found guilty of murder.

In another case, the committee heard an interpreter mistranslated a defendant’s statement, which ultimately gave the jury the impression that their evidence was not credible, but no action was taken.

Sir Alan said: “(The Ministry of Justice) did not have an adequate understanding of the needs of courts, it failed to heed warnings from the professionals concerned and it did not put sufficient safeguards in place to prevent interruptions in the provision of quality interpreting services to courts.”

Justice Minister Ms Grant said: “The vast majority of interpreter bookings are now being completed and complaints have fallen considerably.

“The changes we have made have led to major savings for taxpayers, totalling £15 million in the first year, and we continue to monitor the contract on a daily basis and demand continuing progress.”

Comments (8)

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7:22am Wed 6 Feb 13

Lionel P says...

Very strange how this could have happened. During the time I worked for a government department we changed from using freelances (many of whom were excellent) to being required to book only interpreters who were vetted by the Register of Public Service Interpreters. If this company was supplying unregistered interpreters they should never get any government business (national or local) again.
Very strange how this could have happened. During the time I worked for a government department we changed from using freelances (many of whom were excellent) to being required to book only interpreters who were vetted by the Register of Public Service Interpreters. If this company was supplying unregistered interpreters they should never get any government business (national or local) again. Lionel P
  • Score: 0

7:59am Wed 6 Feb 13

10 Minute Man says...

The problems of this system with apparently unsuitable people providing translation have been known and reported for ages - lol at the "Echo exposes" line....but in any case it needs sorting.
The problems of this system with apparently unsuitable people providing translation have been known and reported for ages - lol at the "Echo exposes" line....but in any case it needs sorting. 10 Minute Man
  • Score: 0

8:04am Wed 6 Feb 13

FoysCornerBoy says...

The simple solution would be to establish a high quality interpreting and translation service working across all public services in defined geographical areas.

Properly managed and co-ordinated (via Local Economic Partnership boards?) such a service could both save public money and ensure higher quality outcomes for all users. Who knows such a public service could also prove attractive to local businesses who could help generate additional income.

I don't doubt that some of the usual posters on this site will rage about the waste of public money spent on interpreting and translation. What they need to consider is the price that ultimately gets paid by not having such a service.
The simple solution would be to establish a high quality interpreting and translation service working across all public services in defined geographical areas. Properly managed and co-ordinated (via Local Economic Partnership boards?) such a service could both save public money and ensure higher quality outcomes for all users. Who knows such a public service could also prove attractive to local businesses who could help generate additional income. I don't doubt that some of the usual posters on this site will rage about the waste of public money spent on interpreting and translation. What they need to consider is the price that ultimately gets paid by not having such a service. FoysCornerBoy
  • Score: 0

10:34am Wed 6 Feb 13

sfby says...

Is this the same "expose" that Private Eye have been reporting for a couple of years?
Is this the same "expose" that Private Eye have been reporting for a couple of years? sfby
  • Score: 0

11:37am Wed 6 Feb 13

SaintM says...

The government has an efficient service but decided to take up a new CHEAP contract. It is costing more now due to cancelled cases so the minister is wrong.
The government has an efficient service but decided to take up a new CHEAP contract. It is costing more now due to cancelled cases so the minister is wrong. SaintM
  • Score: 0

2:19pm Wed 6 Feb 13

bazzeroz says...

Why doesn't the Echo translate for them? Oh, I just remembered, that wouldn't work! Spelling and literacy are involved.
Why doesn't the Echo translate for them? Oh, I just remembered, that wouldn't work! Spelling and literacy are involved. bazzeroz
  • Score: 0

3:29pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Paramjit Bahia says...

Lionel P wrote:
Very strange how this could have happened. During the time I worked for a government department we changed from using freelances (many of whom were excellent) to being required to book only interpreters who were vetted by the Register of Public Service Interpreters. If this company was supplying unregistered interpreters they should never get any government business (national or local) again.
Agree with you but try telling that to those powerful people in all main political parties who are in the pocekts of crapita or Capita, whatever the vampires who are sucking resources from public services are called. I doubt if they will listen to views of experienced people like you, because people with connections and money to donate are looked after.

Am I correct in asuming that this service was out sourced by the last government? If that is the case then now other side in power still making excuses for the decision should prove my point.
[quote][p][bold]Lionel P[/bold] wrote: Very strange how this could have happened. During the time I worked for a government department we changed from using freelances (many of whom were excellent) to being required to book only interpreters who were vetted by the Register of Public Service Interpreters. If this company was supplying unregistered interpreters they should never get any government business (national or local) again.[/p][/quote]Agree with you but try telling that to those powerful people in all main political parties who are in the pocekts of crapita or Capita, whatever the vampires who are sucking resources from public services are called. I doubt if they will listen to views of experienced people like you, because people with connections and money to donate are looked after. Am I correct in asuming that this service was out sourced by the last government? If that is the case then now other side in power still making excuses for the decision should prove my point. Paramjit Bahia
  • Score: 0

7:02pm Thu 7 Feb 13

beiroot says...

FoysCornerBoy wrote:
The simple solution would be to establish a high quality interpreting and translation service working across all public services in defined geographical areas. Properly managed and co-ordinated (via Local Economic Partnership boards?) such a service could both save public money and ensure higher quality outcomes for all users. Who knows such a public service could also prove attractive to local businesses who could help generate additional income. I don't doubt that some of the usual posters on this site will rage about the waste of public money spent on interpreting and translation. What they need to consider is the price that ultimately gets paid by not having such a service.
Personally I do think it's a waste of money.As some of that money was once mine I also think I'm entitled to opine on where it's spent.Thank you very much!
[quote][p][bold]FoysCornerBoy[/bold] wrote: The simple solution would be to establish a high quality interpreting and translation service working across all public services in defined geographical areas. Properly managed and co-ordinated (via Local Economic Partnership boards?) such a service could both save public money and ensure higher quality outcomes for all users. Who knows such a public service could also prove attractive to local businesses who could help generate additional income. I don't doubt that some of the usual posters on this site will rage about the waste of public money spent on interpreting and translation. What they need to consider is the price that ultimately gets paid by not having such a service.[/p][/quote]Personally I do think it's a waste of money.As some of that money was once mine I also think I'm entitled to opine on where it's spent.Thank you very much! beiroot
  • Score: 0

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