Today’s respondent is Westminster Magistrates’ Court so I drift back to my recent visit there. In the absence of any drinking water I reluctantly put some coins in the tea machine. Nothing happens.

I look round at a security guard.

‘Do you know anything about the tea machine, please?’

‘It’s out of order. There’s a lot of money in there.’

‘Could someone put up a sign saying out of order?’

He glares.

‘Every time we do that, one of you lot rips it down.’

I’m here as an appropriate adult on behalf of an adult. His solicitor is late but she’s probably having a terrible time because of the cuts. I can’t nip out to the shops for some water because there’s no timetable and he could be called into court any minute, so I find another drinks machine and take a few sips of Coke for the second and I hope last time in my life. The chemical bomb makes me restive and even more thirsty. My friend happily swigs the rest of it.

The solicitor arrives. I explain about my friend. A mental health nurse is found in the bowels of the building. She interviews my friend and writes a report.

Hours pass. I’ve had enough of the official brush-off so I change tack: ‘Excuse me, I’ve got to leave soon to meet a judge. What time is my friend going to be called into court, please?’ After a bit of hurrumphing he is abruptly squeezed in.

On the floor behind the tea machine I spot a laminated ‘out of order’ sign, complete with a lump of Blu-Tack, so I stick it on the front.

Over lunch, the judge comments that the law ought to realise it’s a service industry.

None of  the above is meant to detract from the appalling seriousness of today’s Supreme Court case, VB and others v Westminster Magistrates’ Court, or from the genuine welcome, openness and courtesy to be found everywhere in the Supreme Court, where a child can sleep with his head on his mother’s shoulder in the public seats even though allegations of torture and genocide in Rwanda lie at the heart of this dreadful matter.

‘We do acknowledge that what we’re asking for is without precedent in extradition law,’ says counsel.

More pictures if you scroll down.


This post originally featured on Isobel’s blog Drawing from an uncomfortable position 12 June 2014.