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John Hosking CBE presents his book ‘Our Magistracy: A Democratic Jewel Beyond Price’

Date Posted: Thursday 10 February 2022

It was a pleasure to welcome Mr John Hosking CBE into Ashford School on Wednesday 9 February, during our Academic Scholars Tea, to present his new book, ‘Our Magistracy: A Democratic Jewel Beyond Price’, to Headmaster Michael Hall.

Our event was led by Mr Vafidis, Director of Teaching and Learning, and students had the opportunity to ask their questions to John. Questions ranged from John’s motivation for taking up a role within the magistracy, to his opinions on bail.

John was a lay magistrate (JP) for 37 years, chairman of the Ashford Court for 8 years, and eventually chairman of the National Council of the Magistrates’ Association of England & Wales. As a magistrate, John gained wide experience in all aspects of the justice system, particularly the voluntary (unpaid) sector. Due to a reduced workload in the lower courts, fewer prosecutions by the police, an increase in district judges sitting as magistrates, courthouse closures, and a rise in the number of premature resignations among JPs, the magistracy in England & Wales has contracted during the last thirty years or so.  Fearing that, as a result, its future could be endangered, John Hosking wrote his book to stress the important contribution it makes to the special quality of our democracy.

John’s hope is that his book may stimulate an increase of interest in public service, and renewed support for the lay magistracy among politicians, administrators, the public and potential applicants for the Bench, not least younger candidates above the age of 18. John encouraged our students to take the optimistic view, and highlighted three areas for positivity: the beauty of the English language; the law in the UK; and the magistracy.

John has had a long association with Ashford School. He was a governor for 30 years, and chairman between 1994 – 2001, leading the Council at the time of the merger with United Learning.

Thank you John for presenting us with a copy of your book, and for taking the time to speak with and inspire our students!

You can buy a copy of John’s book from Amazon. The book describes the core role and character of the lay magistracy; it includes chapters on its history over the last 50 years, administration of justice in a moral vacuum, the relationship between JPs and lawyers, day-to-day management of the summary courts, fallibility of juries, personal qualities required by applicants, the future of the institution, and the Magistrates’ Association.