10 May Complaint against Judge Richard Bray (Northampton Crown Court)

Email to the Office for Judicial Complaints

From: Peter Reynolds
To: inbox@ojc.gsi.gov.uk
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 8:12 PM
Subject: Complaint against Judge Richard Bray (Northampton Crown Court)

Dear Sirs,

I wish to make a complaint against Judge Richard Bray concerning statements he has made which were published in the Northants Evening Telegraph today Tuesday, 26th April 2011. The article is still available online via this link: http://www.northantset.co.uk/news/local/plea_for_longer_sentences_for_cannabis_growers_1_2626279

I make the complaint personally but also in my capacity as the leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) a UK political party, whose address is P.O. Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, Surrey. RH1 9BN. For the purposes of correspondence, please use my personal address as given below.

Judge Bray is quoted as saying that cannabis is “causing lasting mental problems for users” and also that “he is dealing with an increased number of young people suffering from paralysis following extended drug use”.

These statements are without any foundation in fact. All the scientific evidence and research points in the opposite direction from Judge Bray’s statements which appear to be nothing more than uncritical repetition of tabloid newspaper misinformation, innuendo and propaganda. It is disgraceful that anyone involved in the administration of justice, particularly a judge, should make such inaccurate, misleading, prejudiced and sensationalist statements. They must call into question Judge Bray’s suitability for any role in the judiciary but are conclusive proof that he is unfit to preside in any case concerning cannabis, so grossly improper is his declared position.

It may be that the use of the word “paralysis” is a misprint or an error. The popular tabloid newspaper lie is that cannabis causes psychosis and this may be what Judge Bray said or meant to say. There is no evidence to support either assertion.

The most important evidence in this matter is from Keele University. In 2009, specifically in response to tabloid headlines linking cannabis with psychosis, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) commissioned the largest ever study of its type examining links between cannabis use and mental health. It looked at 600,000 subjects and concluded that “the incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining” despite increased cannabis use.

Prof. Glyn Lewis of the University of Bristol carried out a systematic review of all published evidence on the subject and said that 96% of people can use cannabis with no risk at all. Only this month he has re-stated that there is no certainty of a causal relationship between cannabis use and psychosis. Writing in the journal “Addiction” in 2009 he said that focusing on schizophrenia in connection with cannabis use was “misguided” and that “Our research cannot resolve the question whether cannabis causes schizophrenia, but does show that up to 30,000 people need to be prevented from using cannabis to prevent one case of schizophrenia”.

Professor Leslie Iversen, chair of the ACMD and the government’s chief drugs advisor is also on the record saying that cannabis is “one of the safer recreational drugs. A recent CLEAR analysis of morbidity, hospital admissions, toxicity and propensity to psychosis showed that cannabis is 2953 times safer than alcohol.

Judge Bray’s comments are outrageous both because they are factually inaccurate and because they betray a bias which is incompatible with his position. I urge you to take the strongest possible steps to ensure he plays no further part in the trial of anyone for cannabis-related offences.

The evidence I have presented above is merely indicative of the vast body of peer-reviewed, scientific research which refutes the statements made by Judge Bray. I can provide further evidence if require and I am ready to give oral evidence in person, if that would assist.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Reynolds

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