Justice CommitteeWritten evidence from Mrs Thuy O’Shea


I wish to notify you of a very serious incident regarding the quality of interpreters in Vietnamese language who are provided by ALS to courts.

On 23 April 2012 there was a trial at Lincoln Crown Court involving two Vietnamese defendants—Bui & Le, T20110097. The Resident Judge of Lincoln, His Honour Judge Sean Morris was the presiding judge for this trial. There were three barristers, two for the defence and the prosecutor. A Vietnamese interpreter, Mr L Nguyen, was sent to the court by ALS as interpreter for the trial.

Half way through the first day, Mr Nguyen, the interpreter, was dismissed by the Judge because the Judge and all the three barristers had no confidence in his ability to interpret for the trial. The Judge asked the listing officer to request ALS to provide the court with a better interpreter and upon contacting them, the listing officer was told that Mr Nguyen is one of their best interpreters!

The court then had to revert to the National Register to instruct a qualified interpreter for the trial. I then attended and interpreted for the whole trial.

On 30 May 2012 there was a big case in Birmingham Crown Court involving over 20 Vietnamese defendants coming to court over three days (30, 31 May and 1 June) to be sentenced. The sentencing hearing for all of the defendants in this case was reserved to His Honour Judge Carr. There were four Vietnamese interpreters provided by ALS for the three day hearing at Birmingham Crown Court. One of the four interpreters was the same Mr L Nguyen who had been sacked by His Honour Judge Sean Morris because of his incompetence in Lincoln Crown Court on 23 April 2012!

August 2012

Prepared 5th February 2013