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Former JP wins official recognition for magistrates when they retire
A retired Rickmansworth magistrate has accepted an apology from one of the country’s most senior judges after an error-strewn printed letter was all the thanks she received for 15 years voluntary service.
Kathleen O’Malley left Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court for the final time in March without an official word of thanks or any recognition of her unpaid contribution to the British justice system.
Two weeks later insult was added to injury as she received a terse, coldly-worded retirement letter which was also wrongly addressed and on cheap photo-copy paper, something she describes as a "poor thank you".
The senior JP took her objection to the Lord Chancellor and within three months received a fulsome apology and a promise that in future all JPs would receive an embossed retirement scroll from the country’s senior presiding judge Lord Goldring.
Ms O’Malley, who had been a well known figure on the bench at Harrow Magistrates’ Court until its closure in June 2011, became the first recipient of the document last week.
She said: "Standing on the court steps I felt empty and disappointed that such an important part of my life had ended so feebly.
"That was bad enough but when the official retirement letter arrived a fortnight later I was furious.
"It came in a tatty brown envelope which had stuck to the cheap photo-stated letter.
"Instead of Ms it was addressed to Mrs O'Malley and contained a brief perfunctory thanks on creased paper.
"What a difference from the beautifully embossed high-grade letter which is to be the new standard valedictory for all magistrates.
"I had hoped to frame it as a memento, but there was no way I would hang this on my wall."
Dublin-born Ms O’Malley - also an award-winning author who has written a novel about her eight-year childhood ordeal in one of the notorious Sisters of Mercy hard labour homes - said she had spoken to JPs who retired before her and shared her frustrations at the lack of recognition.
She added: "I'm thrilled that the Justice Department acted so promptly in dealing with my complaint and rectifying the problem.
"It was an honour and privilege to be part of this country's justice system for so long. I am proud of my contribution.
"But I had walked out of court on my final day without even a cup of tea or an official word of goodbye.
"I'm proud to have gained proper recognition for the thousands of JPs who give their time freely to public service."