A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Monday, August 04, 2008

High in the Sky!

The BBC reports that an air stewardess has appeared in court charged with drinking alcohol before working on a plane. Monika Lukomska, 24, is alleged to have been working on a BMI Airbus A320 while over the drink-drive limit when she was arrested. This was on a flight from Aberdeen to Faro.

What I don't get about this story is that her solicitor Mike Munro told the court he needed more time to look into the act under which she was charged because he had never dealt with such a case before. That got me searching the net for the relevant act. It's the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003. Now I'm no lawyer and I'm no expert, but I can read! The section that is relevant is 93.

There is no double-meaning in the section at all. It is crystal clear that drinking over the limit is a criminal offence whilst performing an "aviation function" which in this case is "acting as a member of the cabin crew of an aircraft during flight". One bit of law that the drafters wrote up properly and Parliament saw fit to pass.

Mr.Munro has only to read it and take his client's instructions. What time does he need to "look into the act". It's this type of timewasting that causes the legal system to have a monumental bill which the taxpayer has to foot. I'm all for due process and the rights of the individual but I defy anybody to say that section 93 of this act is not clear or that being intoxicated on a plane whilst conducting an aviation function is not in contravention of the act.

She either was or she wasn't. That's all there is to it!


I am not a legal professional either. With respect, the Solicitor was right to ask for extra time to research the Act. For example, was the client charged under the correct section and were all procedures carried out correctly?
Imagine your dentist had to extract a tooth but as she had never done the particular operation she required the advice or assistance of a more experienced dental surgeon. Would you argue that as the procedure was clearly described on wikipedia the dentist should instead read up, grab hold of the pliers and pull?
I think this case is an example of a professional seeking to provide the best service to his client.

I take your point. But I'd agree with the dentist scenario rather more than this. My thoughts are that solicitors seem on occasions to prevaricate in order to increase remuneration. There is a lot of concern over the vast costs of the legal system. A fair day's pay OK, but we appear to be saddled with a mountain of cost.

If this was a drink-drive case it would be either over or under the limit. The same applies here. The Aviation section of the act is not long, it is very succinct and can be understood with a morning's work.

Maybe I'm being too hard on them all!

Interesting point, but if the solicitor is being paid out of legal aid his fee will be fixed and won't increase as a result of the case being deferred to a later date. So he won't "increase remuneration" at all: in fact, he'll be putting himself to extra work for the same money.

Incidentally, I'm not sure that the point is quite so simple as your initial post suggests: you say that "It is crystal clear that drinking over the limit is a criminal offence whilst performing an "aviation function" which in this case is "acting as a member of the cabin crew of an aircraft during flight"."

But according to the BBC report Ms Lukomska was removed from the plane before it took off, so there is no accusation of anything "during flight". That probably doesn't matter, given that the statute also covers activities "ancillary to an aviation function", but this is the sort of reason why a quick reading of the legislation won't suffice. (A morning's work, as you suggest, might well be enough, but Ms Lukomska was arrested on Sunday and brought to court on Monday morning: her solicitor wouldn't have had a morning to spare by the time the case called in court, even leaving aside the fact he will have had other cases to deal with at the same time.)

Also, the legislation you've found online is only the Act as passed by Parliament: it could potentially have been amended, and because the government doesn't readily make up-to-date versions of statutes available for free that isn't so easy to check immediately. A criminal lawyer will be familiar with (for example) amendments to road traffic legislation, but is unlikely to keep up to date with aviation law!

I feel that Monika has recieved scathing critisiscm over this issue , i,m an X boyfriend of Monikas and feel that the courts and the judicial system have penalised Monika over their ruling in this case , every one makes mistakes in their lifes and Monika is no exception , i know through knowing Monika for approx 4 years that she would never jeopardise her position knowingly , which she worked so hard to get , she,s a hard worker and like every one may of made mistakes along the way , we,ve all done it !! some more than others , but in Monikas case she is no way a heavy or abbussive drinker i know through experience , so BMI need to be seen to be carrying out their policies thats why they are policies to stop this sort of thing happening , but i think whats happened in the court will certainly of shocked her into reality , and i hope BMI see this as enough of a sharp shock therapy rather than a disciplinary one , they would not only lose a hard working person , but also a person who is caring , a people person & also an asset to any firm , she,s made a mistake and no doubt she will of learned her lesson from it , the girl deserves a second chance .

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