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CHARLES HENTY is the Under-Sheriff and Secondary of London. His job it is to run the Central Criminal Court, or Old Bailey.

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The Secondary

If you are the Secondary, who is the Primary?
In days gone by, the Under-Sheriff was the Primary. Now, it’s my wife.

What is your job?
It’s a bit like being the managing director of a small company. The City of London is the only local authority that owns and runs its own Crown Court. My job is to make sure the Old Bailey is open and available for the sitting of the courts. The only time we close is between Christmas and New Year. I leave home on Monday morning at 4.30am and get home late on Friday evening. The rest of the time I’m here.

How many people work there?
About 300 plus. I’ve a team of 140, the court service have about 80. There’s the usual people you’d find at any court - probation, Treasury Counsel, police, judges and so on - so we have about 2,000 people coming through our doors every day. It’s very much a team operation with a real sense of community.

Do you meet the judges?
I have lunch with the judges each day. It’s hosted by the sheriff on behalf of the Lord Mayor. It’s a gesture that had been going for a very long time. It’s very quick – 45mins if that. They are very very clever and extremely educated – highly stimulating company.

What do you like most about your job?
The people – their enormous loyalty to get the job done as best as we can. But also working in a building with such history. It’s very impressive and a difficult one to run but the community here has a real sense of pride in what they do.

You must see some moving things.
We tend to deal with homicide or terrorism - you don’t get immune to it but it is our staple diet. The most distressing thing is seeing the reaction of the families. The defendants and their family have their point of view. And then the victims and their families have their point of view. The team here do their best to look after them. We have eight murders and four attempted murders in court today so there will be more tears shed.

Tell us some Old Bailey trivia.
We have the River Fleet running through the bottom, and a part of the old Roman Wall. We have 74 cells, 18 courts. The figure of Justice on the dome is 22 tons. The dome is incredible inside – but it’s only open to myself and the building manager. We go up once a year to check it’s OK.

Charles Henty

The Great Hall, Old Bailey

Justice

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