On the eve of G20 Britain leads the world in bizarre politics…

The Ranting Penguin sums it up rather well… “What a tragedy for My Lord Myners, to fall so spectacularly from grace so fucking quickly after his elevation to the peerage so he could serve in Gordon’s Government of the Talent Free” .It would seem that Lord Myners may  not be fit for purpose and according to Sir Tom McKillop, former RBS Chairman, he did know about Fred The Shred”s massive pension. Conservative MP Michael Fallon, a member of the committee, said that Lord Myners had misled Parliament and should resign.

President Obama has arrived in our sceptred isle on Airforce One and two women prattled on for what seemed hours about absolutely nothing as far as I could hear on the BBC’s pointless live coverage. Obama shook hands with Alistair Darling and then jumped on a US helicopter to be transported to the US Ambassador’s residence.  There is no record of whether he asked Chancellor Darling if he knew if  Jacqui Smith’s husband had an orange penis. BBC hyperventilators, it is believed, think not.

Chase me, ladies, I’m in the cavalry reports: Fritzl’s Approval Ratings Fall Below Brown’s

“The approval ratings of Austrian rapist Josef Fritzl have fallen below Gordon Brown’s according to a Daily Mirror YouGov poll published today which suggests that Brown would win a 20-seat majority at the next election if the Conservative Party were led by Fritzl. Just over 7% of those polled said they were satisfied with the prime minister’s performance, compared to 3% for Fritzl, and 11% for burglars. Brown must hold an election by June 2010 or declare himself Lord Protector.”

Douglas Carswell MP does his best to keep the flag fl;ying by writing on his blog:

Another reason MPs are resented
There’d be much less resentment over MP perks if they were all brilliant at representing the country.

Gordon Brown, out of the blue,said: “Stop cash for MP’s second homes’… finally aware, unsually for our prime minister, of mounting public irritation with troughing MPs.   It would seem that we can’t even hold a party at the House without police having to be involved. The Independent reports : “Police used CS spray to break up a scuffle in the Houses of Parliament last night, arresting a man who was a guest at a drinks reception hosted by Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles.”  The hunt is on from the bloggers and the journos for the ‘miscreants’.

And, just to show that we are really on top of things in Britain we are even letting that absurd posturing miniature Frenchman, President Sarkozy,  into the country – even after he said that that ‘Anglo-saxons’ are to blame for Le Crunch-Credit. This may well be true but we don’t need to take any lessons from The Frenchies about anything – well, apart from rugby, perhaps wine making, cooking, film making, literature – and all the good things in life.

In the preceding paragraph I am simply following in a fine tradition perfected by Goebbels (See comment on Boris article)  and now used by Boris Johnson to great effect…  of appearing to say one thing, yet saying another….. although Boris does it with rather more style and elan.

And finally…before I nip off to see if the Police have started spraying CS gas about or if any protesters have started arriving in tanks – do visit Obnoxio The Clown in the morning with your coffee… today he is direct and to the point with his Send Your MP a couple of photos campaign: Print them off, stick them in an envelope and send them to your MP. Maybe the fuckers will get the hint this time.”

Oh… and, rather bizarrely, my brother Charon QC has taken to doing imaginary podcasts with Gordon Brown.

BabyBarista comes out of the shadows!

BabyBarista comes out of the shadows!

The Times Online has today revealed Tim Kevan, barrister and author of The Barrister blog, as the writer of their blog BabyBarista . To read the article, click here . It also reports that Bloomsbury will be publishing the first book in the series entitled ‘BabyBarista and the Art of War’ (pictured). To buy an advance copy of the book, click here .

Tim Kevan’s Barrister Blog

Good stuff, Tim – keep on surfing and writing.  We’ll have to do another podcast soon.

Lawcast 124: Jacqui Gilliat, Barrister, on the problems arising out of the reduction of legal aid in family cases.

Lawcast 124: Jacqui Gilliat, Barrister, on the problems arising out of the reduction of legal aid in family cases.

Today I am talking to Jacqui Gilliat, Barrister, 4 Brick Court and author of the Bloody Relations and Family Law Week blogs about the proposed reduction in legal aid in family law cases.

Listen to the podcast

Public have their say on how criminals payback

Public have their say on how criminals payback
Ministry of Justice: A new campaign that explains how the public can have their say on the work offenders carry out on Community Payback was launched today by Justice Secretary Jack Straw and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

This latest idea from the government has the whiff of being half baked. Now, in addition to the branded Hi-Viz yellow jackets to be worn by criminals doing ‘community payback’, The Ministry of Justice has plans for the public to be able to vote through DirectGov on the type of punishment criminals should receive. I have a feeling this ‘new initiative’ will descend into a TV style farce with nutters suggesting hanging, the pillory, keelhauling and couch potatoes from across the land  and the more moronic will probably want to ‘phone a friend’ to get advice before voting.

In a mature society – which we used to be – elected politicians, not hell bent on securing votes, taking advice from judges, probation officers, experts in penal theory etc etc  seems a far better way of meting out justice than this possibly and potentially ludicrous “Criminal X Factor” Style proposal. We shall see.

Nice one Jack… looking forward to your retirement after the next election?

Cry God for Harry, St George and England (not forgetting Wales)….

While we do not  yet live in a dystopic society, the dysfunctional nature of modern life; forged on an anvil of oppressive religion and laws devised to suit the needs of the ruling elite of times past, leave us in 21st century Britain with more laws than the  apparatus of the state can remember, let alone operate effectively.  Britain leads the world in the covert and overt surveillance of its people with more CCTV cameras than any other country on earth, a raft of anti-terror laws and criminal and quasi-criminal laws pumped out  of Westminster almost daily as politicians regulate a society that is moving dangerously close to being one of the most over-regulated  in Europe and, possibly, the world…  a society which has seen civil liberties eroded significantly over the past ten years of Labour rule.

I am no Tory but I marvel with no pleasure at how a Labour government, elected on the back of a promise to represent the less fortunate in our society, should enact laws which are being misused by councils and petty officials and which are being used to slowly take away the rights and freedoms we once enjoyed.

We talk blithely about British justice being the best in the world – it does have many good qualities – but our legal profession is in danger of being reduced to the role of undertaker and embalmer to a once more free country.

So what of lawyers and our role in this world?
Lawyers are under no more of a duty than plumbers, dentists and taxidermists, to act for society as a whole, to act as a bulwark against oppressive government rule, to take an active and professional interest in freedom and civil rights  and the truth of the matter is that most don’t.

We don’t have one legal profession, we have many. We have two branches to the ‘profession’: solicitors and barristers,  each  with different duties and responsibilities.   ‘Magic Circle’  and other corporate-commercial lawyers – as is their right – rarely, if ever come across civil liberty issues – save when a client faces the prospect of prosecution for a white collar crime.  These lawyers represent the interests of business, individuals or corporate entities and government. Private client lawyers generally represent the interests of those who wish to create trusts, optimise their income or avoid tax or purchase property, commodities or goods and they too are, generally, not involved in individual issues of civil liberties.  That is their chosen field of law. That is the work they are trained to do.

Listening to those who represent the profession talking about independence, about professionalism, about leading the world in the provision of legal services is enjoyable, but is it any more than ‘hype’ or  ‘blether’ as we say North of the border?  If lawyers in the business and wealthy private client sector don’t render a high quality service, there are plenty who do and who will, gladly, relieve those who don’t of the responsibility for doing so.

So, what are we left with in terms of lawyers who take upon themselves the duty and responsibility for representing the less fortunate, those who face prosecution for a crime they didn’t commit, those who need advice in a contentious divorce, those who need the help that our government should provide?

What are we left with of a legal profession of 140,000 and more lawyers who have the skills, the knowledge, the desire to ensure that our civil liberties are maintained, that law is applied according to law, that the police act properly, that other officials do not abuse their powers? I don’t know the precise answer, but I doubt that it would amount to much more than 15-20 per cent of the profession, if that.

And then what do we do to enable these remaining lawyers to act effectively? What does the government do to help these remaining lawyers?  The government has reduced legal aid in criminal law, family and other civil law fields where there is a demonstrable need for the skills of a highly trained lawyer to represent the vulnerable.  Law Centres can barely function without charitable support and civil liberty organisations, often staffed by lawyers, have also to rely on charity to operate, to protest in a reasoned manner when government acts unfairly or acts to reduce our freedoms.

It is a disgrace to our nation that we are in danger of returning to the days when ‘Justice’ was open only, like the doors of The Ritz Hotel,  to those of means, power and influence.  It is a disgrace that legal aid in criminal, family and some civil areas where the vulnerable need protection is being reduced to a point where experienced lawyers are just not able to work for the money provided.

Not all lawyers are the ‘fat cats’ beloved of the tabloid press. If a barrister or solicitor, after years of expensive training and now faced with the prospect of huge education debt,  is not able to afford to do this much needed work – the vulnerable will ultimately go unadvised and unrepesented in civil matters, the innocent will not receive proper representation when prosecuted for serious and complex crime and, I venture to suggest,  the police and public officials will feel more confident about using the extensive powers they enjoy in the knowledge that their use is unlikely to be contested by an experienced lawyer –  leaving the burden on judges to redress the balance of strong against weak in court.

This may sound extreme – and to some extent I have chosen language carefully to paint a bleak picture –  but those in the profession I have talked to in recent months paint a very bleak picture of our future if we lose the talents of experienced lawyers simply because they cannot afford to do this much needed work.

What is ‘justice’ when the strong are well represented and the weak not? Over to you……?

Finally… I leave you with this rather chilling piece by Ian Parker-Joseph of The Libertarian Party UK:

Just who is planning the violence in London next week? update

“When Police Commanders are reported to have said of the over hyped expected violence at the G20 marches that they are ‘up for it’, I seriously begin to wonder whether our prediction that the Government, and the Police, are actually looking to provoke the expected clashes.

An article in the Guardian Friday evening tells us:

Yesterday, the Metropolitan police was understood to have contacted a number of protest groups warning that the main day of protest, Wednesday, 1 April would be “very violent”, and senior commanders have insisted that they are “up for it, and up to it”, should there be any trouble.

Is this what you would call responsible policing?”

Postcard from *East of London*: 29th March

Dear Reader,

I write this week, reflecting that we live in a potentially dystopic society where the legal profession act as undertakers and embalmers, attending upon the apparatus of state and government,  with news reported this very morning that our Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is caught up in yet another expenses row.  Sky reports that ‘ a claim was put through for two adult films ordered at her home’.  Which of her two homes, we are not told.

The row centres on a £67 bill for television services claimed under her Commons expenses last June. The report continues: “According to the Sunday Express, the fee included charges for two pay-per-view films labelled “Additional Features”. The label is a euphemism for adult films used on bills “to avoid embarrassment”, the paper claimed. Films were allegedly ordered on April 1 and April 6 last year, when Ms Smith was not at her family home. Ms Smith said through her spokesman: “I am sorry that in claiming for my internet connection, I mistakenly claimed for a television package alongside it…. As soon as the matter was brought to my attention, I took immediate steps to contact the relevant parliamentary authorities and rectify the situation. All money claimed for the television package will be paid back in full.”

It would appear that her husband may have purchased these additional features, according to ‘Sky sources’. Ah well… an easy mistake to make.

Home alone?

That’s the trouble with being in the house alone.  Crack open the Beaujolais, get pissed and before one knows it…  one is rogering a naked woman in an office at the House of Commons and then being so drunk one can’t remember taking pics of this cavorting and  downloading them onto a computer.  A High Court judge, Mr Justice King, was involved this week in just such a case – in a judicial capacity.  He was not, of course, doing the drunken cavorting.

The News of The World takes up the story first reported last week:

DISGRACED sex romp MP Nigel Griffiths was covered in yet more shame last night-after a High Court Judge REJECTED his bid to SILENCE the News of the World’s TRUE revelations of his antics inside the House of Commons.

The News of the world continues… “The married former Labour minister attempted to get a legal injunction to gag us. But he failed and was SLAMMED by the judge.”

I am not entirely sure what is involved in being slammed by a high court judge  but Mr Justice King “damned Griffiths as he declared: “At the very least, he was being economical with the truth. It could be said to be a lie but I don’t have to go that far.”

Ah well… good to see that the affairs of state are proceeding in the usual ‘Carry on Shagging’ British way.

Well… I’ll be back later in the day… ineluctably….

regards as always

Charon

PS…

Does Jacqui Smith’s hubby have an orange penis?

Saturday, security, saddoes and hyperventilating journos…

As fellow blogger and former colleague from a past life The Fat Bigot would say – there is a goat over there, let’s scape it. The Police are to investigate  The Security Service MI5 “about allegations that it was complicit in the interrogation and torture of a Guantánamo Bay detainee” (The Times) . It is believed that this is the first time Police, who work closely with MI5 on counter-terrorism matters, have been asked to formally investigate a branch of our intelligence services.

Presumably there is sufficient concern to justify such unprecedented action and, indeed,  The Times reveals that Attorney-General,  Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC,  said that there were “grounds to open a criminal investigation, adding that it should be conducted “as expeditiously as possible given the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved”. She stopped short of agreeing to a full judicial inquiry as sought by some, including Sir Ken Macdonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions”

If a former DPP, Sir Ken McDonald QC, suggests a full judicial inquiry, the immediate question which springs to mind is why the Attorney is so reluctant to hold one.  Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Milliband have both stressed that Britain does not condone torure – although there is also reluctance to hold an inquiry into the Iraq War in public, perhaps for different reasons – so I feel some unease  with the present compromise and fudge.  Putting one branch of a counter-terrorism, policing and internal security  service to investigate another may prove to be difficult in practice, however impartial the investigating officers may be.

Let’s hope, as David Davis MP (a former shadown home secretary)  has suggested,  that we don’t find a low level M15 ‘goat’ and scape it.

The Independent reports: G20 protests: Cry havoc – and let slip a rainbow alliance of summit protesters. Anarchists and climate campaigners have joined forces to carry a message to world leaders meeting in London.  Protest is good, debate is to be encouraged,  but it seems that the Police will have more to contend with when the G20 leaders turn up in London for Gordon’s address to them about how he plans to save the world.  Instead of reasoned debate, intelligent analysis and interaction, some will pick up sticks, stones and kick their way into the financial heart of London and ‘attack anyone wearing a suit and tie’ according to press speculation.  I have little interest in these people and none for their methods. Frankly, at a time of serious crisis, not just for the Britain but for the world, climate change, while important, is nowhere near as important as getting medicine (and possibly surgery) to the present financially sick world.

It is quite possible, of course, that the press is whipping up a bit of froth here and even The Independent used the well worn technique beloved of tabloid hacks – ‘the one story claimed’ ploy and wrote… “One story claimed protesters would use “discarded lumps of concrete, bricks and wooden stakes”.  Another said an anarchist cell was arriving in a tank.”

A tank?  Protesters are going to arrive in a tank! Excellent nonsense. Get a traffic warden to slap a ticket on it immediately they stop where they shouldn’t stop.  That should sort it.  Get a  herd of Police Community Support Officers to give the protesters some of their  iced buns and doughnuts.

We shall see what transpires….

Charon After Dark: An interview with Gordon Brown?

Few people get a chance to interview an unelected serving Prime Minister and I am no different. So… I made an  interview up.  Here is an imaginary podcast with the Prime Minister.  I may have to get my coat – but it is Friday night and I was at a loose end with, possibly, too much Argentinian Malbec at my disposal.

Listen to the imaginary interview with Gordon Brown

27th March: I bring news of many things…

Rome fiddles while Nero burns?
The country is going through the deepest recession since the Second World War, the G20 countries are to meet shortly but it would appear that some people have other things on their minds.

Objection! Judges reject new robes
The Independent: High Court judiciary say Betty Jackson designs make them look like characters from ‘Star Trek’

The Queen also appears to have matters of State on her mind. Ian Parker-Joseph, leader of The Libertarian Party UK asks if The Queen is thinking of dissolving Parliament following recent trips to The Palace by The Governor of The Bank of England and The Chief of The Defence Staff.  Are we to have a ‘Very British Junta?” Charon QC considers the matter.

More fiddling while Rome burns occurred yesterday when a matter of national and pressing importance resulted in Parliament having to discuss this today – The Independent reports: “Royal succession rules may be reformed. Royal succession rules may be reformed. Buckingham Palace and PM in talks to give women equal rights to throne”

I cannot really understand why this matter, hardly one of the great issues of our day, has to be resolved now given that The Queen is likely to live for another 20 years and celebrate her 100th birthday and there is no immediate sign of the wayward Princes wishing to marry nice catholic girls…. or is there? The issue has been tabled by Lib-Dem MP Evan Harris, to end the “uniquely discriminatory” rules laid down by the 1701 Act of Settlement. Res ipsa loquitur.

Too young to retire at 70? We should work our judges until they are at least 75…
In 1916 the Earl of Halsbury heard a case on the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords at 92. The Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993 now provides that judges must retire at 70. The Times: is pre-occupied this morning with the thought that Supreme Court judges should work until they are 75.

The news, law reports, an update to blogs and the daily news podcast is now up on Insite Law

Stick it up your Junta Mr Brown?

Is it time to call in the Generals? Yesterday, Ian Parker-Joseph joked, following Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King’s audience with The Queen (an event without precedent?),  that it would only be a matter of time before The Queen invited the Generals in.

Well… she has done just that.. or rather, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup (Chief of the Defence Staff) has popped over to The Palace for a cuppa… or was it more?  Perhaps to advise about ‘readiness’?  Who knows? Perhaps Her Majesty just wanted an update on The Queen’s Flight or to know if her son ‘Airmiles Andy’ was using any of the aircraft for his important work near foreign golf courses? ?

Today – Ian Parker-Joseph, leader of the Libertarian Party UK, reports:

“Brown and Mandelson are both out of the country, and the signals are coming thick and fast, they are even re running ‘To play the King’ and ‘House of Cards’ on Sky… The madness that is NuLabour and the European project must be brought to and end, quickly. Could Her Majesty be seriously looking to sack Brown and force an election?”

You may think that, Ian – I couldn’t possibly comment…. to borrow a much loved phrase from a particularly venal, albeit fictional, exemplar of the political species.

So, with Dan Hannan MEP ripping into Brown, with Brown being pilloried in political blogs and the dead sea (sic) press, with The City distinctly unimpressed by the offer to purchase £1.75 billion of government IOUs yesterday – is it time for change? Is it time for an election?

Can The Queen do it? YES, SHE CAN?

26th March: Insite Law – news, editorial and podcast now up

Roasted on a spit?
While Gordon Brown is roasted by Dan Hannan MEP on his visit to The European Parliament in one of the most articulate and powerful poltiical speeches I have ever listened to – excoriating – Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, has been unveiling tougher corruption laws. Hannan seems a bit bemused at the furore his speech has caused. Guido Fawkes takes up the story with…

Rushies, Co-Conspirators: “Hannan is Our Leader”

INSITE LAW MAGAZINE

Following the extensive re-design of Insite Law yesterday with nex sections – Editorial, Law News, Law Reports, From The Blogs, Profession, Students and Discussion Board – I am doing a short editorial each morning in addition to the daily news podcast and update.  These will all be archived on the Insite Law blog so you can catch up should you wish to do so.

Daily Legal News, editorial and news podcast now up on Insite Law

Charon Reports: Cheating or taking professional advice?

Listen to the Podcast: Charon Reports: Cheating or taking professional advice?

There has been a fair bit of coverage in the blogosphere and the dead tree press about the services offered by Oxbridge Training Contracts,

Legal Week reports: “A controversial company which provides model essays to university students has broadened its services to help prospective lawyers complete training contract and pupillage applications…… The move has provoked anger from some lawyers since the blog Android’s Reminiscences brought it to the wider attention of the legal profession last week when Simon Myerson QC of St Paul’s Chambers claimed in his blog, ‘Pupillage and How to Get it’, that it equated to “cheating”.

Today I talked to John Foster, spokesman for Oxbridge Training Contracts about the legality of his service, his view of the ethics and exactly what Oxbridge Training Contracts is actually offering to students who wish to use their services.  We also talk about the provision of model answers, tailored to specific questions put by the student client, and the problems that could arise if a student submits these model answers as their own work for coursework assessment.

I am a firm believer in the old adage that there are two sides to every story. I asked John Foster some difficult and direct questions and told him in advance of the podcast about the warning placed on the Bar Council OLPAS site this afternoon. Listen to his answers, make your own mind up, and if you wish to comment – please do so in the comments section below.

The Bar Council warning on the Olpas site

Bar Council Warning
The Bar Council is aware of companies operating via the internet who offer to write pupillage applications and provide other services to assist with applications and interviews. We strongly advise applicants that it is likely to be detrimental to their applications to use any service containing customised model entries or answers on application forms or for interview. We have warned chambers about their existence and to be alert to their use.
***

22nd March: Postcard from *East of London*

Jade – you have been evicted, would you please leave The World

From “fat chav racist slag” (Sun, News of The World etc etc in times not so far past)  to the “People’s Princess”  probably sums up the career of Big Brother housemate Jade Goody who passed into television and media folklore in the early hours of this morning.  It is inelegant to speak ill of the dead, so I won’t – but if I can work out how to make as much money out of my *upcoming* death, I will die a happy man.

I do hope that we shall not see the outpouring of national grief and sanctimonious hypocrisy from the media and the people of Britain who run around like headless chickens chucking flowers about and weeping in public as happened when that other People’s Princess died some years back.  The good news is (a) The Duke of Edinburgh will not be accused by conspiracy and other assorted nutters of being implicated in this death and (b) Sir Elton won’t have to turn up, rework an old song again,  and sing Candle in the Wind.

I will say this, though…. Jade was absolutely right to milk as much money out of the tabloids and other elements of the popular press to provide for her children.

Moving on.. to other matters, but staying with the News of The World.

A SENIOR Labour MP cheated on his wife in a midnight sex romp INSIDE the House of Commons.

The News of The World solemnly reports… “Former minister Nigel Griffiths, a close friend of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, cavorted with a naked brunette in his Parliamentary office on Remembrance Day. Then the shamed MP, 53, LIED about the shock breach of Commons Rules of Conduct, branding our story “outrageous.” Now he stands accused of bringing the House into disrepute.”

As I drank my tea and ate my excellent scrambled eggs with smoked salmon strips – cooked by my own fair and sober hand – I relished the world class hypocrisy of the NOTW journo who then went on to roar… “Griffiths could not have chosen a more shameful date for his sordid House of Commons sex romp— Remembrance Day. On the very day Britain was honouring its fallen heroes, Griffiths—a former Deputy Leader of the House—dishonoured the Mother of Parliaments and disgraced his privileged position.” I was amazed Neville Thurlbeck could not have shoehorned even more hyperbolating cliches into his short piece.  Must try harder next week Mr T… but good effort…. enjoyed the piece.

As a hack writer myself, I sometimes wonder what goes through the minds of Sun, Mirror and NOTW journos when they write.  Tabloid journalism in this country is, as it happens, extremely well written.  It is difficult to reduce complex political and other issues to simple terms, to come up with the classic headlines and puns, and still manage to keep a straight face while writing complete and utter hypocritical bollocks.  I refuse to believe that tabloid journos are god fearing men and women who abhor the seamy side of life, who are outraged by the peccadillos of life etc etc…   But you have to admire the mania that can come up with the headline “Louse of Commons”  Good stuff.

Yesterday I had a few comments to make about The Pope and then my cousin, Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo, helped out by doing a guest post allowing me to talk on skype to a friend about life, the universe and Scrabble ( a game I am being slaughtered in currently) Cousin Charoni wrote about the diminishing influence of the Church in advanced societies.  I contented myself by commenting on the Pope’s helpful advice to Africa.

And so… over to my mate Jimmy Bastard’s inimitable blog: Never Mind The Bollix for the first green shoots of Spring: “At lang last, the winter skies appear to brighten of a night, and the dark hibernation once more draws to an ungracious end. Nae mare will the humble drunk have to stagger hame in the first half light of a cald winters gloom. Nae mare will he run the risk of disfiguring his shoes, by way of an incongruously placed swell of a dying man. Spring has sprung its overdue fingers upon the festering cities of Ecosse. The vestige’s of culture have at last begun to screw in their only remaining 30 watt bulb.”

Rabbie Burns?  No… this is poetry!  If you have a taste for the bizarre, the surreal and the plain dirty… this blog is for you.  the Photoshoppery is also superb [Not always office safe… it has to be said] . Visit Never Mind The Bollix.

Oh.. and do try to nick one of Jimmy Bastard’s  images – just for the pop up message.  I’ll probably get a visit from The Boys… but because I am a Scot I shall assume they have come to deliver  some rather fine wine…

As to Mother’s Day… I’d be arrested if I tried to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mother – she’s been dead for 15 years.  But for those of you who do celebrate this day – have a good one.

Well the sun is shining… this means it must be time for me to open a bottle, have a glass and watch the world go by… a piu tarde

Charon

In the name of the father… the son….

I see that my cousin Charon QC  has been busy having a go at His Holiness (infra). While I would not wish to provoke yet another schism in the church, especially after that rather embarrassing business over the British holocaust denying bishop,  it is not particularly helpful to the wider interests of those of us on…shall we say… the financial wing of the church… to have His Holiness calling on our wonderful friends who lead countries in Africa to stop engaging in well established principles of administration and  ‘best practice’ by asking them to stamp out corruption. Selling relics is so 15th century… now we offer a range of services, including Premier Platimum Absolution which covers pretty well every sin from corruption to mass genocide… for a fee, of course.

For many years the Church enjoyed power, prestige, influence, great wealth and the private pleasures of the flesh by preying on the superstition and lack of education of the people it sought to have power over.  King Henry VIII started the rot by getting rid of the Pope and grabbing the land and wealth owned by the Church under the wonderful euphemism of ‘Reformation’ and set up a model more convenient to his politico-legal needs to establish a dynasty. Now we share with our brethren in other faiths a world of converts much diminished by education and seek to convert the remaining ill educated peoples of the world to our ways.

We have had some success but the internet, the spread of television and people like Hitchens and Dawkins flogging their God Delusion books through Amazon and all good bookshops has made it much more difficult to pass the collection plate around on Sundays – although we are doing good trade in ‘Weddings in Church for the modern godless couple’, particularly in our more ‘historic’ churches and…. we have upped the stakes by doing wine tastings on Sunday mornings and slipping in a bit of absolution and a complimentary wafer  as our congregation sips the wine.

I am often asked if I believe in God.  I smile beningnly, raise my arms to the heavens and say ‘God is within us all’… which usually does the business.   Now, if you forgive me, I have matters to attend to… we are developing a package for governments that are running out of money to pay their police and armed forces.  We have a working title for it… ‘Operation Put the Fear of God back into your people’.

In the name of the  Father… the son….

Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo

Infallibility and a trip to London…

I was talking to John Bolch of Family Lore earlier today and in the course of the conversation, apropos of nothing in particular, he  asked me if I had heard the latest utterances of the man in Rome with the pointed white hat, God’s Banker, the Pope. I told him that I rarely, if ever, listen to or read the musings of the mumbo jumbo men.  John, who is a fellow rationalist and non-believer, told me that The Pope was telling Africa to stop using condoms and observed, drily, that the Pope seemed to be saying that while it is a pity 22 million africans are suffering from AIDS, catholic dogma was more important.  This prompted me to google *Pope* and see what happened.

Peter Brookes cartoon from The Times

Apparently his holiness, after being criticised for suggesting that the use of condoms could endanger public health and increase the spread of AIDS (which appears to go against the usual medical advice), decided that being Pope wasn’t quite enough to keep him busy and that he would go on Stars in your Eyes and be King Canute for the day by calling for Africa to stop being corrupt – an equally pointless call to arms for those of a dictatorial and presidential disposition in this beautiful but troubled continent.

It is just as well the Pope can plead infallibility because if he was a doctor and gave such advice to a developing nation he would, I suspect, be open to litigation for professional negligence.  But there we are… moving swiftly on…

Yesterday I escaped from websites, blogs, podcasts and the like to make a State visit to London. I had planned to go up to meet a friend at 6.30 but…  The Prince of Darkness, Geeklawyer, called me from oop North where he had been giving of his expertise, to ask me if I fancied a quick drink or two at 2.00 pm. The Pope being  a catholic I accepted, showered, shaved (but leaving the tache intact), and made my way to The Lamb in Lamb’s Conduit Street.  We stood outside in the warm spring sunshine and drank wine.  Geeklawyer had cider, in fact…. about seven large glasses of the stuff at which point he decided we should do a podcast.  He produced his Google phone and hey presto… instant pile of recorded nonsense.  I shall post link when he gets round to posting it on his blog.

Being of the view that it would be inelegant to meet my friend at 6.30 pm ‘roaring on arrival’, my lunchtime consumption was moderate.  After a very enjoyable couple of hours nattering about law, philosophy and life I made my way back to ‘East of London’. A chav on the train was shouting a converstaion at his mates on his mobile.  His command of English was limited by he certainly gave the old anglo-saxon a bit of an outing.  He did not appear to grasp the concept that microphones on mobiles are capable of transmitting sound most effectively to people at the other end even if they are 50 miles away or more.

However… it appears that temporal lords may not be infallible

The Times reports that “Lord Myners knew about massive pension payout for disgraced banker.”   The Times notes… “Sir Tom MCKillop (Chairman RBS)  is understood to dispute what Lord Myners told the committee when he said that he was not informed about the size of Sir Fred’s pension pot during negotiations last October over the Government’s rescue package for the bank….In fact, according to Sir Tom, Lord Myners was told exactly how much the pension was worth”

Perhaps Lord Myners needs to put a condom over his head to protect himself from his own mouth and what comes out of it?

But the world of showbiz shows us how fallibility can be fun… The Sun reports:

KATE MOSS’s epic week on the thrash has finally caught up with her.

“The supermodel lost it when she was forced to queue for the loos at London hotspot Volstead and ended up arguing with staff. A source said: “She barged into the ladies and when she realised there were no cubicles free she starting kicking one of the doors, shouting: ‘Hurry up or I’ll kick the f***ing door down.”

Political infallibility

Ian Parker-Jospeh, leader of the Libertarian Party UK has a post today illustrating the infallibility of politicans.. or rather how infallibility can be achieved by not giving people an opportunity to take part in the decision making process.  Ian P-J reports… “The ex-mayor of London who lost his position largely through his support for the congestion charge in the capital has said the people of Bristol should not be given a say on their cities bid to introduce a charge. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone says it would be pointless to have a referendum on congestion charging in Bristol.”

I enjoyed the bit in Ian’s  blog post… “Commenting on the position of being a directly elected Mayor he said: “I could do exactly what I wanted to do.”

I did a podcast with Ian Parker-Joseph fairly recently.  f you wish to listen to his thoughts on Liberty – listen here

And on that note… the sun is shining and I have some liquid sunshine to get stuck into… a piu tarde.

Just a few things…

And so here we are… coming up to the end of the week – has it been a good week for you?

Twitter continues to amuse (or abused in my case) and here is an excellent short film for those who share my taste for parody.

Tom Harris MP on his blog provides the following illustration of a professional busybody performing at world class levels.  I despair for our country sometimes. Here is a railway official who hasn’t quite got over Thomas The Tank Engine being officious.  I would have thought a train spotter the least likely disguise for a terrorist to adopt… but no, to this railway official this man presented  an ‘ever present danger’.

Ian Parker-Joseph, leader of the Libertarian UK Party, writes in his blog: Craig Murray to accuse Jack Straw on torture before HR committee: “The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has agreed to hear evidence from Craig Murray on torture on Tuesday 28 April at 1.45pm, where he will accuse Jack Straw of instituting and approving policy to accept intelligence from torture abroad.

Craig tells us on his blog:

I am delighted, as I have been trying for over four years to lay the truth about British torture policy before Parliament. I will testify that as British Ambassador I was told there is a very definite policy to accept intelligence from torture abroad, and that the policy was instituted and approved by Jack Straw when Foreign Secretary. I will tell them that as Ambassador I protested formally three times in writing to Jack Straw, and that the Foreign Office told me in reply to my protests that this was perfectly legal.

I will prove my evidence with documentation.”

Hi Adobe… thank you very much for writing to me

Hi Adobe… thank you very much for writing to me

… but in these difficult days why do you you think, when I have paid a lot of money for your excellent products over the years, I should want to give you my thoughts for FREE?  I am an academic lawyer, blogger and a writer…. I pay you for your software in full – have the courtesy to pay me for my opinion?

I intend to publish this on my blog and send it to my reader (depending on which Stats package you use – and that does not include @StephenFry’s Followers on Twitter, who I shall inform immediately)  – because, frankly, you make a lot of money already, which I don’t begrudge, and I really do not see why you can’t pay those you ask for advice for the time involved in completing your development surveys or give them something in return, like a free brush tool add-on for Photoshop or perhaps a turbo charged pdf add on for Acrobat Reader?

Maybe I should go off to Pirate Bay and just rip you off and get your stuff for free like everyone else does? ….  but I won’t because I am one of the last of The Mohicans and I don’t rip software off.

I’m sorry if this sounds harsh – but you guys already try to rule the world… I’m OK with that, provided you pay us to live in your world.

On that note… goodnight.

Charon QC
Blawger
http://charonqc.wordpress.com

PS… my Bank Account is a bit lonely at the moment… if you ask it nicely it will receive your consultancy fee with grace, elegance and passion …. email Tartsareus@charoninc.orgasm for details.

On 18 Mar 2009, at 00:05, The Adobe Research Team wrote:

Dear XXXXXXX

Adobe is conducting a survey to better understand the teaching and professional development needs of customers like you. Please take this opportunity to tell Adobe about your experiences so that we can continue to improve in a way that serves you best.  Please note that this survey will be running for a limited period of time; therefore, please complete the survey as soon as possible. This survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

[It drones on for ages… so I cut the rest….]

Thank you in advance for your participation. We look forward to hearing from you!
Sincerely,
The Adobe Research Team

Relative sanity returns to Blawg Review with #204 hosted by Above The Law?

Good evening.  I talk to you from The Boat. Before Geeklawyer, the Prince of Darkness, returns to his coffin in the cellar, with or without a stake through the heart from those who may have been outraged by Blawg Review 203, I  am talking to him about Blawg Review 204 which is about to be hosted by the well known Above The Law tabloid in The States as Blawg Review returns to a degree of relative sanity. I say ‘Relative’ because Above The Law is well known for the dark side, humour and going off piste but, apparently without images of Victorians rogering wenches.  Good evening, Geeklawyer.  Pleased with yourself?

Watch the movie?


Read Blawg Review #203

If you would like to make your own Tory banner then click here

15th March: Postcard from *Somewhere in England*

Dear Reader,

At a time when the government is pouring millions of pounds into entirely pointless activities like swimming fast for a couple of hundred metres in heated pools, cycling faster and faster with funny hats on around an indoor arena, or encouraging people to see how high and how far they can jump… or even hop, skip and then jump… and our England cricket team, stuffed to the gunnels with sacked England Captains snatching draws from the very jaws of victory  – the government is hampering the activities of the true sportsmen and women of England – the binge drinkers.

Britain leads the world at binge drinking but we cannot afford to be complacent. The Swedes, the Germans, the Russians are catching us up fast. At one stage Britain led the world in serial smoking, but a group of professional busybodies  declared a war on terror and we surrendered in droves; a pitiful, ragged, army of smokers reduced to huddling outside in all weathers to get our fix, leaving the dessicated anti-smoking lobby drinking half a shandy in now, increasingly, empty pubs.  Some pubs are terminally empty.  They have shut down in large numbers.

Now, Sir Liam Busybody, HM Chief Medical Officer, (The Independent reports) begins his crusade to stamp out drinking by proposing that the price of alcohol be doubled. Other medical and political busybodies are trying to deal with that other sport we excel at, only bettered by the Germans and Americans – FatBastardo – The Way of The Fat Bastard.  What are they all trying to do – build a master race that lives forever?

Anyway… be that as it may… tonight is not the time for me to remind you that our freedom to live our lives as we wish to is being eroded in so many ways;  some serious, others perhaps not so serious. So… moving on to other matters.

As my brother, Rex Charon MP,  is  huddled in a think tank at this very moment talking policy with other like minded future political masters, it is left to me to keep the political home fires burning by drawing your attention to some useful posts from the leading political bloggers.  I shall do so, of course, from the perspective of the surreal-politik rather than real-politik.

Guido Fawkes reports that “Brown is Bonkers” Meme Now Underpins the Tory Message and suggests that the Tories should ‘stoke it all the way to the next election’.  One doesn’t need to be ‘Mystic Charon’ to work out that the Tories are on a roll, but the Guido post is definitely worth a read.   Mayor Boris has a recipe for chutney, would you believe?.  Crikey!

My friend from many years ago, retired barrister (early retirement) The Fat Bigot, always has something worth reading and today he has this: “A little clear blue water : Today saw a potentially important step towards the next general election, which must be held within the next fifteen months. It seems quite a long time when you put it in months, but it will soon pass. What was witnessed today was a purely strategic move by David Cameron, the leader of the Conservatives, to put a clear dividing line between him as potential Prime Minister and poor Gordon.”

The Ranting Penguin has a post entirely in keeping with my postcard to you today… Hoon of The Day: “The name’s Dalziel, and I’ll have a large Highland Park. Forget the fucking water!”

The Devil’s Kitchen is on the money with a post by ‘The Filthy smoker’Calais here we come: “Sir Liam Donaldson: pasty, saggy-faced, fat-arsed c**t.”

I’m afraid I agree… and on that note... I’m orf to drink a few glasses of Tempranillo, prop up the Spanish economy and  wait for the Prince of Darkness to set Anglo-American relations back to the time of George III with Blawg Review 203… it is due on a website by Geeklawyer at midnight GMT… or thereabouts if he hasn’t trashed his office at home following a binge drinking session….

As at 22.18 GMT Geeklawyers blog URL is showing the following message:  error 404 – not found…  Oh no! You’re looking for something which just isn’t here!

But… I am reasonably confident the master of the late night spliff will have sorted it by the witching hour… Yes.. he managed to post Blawg Review #203… not office safe…. and, possibly a good thing, he managed to leave me out of it… that’s Geeklawyer… mead and all! He did manage to get the Hellfire Club in though .

Next week I shall try to write of more important matters – but I did do some serious stuff all last week with posts and podcasts  (below).

Best regards as always,

Charon

Oyez … Oyez… let all those under The Queen’s Peace hear this….

Oyez … Oyez… let all those under The Queen’s Peace hear this…. That at midnight GMT this night the Prince of Darkness, @Geeklawyer, will unveil Blawg Review 203 and in so doing possibly set back Anglo-American relations two hundred or more years to the time of George III.

I have my Ingerland flag… a job lot left over from the European Championship when our dimwitted footballers failed to qualify because they were too busy farting around in nightclubs, modelling underwear, crashing expensive cars, roasting women and appearing in Hello magazine.  I shall hail the new dawn with Rioja… naturally.

Oyez… Oyez…

Lawcast 120: Paul Marsh, President of The Law Society, on the future of the profession after recession.

Lawcast 120: Paul Marsh, President of The Law Society, on the future of the profession after recession.

Today I am talking to Paul Marsh, the President of The Law Society of England & Wales.

We live in difficult and interesting times. I talk to Paul Marsh about a range of topics including his thoughts on the recession, how the law society is helping solicitors during these difficult days, the recent rise of nearly 10 per cent in fees for the Legal Practice Course by three London providers – BPP, the College of Law and Kaplan – and his thoughts on the future of the profession after the recession.

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

Lawcast 119: Access to Justice denied? Legal Aid… or the lack of it.

Lawcast 119: Access to Justice denied? Legal Aid… or the lack of it.

Today I am talking to Steve Hynes the director of the Legal Action Group. The purpose of The Legal Action group, a national, independent charity, is to promote equal access to justice for all members of society who are socially, economically or otherwise disadvantaged. To this end, it seeks to improve law and practice, the administration of justice and legal services.

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

Coming soon on Charon blog…

Podcasts on The Profession

I am starting a series of podcasts on the legal profession this afternoon with an interview with Paul Marsh, President of The Law Society of England & Wales. I plan to discuss: The recession – What The Law Society is doing to assist members – Rise of nearly 10% in LPC fees by  three London providers, BPP, College of Law and Kaplan – The Profession after the recession and Paul Marsh’s thoughts on the role of The Law Society today.

Podcasts generally…

I am also adding to my series of podcasts on Civil Liberties with a podcast with Steve Hynes, Director of The Legal Action group on access to justice.

I’m planning to collate all the podcasts I have done over the past 20 months into categories.  There are 120 podcasts as of today and by categorising them into themes on my new site Lawcasts.net I hope this will make the podcasts more accessible for those who want to listen.  This cataloguing will be done over the weekend, if not before.

Lawcast 118: Nottingham Law School on the development in the LPC for Autumn 2009

Lawcast 118: Nottingham Law School on the development in the LPC for Autumn 2009

Today I am talking to members of the the LPC Team at Nottingham Trent University Bob White Course director and his colleagues, Jane Ching and Fiona Cunningham. Nottingham Law School runs one of the leading LPC courses in the country and is the only law school to have an unbroken record of Excellent rating (or top ratings under the new rating scheme) in the the country.

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

Freedom of the press?

I don’t care what people get up to in their private lives, subject to the usual caveat of adult consent –  so Mr Mosley’s private amusements over the past 45 years, pruriently reported in graphic detail with video in the News of The World, is to my mind a matter between himself and his hooker / dominatrix.  It is not my responsibility, nor anyone else’s,  to make decisions for consenting adults…  so the ludicrous statement by The Daily Mail that Mosley somehow degraded five women who thrashed his backside with a cane until it bled is just ridiculous.

The Daily Mail reports the extraordinary activities (At the Select Committee), complete with a ‘smirking barrister’,  and I am therefore relieved of the responsibility of replicating their purple prose. Here is their report. I was amused by one comment made  by Mosley…  that his fascist leader father, Sir Oswald Mosley (who knew Hitler) and had a taste for jackboots and dictatorial dreams, “may have overdone it.”
I do, however, care about freedom of the press to report on matters of ‘public’ interest. The emphasis is on the word ‘public’. As far as I know, save for some responsibility for a sporting interest, Mosley does not sit as a judge, he does not sit in parliament governing our lives and his private affairs and amusements should not be blazened across the tabloids for profit. Let’s be honest.  There are several million adults in this country, at the last stroke, sorry… count…  who enjoy sado-masochistic sex and fetishes.  There are millions of gays (who in days past were criminalised) who now, because of change in the law and social attitudes,  enjoy their lives without fear of being arrested for being gay.  Surely our society is mature enough to allow adults their pleasures without behaving like kids drooling over soft porn behind the bikesheds? If so, do we really need the posturing ninnyism of The Daily Mail and The News of The World which, I suspect, are more interested in the revenue than in protecting Mr and Mrs Cravat-Blazer from ‘depravity’.  I’ve always thought it rather odd that to protect middle England from ‘depravity’,  newspapers first have to reveal in salacious detail what that depravity is and then rail against it – preferably with a good pic or video or two.

I do not want to see a law of privacy develop in this country where those in power or celebrities can turn the Press and Media switch on and off at will should they commit criminal offences – but for the rest of their behaviour? – that is their private business and is not  and should not be revealed for the amusement of sloths on Sunday who don’t have the imagination to get their kicks save for reading about the sexual peccadillos of others.

The late, great, Sir John Mortimer QC took up smoking again in his later years as a protest against the increasing tendency of government to intrude in our lives.  Perhaps I shall take up strutting around in odd uniforms, shouting in faux German, brandishing a cane,  and ask if those I drink with down at the Old Dog & Fuck and my mates on Twitter if they fancy whipping it up a bit…

On that note.. in the time honoured fashion… I’m making my excuses and leaving to drink… what else?… RIOJA.

Lawcast 117: Kevin Brown, Manchester University on doing a Ph.D and a career in academe.

Lawcast 117: Kevin Brown, Manchester University on doing a Ph.D and a career in academe.

Today I am talking to Kevin Brown, an associate lecturer at the university of Manchester as part of my series of podcasts on current issues in legal education and career opportunities for students.  As Kevin is doing a Ph.d I am taking the opportunity to discuss what is involved in doing a Ph.D and what career opportunities there are in the academic world or elsewhere following completion of the doctorate.

Listen to the podcast with Kevin Brown | Podcast version for iTunes

Lawcast 116: Professor Geoffrey Alderman on standards in UK Universities.

Lawcast 116: Professor Geoffrey Alderman on standards in UK Universities.

Today I am talking to Professor Geoffrey Alderman, a historian with many years of distinguished academic service including a spell as Chairman of the Academic Council of the University of London and (1992-93) Pro Vice-Chancellor for Academic Standards. Geoffrey Alderman has campaigned long and hard for quality standards in our universities and yesterday appeared before the Commons Select Committee to put his views and answer questions.

The Independent reported this morning… “Universities should be stripped of their powers to award degrees if evidence emerges that they have “dumbed down”, MPs heard yesterday. Professor Geoffrey Alderman, the former academic chairman who caused uproar last year by claiming lecturers were under pressure to “mark positively” and turn a blind eye to plagiarism, told a Commons Select committee monitoring higher education that there had been a “systematic failure” to maintain degree standards for the past 20 years. In particular, vice-chancellors have permitted and indeed encouraged the decline in academic standards in the desperate search for (a) increased income from ‘full cost’ fee-paying international students, (b) more favourable student retention rates, and (c) high or higher positions in various ‘rankings’ or ‘league tables’ published by a variety of med

Listen to the podcast | Podcast version for iTunes

Baby DNA retained on Police database to reduce UK crime wave…

While I am no fan of babies and young children being wheeled into pubs at weekends by chino and blazer wearing parents, I do have some sympathy with the idea – should their babies be involved in a serious crime and then be eliminated from police enquiries as a *prime suspect* – that the DNA of their child should be DELETED from the Police DNA database.

Unfortunately…it would appear that I am not joined in this not unreasonable view by our increasingly pantomime Home Secretary. The BBC reports that… “A baby had its details held on the controversial DNA police database, Jacqui Smith has confirmed. The home secretary said the youngest person to have a DNA profile held on the database was less than a year old and the oldest was over 90. It is understood the sample would have been taken to eliminate the baby’s DNA from a crime scene.”

The BBC continues to report… “In December the European Court of Human Rights ruled the UK should not indefinitely retain the DNA and fingerprint records of people who were not convicted of a crime. Following that ruling, Ms Smith announced changes to the way the database operated – and said the government would take “immediate steps” to remove the DNA profiles of children under 10 from the database.”

I am not a specialist in DNA but I know people who areCellmark – who help me keep my free mag Insite Law free. I cannot imagine it will take that long to remove this baby’s DNA and all the other DNA records kept for innocent people – but knowing this government they will probably lose the password to the encrypted file, assuming, of course, they haven’t lost the entire datebase itself.

***

From Twitter 9.30 pm

nipclaw@Charonqc DNA – how many cases do these twits have to lose in Strasbourg at our expense. If they’ve got any spare dosh, revive legal aid.



8th March: Letter from *Somewhere in the South of England*


Dear Reader,

I write, this week, from somewhere in the South of England.  I bring news of many things; some serious, some not so serious…

The more I read and think about the issue of the  London Law Schools raising their Legal Practice Course fees by nearly 10% the more absurd I find it in these difficult times. The Lawyer and Legal Week have covered the story well.  I wrote about it recently (Greed is Good?) and, last week, I had the pleasure of talking to Professor John Flood in a Lawcast about the fees rise – and he is a man who is at the sharp end and knows a thing or two.

This prompted me to examine the fees being charged for the GDL and, more pertinently, the Bar Vocational Course. BPP charges a massive £14500 for the BVC in London, yet ‘only’ £11500 at their new law school in Leeds.  I am prepared, of course, to be convinced that the costs of running the BVC up North are less burdensome on BPP – but it seems to my jaded eye, having been in legal education for 25+ years (and, ironically, having founded BPP Law School with others in the early 1990s when it was one of the cheapest law schools to attend) that the Leeds fee may be a spoiling fee or a *Come in and buy me* fee which will, to coin a phrase, be ‘quantitatively eased’ upwards at some point in the future when market penetration and critical mass has been reached.  We shall see. I would be delighted to be proved wrong – for then the students of Leeds will continue to enjoy a more moderately priced course than their counterparts in London. I do, not unreasonably, assume that the quality of staff and provision at BPP Leeds is of the same standard as their London offering. Perhaps it is the presence of Manchester Met nearby with a BVC fee of £9650 which operated on the mind of the BPP Board in setting the Leeds fee? BPP would appear, subject to the VAT issue, to have a policy of ensuring their fees are the highest?  Perhaps there  is an element of ‘me too or why not?’ –  given what the only other two providers in London are charging with the City Law School London pricing?  The Rolls Royce/Ford Fiesta syndrome can be a powerful determinant in perceived reputation.

The College of Law charges £13900 for the BVC in London and £10,900 at their law school in Birmingham.  It is worth pointing out that the College of Law is a charity and does not have to charge VAT.  BPP does have to pay VAT.

The fees charged by the other providers are as follows: Nottingham (£10605), Manchester (£9650), Cardiff (?), Inns of Court/City Law School London (£12770), University of Northumbria at Newcastle (£9155), and University of The West of England (£11250).

A bit of futurology or *prognostication* as our American friends like to call it…

Given that there is likely to be a reduction in applicants for the Bar Vocational Course following the Wood Report (and current economic conditions will also play a part) we are likely to see increasing competition by providers for a dwindling number of applicants.  A similar phenomenon may well also appear in the next two years for the LPC Course, but to a lesser extent.  This would normally result in a price war.  I’m not so sure that this will happen because the costs associated with running BVC courses will be similar for most institutions and those limits cannot be breached if the law school is to be managed on a sensible basis. I’m coming to the view, following my podcast with John Flood (Above),  that the public sector could put pressure on the ‘commercially’ operated law schools, BPP and The College of Law, by increasing their provision, holding their prices at inflation increase levels, and attract students who are just not prepared to pay a ‘premium’ of between £3000-5000 for courses at The College and BPP… courses which are unlikely to be ‘significantly’ better.

Of course I will be delighted to revise this opinion on quality of provision if The College and BPP is able to demonstrate ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that their provision is significantly better. OK… I am being charitable. Let’s go for the civil burden and say proof on a ‘balance of probabilities’.

The other possible side effect with the BVC course is that it will simply be unattractive to the BPP and College governing bodies (The reward / risk ratio: the numbers, after all, are fairly modest compared to the very lucrative LPC )  and they will simply pull out of BVC provision.  This is perhaps a kite being flown too high? We shall see… in time.. and it will not take a long time to see what happens given the present economic climate and realities of recruitment in the profession.

The traditional universities are not to be exempted from the gradual upward drift in fees – above inflation levels. University Vice-Chancellors like law courses.  They are relatively inexpensive to run compared to the budget devouring science, medicine and engineering courses –  and some say that Law courses are a useful cash cow for the coffers of the university generally.

That being said – the fees charged by the public sector across the board for GDL, LPC and the BVC are significantly lower than those charged by The College of Law and BPP. I have absolutely no problem in understanding why BPP charges high fees. BPP Law School is owned and operated by a  PLC.  With risk goes reward and companies know that the customer and economic conditions will, ultimately, control the price point.  For the present, students perceive that their chances of future employment will be better if they go to The College and BPP because of the Magic Circle and other top commercial law firms selecting these institutions as their providers of choice.  Students, perhaps subconsciously, hope that some of the ‘magic’ will rub off on them.  The truth of the matter, and I do have some insight into this, is that the quality of teaching, equipment and resourcing is extremely good at the publicly funded institutions –  easily the measure of quality at The College and BPP and may well be better in some cases.  The position of The College of Law is quite different.  The College is a registered charity and not subject to the pressures of shareholders. The high fees being charged may well be being applied to development in other areas – research think tanks and the like?

Given that the government (and in all likelihood a Tory government of the future) and the profession will continue with the policy of encouraging diversity of entrants to our profession, perhaps legal education is just too important to be left to purely commercial or quasi-commercial factors and some re-appraisal of the basis on which provision is made and the fees being charged is now overdue? For unsponsored students, LPC and BVC fees are high and, in some cases, beyond reach for many.  Few, if any, prospective bar students get sponsored so unless they can win a scholarship – they have to pay the tune set by the piper.

I have a podcast coming up this week with Paul Marsh, The President of The Law Society. I have intimated that as part of that podcast I would like to discuss the recent price hike in LPC fees. It will be interesting to hear Paul Marsh’s thoughts on this in the context of the wider discussion we plan on the future of the profession after the recession.


Moving to a less serious, but nevertheless law related matter.
I am grateful to my good friend and US lawyer Dan Hull of WhatAboutClients? (At weekends it becomes WhatAboutParis? for some bizarre reason buried in the very depths of Dan’s febrile mind) for alerting me to this news:

During spring break last year, WAC?’s Holden Oliver had a few drinks on Fleet Street, ran amuck in Legal London with some friends, and got dressed up like an early 20th century bobby for no reason at all. Here he poses before the mysterious London Stone on Cannon Street.

Finding the Stone is not hard: you head east, down Fleet Street, past Dr. Johnson’s house, past St. Paul’s a block north, staying on Fleet Street (not Lane) which becomes Ludgate Hill (past intersection with Old Bailey), which becomes Cannon Street, to 111 Cannon, across from the tube station. You’ll miss It if you’re not careful. You may give an oath to It if you like.

I have a thing about The London Stone–probably because I live much of the time in California in an “old” 22-year-old home.”

There is more.. and you can read it here.

I don’t often write about serious issues in my Sunday letters/postcards.  Today, it is sunny and too early in the day to hit the juice – so I took the opportunity to let you know my thoughts on the matters above.

Have a good week

Best regards as always,

Charon

Lawcast 115: Dr Paul Mason on the Innocence Network UK

Lawcast 115: Dr Paul Mason on the Innocence Network UK

Today I’m talking to Dr Paul Mason Senior Lecturer and Director of Postgraduate Research at Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. He is Chair of the UK Innocence Network Committee and co-ordinates the Cardiff Nexus Innocence Project. He also runs the Prison Media Monitoring Unit and edited [jc2m] Journal for Crime, Conflict and Media Culture 2004-6.Today we are going to talk about the Innocence Network, how it works, who is involved and what benefits it brings to client and all involved.

Today we are going to talk about the Innocence Network, how it works, who is involved and what benefits it brings to client and all involved.

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

Lawcast 114: Gerry Riskin, founder of Edge International – Law practice in these recessionary times

Lawcast 114: Gerry Riskin, founder of Edge International – Law practice in these recessionary times

Today I’m talking to Gerry Riskin, a Canadian lawyer and Business School graduate with a global reputation.

Gerry has clients including the most prominent firms in the world. Gerry is also a Visiting Fellow of The College of Law in London and a Visiting Professor to the Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.  He is also the author of the Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices blog and an enthusiastic and effective user of twitter.  He appears to need no sleep and is the founder of the Edge group with Patrick Mckenna which in January 2001, evolved into Edge International.

We talk about: The propensity of clients to pay slow and what firms can do about it – layoffs – managing the firm through turbulent times – the knowledge gap – life after the recession? and engage in a bit of ‘futurology’.

Listen to the podcast with Gerry Riskin | Podcast version for iTunes

***

Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices Blog

Edge International

Gerry’s Blog – Law Office Economics Section:

Reference

The Successful Lawyer

The personal and inspirational six-disc audio CD program that brings you practical and helpful solutions to make your practice not only more profitable, but far more satisfying. Whether you are senior or junior, in a large firm or small, The Successful Lawyer will provide valuable principles that will be immediately helpful to you.

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Lawcast 113: Professor John Flood on the rise in fees for the Legal Practice Course

Lawcast 113: Professor John Flood on the rise in fees for the Legal Practice Course

Today I am talking to Professor John Flood.  We examine the rising cost of legal education in the light of the recent decision by three London Law Schools, BPP, The College of Law and Kaplan, to put their fees for the legal practice course up by nearly ten per cent at a time when the profession and the country generally is experiencing the most severe recession since the 1930s.

Listen to the podcast with John Flood | Podcast version for iTunes

6th March: Daily news and news podcast up on Insite Law

The update and podcast is up on Insite Law


Sign-up for a free newswire: If you would like to receive a FREE email newswire with must reads for news, reports, blog posts etc of the week past – no frills, just good info to help you keep up to date – please sign up here.

Newswire #5: 1 March | See Insiteblog for past issues of Insite and newswire

NEW POLITICS RSS NETVIBES PAGE

We live in interesting times and politics is coming more to the fore.  Commentary, once the preserve of the dead tree press (as I have heard it described by Guido and others) is now often far sharper on the political blogs than in traditional press, television and media coverage.  If you are interested in politics then you may like to dip into this collection of political blogs – I’ll be adding to them as time goes on.  [You will also find the link in my blogroll to the right  *2. Political Blogs Netvibes page* ]

Political Blogs Netvibes page

Rex Charon MP: Report from The House (1)

There is, of course, no truth in the story reported in The Telegraph that Her Majesty has taken to Twittering.  I am grateful to Ed of Blawg Review for passing this information to me from across the Pond. When I saw the email from Ed I wondered if my brother, Charon QC, was on a one way trip down The Thames to The Tower after his recent promotion of UK Bloggers currently playing on the front page of Blawg Review itself. On this occasion Charon was not involved in the dissemination of nonsense to members of the Fourth Estate. While Charon likes to be called Charon, pronounced in his faux ancient greek way ‘Karon’, I prefer the more inclusive, the more modern and relaxed mode of address… so please…  do call me Rex.

Yikes…. crikey… I’d better be careful if I am not going to sound like Boris who, interestingly, covered the Harman fiasco by describing Sir Fred The Shred in these words.. “With his cheeky-chappie smirk and a 12-bore crooked irritatingly over his arm, this is the man who has come to incarnate all the worst vices of the financial services industry. Sir Fred has become the epitome of the bankers who collectively occupy a place in public opinion significantly lower than cannibalistic paedophile global-warming deniers….”

Chase me, ladies, I’m in the cavalry keeps us up to date with what Tony Blair is up to but notes “my campaign to have him hanged has yet to bear fruit…”

With The Bank of England reducing interest rates to 0.5% and easing itself into a position for a spot of Zimbabwean  ‘quantitative easing’,  I’d like to refer you to an amusing piece by John Redwood MP on his blog the other day which gives a fair summation of the state of the nation: Statement by UK PLC CEO on his visit to the US.  I provide a small taste of the caustic analysis to come from Redwood’s pen… “It is a pleasure to visit our US partner company at a time of unparalleled expansion and success. Our joint formula of “putting the losses back into business” is working well. On both sides of the Atlantic governments are able to report big leaps forward in trading losses from a growing range of talented loss making businesses in which governments have shares. Our joint formula of “never knowingly undersubsidised” is proving especially popular in our financial subsidiaries….”

Our Prime Minister is somewhere in America at the moment. I have absolutely no idea where, nor care that much, but he did manage to see Obama and talk to some bemused americans bussed into Congress to fill the place when the real guys went AWOL.  Guido Fawkes takes up the story: ” The coverage of Brown’s trip on American broadcast networks – what little coverage there was – was humiliatingly bad for Gordon. This excerpt gives you an idea. This broadcaster used words like: Wounded at home … wanted a news conference… got a low key meeting … didn’t seem to mind being the American President’s poodle …. Brown is desperate … the President pointedly didn’t make any promises about a global new deal…”

Hedging my bets, like that Quentin Davies  guy who did a runner some years ago from the Tory benches to the Labour – only, quite probably, to lose his seat at the next election… I’m going to give a bit of spin to Labour with this story reported by Recess Monkey: “Tory candidate Jacob Rees-Mogg is in hot water after sending a letter to voters in North East Somerset that had been almost entirely plagiarised from a piece by Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. Rees-Mogg denies plagiarism, instead blaming an assistant. Sounds like he will go far...”

Obnoxio The Clown has a rather alarming picture of Foreign Secretary David Miliband in a post entitled Trixy, baby…

While David Miliband does have an image problem, judging by Obnoxio’s pic post, Tom Harris MP asks “Does my bum look big in this?”

While I share my brother’s antipathy towards all gods of whatever persuasion etc etc, I tend to be pragmatic when meeting future voters and prevaricate, dissimulate, traverse and evade with the best of them so as to retain their interest in voting for me.  The Coffee House, the in-house blog from The Spectator, reports “Blair did God a lot more and a lot earlier than the press realised.”

Sorry seems to be the hardest word. A rather lame new website from Conservative Home called “Sorry from Gordon” seems to have been launched this evening.  It is unlikely that I will be visiting… unless of course, as Lord CashnCarry would say “You’ve got to whet my appetite to get me on board.”

Biased BBC covers the Brown trip to the US with the comment “Brown Broadcasting Corporation : I wonder if the BBC can realise just how pandering this Kevin Connolly article is to Gordon Brown’s chosen narrative of his trip to Washington?”

Although I can see no particular political advantage to myself by bringing your attention to a Lib-Dem story (I would need a lot of appetite whetting to get me on board  as well as a 400 point poll lead predicted by pollsters)  – let me refer you to The Devil’s Kitchen: Chris Huhne: fuckwit plagiarist

If you need to be kept up to the very minute with what our political masters are up to – I use it so that I can give some semblance of what is going on should I be stalked by a constituent and for my future appearances on Question Time – Politics Home will do the business for you…. and, of course, you may get some pleasure from reading the political blogs collated on Insite Law’s Netvibes Politics blog page.

I’ll be doing a weekly review of political stuff, possibly even more often – but this very short review, as my first post,  will, I hope, give you a taste of how Westminster is viewed by political bloggers… and don’t forget the ravening horde of commenters on Guido’s blog (and other blogs) .. the humour can be ripe… but so is politics.

Right then… that’s quite enough freebie work for me for the day. I have a John Lewis catalogue to study… in detail.  Mind how you go…  as Dixon of Dock Green used to say… Government IS out to get you.

Rex


Meet Rex Charon MP… a man for all seasons?

Let me introduce you to my younger brother, Rex Charon MP. We are a fairly large family.  I have two brothers; one is Professor RD Charon, a law don and then there is Rex who has finally been elected to Parliament, encouraged by politics in the post-RBS-HBOS era.  Rex worked as an investment banker for many years and is much taken by the opportunities now presenting themselves both as to expenses and potentially lucrative, but fully disclosable, directorships  and other consultancies.  He does not aspire to high office but if preferment was to come his way, it is quite likely that he would accept office, albeit reluctantly.

Rex likes to describe himself as Centre-Left-Right.

NEW POLITICS RSS NETVIBES PAGE

We live in interesting times and politics, an interest I have, is coming more to the fore.  Commentary, once the preserve of the dead tree press as I have heard it described by Guido and others, is now often far sharper on the political blogs than in traditional press, television and media coverage.  If you are interested in politics then you may like to dip into this collection of political blogs – I’ll be adding to them as time goes on.  [You will also find the link in my blogroll to the right  *2. Political Blogs Netvibes page* ]

Political Blogs Netvibes page

The human condition…

So… what pleasures were to be had today from our political masters?  What twists of fate and amusing political and other pretzels brightened my day?

Several, as it happens.  Let me kick off with one of the pleasures of my week – Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons.  Today, of course, with Gordon Brown shaking his clunking fist addressing Congress in the States, we had the Battle of The Titan – William Hague v Harriet “It isn’t going to Happen” Harman  In terms of scores on the doors, Harriet Harman probably took the session on issue matters, but Hague got the laughs by playing on the rumours of Harman jostling for the leadership role. After referring to Churchill and MacMillan as examples of politicans who replaced their leaders when the leader was ‘out of the country’, Hague quipped “I am only a Deputy now, but at least I’m a loyal one.”

Then there was the absurd news of the BNP using a picture of a Battle of Britain Spitfire to promote  “The Battle for Britain”

The Register has the full story: ” The British National Party has pulled off a bit of a blinder by fronting an anti-immigration campaign with a poster featuring a Spitfire belonging to 303 Squadron of the RAF – the “most effective Polish squadron during the Second World War”, as the Telegraph puts it….

John Hemming, MP for Yardley, Birmingham, weighed into the BNP, mocking: “The BNP often get confused and this happens because they haven’t done their research. This is just another example of them getting it wrong. They have a policy to send Polish people back to Poland – yet they are fronting their latest campaign using this plane.

But it isn’t just the people whose eyes are too close together getting it wrong. Harriet Harman managed to put her foot straight in it when she was asked by Plaid Cymru’s Elfyn Llwyd why Fred The Shred Goodwin got a knighthood and replied that it was for his work with the Prince’s Trust – not his services to banking.

The BBC reports at 1320 It’s official. “Harriet Harman has admitted she got it wrong on Sir Fred’s knighthood. Her office issued a statement shortly after PMQs saying she was “happy to correct” the record. “It was, in fact, the case that he received his honour for services to banking but no doubt his contribution to the Prince’s Trust would also have been taken into account,” it read.

Not of great national import, I accept – but ironic.

And then there was the Richard III of the Labour Party: Jack “The Lad Chancellor” Straw who gave his views, preying in aid “The Almighty”, on legal aid and the amount paid to lawyers for publicly funded work.

Jack Straw deplores ‘astonishing growth’ of legal aid
Times: Jack Straw called last night for an end to lawyers’ high earnings from legal aid as he deplored the “astonishing growth” in the numbers of lawyers paid for by the taxpayer.

The Justice Secretary said: “There is certainly nothing ordained by the Almighty which says that of those paid for by the public purse, lawyers should be any higher than in other professions.”

So, reading between the lines and putting to use 25+ years of teaching law and cynicism, Straw seems to be saying….  if you take the risks and go into private work you can have the rewards – although the economy is a bit fucked at the moment so you’ll have to cut your cloth a bit until the good times roll.  If you can’t hack it in private work, or have a conscience and try to help people by doing publicly funded work, God has certainly not told me that you deserve more than a modest living like the rest of the people in this country after twelve years of Labour Rule.. so wake up and smell the coffee/get with the programme/live with it/ etc etc etc.

Hang on… twelve years? .. next year will be 2010 and that will make it thirteen years. I’m old enough (as may some of you be) to remember the Phrase “Thirteen Years of Tory Misrule”.There is nothing new under the sun and with that I am orf for a glass of wine before some interfering busybody from the government tells me I can’t.  You laugh?  They are already doing it in Scotland where I suppose “I come from”.  The Scots plan to put the prices up in Scotland.  Clever move.  The Scots aren’t stupid.  They know how to use trains, buses and cars to get to border off licences in England and surely there will be riots in the streets of Edinburgh?

Lawcast 112: James Welch, Head of Legal for LIBERTY

Today I am talking to James Welch, Head of Legal for Liberty, the cross-party organization for the protection of civil liberties and human rights.  Liberty was one of the sponsors the recent Convention on Modern Liberties and Shami Chakrabati the Director of Liberty is well known through television, radio and press coverage for promoting the views and interests of Liberty.

We talk about the history, aims and objectives of Liberty and three topical and current issues of our times: ID Cards, the use of torture and freedom of speech.

Listen to the podcast with James Welch| Podcast version for iTunes

Harriet Harman QC, MP : Election 2010? – That isn’t going to happen

Harriet Harman QC, MP, Deputy Leader of The Labour Party speaks to The People of Britain.

“I’ve been speaking to our ‘current’  leader, The Prime Minister,  and he has discovered that quite a lot of people in this country don’t vote in elections and don’t like them.  From this the Prime Minister has deduced that the Court of Public Opinion is not in favour of elections, and certainly Gordon shares their antipathy for these things.  So, I am pleased to announce this morning that the election due in 2010 isn’t going to happen.

If necessary I will bring in a Special Act of Parliament.  We have lawyers,  freed up from the pressures of working on mergers & acquisitions, major trade and manufacturing project contracts and removed from various panels because they charge the public purse too much, crawling all over Election Law to see if there are any loopholes which would allow us to not hold the election in 2010.  But if it should transpire that the law says we must have an election, then… as this government believes in the Rule of Law, we’ll create a new law so that we adhere to the rule of law…  fought for so hard over centuries of oppression from the then ruling class.  I’m sorry that I will not be able to take any questions. That is all. “

The British are coming… to Blawg Review…

Our Prime Mentalist is in the United States to inform President Obama about how he is saving the world and The City.

Two British law bloggers are about to host Blawg Review two weeks in succession.  The first is Carl Gardner, author of The Head of Legal blog (March 9th) … the second is Geeklawyer (March 16th).  Her Majesty speaks to the bloggers of the United States, Canada and the World about this.

Watch the Movie

Lawcast 111: US lawyer Dan Harris on China

Lawcast 111: US lawyer Dan Harris on China

Today I’m talking to Dan Harris, a US lawyer, a co-founder of law firm Harris & Moure in Seattle, Washington and co-author with law firm partner Steve Dickinson  of the China Law Blog Dan gives a snapshot of law practice in China and talks about the need for businesses to have good advice if they plan to do business in China.  We talk also about Intellectual Property laws and The Great Firewall of China.

Listen to Dan Harris | podcast version for iTunes

1st March: Postcard from the good ship “Liberty”


Dear Reader,

I write to you tonight from the good ship Liberty (pictured above) … I managed to swim ashore… and after a reviving glass of Rioja,  I was able to settle down to write to you.

Well… it is all go on the civil liberties front. Our government continues to listen but not to hear and yesterday saw the first ever Convention on Modern Liberty.  Unfortunately, I was not able to attend but I put the time to good use by exercising one of our most cherished liberties.. the freedom to drink and congregate with others.

Podcast 110: A report from the Convention on Modern Liberty
I did, however, have a friend who was fortunate in getting a ticket Oedipus Lex – a fellow blogger who is also on Twitter.  I have just done a short podcast with Oedipus Lex: A report from the Convention on Modern Liberty –   Listen to the Podcast

The rule of law is alive and well?
The government continues to ride ruffshod over the rule of law with the latest nonsense cooked up by Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman QC, MP.  Sky News reports: “”Sir Fred should not be counting on being £650,000 a year better off as a result of this because it is not going to happen,” she said. “The Prime Minister has said it is not acceptable and therefore it will not be accepted.”

The half baked plan, designed no doubt to appeal to Middle Britain, is to strip Sir Fred The Shred Goodwin, former CEO of RBS of his £650,000 annual pension.  Hapless Harriet is reported as stating “It might be enforceable in a court of law this contract, but it’s not enforceable in the court of public opinion and that’s where the Government steps in.”

So.. here we have a trained lawyer, a QC no less, saying that the contract may well turn out to be enforceable in a court of law (But she had government lawyers ‘crawling all over it” to find weaknesses or possible cause for termination?) saying that because some unspecified people do not find this acceptable she is going to change the law.  The question is (a) Is she going to change the Law of Contract to render enforceable contracts unenforceable ex post facto if the public don’t like them or (b)  is she going to come up with yet more fudge and leave such contracts liable to being declared ‘illegal at common law’ if the public interest is not served by their being enforced and held to be valid?” God knows?  There is some suggestion of the *Special Act of Parliament* being wheeled out. If the government proceeds with this *Special Act*… will they stop there?  Why not have a general power to strike down laws, contracts, and behaviour,  ‘unacceptable to the court of public opinion’ – but subject, naturally, to the *safeguard* that it must be certified by a *responsible government minister*  as unenforceable in the court of public opinion.

I give up… this is preposterous nonsense. Whatever one may feel about Sir Fred Goodwin and his bounty, the law should not be changed willy nilly because of an amorphous, intangible feeling that the Court of People who bray, have six fingers and carry flaming torches may find it “Unacceptable”.

Fortunately there are many sensible people in this country – and I believe some of these sensible people are also in parliament – so perhaps this half baked pavlova of legalo-political fuckery will not be followed up.

Talking of sensible people – I have been talking to quite a few of them in my series of podcasts on Civil liberties. You may care to listen to them if you haven’t already done so:

Carl Gardner – Lawcast 109: The Jack Straw veto on FOI disclosure of Cabinet Minutes relating to the decision to go to war with Iraq

Lawcast 108 –  Michael Burdett: Unbalancing the Scales of Justice

Lawcast 106: Roger Smith, Director of Justice: On civil liberties and human rights.

Lawcast 104: With Ian Parker-Joseph, Leader of The UK Libertarian Party

Lawcast 103: Carl Gardner on the Lords judgment in Qatada

Lawcast 101: Charon reports on the Geert Wilders affair – Freedom of Speech

Coming up this week:  Podcasts with James Welch, Head of Legal for LIBERTY and Steve Hynes, Director of The Legal Action Group on access to justice and civil legal aid (or the lack of it).

That’s all for now… I am off to continue exercising my cherished freedom to drink and enjoy my life before the government cooks up another pavlova of nonsense.

best as always

Charon.