Legless in Gaza?….

Legless in Gaza? No, but in the wake of my Smokedo: Smoke yourself fit with Charon antics, I am now going to be a wine reviewer for LawandMore. I used to do restaurant reviews for them, but as I far prefer drinking to eating – and I am miles away from good restaurants-  it makes sense to review wines.  There is another advantage – the wines come to me by courier!

I have spoken to two wine  people this morning – both very enthusiastic blokes – and warned them that my reviews tend to be less technical, but more surreal, than the real experts.  While I studied wine in my late twenties,  I gave up;  preferring instead to drink the goddam stuff than worry what colour the soil was or where the sun was pointing when grape turned into nectar of the gods. It is unlikely also, I told them, that I would be writing about fruits or wine tasting of old cricket bats. I will be concentrating on taste, of course and will also (because I am an enthusaistic if infrequent cook) give an idea of what food it will go with –  but I will be asking one essential question – Did it do the business?

I shall, of course, have a grading system based on  a 1-5 scale.  One  is not a good score.  Five  will be nirvana.

I am pleased to report that my Smokedo programme is going well.

I am now a 30aday Dan and managing to do 1000 press-ups, and 500 squats, calf lifts and 500 repetitions of five arm exercises with a 5kg dumbell daily  – courtsey of Mr Amazon who delivered said dumbells to me only yesterday.  I rather overdid it yesterday evening  and found my right arm throwing tea into my face when I lifted my cup this morning – but, in time….  my body will get used to the new muscles.

The drawing to the left is a simulation. For political reasons I cannot be photographed smoking as I use these dumbells.  The technique of gripping the cigarette between the teeth allows natural breathing in and out while using the dumbell equipment.  As always, please do not try this at home unless a Smokedo master is present to advise.

30th April: News up on Insite Law

The news, law reports, editorial and blog update is up on Insite Law

I would also like to take the opportunity to wish friend and fellow blogger John Bolch of Family Lore – a  Happy Birthday.

Swine flu pandemic alert raised to level five World Health
Guardian: Organisation raises global epidemic threat to second highest level as numbers of infected continue to rise

Telegraph: Some Mexicans have reacted to the swine flu crisis with humour and creativity. A man wears a mask with a moustache drawn on it as he talks on his mobile phone in Mexico City

Also on Insite today…

Foxtons in court with their unfair contract terms | Gordon Brown forgets that he is making PM statement, leaves Commons – hilarity all round | Brown loses Gurkha vote – a warm up for today’s vote on MP expenses which could be an effective vote of No Confidence if he loses that.

Law and wine… not always a pleasure….

While law and a bit of the red stuff are, shall we say,  interests of mine –  the two together do not always give pleasure.  I was tipped off  by  Thirstforwine (a fellow Twitterer) about the rather absurd behaviour of  Ernst & Julio Gallo who threatened to sue a small Seattle wine and food retailer for importing pasta called ‘Gallo’.  The fact that Gallo is pasta,  and not even people with suspiciously long arms  would confuse pasta with wine, was of little interest to E & J Gallo.  They hired an attorney.  The attorney told The Spanish Table to cease and desist or be sued.

I enter a caveat here. I am assuming that the report upon which I draw accurately represents the events that happened – a not unreasonable assumption as the story is still, at the time of writing, online and the online source is a Wine magazine/blog.

The retailers, the report states, were shocked that the first contact was through a lawyer and made the entirely reasonable point that had someone from E & J Gallo (and I want you to remember that name) contacted them to discuss their concerns they would have been open to discussion. Rather than face a costly legal fight, the retailers wrote to the attorney asking whether the pasta should be given away to a food bank or be destroyed.

E & J Gallo, it seems, wanted more than their pound of pasta.  They wanted name, rank and serial number of the importers of the Gallo pasta…. Ok… I exaggerate… they wanted to know the identity of  the importer of the GALLO pasta. The retailers declined to do so. At this point the reports states The Gallo attorney would no longer communicate with them at all, only with their attorney, in essence, forcing them to hire one. They say that they were given an April 16th deadline to hire an attorney and cease pasta sales, however, Gallo officially filed suit ahead of their own deadline on April 14th.”

While I fully understand and accept that brand owners wish to protect their brands, there is a whiff of the unpleasant about this matter.  Big organisations playing “the heavy” with small organisations is never particularly edifying and less so when  they use oppressive legal tactics and then resile from their own stated plan of action.

However, be that as it may…  and whatever the merits in law in that US state may be – my own view, as a wine drinker’  is that E & J Gallo behaved oppressively.  A quick bit of research on Google revealed that Gallo is a fairly common name in Italy, there is a hotel called Gallo, it is a romance language also and there are several types of Gallo pasta.

I have drunk wines from  Ernst & Julio Gallo. I would be grateful if you would keep this information to yourselves – lest people  point me out to their families in the street and say ‘”There he is… the man who drank an Ernst & Julio Gallo wine.”   They are not to my taste, although they do… do the business.

I am toying now, as I drink a glass of an excellent Rioja – not, of course, produced by E & J Gallo –  with the idea of  manufacturing suppositories and importing them into the USA.  I shall call them GALL-O.  This, of course, is an acronym for Greased Anal Liquid Laxative – Optimised.

Optimised for easy insertion.

Perhaps The Spanish Table, the retailer, would like some to send to the attorney when they return his papers?

29th April : News up on Insite Law

Daily news and update up on Insite Law

Justice for Gurkhas petition

Join The Daily Telegraph’s campaign to help seek Justice for Gurkhas, calling on ministers to grant them the right to live in the country they have served.
Neuroenhancers and lawyers
Professor Simon Fodden, Slaw: A fascinating blog post about the use of neuroenhancers to improve memory, attention span, performance. Will lawyers be drawn to them? Will lawmakers require certain professions to use them in the future – doctors, pilots – anyone whose job requires enhanced levels of performance.Will lawyers be negligent if they don’t use them in a future world? A good read.

Also on Insite Law today…

A barrister falls down a manhole while on a crime scene visit.  He is drained by the experience | Quota system may be considered for judges | Four years, 52 dead, £100m – no convictions | Natasha Phillips interviews John Hemming MP | Head of Legal:Harriet’s Law – The Equality Bill

Inner and Middle Temple Libraries to merge?

There are many uses for Facebook and it was through Facebook that I discovered the proposal of the Treasurers of Inner Temple and Middle Temple to merge the two Inn libraries. I have not been able to read any details – for no details of this proposal are, as yet, public.  Nor have I, at this stage, contacted the Treasurers to ask for  detail.  It may be, in any event, that the proposals are not at a stage yet for more public debate by outsiders.

Update 11.00: The reference on Facebook has now been deleted

The plan as revealed on the Middle Temple Facebook page is to merge the two collections, with a suggestion mooted of housing them in Middle Temple library and to use the library space at Inner Temple for advocacy and other training purposes.

Both the Middle Temple and Inner Temple libraries house important collections and archives and, I understand, that to squash these important collections into one building will be extremely difficult if the integrity of the collections is to be maintained and serviced properly.  It is also likely that merger will result in redundancies and the inevitable  loss of valuable expertise and knowledge from the dedicated librarians of both Inns.

I spoke to a few senior members of the Bar  and the reaction was not favourable.  It was pointed out to me that Chambers are feeling the pinch and are cutting back on their own library provision and the Inn libraries are, accordingly, an even more important resource than perhaps they were.  There was concern that a reduction in staff and possible cutbacks in resource, already suffering due to budget cuts in the present climate, would impact on the efficient and effective running of the Bar and the daily work of members of the Bar who need to have access to first class resources if they are to maintain high standards.

This is not just an issue about collegiate feel – it is about the provision of resources to the Bar as a whole and the reputation of each member within the profession reliant on a world class law library resource.  I am confident that the proposal will not be supported by the staff of either Inn library.

So – without further ado, given that the cat appears now to be out of the red bag – I would be interested in hearing from barristers, students, solicitors and academics on their views of this proposal. If there are sufficient views expressed in the comments section, perhaps these could be passed on to the Treasurers of both Inns for their consideration?

I will also do some more research and take opinion from my sources and revert.

Over to you.

The world seems to have gone nuts….

As the dawn broke and more reported cases of Swineflu were reported in the press and on Twitter using the #Swineflu hashtag…. Stephen Fry called upon Twitterers to be responsible.

At approximately 9.45 am this morning Mr Fry issued the following Tweet:

“We must do our best to be sensible about this panic and not let Twitter earn a bad reputation, don’t we think? http://bit.ly/Y2GDh #swineflu”

Yesterday morning there were reports on Twitter about killer jelly fish on the way from Murcia in Spain.  I am keeping a look out for them as they approach British coastal waters.  I am at my post.

Have a look at this film to get a sense of perspective about Swine flu (Hat Tip Aimee Barnes)

If this Twitterdemic (perhaps it should be called Twepidemic?) gets worse, I am sure the sensible people running Health Ministries will tell us. Then we can perhaps panic in a constructive and British way by having a cup of tea or get our Blitz spirit out.

28th April: News up on Insite Law

News up on Insite Law: a major update – news, profession and a detailed look at the latest from UK law bloggers.

Blawg Review #209
Exceptional – a very good review

Tim Kevan, author of Baby Barista is promoting a very worthwhile cause…

A Barrister Blog: Lord West-Knights, Sir Laurence or a CBE?
Okay. So this is a test to see whether a small and insignificant blogger in North Devon can actually help to get things done. You see, there’s a barrister who I’ve never met despite my own ten years at the Bar but have admired from afar. Admired that is for his passion and dedication to a cause which has helped the lives both of lawyers in Britain and Ireland and also further afield in Commonwealth countries and the USA. It is Laurie West-Knights QC who spent thousands of unpaid hours fighting for and founding the British and Irish Legal Information Institute ( www.bailii.org ) which basically led the way in forcing the closed shop of law reporting to put the lot out there for free. So there we are and the reason for this post is to propose him as a People’s Peer and if not that then a Knighthood and if the government can’t stretch to that without money changing hands then at the very least he should be awarded a CBE. So, to all the legal bloggers around the country, I ask simply that you support this mini-campaign and help to get Laurie recognised.

26th April: Postcard from The House of Lords

I write to you this night from a small room in the House of Lords to report that while my dear friend Lord CashnCarry has escaped detection, two of his fellow lords for hire  have not.  I begin my weekly postcard with a sombre tone.  The Sunday Times reported the devastating news…

TWO Labour peers at the centre of the lords for hire scandal have been found guilty of misconduct by a sleaze inquiry and face suspension from parliament, according to senior House of Lords sources. Senior peers have concluded that Lord Taylor of Blackburn and Lord Truscott have broken the code of conduct of members of the upper house.

It would appear that Lords Taylor and Blackburn, quilty only of ‘whoring out Parliament’ may be barred from The House of Lords for up to a year and, much more amusingly, lose their £335 a day daily tax free allowance.   Guido and others ask… Is there really no criminal sanction?  I am no criminal lawyer, but, astonishingly, despite having more criminal laws than any other country on earth (many of them enacted in the last ten or so years) … it would appear not.  Two other peers are under investigation.

I had the pleasure today of doing two podcasts – With Professor Steve Molyneux, the magistrate who resigned after a fellow magistrate complained about his Twittering and with Gideon, the author of the Public Defender blog.  Both were fun to do and we covered a lot of ground.

Smokedo – Smoke yourself fit with Charon

My quest for definition and the physique of my youth continues with my carefully worked set of eight exercises completed 25 times a day with 50 reps of each exercise while smoking.  Fig 2 illustrates the Smokedo Press-up.  Obviously, this is not a picture of me – the picture is simulated to show how I do it.  The cigarette is also a model. The technique is straightforward:

1. Light cigarette |  2. Asssume pressup position | 3.  do press-up 50 times, remembering to breathe in each time you go down and exhale through the nose, so as to avoid dropping the cigarette, on the way up.

I rather overdid the exercises last night upon my return from a drinking session at The Porterhouse with @Geeklawyer, @ Nancetron, @ Special_noodles, @Rah_rah and @Pandamans. I can say this, though… that while they all appeared to have  hangovers this morning… I did not.  Smokedo… the way of smoking while exercising.  It is easy, Grasshopper. 
Do not try this at home without first consulting a specialist like me.  This is only for professionals or for those who have been given the secret scrolls of Smokedo

I can tell you this though, when I am able to walk again properly, I shall be a lot fitter and slimmer.  It is working…. ripping that flab as I type.

Well on that note… as I clearly appear to have lost the plot… I have to go into a trance like state now, drink a few glasses of Rioja and spend some time with my Tweets on twitter.

Have an excellent week.

Regards as always

Sensei Charonaka

Smokedo Master
30aday Dan

Lawcast 130: Gideon: A Public Defender (2)

Lawcast 130: Gideon: A Public Defender (2)

Today I am, talking to Gideon – the nom de plume of the author of a Public Defender, one of the leading criminal law blogs in the United States. I did a podcast with Gideon some time ago. Today we’re going to look at the influence of the Supreme Court on criminal law, catch up with the latest developments in Gideon’s role as a public defender and look at the conduct of a trial; in court. Gideon is a campaigner for the abolition of the death penalty in the United States – so we’ll have a look at if there is any change likely under or during the Obama presidency

Listen to the podcast


Podcast version iTunes

Lawcast 129: Professor Steve Molyneux – the magistrate who resigned after a complaint following his use of Twitter

Lawcast 129: Professor Steve Molyneux – the magistrate who resigned after a complaint following his use of Twitter

Today I am talking to Steve Molyneux, the distinguished academic who is very much in the news today having resigned from the bench as a magistrate after a complaint was received about his Twittering…

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

Our sceptred isle… redux…

I woke early this morning, walked onto the balcony, took in the early dawn, the gulls flying in formation overhead, lit a cigarette and began my first of a series of 100 repetitions of my new Smokedo exercise regime.  I should, perhaps, explain that I am in my fifties and have been sitting on my arse writing for some months.  It was time to tone a few muscles and get a bit of my body back.

So…  while I  smoke on the balcony I do press ups, crunches, leg squats, isometric tension exercises .  I have 10 exercises in all. I do  about 1000 or so each day of each in repetitions of 50. A pack of 20 ensures that I reach my target.  It works…  A Smoke yourself fit with Charon book  is unlikely, however, to be in a bookshop near you in the near future.

Invigorated by my first three cigarettes (and accompanying exercises) I was able to face the day and drink some tea. It was then that my mind turned to what I should write about before making a state visit to London to meet Geeklawyer and a few  fellow Twitters – Nancetron, Rah_Rah,  Special_Noodles.. and Pandamans.  and begin the ‘Lost day’ at the Porterhouse pub in Covent Garden.

I heard the inspiring sounds of Jerusalem welling up in the dark recesses of my mind…  and a chariot of fire came to mind.  I would write about our sceptred isle… our green and pleasant land and relate the antics of a few British people who have made Britain great this week… or not, depending on your point of view.

Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spears o’clouds unfold
Bring me my chariot of fire

So let us kick off with a judge or two. HH Judge Gledhill QC has managed to get himself onto the front page of The Law Society Gazette by giving a few solicitor-advocates a good kicking.  Unfortunately for Gledhill, they were unamused by this and Bullivant and Partners published a rather blunt response.  It may be that Judge Gledhill will soon be able to spend more time with his thoughts.  I covered this earlier in the week and Geeklawyer gives the story a good working over in his inimitable style.

It seems that another judge will be hanging up the horsehair wig. The Telegraph reports that “District Judge Margaret Short was removed for behaviour that was “inappropriate, petulant and rude” with regards to one incident, according to the Office for Judicial Complaints, and “intemperate and ill-judged with regard to another”.”  Apparently Judge Short didn’t particularly care for solicitors either. The telegraph notes…  “She is believed to be the first judge to be sacked since Judge Bruce Campbell was removed for smuggling whisky from Guernsey into England in 1983.”

Ah well… these are mild instances of bizarre behaviour when compared to the daddy of them of them all,  Lord Chief “Justice-in-a-Jiffy” Goddard who,it has been claimed,  had a particular personal reaction to sentencing people to death. According to his valet, Goddard would have an orgasm during sentencing and his trousers had to be sent off to be cleaned as a result. Another and more probable version suggests Goddard reacted in this way when he sentenced defendants to corporal punishment.”

Fortunately, the many judges I have met during 30 years in academe and, more recently through blogging,  have all been rather good ones and extremly courteous and friendly, particularly to students.   Certainly, I would have thought, our profession is better off without tiresomely rude judges?

So who else has been behaving badly?

Well… there is the matter of PC Plodder, or rather PC Rob Ward, 27 who, The Mail reports, ” allegedly boasted on Facebook he was going to “bash some long-haired hippies” at the G20 protests is under investigation” Here is he, the brave man, kitted out in his police stuff looking like Robocop on a bad day.  What is that thing on his head?  It looks like one of those electrode caps. Perhaps he is battery operated? Perhaps that thing on his head is a clamp to keep his brain in?  Who knows? Anyway, he too may well have more time to spend dressing up at home soon.  He is being investigated, The Mail reports.

All in all… not a bad haul for a Saturday morning… but I leave you with one final piece of nonsense.  The Mail reports this morning…one can almost hear the hyperventilating journalist…

She says she’ll name four top Tories as clients in her memoirs. Is vice girl Natalie Rowe a fantasist or ticking time bomb?

And George Osborne even gets a mention… with a cute pic of him with her many years ago…. and The Mail has the gall to say that the story is being handled by the old sleazemeister himself, Max Clifford.”

I shall, of course, be reading the News of The World and other tabloids tomorrow when I return from London to write my Postcard from east of London.  Have a good day…. and as they used to say on Crimewatch.. don’t have nightmares… about Lord Goddard.

And in the red corner tonight…

When two tribes go to war?

The Times reports: “A City accountant convicted of leaving a lawyer’s face virtually unrecognisable in a brawl after drinking lager, champagne and tequila at a leaving party in a Fleet Street pub was spared jail but faces being struck off the chartered accountants’ register. Graham Carr, 39, who worked for KPMG, admitted causing actual bodily harm to Simon McPhee, of the City law firm Freshfields, after repeatedly punching him in the face in the Punch Tavern for talking too loudly. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 110 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £500 costs, reduced after the court was told that he had just been made redundant.”

I don’t know the circumstances of this matter, of course – but it seems to me than an assault leaving a man’s face ‘virtually unrecognisable’ goes far beyond a minor altercation in a pub.   It is astonishing that a professional man can resort to such violence  over such a trivial matter as talking too loudly.  Custodial sentence?  I’m not a criminal lawyer and did not hear the evidence, of course.  Presumably assaults of this severity usually attract a custodial sentence? Perhaps a reader who does practice in the criminal courts can shed some light?

It is just as well that Mr Carr was not a guest at an Inn of Court dining night – there would have been a hundred  or so lawyers talking loudly.

Whatever the Prime Minister is drinking…make mine a double…

I don’t know what the doctors, spin or otherwise,  have suggested… but whatever the prime mentalist is on… I want some…

The video by Gordon Brown  announcing the SURGE on MP expenses is manic – a classic.  Turn off the sound for best effect.  If you need a lift this may do it.  He seems to be pissed – but, of course, will not have been.

Sit down, get some popcorn and enjoy the movie.

He may have been watching too many Obama movies.  He’ll be saying ‘Yes he can’, next

23rd April: News up on Insite Law

The news, editorial, profession updates – now up on Insite Law.

Editor pick of the day
23rd April 2009

Solicitors fight back against judge who was critical of solicitor-advocates.

Hat Tip Magistrate’s blog: Further and better particulars

What the judge had to say | Read this extraordinary response by Bullivant

When lawyers try to make the case for the other side disappear
David Pannick, QC

Mike SP

22nd April: News up on Insite Law

Insite Law: updates to editorial, main page, news, profession.

Management: Understanding the professional service firm

Nick Jarrett-Kerr

Watch the film: Part 1 of a series of 40 short film clips on law firm management.

Subscribers to barrister Daniel Barnett’s Employment Law Bulletin have raised more than £10,000 – in less than two weeks!

Starlight is dedicated to lighting up the lives of seriously and terminally ill children by granting them their dearest wishes.


Speed dating for the credit-crunched?… and a revised forecast for law schools.

For some bizarre reason I thought of the old dance marathons in the USA during the depression when I read the news that BPP Law School has set up a new form of speed dating – giving students the opportunity to meet prospective employers; allowing them three minutes in which to impress the training partner or members of the recruitment team.

It is a good idea but at the same time, to my eyes,  a rather depressing metaphor for the reality of the times we live in.  No longer is the student in a seller’s market.  Law firms aren’t even in a seller’s market – not even the biggest law firms. It does not take genius to work out that there are still stormy days ahead.

This led me to start thinking again about the reality for students in terms of getting training contracts or pupillages in the next two to three years and the very real possibility that the big vocational law schools may have to trim their sails, batten down the hatches, and prepare for hard times.

The BPP Law School  speed dating concept also reminded me of the iconic Yosser Hughes from Alan Bleasdale’s extraordinarily powerful television series Boys from The Blackstuff.  Yosser’s plaintiff cry ‘Gissa job” struck a chord for many who watched that programme.

In October last year I wrote a post warning that law schools, particularly law schools offering the LPC and the BVC, may have to watch their finances as the market for their services declined in the short term.  I called the piece: Forecast for law schools  for the next three years – a clear enough title.  It didn’t attract much comment or attention.   I didn’t expect it to.  There are none so blind as those who do not wish to look ahead. Many of us (and I include myself) suffer from this myopia. Peter Crisp, CEO of BPP, when I did a podcast with him  about BPP’s plans for the future, however,  was very bullish and told me that applications were ‘higher than they had ever been’.

Having been involved in legal education for twenty-five years (and more than aware of the financial structure of law schools, having assisted in founding BPP law School some years back)  I was pleased that my predictions appeared not to be well founded. I am always delighted when negative prediction turns out to be wrong.  But I remained concerned about the reality.

The Lawyer and Legal Week have been monitoring closely the redundancy rounds of law firms. Even the very biggest magic circle firms have been hit badly and while there may be ‘green shoots’ about to spring up, many green shoots are still buried deep underground,  and the old adage that the law sector is usually the last to be affected by recession but is also the last sector to come out of recession is one, I suspect, that will prove true for this recession.


It is time for  a Revised Forecast for Law Schools and this time my conclusions are rather more grim.  Again, I hope to be proved wrong – for none of us wish to see good law schools under pressure with the concomittant result that they either raise their fees (Greed is Good? –  The College of Law, BPP and Kaplan have already raised fees for the BVC and LPC) or have to reduce their offering,  or worse – close the doors, albeit temporarily.

Let’s keep it simple.

1. In recent months The Lawyer and Legal Week have reported redundancies from all the major law firms, have written about trainees being asked to defer training contracts,  and have given a pretty clear picture of a profession in recession.

Husnara Begum of The Lawyer2B writes: “Stories about law firms asking their future trainees to defer their start dates have dominated The Lawyer’s student website Lawyer2B.com in recent weeks. Barely a week has passed without at least one firm conceding it has asked future trainees to push back their start dates.”

and again… “FFW confirmed that it is not planning to hire any new trainees for 2011 and will resume recruitment activities next year for 2012 starters. The firm has also cancelled its summer vacation scheme programme.”

It would appear that there is a strong possibility that quite a few law firms aren’t going to take any trainees for 2011 or, at best, a reduced intake.

2.  So what are the big law schools going to do for students and revenue?

The Law Society Gazette reported on 17th April: ” Two top City firms have remained tight-lipped over the future of their specialist graduate training schemes after asking prospective trainees to start work a year later than planned. Magic circle firms Clifford Chance and Linklaters, which have asked prospective trainees to volunteer to defer for a year, could not comment on whether they would reduce the number.”

Given that BPP and The College of Law between them train LPC students for many of the top law  firms – if these law firms are deferring training contracts now –  is it not likely they will recruit fewer students a year down the line and BPP and The College of Law will have to look  elsewhere to make up the numbers?  Or are the big law firms going to continue trainee  recruitment at previous levels and accommodate a trainee intake double the norm for that year, next year?

Susan Blake, director of studies at City Law School, warned that cuts could be a false economy:During the last recession there were cutbacks on traineeships, but then firms didn’t have new blood coming through for the upturn.’ This would tend to suggest that she, at least, admits of the possibility that recruitment will be down. Her remarks are also, of course, pregnant with the implication that law school revenues will be down.

BPP and The College of Law – perhaps other lead LPC providers  also – may well find that their recruitment and revenues from large law firms is down.  If the big firms are cutting back,  it is likely that there will be a need for fewer trainees outside the big firm sector  as well. Overall, surely, there will be a reduction in demand for LPC places?  If this proves to be correct,  either LPC courses generally will suffer a declining revenue or the big players will simply take those who would have gone to smaller providers, leaving the smaller law schools with a very serious shortage.  in this ‘extreme model’ it is possible that smaller providers will be looking at lecturer and staff redundancies  or worse :  closure of their courses in an extreme situation?

3. What about the students?

It is a competitive market, increasingly so. Students who have training contracts, or those asked to defer,  are covered.  Those who do not have training contracts set up now face an uneasy time until the profession comes through the recession.  What of students at university now who had planned for 2011?  If law firms aren’t recruiting, the answer is obvious.

What about a student who has to make the decision to invest in paying the substantial fees for the LPC? Those who had no prospect of joining a City or other firm who sponsor students for the LPC will continue to finance the course as before – if they take the risk of doing so in the present climate.  But what of students who planned to go to a magic circle or other large firm?

City firms sponsor their students and pay the substantial fees.  Are students who may once have expected a place on a magic circle or City firm training scheme suddenly going to dig into their own pockets and pay the LPC fees?  It is possible – but I suspect that some of these students will simpyly wait until the up turn comes, as surely it will.  Maybe the upturn will not come quickly, so they may well have to dip into their own pockets to pay to do the LPC if they wish to  be in the market when the upturn comes.

I do hope that I am wrong in what is a fairly obvious conclusion to draw,  given the evidence appearing week by week that the profession is in recession. I suspect that I am not .

I end with the perhaps rather gloomy statement that if I was running a small law school now, even though profit is not the motive because of full service provision policy, I would be looking at the figures very closely and would be watching even more closely  the advertising and marketing of the big providers.  If revenues aren’t coming in it will have a knock on effect on the finances of the university provider.  Will the universities bide their time without cost cutting, raising their fees to make up shortfall,  and be onsidering redundancy consultations?  We shall find out soon enough.

As always – I am very interested to hear what you think and have to say… over to you.

21st April: News etc updated on Insite Law

Daily news, profession, editorial, reports updated on Insite Law: Read

Editor pick of the day
21st April 2009

Disbarred For Bank Robbery

The Twitter Revolution: The brains behind the Web’s hottest networking tool.

Hubris – this has made my day…

Gordon Ramsay restaurants found to be using pre-prepared meals
• Chef’s gastro-pub dishes come from off-site kitchen
• Diners face price mark-up of 600% in some cases
Guardian (Hat Tip to John Flood)

Mike SP

And you just HAVE to see this from The White Rabbit – a classic
The White Rabbit is on good form… with ‘Sorry to drag Law into this’.
” Miss Roxborough, I will address you if I may, as during the course of this trial you are the only one of the 4 solicitors representing these defendants that I have had no cause to criticise. What I have to say therefore does not arise from your conduct of the case. Conspiracy to Defraud is on any view a most serious allegation and on conviction, on the facts of this case, merits a substantial term of imprisonment. “… You really should take a bit of time to read this…

20th April: Major update to Insite Law….

News, blogs, profession, law reports update – a large one.  Now up on Insite Law

Blawg Review #208
For those of you new to Green Patent Blog, welcome.  We operate at the intersection of IP law and all things green, clean, or renewable. We’re especially pleased you could join us during Earth Week , which of course, includes Earth Day .  So as we cover the law blogs today, we’ll put a special emphasis on the green and earthy.

Completely fabricated and malevolent nonsense…

As denials go… Ed Balls with his ‘completely fabricated and malevolent nonsense’ isn’t in quite the same league as Mayor Boris who, when accused of some extra-curricular activity some years ago, said… “I have not had an affair with Petronella. It is complete balderdash. It is an inverted pyramid of piffle. It is all completely untrue and ludicrous conjecture. I am amazed people can write this drivel.”

So… the email smear investigation  produced out of a hat by Guido Fawkes last week  not only earned him a rather absurd piece of smear journalism in return (which he fielded rather well)  but it would appear that Mr Balls is now revealed as the Ernst Stavro Blofeld Bond villain of the piece… skulking in the background, directing his polbots. Ed Balls denies this.

The Sunday Times reports… “ED BALLS, the schools secretary, used Damian McBride, the disgraced spin doctor, to smear ministerial rivals and advance his own ambitions, a Downing Street whistleblower has claimed. In an explosive new twist to the e-mail affair, a No 10 insider has revealed that Balls was the mastermind behind a “dark arts” operation by McBride to undermine colleagues. He claims the education secretary is running a destabilising “shadow operation” inside Downing Street to clear his path for the party leadership if Labour loses the next election. The insider said: “There is now an operation within an operation at No 10 and it answers to Ed Balls.”

The News of The World has what they call an exclusive along roughly the same lines…but with a different slant…

Damning proof that vicious dirty tricks website did involve highest levels of party

Meanwhile… as at 10.30 am Sunday morning, a nation waits for further revelations from Guido.

In the meantime… it is time for me to cook some breakfast.  I think I shall have bacon and eggs with a few beans and toss in some brown toast to give me the illusion that I am being healthy.  I may even have a glass of wine…. Rioja on Sundays, I have found, may be enjoyed at any hour of the day.. a piu tarde.

12.30: Well breakfast concluded… fortunately after seeing this Gerald Scarfe  cartoon picked up by Red Rag (A full version here)…and Guido is orf for a picnic to keep the ravening horde waiting for his latest revelations….

As Labour plummets in the polls faster than bank shareson the stock exchange did some months ago, John Prescott is using Twitter, facebook and Blackberry tecdhnology to get the message accross.  I’m not entirely sure whether even Moses himself would have any effect on the British public now in terms of their faith in Gordon Brown and Nu-Labour… but at least the old bruiser is still in the game and doing it with some style.  I enjoy listening to Prescott… and he does keep the gags coming… or should that be shags. The Times has the full story.

More later, I suspect.  I may even manage to write a bit about the law… anything is possible.

Lawcast 128:Damian Green MP – the decision of the DPP not to prosecute and the position of The Home Secretary

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister, a former government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog. We’re discussing the extraordinary case of the arrest of Damien Green MP in the light of the DPP’s decision yesterday not to prosecute him or the home office official who was also arrested. The newspapers state that Green was told by police at the time of his arrest that he could be facing life imprisonment if convicted.
Is Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary, on the ropes?


Links to Carl’s blog posts, the DPP statement and the Home Affairs Committee report may be found on Insite Law magazine under the ‘Listen to podcast’ link below.

Listen to the podcast


podcast version for iTunes

18th April 2009: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Dear Reader,

I write to you this week from a rather curious building on the south bank of The Thames, home to our spooks;  the Secret Intelligence Service or MI6 as it is better known.  If you are thinking about applying, MI6 is one of the most efficient of our national institutions and is the only employer in the country which knows you are applying before you do in fact apply  – that is, after Monday 6th April,  if you have made a telephone call or sent an email to anyone and casually mention M16 in the email or call.  Ian Parker-Joseph, leader of The Libertarian Party UK, has a novel way of signing his emails to ensure that MI6 and other organs of state know what he is up to at all times.


The big story of the week (but there are so many) has been the decision of Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, not to prosecute Damian Green MP or the Home Office official who was arrested in the leaks fiasco.  The newspapers state that Green was told by police at the time of his arrest that he could be facing life imprisonment if convicted. The Home Office was most exercised at the time – Jacqui Smith is reported to have had ‘steam coming out of her ears’ – about these leaks and, it would appear now, may have over egged the pudding by exaggerating the importance of the material leaked.  At the time it was categorised as information relating to National Security. The  DPP, Keir Starmer QC,  took a rather different view.

The DPP, Keir Starmer QC, has refused to prosecute and said ‘his decision was based on the fact that the leaked documents “were not in many respects highly confidential”

I am doing a podcast with Carl Gardner, former government lawyer now turned blogger and freelance writer.  Carl  has written three execllent posts on this: Damian Green – Jacqui on the rackDamian Green – the key issueDamian Green / Chris Galley: Keith Vaz protects Jacqui Smith. You may also like to have a look at The DPP’s decision and The Home Affairs Committee report

Well the farce continues with the revelation in The Times this morning…. that the Police used the key words “Shami” and “Chakrabarti” to search Damian Green’s emails, even though she was nothing to do with the Police inquiry.

“Ms Chakrabarti said she had never been approached by the police as part of their inquiry and was alarmed to learn that her name had been used as a key search word. “I think this raises very serious questions about just how politicised, even McCarthyite, this operation was,” she said.” The Times

Jacqui Smith, in  my opinion (stated on the premise that I still have the right to voice an opinion in our ‘increasingly repressed’ country) has been a poor performer as Home Secretary.  She was ridiculed by a Police Federation speaker at a national Police Conference, she has struggled to cope with the job according to numerous press reports, she is in some difficulty in relation to her expenses, and she may well, now, be guilty of misusing her office or…as Carl Gardner puts it… “Jacqui Smith is under suspicion of having used the police as a political tool; of having allowed her own anger and frustration at the embarrassment the leaks caused her to cloud her judgment, so that she authorised the involvement of police for a wholly wrong purpose – to stop that embarrassment.”

She should resign.  It is, however, highly unlikely that she will do so. It is worth noting that The Home Secretary is also responsible for The Police who have been demonstrating to the people of our country and the world that they are capable of mindless violence against our own people (The G20 officer involved in the Ian Tomlinson death is now suspended and being investigated under caution for manslaughter) and complete idiocy.

Two particularly moronic representatives of our police force have probably misused their powers under the controversial terror legislation by ordering the deletion of pictures of a bus stop taken by two perfectly respectable Austrian tourists. Even the most stupid of police officer or PCSO should be aware of Google Street View ? .. this terror legislation and taking of photographs of buildings and police is getting out of hand.

One good thing that has come out of G20 rioting is the likelihood, following the spectacular publicity given to policing techniques and behaviour at G20, that they will be reluctant to use the controversial s.76 power to stop people taking photographs of police.

Anyway… here is a picture of the bus station photographed by the Austrian Tourists: Vauxhall… coincidentally!

Right… on that note… I’m off to take photographs of the outside of the M16 building and see if any police officer tries to stop me.  I am assuming not, because most policemen and women are not robocop baton wielding  nutters or fools.  In any event, I am taking a print of the picture of the MI6 building (left)  on the front of the MI6 website and will explain to any officer who does approach me that I  am seeing if I can take a picture as arty as the official one.

I’d better take the name of my wine merchant just in case I am taken into custody.  I understand that it is still possible to make one telephone call from a Police Station.  I shall order some wine to be delivered to the police station (for me)  if I am detained.

Best regards, as always




Lawcast 128: Damian Green MP – the decision of the DPP not to prosecute and the position of The Home Secretary

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister, a former government lawyer and author of the Head of legal blog. We’re discussing the extraordinary case of the arrest of Damien Green MP in the light of the DPP’s decision yesterday not to prosecute him or the home office official who was also arrested. The newspapers state that Green was told by police at the time of his arrest that he could be facing life imprisonment if convicted.
Is Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary, on the ropes?  Links to Carl’s blog posts, the DPP statement and the Home Affairs Committee report may be found on Insite Law magazine under the ‘Listen to podcast’ link below.

Listen to the podcast

Hawking didn’t write Brief History of Time – the wheelchair did…

John Flood, academic, law prof and blogger has done the business with his new persona  – stand up comedian. In my book, anyone who can do stand-up in front of any audience, let alone pissed people in a pub – deserves praise for courage and idiocy/madness in the face of reason!

The title to this piece comes from one of many very amusing quips in John’s latest stand up routine …. It made me laugh… but I would have laughed even if I wasn’t half in the bag.

Watch the John Flood movie


( also does pretty good podcasts and knows a thing or two about law! )

Friggin Friday…

So here I am on a rainy Friday afternoon, grey skies and cold,  with a glass of Chianti to my right.  I met up last night with Geeklawyer, Carl Gardner, Jacqui Gilliat, Information Overlord, Oedipus Lex and the two editors from LawandMore – Vanessa and Sabreena. We met at The Cittie of Yorke, a pub just outside Gray’s Inn in Holborn, a hostelry I used to frequent many years ago when I was teaching law in the area.   Geeklawyer produced a very snazzy Canon digital camera costing megabucks, took an excellent photograph of me (I talk of megapixel quality and composition) and I have reduced it to a stylised parody with a bit of Photoshoppery to give it a bit of ‘arty nonsense’ worthy of a blog and to  enhance the ludicrous tache I have been growing since Christmas. A touch of Vercingetorix, peut-être?

I have surprisingly few photographs of myself. My face is best suited to radio as the saying goes.  But here, for a limited time only, is me. Most enjoyable evening last night and Sabreena duly arrived with the promised electric cigarette which I used on the train back from London.  No-one even noticed and if they did, they weren’t bovvered.  I use the vernacular because in the seat across the aisle from me was a young woman with a strong Kentish accent practising her command of old anglo-saxon.  She was talking to her boyfriend and was clearly upset ‘wiv ‘im’ …. unless C**t and “You effing tosser” are terms of endearment wherever she was going to.  The electronic cigarette is absurd.  It glows at the tip when sucked on ( a small LED, I believe) and produces real smoke – or non toxic vapour.  I’m told these e-cigarettes cost £79 quid and nicotine cartridges work out at about the price of a pack of twenty fags.  I can’t really see them catching on – although the amusement factor of watching Geeklawyer puffing away on the thing last night inside the pub was was good.  Sadly, no-one came over to be a busybody and then get eviscerated by the Prince of Darkness.

White Rabbit bulletin

I am pleased to read of the continuing recovery of White Rabbit following a recent injury.  He is off the fags for 23 days now and is amusing himself by doing a spot of blogging with a post on Irritating Words and Phrases.  White Rabbit gives several illustrations.  Here is one:  You are? This means ‘what is your name?’ I don’t know quite why, but there’s something about ‘you are?’ that makes me want to smack the questioner in the face.”

Obnoxio The Clown had a recent post which prompted me to further investigation of a LadyBird book parody. As we have different readers you can either visit Obnoxio’s amusing and very blunt blog to see them as he reveals them or have a look here.

And finally for this friggin Friday post…Nick Holmes of Binary Law has an excellent post… I think you should read it…

“Plenty to ponder about the future not just of the established news industry but also of other old media players in this post from Jeff Jarvis and the numerous comments:

You’ve had all that time to reinvent your products, services, and organizations for this new world, to take advantage of new opportunities and efficiencies, to retrain not only your staff but your readers and advertisers, to use the power of your megaphones while you still had it to build what would come next. But you didn’t. You blew it.”

I could have left the Jeff Jarvis link in, of course… but that is the point about bloggers – they tend to link to each other, they tend to share, they tend to push news items, they tend to do *Hat Tips* when they find something on another blogger’s blog.. … go and have a look at Nick Holmes post to get the link to Jeff Jarvis’s excellent post… it is my *Read of The Week*…

Not just for UK bloggers… for all bloggers.. and it ain’t about law!

17th April: Jacqui Smith in the firing line over security and secrecy

Jacqui Smith in the firing line over security and secrecy
Times: Jacqui Smith faced renewed pressure last night after the secrets case against Damian Green was thrown out and the leaks with which he was involved were deemed not to have involved national security.

Quite apart from the furore over her expenses, the Home Secretary has demonstrated that she is not a safe pair of hands with this latest episode over the arrest of Damien Green MP,  who was told by police at the time of his arrest that he could be facing life imprisonment if convicted. Mr Green won’t be convicted, nor will the Home Office whistleblower,  because DPP, Keir Starmer, has refused to prosecute and said ‘his decision was based on the fact that the leaked documents “were not in many respects highly confidential”.’ Guardian

While Ms Smith did not press for the arrest of Damien Green MP, she did “back a Cabinet Office decision to call in the police following 20 destabilising leaks from the Home Office in the past two years.” It now appears that the leaks were not substantial state secrets, affect national security or put lives at risk as was being ‘suggested’ at the time of Green’s arrest.

Starmer, not surprisingly, covers his position by saying – as reported in The Guardian – “the unauthorised leaking of restricted and or confidential information is not beyond the reach of the criminal law and can amount to an offence of misconduct in public office”.

David Davis MP, former shadow home secretary, commented: “…the police were increasingly trying to use “misconduct in public office” to target officials who leak, undermining a key reform to the Official Secrets Act introduced to allow the disclosure of information. Green said the episode “whipped away the veil over this government and the way it exercises power”. He said: “They make serious mistakes on immigration policy and rather than correcting [them] they try to cover them up and when the cover up is exposed they lash out and, in this case … they exaggerated the security implications.”

Carl Gardner, a former senior government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal Blog has written three good posts on this issue, the most recent, this morning: Damien Green – Jacqui on the rack

Gardner writes: “The way I’d put it is this: Jacqui Smith is under suspicion of having used the police as a political tool; of having allowed her own anger and frustration at the embarrassment the leaks caused her to cloud her judgment, so that she authorised the involvement of police for a wholly wrong purpose – to stop that embarrassment. I can’t imagine a more serious charge against a Home Secretary. I don’t like suggestions we live in a “police state”: I think that kind of claim is always over the top . But vigilance must be eternal, and, if it means anything, it means making sure ministers do not use the police for their own political interests.

So Jacqui Smith is now on the rack. The onus is on her to acquit herself of these suspicions – which I don’t think it will be easy for her to do.” Carl Gardner then says that she needs to answer a number of questions and suggest the questions she needs to answer. Read Carl’s piece for further information…

For my part, if she is not able to allay suspicion that she may have misused her office – then quite apart from the expenses furore, she should resign. She may not have to worry about taking the honourable way – there are rumours that she will be part of a Brown re-shuffle fairly soon anyway.


The news and updates to profession are now up on Insite Law

Obvious and Tangible Cheating…

Obvious and Tangible Cheating…

The Oxbridge Training Contracts saga continues with Oxbridge Training Contracts demanding that Simon Myerson QC pay attention to their demands… I quote from Mr Foster (representing OTC)
The following comments refer to the blog ‘Integrity and a Suitable Place for It’ posted on your website on March 31st, 2009.The blog is both highly deceptive and defamatory and we demand its immediate removal, the deletion of associated comments and that you print a retraction making very clear the deceptive nature of the comments printed there hitherto.” (See: Integrity – The Man speaks)

Myerson, clearly unruffled by Mr Foster’s demands,  refused to comply and responded: Integrity – the deadline passes and Moving on.

In his his latest “Moving on” blog post, Simon Myerson makes a number of particularly important points in relation to cheating – first, in relation to paying organisations like OTC to write pupillage application forms  and, secondly, in relation to the even more serious issue (in my view) of paying porganisations to provide answers to tailored essay questions.

The fiction, of course, is that OTC and similar organisations (which they make clear in their terms and conditions) are simply providing students with these answers for their private research. They go further and say that it is a breach of their terms and conditions for students to use these answers for any other purpose than private research and include submission of such answers as their own work for university or law school course work.

Given that these tailored, bespoke, answers cost £200 or even more per answer depending on whether the answer is 2.1 or First class standard, or delivered seven days or seven hours later, it does not take a genius to work out that students are (a) using these bespoke answers and passing them off as their own work or (b) may be tempted to use the material as a substitute for their own research  or (c) are using the work as research and then ‘modelling’ their own answers on the answers provided. In all three cases the student is cheating. There is really no other term for it. Many, if not most, institutions make it clear to students that they may not have any third party assistance with assessed coursework.

Myerson, rightly, makes this observation: ” I extend this to the writing of essays – whether by way of ‘model’ answer or otherwise. The test is simple: if the teaching isn’t good enough at your institution then you should be able to recover the cost of your payment to OTC by way of legal action for breach of contract. If you wouldn’t sue then you shouldn’t use what you’ve bought. Try working harder.”

Simon Myerson QC is a member of The Bar Council and is actively involved in the matter of Bar education. His blog posts on this issue are worth reading – as are the comments written by prospective barristers. Myerson’s Pupillage and How to Get It blog is a first class resource for any prospective barrister. I have no hesitation in recommending it.

[I gave Mr Foster the opportunity to talk about Oxbridge Training Contracts in a podcast. If you wish to listen to it – click here]


The news is up on Insite Law.  No new law reports – Easter vacation.  OI shall do an update of UK blogs either later today or tomorrow.

BPP, the BVC and some thoughts….

A commenter on Simon Myerson QC’s blog Pupillage and how to get it – made an amusing comment about me riding in on my white charger to complain about BPP – noting that I am ex-BPP  – providing guidance on pupillage applications along the lines of the service provided by Oxbridge Training Contracts.

I have given Oxbridge Training Contracts a fair opportunity to justify their essay writing / pupillage application services and do not propose to rehearse the matter further.  (See my blog /podcasts etc etc)

I did, however, reply to the commenter on Simon Myerson’s blog.  I repeat my comment here….

Manage Change…

I may have founded BPP Law School  – I have no interest however, commercial or other indirect interest , in what BPP do now.

I sold my shares over 10 years years ago and while I am pleased to have founded a law school with others in my career – BPP moved in a different direction to the vision I was interested in – and that is, of course, their prerogative.

My vision was then, and is still now, to provide access to education at a very modest price. This, however, is not consistent with modern law school practice at vocational level – whether PLC, charity or university.

The BVC course is a useful source of revenue for all  law schools currently validated. I remain convinced  that when it proves to be unattractive to law schools to run the BVC – they will simply pull out.   I have a feeling, given the furore about fees, that this may not take too long.

We shall see. Then, of course, there will be an entirely different problem to solve – adequate provision for those who seek to qualify. We live in interesting times – but for so long as students are prepared to pay the fees to law schools – be sure, the law schools will charge the fees and continue to raise them.  That, unfortunately, is the law of the market.

Unless.. you do something about it and complain.

I suspect that the Bar Council and BSB will do little in terms of direct action….

But… there again… I would be happy to be proved wrong.

Lawcast 127: Simon Fodden on Slaw, Canada

Lawcast 127: Simon Fodden on Slaw, Canada

Slaw is a Canadian co-operative weblog about any and all things legal. During the four years they have been publishing, their audience has steadily grown to include hundreds of practicing lawyers, legal librarians, legal academics and students

I quote from their ABOUT section…. “Slaw operates with a core of regular contributors and a penumbra of occasional contributors , as well as a roster of regular columnists . It is open to anyone who is knowlegeable and interested to apply to join Slaw in any of these capacities. Because information technology dissolves boundaries, you don’t have to be a Canadian to join and talk about legal matters.”

Today, I’m talking to Simon Fodden, Professor Emeritus, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University Toronto, about Slaw, the Canadian legal system generally and his views on the internationality of the blawgosphere…

Listen to the podcast | Podcast version for itunes

I am risen… just a day late…

EXCELLENT… this post has made my morning… there I was, wondering what to have a laugh about next.. and along comes The Fat Bigot  with this excellent tale about smoking an electronic cigarette in a restaurant and having to deal with a particularly cretinous woman who objected and knew the law better than anyone because ‘she worked in a (F****g) pub”

I always enjoy hearing tales of the cretinous – and their  unshakeable belief they are always right. This is an excellent blog post and I commend you to it – forthwith… or with great speed as I would say if I was invading France again. This is The Fat Bigot on very good form…

As it happens, the editor of LawnadMore, the law lifetsyle website (I do occasional reviews for along with half of the UK blogging world!) has an E-ciggie waiting for me to collect and I shall be collecting it this week when I go drinking with the two editors on Thursday avec Geeklawyer and JacquiG.

Exercise while you smoke

Bizarrely, this is exactly what I have been doing since Saturday last.  I sit at a desk for too many hours.  I have not been getting enough exercise.  So… a plan hatched in my mind that if I nip outside to have a cigarette instead of sitting at my desk smoking  as I have done for many years – I could do some exercise while I smoke, look at the view and get a bit of fresh air all at the same time.  The elegance of this multi-tasking and time management appealed to me.

So… I do leg exercises, abs, arms, press ups, running on the spot, lunges, starbursts..  about ten different exercises in all – in reps of 20 each time I have a cigarette.  As I am down to about 25 cigs a day – I am now unable to walk through stiffness after doing this for the last two days. BUT…  I shall, of course, continue. In a month I shall be ripped…. possibly.

I used to be extremly fit in my Kendo and Squash days – but that was some time back.  As I have enough sins and turning into a fat bastard is not on my immediate agenda – this is the way forward.  I shall call it by a Japanese name… Smokedo – the Art of Smoking while exercising.

Easter Sunday 2009: Blair for Pope and other matters…

The Archbishop of Canterbury is encouraging us to take advantage of the credit-crunch and consider a monastic life.  As it happens, I am living a fairly monastic, reclusive life.  As with monks, I drink wine – although I tend to buy,  rather than make , my own wine,…  not having cracked the water into wine stunt.

From the pulpit of Canterbury Cathedral, hardly a modest building and one steeped in history of Church acquisition and temporal power, Dr Williams encouurages us…“Accepting voluntary limitation to your acquisitiveness, your sexual appetite, your freedom of choice doesn’t look so absurd after all as a path to some sort of stability and mutual care. We should be challenging ourselves and our church to a new willingness to help this witness to flourish and develop.” (Guardian)

Being a devout and confirmed non-believer I did a quick Google search to find out how much priests earn.  The Chief Rabbi appears to be the highest paid,  with salary and ‘benefits’ approaching the 100k mark.  The Archbishop of Canterbury at 2002 figures (the latest I could find) is on just inder £60k but he does get a stretch limo with a driver, an apartment at Lambeth Palace, one at Canterbury Cathedral and, no doubt his kit is provided.  I suspect that his pension and retirement  arrangements  and  the one way ticket to the kingdom of heaven are also … as we say… East of London… sorted.

Anyway… nothing wrong with making a living as an illusionist… David Copperfield and many others do the same thing, albeit with different props.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the high street, the Blairs have popped up again. The Independent reports: “Mr Blair began last month with an article insisting political leaders needed to “do God”. Then, last week, he directly criticised Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican for their “entrenched attitude” towards homosexuality. But while his words were applauded by gay rights campaigners, Mr Blair sparked a withering response from leading Catholics by comparing the Church with a political party that needed its own Clause 4 moment to change with the times”

Mrs Blair, now possibly in need of a bit of press and other media attention,  is out and about publicising her autobiography.  This is unlikely to be on my reading list as my taste lies with  great figures from history, politics and science – the more villainous and venal the better – so her husband’s books will be on  my list. She did say that she doesn’t agree with the Pope’s stance on condoms and AID however…  so something selfless as opposed to self-aggrandising.

Perhaps Blair isn’t going for President of Europe after all – perhaps he is  running for Pope. The Independent notes: “Mr Blair, in his interview with the gay magazine Attitude, said: “Organised religions face the same dilemma as political parties when faced with changed circumstances”

The great story of the day is the resignation of McBride for planning a series of nasty smears against Tory politicans. There was even talk of George Osborne dressed up in stockings, suspenders and high heels when he was younger.  Frankly, I prefer to have my politicans with a sense of humour having done amusing things in their younger days than some dessicated worthy with absolutely no sins and, therefore, no experience of real life. Guido broke the story and covers it fully – as do the main newspapers.

Did Gordon Brown know what McBride, his closest political adviser, was up to? I have no idea as I haven’t got access to Brown’s emails or phonecalls – although he, or rather his government, now have access to the timing and place  of mine. The Fat Bigot has a view and his blog post on the matter is worth a read. It is ironic, in a week when ISPs have to keep records of emails sent by all citizens of the United Kingdom to allow the government to poke about that the government should be hoist by emails emanating from the very heart of power.  Have a look at Ian Parker-Joseph’s excellent blog post on this and his wonderful plan to thwart the government by putting a whole series of key words  like bomb, Al Qaeda, terrorist, grenade, pigs, troughts, North Korea etc etc in the signature of all his emails. As Ian is the leader of The Libertarian Party UK if his emails and telephone calls weren’t being monitored before they may well be rather more closely now!

On that note…. I have to get to bed early… there is a lot of rising going on tomorrow.

Dave’s Free Press…

Dave’s Free Press

Is asking for contributing parodies based on the spoof advert below. I quote quote from Dave’s site…”The Filth currently have an incredibly stupid poster campaign going on, encouraging people to waste police time and money by phoning their “anti-terrorist hotline” about nothing at all. Of course, the real objective is to keep the sheople scared so that the state can use the excuse of TERRRRRRRRRRRR to trample even more on our civil liberties.”

Here’s my remix … Have a go yourself on Dave’s site… please follow his request for a link in the comments…

12th April Postcard from The Vatican – Urbi et Orbi edition.

As I have a fair number of sins – smoking, drinking, gluttony, lust, – to go for four of the seven deadlies... and it being Easter n shit, as the young say these days in the vernacular of gr8 2 c u m8, I thought a quick trip to see my cousin Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo in The Vatican would be a good idea even though I am a confirmed and devout non-believer.  Cousin Charoni likes to keep his hand in with apostolic blessings and exorcisms and says that I am a good subject to practice these arcane skills on.

For those of you so disposed.. why not visit The Pope online?

So there we were, sitting in a Bar in Rome…  he dressed in full mumbo jumbo kit including the red mitre, me dressed in a battered drizeabone and sporting an even more absurd moustache than on  the last occasion we met at Christmas.  I asked him if he was ready, rather as I do with  interviewees when I do podcasts.

“Charon … Io sono pronto a fare il lavoro di Dio. Avete la vostra carta Amex? “

I had absolutely no idea why Charoni had to speak to me in Italian and, later, in Latin.  He speaks perfectly good English. He explained later that as in the legal profession, a little bit of mumbo jumbo, a bit of ‘foreign’  and a dead language adds solemnity to the proceedings and gives the client a feeling of getting their money’s worth. He asked for my Amex card.

“Nemo dat quod non habet… I cannot give that which I do not have.” I replied, entering into the spirit of things.

Charoni looked shocked; a similar look of shock I saw on the face of a guest some years back at a dinner at my apartment in West London when a bottle thrown by one of my friends sailed past (I eased gently sideways to avoid being hit) and crashed through the closed window to the lawns three floors below.  I should explain that it was our practice at my dinners to throw empty bottles out of the window onto my lawn below.  It saved carrying 12 or so bottles downstairs the next day. There was science behind this idea. Ordinarily,  the window would be left open for this purpose.

“It is OK, Charoni” I said with a smile “I have Euros.  I assume you take cash… this being the greatest tax avoiding nation on Earth?”

“Indeed, Charon.” Charoni replied, slipping the Euros into a secret pocket in his red robe.

“Well… get on with it, man!” I said impatiently, quaffing a decent amount of Chianti to prepare myself for the mumbo jumbo. Charoni stood up, raised his right hand and intoned sonorously “Indulgentiam, absolutionem et remissionem omnium peccatorum vestrorum, spatium verae et fructuosae poenitentiæ, cor semper penitens, et emendationem vitae, gratiam et consolationem Sancti Spiritus; et finalem perseverantiam in bonis operibus tribuat vobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.”

“Will that do the business?” I asked, lighting a cigarette.  “Am I absolved of all my sins?”

“Charon… you are absolved, indulged and cleansed of impure thoughts and matters temporal… I’ve even added a bit in about your doing good works and that should do the business until Christmas at least.  You can have a top up if necessary.  I run a new service called www.absolutionsdirect.com and all I need are your credit card details or you can pay by Priestpal.”

This done, I went with Cardinal Charoni  to a restaurant near the Forum for pasta, some excellent wines from Northern Italy, talked of many things and I returned to London later that evening…cleansed and mildly over refreshed. With absolutely nothing to declare,  I waved at the HM Customs officers hiding behind the one way mirrors in the nothing to declare channel corridor.

So.. it is Easter already

I can’t quite believe that it is Easter already.  The time seems to fly.  Einstein was right.

It was a busy week in the run up to Good Friday or Godless Friday would, perhaps, be a better description of it in modern secular Britain.  The G20 furore covered elsewhere on my blog (here and here) continued to rage.  The Police story changed once the IPCC got involved and it now appears that a second post mortem into the death of Ian Tomlinson has been ordered by the IPCC.  The Guardian has some rather interesting observations on this today.  The Independent notes that the Metropolitan Police appear to be in ‘crisis’.

The farcical story of the week involved Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism cop, Bob Quick, who resigned this week after inadvertently leaking details of a top-secret terror investigation. He was photographed going into No 10 carrying a top secret document for all the photographers to photograph….which they did and, no doubt, blew up so they could see the contents.  As a result of this a counter-terror operation had to be brought forward in Liverpool.

The Sun… did the business with this marvellous headline….

For those of you who remember those KwikFit adds from some years back…  you’ll get it straight away.

It would seem that Number 10 has been infected by April madness as well and has issued an apology for ‘juvenile emails’.

The Independent reports: “One of Gordon Brown’s most senior aides was forced to apologise for sending “juvenile and inappropriate” emails from a Number 10 account.”

Guido Fawkes who hinted at the story a few days ago broke the story… so over to Guido Fawkes. It is worth reading (as are the comments).  I quote from the opening paragraph of Guid’s story…

“Damian McBride is desperately trying to throw a smokescreen up tonight with a planted frontpage story in the TelegraphTelegraph’s lobby correspondent, is Damian McBride’s  regular drinking companion and tame mouthpiece, so it is no surprise whatsoever to Guido that the Telegraph is being used by Downing Street for damage limitation. which downplays what he has been up to.  Andrew Porter, the

The Telegraph implies that Guido has sold the story to the Sunday newspapers – that is completely untrue – Downing Street tried that same line against the Home Office whistleblower.  They are also trying to make out that the story is just about Damian McBride sending gossipy emails to his pal Derek Draper.  Utter lies.”

And finally for my Urbi et Orbi message to readers this year… from Capitalists@Work – an amusing take on Brown going for a fourth term…

The Brownadder tries for a Fourth term

Have a good Easter and if you do believe in a god…. of whatever type… may your god go with you … as Dave Allen used to say..

And if you need it… try this one: “Sancti Apostoli Petrus et Paulus: de quorum potestate et auctoritate confidimus ipsi intercedant pro nobis ad Dominum.” It may… just may.. do the business.

Best, always


Areopagitica redux….

I woke this morning, satiated to the gunnels after years of writing course textbooks for law students,  and determined that I  should publish a book… and to this end I have created Man in a Hat Press to self publish my first Charon book.

The next task was to come up with a title… without even a drop of Rioja to hand I determined (this is my latest favourite use of a favoured word) that it should be called Areopagitica Redux for reasons I shall explain shortly.  The next matter I determined that should be determined was the cover design for the book.  All books, I thought to myself,  have a cover… why should I buck the trend?   So I fired up Photoshop and hey presto… a book cover.

Lovers of English literature will know the original Areopagitica.  Wikipedia comes, as ever, to my assistance: “Areopagitica: A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England is a 1644 prose polemical tract by John Milton against censorship. Areopagitica is among history’s most influential and impassioned philosophical defences of the principle of a right to free expression.”

As I believe in both freedom to publish and freedom to express myself – why should anyone not believe in such a thing if they are not working for the State? – it occurred to me that Areopagitica Redux would be an excellent title.  As I am the publisher, author, typist, cover designer and executive editor of this work I cannot, unfortunately, blame anyone for my choice of title or, indeed, anything else – but by the same token I do not ever say No to myself when I feel that something should be done.  Let the market decide.  Let the market determine if £5.99 is too high a price to pay for my first book of musings drawn from my thoughts, my blog posts and other writing I have done over the past two years. Each book sold will pay for a bottle of Rioja.  I have chosen the price to reflect the Rioja I can get from my good friend Mr Oddbins. The more Rioja I drink, the more I will write.  Keynes would have been pleased to come up with such an elegant solution to his economic plan.  If I sell 100 I shall bring out Volume II.  If I  don’t sell 100, I shall ‘buy’ the entire print run myself, sign them and leave them casually on the shelves in bookshops throughout the land.  I don’t think I am committing any criminal offence by giving a book to a bookshop?  It is quite possible that I may have to resort to this disgraceful marketing ploy…  but not even I can invent 100 brothers and assorted relations to add to my Charon dramatis personae and persuade ‘them’ to phone bookshops to ask if they have, by any chance, a copy of Charon’s masterwork Areopagitica Redux.

All will be revealed in time….


Let me tell you about a friend who has a much more sensible idea.  Ms R, a woman of Experience writes a first rate blog.  She is a writer and a keen observer. Ms R has come up with a brainwave to write a book *Toxic People* and fund it, by asking readers to donate a very modest amount of money.  When she reaches critical mass (She has a donate-o-meter),  she will write the book and send chapters as they are written to all those who have donated. This is an excellent idea and I only wish I had thought of it myself – but as I didn’t, I am very happy to tell you that I have read the prologue and I saw that it was good. Go and read the prologue for free and if you like it… hit that button. I have a very strong feeling this book of Ms R’s will be a bodice ripper, a yarn of yarns and a pleasure to read.  I enjoyed the prologue and will be giving Ms R a contribution to the fund when I see her soon. There may even be some sex in the book… who knows?  I shall certainly ask her when we do a podcast… coming soon.

“The bidding was already at $300,000. The prize was, well it happened to be a trip around the world in five days in pure, unadulterated luxury all the way, but who really cared? If you were sitting here, you didn’t need it or  you probably already had it anyway……”

You can go straight to the prologue here…

9th April: News up on Insite Law

Happy Easter

Whatever you believe in – enjoy your weekend. I’ll be keeping Insite Law up to date over the bank holiday period but the daily news podcasts, after today, won’t be resumed until Tuesday morning.

I plan to do some blogging – who knows what the content will be? I don’t even know myself yet but I  will definitely be at my post, scanning the horizon, looking for U-boats.

By the way… the news, daily podcast… latest from the profession and the Ministry of Justice is up on Insite Law now – some rather good links to news stories about G20 Policing, the attempt to cover the story up, Bob Quick’s resignation as Chief of Counter terrorism at The Met and an excellent article by Lawrence West QC on whether the Woolf reforms have worked.  They haven’t he says.  Compelling stuff…

and… I’ve even got a new clock on the front page of Insite – just for the Easter weekend… simple things amuse me…..

POLICE: What are you going to do now?

The Guardian has a particlarly disturbing film of Ian Tomlinson being pushed over by a police officer. Tomlinson had his hands in his pockets, with his back to police and was walking away from them.  He was pushed by an officer, and fell over with his hands still in his pockets.  Ian Tomlinson died later.

There were no edits in this film as far as I could see, no immediate threat to Police from Tomlinson – yet he was pushed from behind by a policeman in riot gear.  Is this policing we should accept?  Is this an example of Police showing restraint, good discipline and bravery?  What excuse can the police come up with to excuse this excessive use of force?   A man died soon after this action.  There is a possible causal link – such is not beyond the bounds of possibility and may yet be confirmed by experts.

Make you own mind up when you see the film footage.

See also: Is this the type of Policing we want in our country and the comments.

Lawcast 126: Professor John Flood – Globalisation of law, G20 and other matters

Lawcast 126: Professor John Flood – Globalisation of law, G20 and other matters

Today I’m talking to John Flood, a professor at Westminster University about the globalisation of Law. We also discuss G20, the protests, the issue of tailored essay writing services and his recent foray into stand up comedy.

Listen to the podcast

Pocdast version for iTunes

6th April: News and daily news podcast up on Insite Law

News up on Insite Law magazine

Oxbridge Training Contracts digging a bigger hole?

Recently, I did a podcast with John Foster of Oxbridge Training Contracts, the organisation behind the tailored pupillage, OLPAS form and essay writing service. The Bar Council subsequently put a warning on the OLPAS website advising students not to use this service. BPP Law School has also warned students not to use the service and other law schools may follow.

It appears, now, that Mr Foster is requiring Simon Myerson QC – by noon today – to remove a picture of a cafe on the ground floor the building OTC uses in London on grounds that it is a deception and a defamation. Mr Myerson has given his reasons for not complying with OTC’s demands on his Pupillage and how to get it blog under the heading “Integrity – The Man speaks”.

Postcard from London: 5th April

Well… what a week. I got up shortly before 5.00 am this morning.  There were no gulls or cormorants.  It was too early for them to be about.  The G20 did not appear to have taken place for The News of The World – but I did discover that Jade Goody was given a Princess Di style send off, that an ‘Apprentice’ hunk enjoyed sex up a tree, that Prince Harry partied with a Dancing on Ice star and that ‘Gordon Ramsay went down the vindaloo’. It was far too early for a stiff drink and, despite the best endeavours of the NOTW, I managed to survive long enough to escape to The Observer online without having to seek psychiatric help from NHS Direct…. who would have told me, in all probability, that I was a deeply disturbed individual for visiting the NOTW website.

I missed this the first time around – but Guido Fawkes picked up this amusing video from The News of The World: “Who wants to be a Millionaire  MP?”

Political blogger, Obnoxio The Clown, covers the pay per view  funeral of Jade Goody in a tasteful way

The Depression Recession is Over?

The world leaders have flushed the toxic assets down the virtual lavatory, the banks are groaning under the weight of taxpayer cash, some of which doesn’t seem to actually exist in real terms,  Gordon Brown secured his $1 trillion dollars but will still, quite possibly, be able to spend more time with himself after the next election, and the great bull run is about to begin…?  Or so some say.

While the BBC autocuties, pundits and reporters ‘on the killing fields’ hyperventilated, some with bosoms heaving – such was their excitement –  the protesters protested, an over nourished  fool taking Fool’s day literally  smashed a window at RBS for the benefit of waiting photographers and hacks with notebooks, I tweeted my way through G20 and then it turned nasty.  I asked whether this is the type of Policing we wanted in our country and elicited a strong response from commentors (Hat Tip to The Magistrate’s Blog for highlighting my  post)

Fortunately, The Independent has produced a very useful guide to what actually happened at G20 when the leaders of the world had been pictured, Berlusconi had stopped irritating the Queen by being noisy and Gordon had finally slithered into line to have his photie taken.

So.. as the sun appeared over the horizon, too early still to go and collect newspapers, I hunted for news of our political masters and their shady dealings.  Guido Fawkes, in a very obscure way, pointed to a story in The Daily Mail about Mr Hoon.  It would appear that he, too, has been doing absolutely nothing wrong, dipping his nose into the trough within the rules and claiming only what he is entitled to within the rules.  The Daily Mail (not a paper I would read  as a matter of course) has the story…

“Three homes Hoon: Iraq War Minister claimed expenses on one home, rented out second…. and lived in third rent free”

Be that as it may… back to the Depression being over…

“We have reached the land of a thousand bull dances – phoney maroney, why? Because the market swallowed its Prozac,” Cramer said on CNBC’s “Mad Money” April 2. “And right now, right here on this show – I am announcing the Depression over!”

Business and Media Institute

So for those who are worrying about where their next Mercedes SLK or Tuscan holiday is coming from – a note of caution.  The Pound – Euro rate is not good.  yesterday someone reported on Twitter that they only got 98p for a Euro and Capitalists@work enlisted the support of the great detective, Sherlock Holmes,  to make a point – a rather good point, as it happens.

On the other hand, now would  be a good time to accessorise with your own investment banker. There are certainly quite a few about and for those with a taste for a bit of law in your sex or other  life, why not try an out of work City lawyer, a trainee whose training contract has been deferred or even a BPP lecturer recently made redundant? (BPP Declined to comment on this when asked by The Lawyer).

The gulls finally arrived and circled the water as I watched them smoking a cigarette.  I was the one smoking the cigarette, of course, but these gulls are pretty cuunning and in time, who knows, they may take up smoking themselves.

Returning to my desk I flicked through the Saturday Times Magazine and came across an excellent piece about Online Death. As I plan to live for ever or, in the alternative, be completely unaware of my own death (unburdened as I am by any nonsense from the religion mumbo jumboists of the world) – I may or may not need these services.  It used to be that milk bottles piling up on the doorstep would tip off neighbours for those of us who do not have families to alert the fire brigade to break in and bring a body bag with them.

Apparently, these days, if one does not update one’s Facebook account, fail to go on Twitter for several days, or one’s blog remains sans updates, there are two online services to help.  First, there is www.deathswitch.com.  This will automatically send emails to all my contacts if I don’t check in during a specified period.  Then there is www.slightlymorbid.com.  This also sends emails when a member snuffs it but requires a ‘trusted friend’ using a password to start the process.  I may of course join both …. just to be sure.  I am particularly taken by Deathswitch.com’s call to arms... “Don’t die with secrets that need to be free.”

Obama has part of his wish list with Nato countries sending more troops to Afghanistan.

France, which rejoined Nato formally at the summit, is not offering to send troops but will send 150 military police to help train Afghan civilian police.

It is probably all to the good… there will come a time when Afghan police will have to issue parking tickets and speed violation notices… they will be able to do so with Gallic panache and elan.

So… what else happened in the week that was?

Geeklawyer gave some  advice to a brother barrister and, indeed, almost papal in his writing issued a…

Memo to idiot barristers: When you’re in a hole stop digging …

The White Rabbit had a nasty accident, enjoyed a bit of morphine, gave up smoking while in hospital and is now, thankfully, on his way to recovery.

WhatAboutClients? reported the death of Holden Oliver on 1st April. I was pleased to have the opportunity of honing my obituary writing skills   in the comments section.  It would appear, however, that Holden Oliver is risen on the third day and is back in harness at the coal face writing for the weekend edition of WAC? – WhatAboutHardWork?

J Dan Hull – taskmaster and scourge of the slackers has four observations  for the profession in the States (or relevance over here as well).  here are two:

Four ‘down-economy’ questions:

1. After the economy stabilizes, “should associates pay their law firms in the first two to three years?”

2. Law schools need to step up–or get out of the way. Isn’t it time to shorten classroom legal education, and let law-firms-that-teach either be paid for–and at least not have to pay for themselves–what they give to young lawyers?

For the other two… go here.

The prolific Scott Greenfield, US criminal defense lawyer and author of Simple Justice, has an important post on his blog about blogger freedom – and I encourage you to read it:

Memo to Bloggers: Beware and Stand Up

Well.. that just about wraps it up for this week.  The sun shines…. it is time to go ite and abite and get some newspapers…

And… Tartan Week is coming up in the States. I talked to US lawyer and fellow podcaster  J. Craig Williams who is hosting the edition of Blawg Review this week (Monday 6th April) on this very theme.

Best as always


Is this the type of Policing we want in our country?

I have no patience with those who resort to violent protest, or worse, deliberately go to protests to provoke police and engage in violent acts against the police. Equally, I have no patience with Police when they exceed their powers and use violence.

I watched this film with mounting anger and a sense of shame that Police in our country could use riot shields and batons, capable of inflicting severe pain and injury, on a group of demonstrators who held their hands up and shouted “This is not a riot”.

The film records fairly extreme Police action; action which appears disproportionate in the circumstances.

I quote from one of the commenters on the Indymedia London page – Carbondave and leave you to make your own minds up.  I know what I think of this behaviour by the Police.

“I wonder if they are trained in using the ‘riot’ ‘shield’ as an offensive weapon – if so this footage would make a good training video – except what they are doing is of course not only immoral, disgraceful, shameful and sickening, it also happens to be illegal.

Which Police Dept, or Police Complaints Dept, Ombudsman or other upholder of Justice in our country, will be chosen to study this footage and decide how many police to arrest and press charges against. Looks like hudreds to me.

200 Police arrested for criminal behavour at Climate Camp. Now that would be a headline. Wonder if they ask themselves, when they go home, exactly when it was that they realised they were no longer public servants.”

UPDATE : The Magistrate’s Blog picked up this postDo have a look at the comments on The Magistrates blog post. They are interesting and giove a reasoned and balanced view of police riot control techniques generally, with some very useful observations from people who were actually at the protest.

UPDATE: Sunday 5th April 2009:  From The Observer

Police ‘assaulted’ bystander who died during G20 protests

UPDATE Tuesday 7th April 2009

The Guardian has a particlarly disturbing film of Ian Tomlinson being pushed over by a police officer. Tomlinson had his hands in his pockets, with his back to police and was walking away from them.  He was pushed by an officer, and fell over with his hands still in his pockets.  Ian Tomlinson died later.

There were no edits in this film as far as I could see, no immediate threat to Police from Tomlinson – yet he was pushed from behind by a policeman in riot gear.  Is this policing we should accept?  Is this an example of Police showing restraint, good discipline and bravery?  What excuse can the police come up with to excuse this excessive use of force?   A man died soon after this action.  There is a possible causal link – such is not beyond the bounds of possibility and may yet be confirmed by experts.

Make you own mind up when you see the film footage.

See also: Is this the type of Policing we want in our country and the comments.

G20 Day 1….. Charon reports…

Shortly after dawn yesterday I put out my cigarette, climbed aboard a Tiger Tank purchased on ebay but hours before and rumbled up the King’s Road in Chelsea, heading for The City.  Today my quest was different… to find President Sarkozy of France… it was going to be difficult to find him.  Quite apart from the fact that he was threatening not to come to G20 unless Obamassiah played with his ball, Sarkozy is small and difficult to see from inside a Tiger Tank… but, be that as it may.

As with my invasion of La France on New Year’s Eve, I was able to report on #G20 on Twitter – using the hashtag.  I cover the events of the day by interweaving a few tweets with commentary and analysis…

1st April : Morning

Tweet: Obama calls for g20 global action. Useful as he has come all this way…, #g20

I arrived in The City and parked up near The Bank of England shortly before 11.30

Tweet: Police very busy looking at each other and issuing parking ticket to journos #G20 Riot!!! London

All is quiet, when suddenly…  news breaks.

Tweet: Police stop armoured car at riot (Not mine tho) have Churchill Insurance so OK #G20

I watch the protesters gathering, some putting blue tents up.  The atmosphere at this stage was light, carnival like;  the lines of yellow jacketed police (not in riot gear at this stage) bright in the morning sun.

Tweet: BBC autocuties hyperventilating with excitement as man with hoodie spotted in City #G20 Much ‘wetness’

But then…..

Tweet: Breaking news: 10 people were trying to break into a building in the Holborn area of central London. (BBC) were they keen lawyers? #G20

I came across some superb pics of the G20 summit courtesy of a link on Twitter provided by @infobunny (who else!) The pics by Silversprite are worth looking at. I am ‘borrowing’ a couple)

Tweet: Good morning Sir, asks a Policeman. I hope your Tiger Tank has an MOT? I tell him it has. Mind how you go, Sir, he says #G20

Tweet: I can’t find any news to report… no rioting yet… watching journos filming each other … hyperventilating now

Tweet: Parked the Tiger Tank opposite Bank of England… swivelling turret now. May have coffee break from riots as don’t seem to be any yet #G20

Tweet: Obama has just texted me to say world facing most severe crisis since yesterday #G20

I light a cigarette, sitting in the turret of the tank. I watch.  Frankly… I was a bit bored at this stage.

Tweet: Where are all the SWAMPIES?.. I want to interview a swampy … NOW! #G20

I call over a guy with long matted hair and a beard.  He looks mildly spaced out… it could be cider.. it could be a hangover from the night before.  It is just after midday.

Tweet: Good afternoon Mr Swampy… why are you here? To promote poverty he told me. #G20… I’m up for that, I told him #G20

I can hear the BBC prattling on in my earpiece.

Tweet: 5000 police on streets, BBC reports… Financial Fools Day say protesters in a stunning display of synchronised rioting.. #G20

The crowds around The Bank of England reminded me of the queues around Northern Wreck when it went tits up.

One protester told me… get your money out of the Bank of England quick…. before they get it… Good idea, I told him #G20

Tweet: BBC cameras film thousands at Bank of England… is it a run on the Bank of England??? Is it?? #G20

Tweet: Environmentalists, anticapitalists and the Four horsemen of Apocalypse arrive at protest, some wearing Chanel suits… excitment mounts #G20

Good Grief… I see this Tweet appear on my laptop, resting on the top of the turret… “contwext Trendy users tweeting about G20 – @feralcatz, @rmcc4444, @mottv, @alexwatts, @juliareid21, @charonqc, @emtemporeal, @flashgates, @cer, …

This spurs me on to hyperbolation.

Tweet: Environmentalists, anticapitalists and the Four horsemen of Apocalypse arrive at protest, some wearing Chanel suits… excitment mounts #G20

Hang on… I’m just getting feed live from BBC studio… heavy breathing… autocutie is hyperventilating with excitement… but still nothing is really happening despite the best efforts of the BBCs John Sopel and some guy called Ben who is standing in the crowd reporting for BBC… *Live from the killing fields*.

Tweet: Come on Tim! someone shouts from the crowd at G20 Riot / protest… Cliff Richard to sing later?? #G20

I look around from my vantage point in the tank. Not even The Pope gets these crowds on mumbo jumbo day in the Vatican…. I thought.

Tweet: Will the rioters be breaking for lunch? – a tourist has asked me. Yes… we’re British rioters, I replied #G20

Tweet: BBC Going over to Ben Brown to take us through events…. Ben has nothing really to say… but says sunny #G20

Tweet: I’ve been offered a piece of cake from the Women’s Institute  Special Riot Group… very civil of her … excellent cake #G20

Tweet: Lots of people setting up tents in Bishopsgate… taking a close look.. living in sustainable way for 24 hours. bollocks #G20

Tweet: BBC commentator says in other countries we would have water cannon by now… sounds very disappointed! Carry on Camping he says #G20

I’m thinking at this stage that it may well be time for a toasted chicken sandwich. Fortunately, I have my toaster with me.  I also have my hip flask.  This takes a third of a bottle of Rioja.

Tweet: Tense moment… a Swampy is shouting at a policeman… is this the TIPPING POINT? Police being goaded now… should City close now? #G20

Tweet: An effigy of a banker hangs from a traffic lights in Threadneedle St, City, London says a reporter  – sun shining so some good news #G20

I log in to the Twitter #G20 coverage to see if anyone is actually writing anything sensible…

Tweet: @FranSA: Urine running down the street as guys pee against buildings. No fair. What’s a girl to do? #G20

Tweet: @jamiepotter: Police told me off for chalking ‘under the paving stones, the beach’. Reclaim the streets! #G20

BUT THEN THINGS TURNED NASTY or kicked off as they say in the modern vernacular…

Leader of the Libertarian Party UK Ian Parker-Joseph tweeted: @IanPJ Protesters attempt to smash windows of RBS building in City, police now deployed in riot gear. #G20

Tweet: Breaking News: From @Oedipus_Lex NOOOOOOO! Church’s shoe shop has been hit! #G20

Tweet: @IanPJ Smashing of windows at RBS branch looks staged. 1 protester smashed, surrounded by press and other photographers. #G20

I break off to respond to a tweet from my friend, the exceptional Ms R – who knows a thing or two and who knows how to write.

Tweet: @ladyrobinson Sarkozy… pfffttt… a miniature Frenchman of no concern to the drinking classes #G20

And then it went very sour…

Man dies during G20 protests in London
Guardian: Day of protests that began peacefully turn sour as man dies during G20 demonstrations

  • **

Moving away from the protest to the summit itself…

G20 summit: European demands threaten to wreck deal

The Times reports that France and Germany delivered a late threat to derail Gordon Brown’s efforts to secure a global recovery deal last night by demanding new concessions from the United States on financial regulation.

Gordon slithers about looking rather creepy when Obama is about… calls someone from the press ‘my good friend’… and Michelle Obama gives HM The Queen a protocol breaching hug.  It has to be said… The Queen seemed to give her one back – and why not! (The Sun)

Who knows whether anything will come of the G20 summit.  I don’t really think we need President Merkin of Germany and the French miniature president, Sarkozy, to bang their high heels on the table – that will, like the unpleasant violence at the protest, achieve absolutely nothing.  What we do need is for world leaders to sit down and try and solve the problems we face.  Hopefully they will come up with a plan!

And on that note… I may well cover G20 Day 2 tomorrow… but now… it is Rioja time – a bit early, I grant you, but driving a Tiger Tank is thirsty business I can tell you.

best as always


Lawcast 125: US lawyer Craig Williams on podcasting and his upcoming Blawg Review #206

Today I’m talking to Craig Williams, a US lawyer, the author of the May It Please The Court blog and a leading US podcaster who hosts the Lawyer to Lawyer show with Bob Ambrogi.
Craig, who has Welsh and Scots ancestry, is hosting the upcoming Blawg Review #206 on 6th April on the theme of Tartan Week – which lasts for a week in New York.

I talk to Craig about Blawg  Review – his blog, his ancestry and, of course… podcasting.

  • **

Listen to the Podcast | Podcast version for iTunes

A march of all the fools… or a serious day of serious protest?

A march of all the fools… or a serious day of serious protest?

The hyperventilators and autocuties in BBC and Sky television studios are ready. Journalists from the serious and tabloid press are ready. The bloggers are ready. Ladies and gentlemen…of the press and media… start your engines for All Fools Day promises to bring all the fools to London (some are even coming out of retirement from the days of the Poll Tax riots in the nineties) to protest while world leaders are wafted about London in armoured cars with police escorts.

The Police are “up for it and up to it”. Guido Fawkes will be there and exhorts “Wear your pinstripes with pride (today)”

Climate change is, possibly important and may become even more so if it is actually proven that mankind is buggering  the planet up and climatic anomalies are not simply climate anomalies. Leaving that to one side for the present, the world leaders are gathering in London to discuss the most severe financial crisis since the great depression and certainly since World War II.

This is perhaps, for the immediate future, more important than almost anything else on the agenda so protests about a myriad of other matters, some entirely unimportant, are at best a distraction. At worst, if serious violence follows and anti-capitalists and assorted morons, hooligans and people whose eyes are too close together start fighting with Police for their own amusement and gratification, people will get hurt and important protest will be devalued. The day has yet to begin, so we shall see what happens. Along with others, I shall be watching with interest. Enjoy your day and whatever it brings you…

Daily Legal News and podcast: Now up on Insite Law, as usual.