30th June: News up on Insite Law

News up on Insite Law

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Mike SP
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30th June 2009

Commons clerk raises legal obstacle to Westminster ‘clean-up’ Bill
Times: “The Government’s attempt to replace self-regulation of MPs’ financial affairs by a new independent regulator faces an unexpected challenge. Ministers hope to push the Parliamentary Standards Bill through the Commons in three days this week. But they face the challenge of an outspoken memorandum by Malcolm Jack, Clerk of the Commons. This questions ministerial claims about the Bill’s impact on parliamentary privilege: MPs’ long-disputed right to free speech without the threat of judicial action as enshrined in the Bill of Rights of 1689”.

Yet another example of speed and not enough though.

Inner Temple / Middle Temple Library survey

Inner Temple has issued an online survey as part of their feasibility study into the possible merger of the two Inn libraries. You may express your thoughts on the possible plan to merge the two Inn Libraries: Click here for the Inner Temple Survey

Inner Temple Library news has the details of the latest position

To view the straw poll I conducted on the blog a month or so back –   View / vote on that poll.

College of Law podcasts – Inside Track

The College of Law has asked me to present a series of 10 Podcasts on current legal issues which while aimed at prospective members of the profession will be of interest to qualified lawyers and non-lawyers who are interested in law alike.  I’m delighted to work with The College on this project and quite apart from enjoying working with the College of Law multi-media team , I get to do it in a very snazzy radio studio over at their studio  in Bloomsbury and get to interview some interesting guests.

I’ll publish the guest list as soon as it is firmed up – but there are some fascinating people in our plans and  it will be a most enjoyable series for me to be involved with. We record the series in July and early August and they will go live on the College of Law website in September.  My style is exactly the same as my own podcasts.  The sound quality is, of course, better and they even have a signature tune for the series!

Listen to the first podcast with Des Hudson, Chief Executive of The Law Society talking with me about the opportunities and threats to the profession in relation to outsourcing in India, legal aid, Best Value Tendering and the shape of the profession under the Legal services Act coming in now with alternative business structures.  Des Hudson knows his stuff and this will be of interest to practitioners as well – of that I am confident.

Episode 1: Des Hudson, Chief Executive of The Law Society

Get a job as an MP and have lots of jobs…

Following on from DuckGate and MoatGate the newspapers are now running amok with tales of greedy MPs with multiple jobs; causing embarrassment to some, discomfort to others and general outrage from many.  Part-time MPs don’t give the attention to our affairs that the position merits.  I do understand that MPs may well be able to take on a bit of consultancy to up their income but when fees earned from outside interests are stratospheric people begin, inevitably, to question why an MP should be worth so much. Conflict of Interest?
***
The real issue is not so much the amount they get paid but how many hours they are devoting to their outside interests at the expense of the taxpayer.  If they are part-time, perhaps they should resign and let someone else who wants to work in parliament and represent constituents do it.

Rothschild and Freshfields founders linked to slavery

Rothschild and Freshfields founders linked to slavery
Two of the biggest names in the City of London had previously undisclosed links to slavery in the British colonies, documents seen by the Financial Times have revealed.

Financial Times: Nathan Mayer Rothschild, the banking family’s 19th-century patriarch, and James William Freshfield, founder of Freshfields, the top City law firm, benefited financially from slavery, records from the National Archives show, even though both have often been portrayed as opponents of slavery.

Beware of Greeks causing rifts… and other thoughts…

Beware of Greeks causing rifts

While the ethical standards of today should not be applied to the acquisitions and  ‘grabs’ of yesteryear,  the hardening of the Greek government line in demanding the return of the Elgin Marbles is likely to fall on deaf ears.  The Economist has an interesting take on this – inter museum loans between the museums of the world so that the greatest number of people can see the treasures of the world.  Britain is not alone in grabbing artefacts and treasures in times past.  The museums of Russia, Germany and elsewhere contain artefacts from other countries – the provenance of which is not known. Inter museum lending is unlikely to work if there is a concern  that the Greeks will simply seize the marbles should any ‘loan’ to the new museum in Athens be agreed.

World reaction to the sudden death of Michael Jackson has ranged from insane manic grief to contemptuous cynicism.  We must not forget, of course, the nutters and conspiracy theorists who are hinting (a) that he was killed by ‘dark forces’ (b) that he is not in fact dead but is flipping burgers with Elvis in some remote US town or, possibly in Whacko’s case, Area 51 (c) that he has been abducted by aliens, or in the alternative is in fact an alien and is simply returning home. The contemptuous cannot quite understand why the world is ‘mourning’  and it was only a matter of time after David Cameron paid ‘tribute’ that Gordon Brown would pop us to  say “The People’s Paedo’s death started in America.  It is a global problem…. zzzzzz”.  The Fat Bigot wonders why holding a microphone should cause such intense pain as to, yet again,  merit daily administration of pain killing medication.

Moving on… but I end with the idea I have seen on Twitter…. that if he was left in a cupboard for a while and then  returned to re-make Thriller, but this time as a Zombie… I’d watch that.

Legal Week Student

The Student section of Legal Week is developing into a useful resource for students with some practical, independent and useful content.  I’ve been doing the odd piece for Legal Week Village  – no money changes hands, unfortunately! – for some time and  now, with their Student Section, I am more than happy to contribute with relevant podcasts.  The good news is that Legal Week Student is now picking  up on other blogs –  although Alex Aldridge, who produces the student section, asks why it is that barristers and students tend to blog more than solicitors and ‘City go-getters’. Well.. that is not entirely true as there are many solicitor and academic bloggers out there as my Netvibes page of UK Law bloggers reveals.

I suppose, in a law blog, I should really try and shoehorn a bit of law in. So let’s kick off with a quick round up from a few blogs:  The Fat Bigot considers the matter of Lawyers and Lies.

In my last offering I relayed an anecdote from the dim and distant past, a snippet of my life as a barrister of moderate ability. It prompted a comment from one of the innumerable Messrs Mous. In a nutshell he alleged that lawyers lie for money. This is not just a matter of semantics, it is a matter of substance, so I want to explain why he is wrong.

It is an old chestnut for lawyers and trainees, but Fat Bigot does address concerns raised by those not trained in the law and its ways.


Twitter…..is the party over?

Binary Law asks: Has what looked like a great service, populated by eager early adopters with like motivations turned into a service polluted by egotists, marketeers and spam artists? Larry Bodine, questioning the value of Twitter as a marketing tool for lawyers, thinks so:

I’ve learned that it is a shouting post for relentless self-promoters, a dumping ground for press releases and advertising, a competition to amass followers, and a target for computer-automated Tweets.

To be frank, I am not remotely interested in what anyone thinks of Twitter.  For me, it is a social online chatroom.  I’ve met some amusing and interesting people, it keeps me out of bars (although I am often pissed late at night when I go go on to Twitter, it has to be said) and  I enjoy using it.  Even BabyBarista sees the advantages of Twitter! I shall not be highlighting any more articles – even if written by mates – about Twitter.  If you don’t want to read the shit from marketers… block ’em.  I did like the fact that Habitat got hauled over the Twitter coals by Twitter users for effectively tweeting their catalogue:  This article discusses the issue!

The parody…

MICHAEL JACKSON DEAD.  Come and see our range of household goods at www.habitat.co.uk amused me

Pupillage… handle with Care…

Simon Myerson AQC has a thoughtful article and warning… “The rules for all Chambers – whether in OLPAS or not – are clear. No offers can be made before 930am on 30th July and every offer must stay open for 14 days. Chambers not complying with those rules are cheating.

Pink Tape writes “Sigh….So many things I wanted to blog about this weekend and so little time…”

Bar of Bust sees some advantages to being a barrister: Food glorious food…

Despite previous reservations voiced by some over the quality of food at Middle Temple, the dinner laid on for this years scholars was indeed glorious. Foie Gras, Sea Bass, a strawberry something for dessert, and a superb cheese board were accompanied by a rather splendid selection of wines and rounded off by coffee and a rather decent port.

Law Actually has an amusing post about dumbed down self help law books: “…It should come as no surprise, then, that there is a genuine ‘Law School for Dummies’ – pitched at US law school. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before a UK edition of an equivalent title rears its head?”

RollonFriday has an amusing news item: An email from the senior partner of a London law firm to the Law Society ranting about the promotion of homosexuality was leaked this week.

The partner emailed the Society after it issued a press release calling on lawyers to celebrate Gay Pride. He said that he had read the release “with horror”, and launched into an impressive rant about how disgraceful it was that so many organisations “seem to have been hijacked by the gays“.

He also claimed the Society has no mandate to promote diversity. “What on earth is going to happen next? Is someone at the Law Society going to tell all solicitors that they must promote to all their male heterosexual staff that they should trying becoming [sic] gay or bisexual or transvestites” he shrieked, hurling his handbag to the floor in disgust.

Courtesy of RollonFriday – you may read the entire rant here! Ludicrous.

Well… enough of Law for the moment… What is going on over  at The News of The World?  I can’t offer any judges and their rent boys this weekend as last…

Under the headline EXPLOSIVE JACKO FILES, the News of The Screws screams “Where’s Michael hidden his cash”? Apparently a nanny received a call from grieving relatives within hours… . Seemed perfectly sensible to me.  Whacko wasn’t going to need it… but there you are.

NOTW reveals that Katie Price Jordan is in crisis and Peter whatever his name is.. is a broken man… god help us…the things people get up to eh?  And Jade’s grieving hubby is being ‘comforted’ by a ‘stunning’ brunette. Even more astonishingly NOTW reveals  under the headline ‘My big enders aren’t real says sexy Kara”.  “Soap star confesses she stuffs her bra with chicken fillets.  With chicken fillets? I think need an injection…. just remember that NOTW is one of the most widely read newspapers in the World, along with sister publication The Sun and those readers have a vote in the next general election… and may god, accordingly, have mercy on our souls. Democracy is all… a fine principle… in theory.

I end with this observation by ‘Sexy Kara’… ”

The chicken fillets do like to escape. One flew out and hit the camera

27th June: Postcard from Armed Forces Day

I write from Chatham in Kent, home to the former Royal Naval Dockyard where HMS Victory was built and many other famous warships.  There is a lot of history on the Medway with Chatham, Rochester and Upnor providing much of interest.

Today, Chatham is hosting Armed Forces Day – a celebration to honour those who serve our country in war.   I overlook one of the old dockyard basins as I write and this was the view I saw as I smoked my cigarettes and did my Smokedo exercises this very morning…

HMS Argyll, a Type 23 ‘Duke’ Class Frigate is moored about 300 yards from my balcony.  I got up early, walked round to take a closer look and had a chat with a couple of officers and one of the armed guards who was manning the gangway.  Visitors are allowed on board.  As with most people, while we may not agree with our government’s decision to go to war in Iraq and, possibly, Afghanistan (The two issues are separate),  I support our armed forces and it was a pleasure to see one of our warships up close and wave as the ship came in yesterday evening.

There are various marches planned, but I shall be out on the balcony later this afternoon watching the Red Arrows display and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight fly past.  Two Eurofighters sped past yesterday and an Apache helicopter hovered nearby.  I shall, of course, raise a glass – it will be a pleasure to do so. I shall also raise a glass to the men and women who are currently fighting a war in Afghanistan.

A short postcard this week… but, be sure, I shall be writing about many things this weekend.

Continuing with the armed forces theme… I really could not resist this. My thanks to fellow Twitter user @helencurry

Best, as ever

Charon

A series of podcasts on Civil Liberties – and the right to a fair trial

A series of podcasts on Civil Liberties – and the right to a fair trial

Roger Smith, Director of Justice, writing in this week’s edition of The Law Society Gazette has a thoughtful piece called Acts of Folly and states: “New Labour’s anti-terrorism legislation has proved ill considered and unnecessary.”

He adds..“We should remove the ban on the use of intercept evidence. It is the reason why, in at least some cases, the government cannot get a criminal conviction.”

I have completed a series of three podcasts on the right to a fair trial from three different perspectives….

Lawcast 145: Diane Abbott MP on the use of secret evidence

Today I am talking to Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington about her latest campaign to prevent the use of “secret” evidence in UK courts.

Earlier in the year Diane tabled an early day motion (EDM) declaring “that this House believes the use of secret evidence in UK courts is fundamentally wrong”, and calling on the government “to begin an immediate independent review into the use of evidence that is not ever heard by the defendant or their lawyer but which is used to justify indefinite detention, severe bail conditions or control orders”.

Listen to the podcast

Read Carl Gardner on

Lords judgment: Home Secretary v AF

Lawcast 141: The House of Lords judgment on control orders

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog about the House of Lords judgment in Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent) v AF (Appellant) (FC) and another (Appellant) and one other action

Lord Pannick, QC represented the lead appellant, AF “Since the Home Secretary can no longer impose control orders without telling the controlees the substance of the case they have to meet, the right decision — legally and politically — would be to abandon the discredited control order regime and concentrate on prosecuting in the criminal courts those against whom there is evidence of wrongdoing.”

We also cover Diane Abbot MP’s campaign about secret evidence

Listen to the podcast

Lawcast 143: On the importance of Jury trials

Four men accused of being part of a gang that stole £1.75 million in a raid at Heathrow face the first criminal trial without a jury in England and Wales for 400 years after an historic Court of Appeal decision on Thursday

The Times reported “ The ruling means that the new trial, which would normally be tried by a jury, will be the first of its kind in England and Wales under legislation that took effect in 2003 to prevent jury nobbling. The only other judge-only trials for serious cases, known as Diplock trials, have been in Northern Ireland.”

Today I am talking to Tim Kevan, a barrister, author of the babybarista blog and forthcoming BabyBarista book and co-founder of the legal training company CPD Webinars”.

Listen to the podcast

Abercrombie & Fitch have pissed me off and many others too!

I am not impressed by Abercrombie & Fitch’s treatment of law student Riam Dean as my post this morning probably makes clear.  It goes wider than that.  Abercrombie & Fitch, a US company I understand, is tapping into the sort of brainless ‘yuppie Hooray henry shit’ which should have disappeared years ago but, sadly, still seems to prevail.

I may have to buy some black combats and black boots and take a visit to their shop…. just to see for myself what people who work there actually look like and to see what their clients are like.  I have no intention of blowing the bloody doors off, of course… I’m far too old for that sort of thing these days… Pity I shaved my tache off… I could have hung around outside looking really weird.

I could not, therefore, resist a quick drawing…

Lawcast 145: Diane Abbott MP on the use of secret evidence

Lawcast 145: Diane Abbott MP on the use of secret evidence

Today I am talking to Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington about her latest campaign to prevent the use of “secret” evidence in UK courts.

Earlier in the year Diane tabled an early day motion (EDM) declaring “that this House believes the use of secret evidence in UK courts is fundamentally wrong”, and calling on the government “to begin an immediate independent review into the use of evidence that is not ever heard by the defendant or their lawyer but which is used to justify indefinite detention, severe bail conditions or control orders”.

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

Abercrombie and who?: Woman with prosthetic arm forced to work ‘out of sight’ in storeroom

Woman with prosthetic arm forced to work ‘out of sight’ in storeroom
Independent: Law student felt humiliated by clothing retailer, tribunal told

The Independent reports today that a law student with a prosthetic arm was forced to work in the storeroom of the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch because she did not fit with the company’s strict “looks policy”, a tribunal heard yesterday.

I know the retailer Abercrombie & Fitch but, frankly, after reading this, it is unlikely that I would wish to use their products. Their website shows a fit buff young man – of appeal to the laydees and gays, no doubt, and their pitch is clearly towards the so called ‘beautiful hoorays’. They have a ‘flagship’ store in Burlington Gardens.

What I find particularly distasteful about this is that Abercrombie & Fitch gave Riam Dean a job, presumably aware of her prosthetic arm (she was born without a forearm) and then shunted her into a stockroom because the cardigan she was required to wear to hide her prosthetic arm did not fit the Abercrombie” look.

The Indie notes: “But she says she was later removed from her sales position and made to work in the storeroom, out of the view of customers, because the cardigan did not adhere to the “looks policy” – a written dress code which stipulates rules on aesthetics such as hairstyle, length of fingernails and forbids facial hair. Inconspicuous tattoos are acceptable only if “they represent the Abercrombie” look.”

Riam Dean says: “Abercrombie were asking the impossible. Like the colour of my skin, I was born with a character trait I am unable to change, thus to be singled out for a minor aesthetic flaw made me question my worth as a human being.”

A look at the world of Abercrombie & Fitch

As I’m not gay and I’m certainly not beautiful enough (or at all) to use the products of this miserable excuse for an outfit

I thought I would do my duty and poke about for the benefit of those who choose to read (and hopefully rant on)  my blog . Pictured right is the type of beauty Abercombie and Zilch are appealing to…. but a visit to their ‘Gallery’ (Don’t online porn sites refer to ‘Galleries’ ? – I wouldn’t know, of course).. throws up some Hooray Henry type lifestyle shit.

I just couldn’t help myself M’Lud… and I continued to look through the ‘gallery’.
At this point I needed oxygen – not through arousal you understand – but through an attack of hysterical laughter.  This stuff is just too, too pretentious – overdone and almost beyond parody.  They have a ‘Cheeky Cousin to Abercrombie & Fitch’.  I had lost the will to live by this point… but… if you want to look as if you have just got up after wetting your bed, because you haven’t grown up and do not know how to treat people with respect… then you too can buy a shirt and look like this. (What is that man doing in the pic on the right? Is he going to tweak his nipples?)

I don’t suppose they sell rubber sheets for beds… not even in their ‘Prep School’ section.

OK… enough vulgar abuse for the day…

By the way… The Independent states: “Akash Nawbatt, representing Abercrombie & Fitch, argued that Miss Dean had “exaggerated” the effect her experience with the company had on her and claimed her problems at the store stemmed from long-standing anxiety issues. The hearing continues.”

Frankly, I am appalled. Riam Dean is a law student. Let us hope our profession employs her for her ability and does not humiliate her. I wish her luck.

And finally… the news, reports etc is up on Insite Law.



A rant… Time to defenestrate!!!

I was was one  of many  first purchasers of the Apple Mac 128k in 1984 (I think it was 1984).  I have used Macs all my professional life. They are excellent.   I bought a Sony Vaio PC three months ago because I felt I needed a PC laptop – simply because the world works on PC.  (OK.. I also wanted to play shoot em up games in quiet moments). I am a fan of Sony.  I have had Sony televisions, Sony television cameras and Sony digital cameras.  Unfortunately, the Sony Vaio is a PC and it uses WINDOWS Vista.

Mac users multi-task. Creative people use Macs.  When I try to open Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Audacity, Firefox, Word and ‘Winfail’ on the Sony Vaio PC all at the same time – it doesn’t like it.  The Mac would drink a bottle of wine, smoke a cigar, phone the prime minister, solve the fucking global credit crunch AND allow the user to use all these programmes at the same time, if need be.  BUT… not Windows.  it slows up. It does weird things.  I get WinFAIL error messages and it refuses to send emails. Add Norton 360 into the recipe (Macs don”t need anti-virus software) and multi-tasking on a PC became a Friday 13th nightmare and I just know that a virtual Jack Nicholson is inside this bloody computer… waiting with an axe to chop up the registry files and crash the entire fiasco.

So… when my PC reads this… if it doesn’t behave… I am going to buy a shotgun and shoot it… and then I’ll go out and buy a computer that does the business…. and go back to Macs!

Note to commenters with PCs: Yes I know you are all beside yourselves with how good PCs are… but you don’t know you have a problem… because you haven’t used Macs and if you start giving me advice….  I may just send the virtual Jack Nicholson with his axe, who is lurking in my Sony Vaio,  over to your computer!

The doctor is coming soon with my Rioja injection.  I’ll be OK soon.

Burqa not welcome in France….

News, law reports update on Insite Law

Nicolas Sarkozy: burqa not welcome in France
Telegraph: President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that the Islamic burqa is ‘not welcome’ in France
.

In a speech at the Palace of Versailles, Mr Sarkozy said that the head-to-toe Islamic garment for women was not a symbol of religion but a sign of subservience for women. “The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience,” he told members of both parliamentary houses gathered for his speech. He added: “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic.”

While I find the burqa distasteful if it is ‘required’ to be worn, the difficulty with this statement by the president of France is that it undermines the freedom of those who choose to wear it. By choice, of course, I mean free choice.

The French are concerned that the wearing of any religious symbols undermines the secular tradition. The irony with that position is that it places secularism in the same position as religions which feel threatened or undermined by non-believers. Perhaps no religions should be recognised by the state – or supported by the state? – for therein would lie equality before the law and removal of ‘discrimination’. For my own part if people choose to believe in something, they should be free to do so provided it does not cause harm to or impinge on the rights and freedoms of others. That, however, is another problem with religions – they just can’t help themselves. They have to convert, they have to interfere, they have to control. This is why I am an atheist.

Snobbery and bed-wetting continues in Parliament.

We learn today that only three Tories voted for Bercow in the Speaker election. Nadine ‘off her’ Dorries was almost spitting with rage at the announcement.  Few Tories clapped in the Chamber. Bercow, although a Tory, was not ‘one of them’.   All in all, frankly, a pretty poor show. Dorries, apparently, described the election as a V sign to the British public by Labour.

Paul Waugh, writing in the Standard has this tale – which hardly reflects well on the so called ‘New Tories’.

I quote:  “….One mutters that Bercow wasn’t even a grammar school boy. But another example of snobbery that takes the biscuit is this:

A Shadow Cabinet minister was asked about the new Speaker’s robes and their resemblance to an Oxbridge student dressed for High Table. “I think you’ll find that he didn’t attend that kind of university….unlike me,” came the withering reply.”

Alan Duncan is reported as saying on Sky: “I think it’s undoubtedly true to say that John is a motivated and complex character. I think that a lot of people, of course, are annoyed that he worked out how to get elected and got there.”

It would appear that the Tory party still has a number of snobs and bed-wetters in it.  Surprised?

Kickbacks? Good grief!….

It would appear that people have been lurking around on dark drizzly days in The Temple…. offering barristers work in return for kickbacks.

The Bar Council announced today on their website:

Kickbacks” The Bar Council has received reports that Chambers are being approached by a well established company who introduce clients to solicitors in return for a referral fee (15% of profit costs). The company is now looking to enter in to a similar arrangement with barristers doing public access work. Barristers are reminded of the provisions of paragraph 307(e) of the Code of Conduct which prohibits a barrister from making any payment( other than a payment for advertising or publicity permitted by the Code or remuneration to staff) to any person for the purpose of procuring instructions. However, it is permissible for the lay client to pay a fee to a company in order to be introduced to a public access barrister, provided that no money changes hands between the public access barrister and the company for the referral.”

Well… there we are… another possible lost opportunity to compete for the Bar? Or… am I just being tendentious?

Time to ditch the mumbo jumbo?

Tory MP John Bercow will get down to work chairing Commons proceedings after being elected Speaker of the House.

BBC: Mr Bercow got 322 votes to fellow Tory Sir George Young’s 271 in the third and final round of secret voting. Gordon Brown and opposition leaders welcomed the appointment of Mr Bercow, who stood on a platform of reform and pledged to heal public “anger”. However, he is unpopular among some in his party who feel the ex-right winger has become too close to New Labour.

Over breakfast this morning – a very fine cup of tea and a cigarette or two, enhanced with some Smokedo exercise routines – I watched the BBC coverage of the Approbation of The Speaker.  It was a mildly surreal experience and I’m afraid I started to experience a mild state of hysterical laughter as Black Rod brought Speaker Bercow before the Bar of the House of Lords.  There was Jack ‘The Lad Chancellor’ Straw, sitting in full regalia with a tricorn hat on his head – a Royal Commission of lords, dressed to the nines in their ermine kit and black pirate hats, beside him.  As Bercow bowed, the Lords waved their hats at him.  In fact they did this three times as Speaker to be Bercow moved ever closer to the Bar.

I know I shouldn’t laugh at such important matters of state but hysteria gave way to hyperventilation as another very serious looking man in the full barristerial regalia of the 18th Century stood up and read out a whole pile of mumbo jumbo from the days of yore when Britain did, indeed, rule the world.

I found this extract from Hansard in 1839 – the mumbo jumbo used for the approbation of The Speaker.  It is almost identical to the words used by Bercow and Straw last night.

Mr. Shaw Lefevre said—My Lords, I have to acquaint your Lordships, that, in obedience to her Majesty’s commands, and in exercise of their undoubted right, her Majesty’s most faithful Commons have proceeded to the election of a Speaker, and that their choice had fallen upon me. Deeply impressed with a sense of my own unworthiness, I now present myself at your bar, and submit myself to her Majesty’s royal approbation.

The Lord Chancellor —Mr. Shaw Lefevre, we have it in command from her Majesty, to declare her Majesty’s entire confidence in your talents, diligence, and efficiency, to fulfil the important duties of the high office of Speaker of the House of Commons, to which you have been chosen by that House. In obedience to the communication which has been just read, by virtue of the authority therein contained, we do now declare her Majesty’s royal approbation and allowance of you,  Sir, as Speaker of the House of Commons.

Straw added a bit in about it not being convenient for The Queen to pitch up and do the business herself.

Reform is on the way?

Speaker Bercow is being urged by many to reform the procedures and processes of Parliament. Unfortunately, the BBC have removed the video of The Approbation of Speaker Bercow – otherwise you would have been able to watch it.  The language and garb of times gone by still prevails – and is slightly surreal to listen to – it may be the last time we will get a chance to see this quaint old ceremony. Reform may be on the way?

Before the BBC removed the Lords video – I got  to see Jack Straw waving his hat about as well – and that was a good thing.

New Commons Speaker John Bercow says he will revive parliament
Guardian: Former rightwinger John Bercow defeats Tory rival in secret ballot and promises reform

Maybe it is time to get rid of the old kit, the pirate hats and red robes?  The judiciary is modernising its garb (although some don’t like the new kit).  The Bar has decided to hang on to their formal dress and wigs; bizarre though they look when they cross modern day Fleet Street in regalia on their way back from Court.  A friend of mine told me of his irritation when a couple of american tourists asked him to stop for a picture.  I’m afraid that I was almost beside myself with laughter at his pompousity when  he told me  and rather huffily he told me that I was a f*****g socialist… so what did I know!

Maybe he’s right.  All the mumbo jumbo, regalia, pageantry is pretty harmless but it doesn’t really seem to suit modern 21st Century Britain and Europe to my jaded eye.

Maybe, as fellow blogger and surrealist, John Bolch of Family Lore suggested, we could have an annual Mumbo Jumbo day and everyone gets to dress up in the clothes of times gone by like Ye Olde Worlde Shakespeare or Dickens nonsense.  Perhaps we could even go and look at it on a bus trip!

Ah well… orf to see a man about a pirate hat and an ermine cloak. Insite Law News, law reports, updates from the blogs is up… if you would care to peruse.

UPDATE: If you want to see what the ravening horde think of Bercow, with some very sharp and cutting analysis by Guido – have a look


Blawg Review #217: A remarkable read…

I’m not a Father… I don’t have children – but this Blawg Review is beautifully written, thoughtful and covers some remarkable issues and life stories.  You don’t need to be a lawyer to enjoy this – but there is, also, a bit of law from the blawgers… of course.

This is a very enjoyable Blawg Review – with good music, good graphics – there is even a picture of Scott Greenfield from Simple Justice in a rather good car… and Colin Samuels, a good friend and fellow writer/blogger, with his young daughter..

I won’t say any more… go and read it… I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Caption Competition Winner…

I am pleased to announce – while I would like everyone to win – that I drank of the wines of the Gods last night and after locking myself away and smoking enough to raise puffs of white smoke through the chimney… there is a winner of my Caption Competition last week ……..

……… and it is John Flood – for valour and his many entries…  I shall be getting in touch with Wildy’s very soon to arrange for the a book to be sent to you, John.

You’ll have to go and look at the many entries… but there were some very good ones including a reference to Caroline Flint

I shall do another one soon… and the prize will be a free #Smokedo lesson with a 30aday Dan Master… Moi!

21st June: Summer Solstice

It is the longest day, the summer Solstice. A year ago I was in West London and I recalled my interview with King Arthur, who I used to have the odd drink with at The Bollo.  I have left West London  to live by the sea.

In fact… I plan, in time, to wonder around various parts of Britain’s coast and live by the sea.  It seems like a good plan – and will allow me to indulge my new hobby of clearing British coastal waters of prawns…  by eating them.  Prawns may well be at the heart of the world’s global warming problem and if it transpires that they are, I shall probably get an award from Greenpeace for doing this important work.

Regular readers will know that I peruse the News of the World each Sunday morning;  a public service I carry out for readers of a more aesthetic disposition who do not indulge in my grubby habit of reading the tabloids.  Sure enough… another story exposing the lurid goings on in some parts of the judiciary

The News of the World reports:

A SENIOR married judge had a secret nine-month fling with a £250-a-night RENT BOY, the News of the World can reveal.

Judge Gerald Price QC, 60, was so besotted with 25-year-old Christopher Williams he set him up with a FLAT, paid him a monthly ALLOWANCE and let him sit on the bench in court as he presided over TRIALS.

Williams said: “His business is truth but he’s been living a lie.”

Apparently Judge Price let his rent boy  sit on the bench with him ‘while he jailed criminals’.

The Ministry of Justice is investigating… but it looks as if Judge Price will have more time to spend with his friend and get value from his £420 ‘sex season ticket’. (Full story in NOTW)

As usual… Guido Fawkes gets his man: +++ Jim Devine MP Referred to Met Police +++

Guido writes: “Hopefully Jim will have got his story straight by the time they ask him to explain the fake invoice from a fake company with a fake VAT number.  He has given the Scottish press various explanations involving pubs and cash.  That should work Jim…  Not.”

The saga continues… John Gummer pays £10,oo0 in expenses claims  to a company he owns. Gummer, alread in some diffoiculty over claims to clear moles from his garden may now be considering his position.  Plod is closing in and there may well be prosecutions.  Plod has changed his mind about investigating MPs.

Ah well….time for a spot of breakfast and a shower! Back later…

20th June: Postcard from the River

I interviewed Des Hudson, Chief Executive of The Law Society, as part of a series of podcasts for a client to be announced shortly and we talked, among other matters,  about the increasing  threat posed to justice brought about by cuts to legal aid.  The threat to justice is rather more wide ranging, however, and I thought I would begin my postcard this week, unusually, with a bit of commentary on the law.

Roger Smith, director of Justice, wrote recently in 28th May edition of  the Gazette ” The old argument about justice being without price may be eternally valid  – it is just that no-one will hear it any more.” Roger Smith states that the legal aid budget is £2 billion but that £800 million of that is allocated to civil legal aid and could be cut ‘at the stroke of a pen’, Criminal legal aid can’t be cut, he argues, because of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human rights – guaranteeing a fair trial.

The issue of fair trials has been thrown into sharp relief recently by the House of Lords judgment in Home Secretary v AF and the decision of the Court of Appeal reported by The Times::  Four men accused of being part of a gang that stole £1.75 million in a raid at Heathrow face the first criminal trial without a jury in England and Wales for 400 years after an historic Court of Appeal decision on Thursday

Today, I did a podcast with BabyBarista author, Tim Kevan about the importance of the Jury. He makes some telling points and I got to play the role of devil’s advocate.

It seems fairly obvious that we have given up any pretence of trying to improve access  justice in this country at a political level, replying instead on the good work of magistrates, judges, pro-bono units, law centres and other voluntary organisations.  Acquitted defendants will not be reimbursed for the pleasure of being wrongfully prosecuted by the state.  Those acquitted will get the legal aid rate which is roughly one third of the rate charged in private practice.  Family Lawyers may be leaving the profession in droves because the rates are simply not high enough and a judge recently refused to make a confiscation order because the defendant could not find a barrister prepared to represent him for the rates paid by the state.  We have seen this government erode civil liberties systematically over the past ten years or so – anonymous witnesses, control orders, trials without jury, secret trials, Terror law, CCTV camera coverage on an industrial scale, ID cards, etc etc etc….

I am doing a podcast with Diane Abbott MP on Thursday about her secret evidence campaign – so, if you would like to suggest some questions on this theme for me to ask her – please put them in the comments section below.

Well… enough of this.  You are familiar with it…  but it does not hurt to draw attention to it in a blog post from time to time

There is a wonderful story in The Sun today where a judge went ballistic at the extraordinary waste of public money by a local authority.

A JUDGE has blasted a council for wasting £5,000 of taxpayers’ cash dragging a teenager to crown court — over a dropped mint wrapper.

“Judge Roger Scott was stunned when she appeared before him at crown court — where murderers and rapists face trial. He asked the council’s barrister Austin Newman: “Can you explain to me why this charge was ever brought? She has dropped a single sweet wrapper. “Is it controlled waste? I’ve looked it up and I don’t see how you could possibly argue it is.”

The judge refused to allow the young girl to be put in the dock and invited her to sit in the witness box. She didn’t have to pay the £75 fine, took a caution and the judge said to her ” “I hope you enjoyed your day in court.”

Good effort Judge Scott. Sensible judging.

This week we also saw a Times ‘journalist, Patrick Foster, outing Nightjack the hitherto anonymous and popular blogger.  The poli bloggers ranted and raved – rightly – and commentators and bloggers across the country and beyond pilloried The Times for doing this.   I also wrote  Blogger off! You’re not welcome here… a short piece about law bloggers not being welcome at the Bar – risible, really.

It hasn’t been a brilliant week for Alex Salmond and his SNP Party.  First we had the absurd tale of an SNP office airbrushing The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh out of a picture to replace them with William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.  I’m not a serial Monarchist and adopt a fairly loose republican stance on the issue of Monarchy – but even I thought this was crass.

Then we had Alex Salmond claiming expenses for legal fees in his equally ludicrous attempt to impeach Tony Blair when he was prime minister. The Telegraph had the story. What was even more ludicrous was the the fact that Matrix Chambers were alleged to have charged a pitiful £150 an hour to look at two ring binder files and racking up 35 hours on the project.  Matrix Chambers was chosen by the Scottish First Minister in an attempt to embarrass the Prime Minister.  Cherie Booth QC, his wife, is a member of the set.

I had a most enjoyable morning, today, doing a podcast with Time Kevan, the author of BabyBarista about his book. I’ve read it and it is good.  I am doing a review to come out soon, so I shall say no more at this stage.  Tim is an enthusiast for the profession – hardly surprising given that he was a successful barrister and may well yet return to practice when he has finished his surfing and writing BabyB 2… listen to the podcast and find out why he wrote it.

Well… a busy week ahead… but now I must spend a bit of time with my wine… and plan posts for the morrow.

Best, as always

Charon

Lawcast 144: Tim Kevan, the author of BabyBarista

Lawcast 144: Tim Kevan, the author of BabyBarista

“BabyBarista provides an entertaining and highly amusing insight into the mysterious world of wigs and gowns. Right from the start the gloves are off and the fight for tenancy is no less dramatic than a top class boxing match. It’s a terrific read which makes you both laugh and keep the pages turning. It also confirms what I’ve always suspected – that the courtroom is not so different from the boxing ring.” Barry McGuigan MBE , former World featherweight Boxing Champion.

Today I am talking to Tim Kevan, a barrister, author of the babybarista blog and forthcoming BabyBarista book and co-founder of the legal training company CPD Webinars”.

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

Lawcast 143: On the importance of Jury trials

Lawcast 143: On the importance of Jury trials

Four men accused of being part of a gang that stole £1.75 million in a raid at Heathrow face the first criminal trial without a jury in England and Wales for 400 years after an historic Court of Appeal decision on Thursday

The Times reported “ The ruling means that the new trial, which would normally be tried by a jury, will be the first of its kind in England and Wales under legislation that took effect in 2003 to prevent jury nobbling. The only other judge-only trials for serious cases, known as Diplock trials, have been in Northern Ireland.”

Today I am talking to Tim Kevan, a barrister, author of the babybarista blog and forthcoming BabyBarista book and co-founder of the legal training company CPD Webinars”.

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

Saturday Insite: 20th June

Editor pick of the day
20th June 2009

Alex Salmond billed taxpayer £14,100 to try and impeach Tony Blair
Telegraph: Alex Salmond’s attempt to impeach Tony Blair for taking Britain to war in Iraq cost the taxpayer more than £14,000 in legal bills, the First Minister’s expenses have revealed. And the Chambers?…. Matrix, would you believe!

Douglas Carswell MP: Who would you like to be Speaker?

Tom Harris MP: ‘Order, order! Before Questions to the Prime Minister, I wish to read a message from our sponsor…’

Political Betting: The Speakership: tracking the horse race

A brief Saturday edition of Insite Law is now up.

Editor
Mike SP
Email

Government to hold Iraq War Inquiry in secret…. surprised?

We have had the House of Lords judgment on control orders – I did a podcast on the topic with Carl Gardner – and next week I am doing a podcast with Diane Abbott MP about her secret evidence campaign.  Tomorrow I am doing a podcast with Babybarista about his book and Tim Kevan (BabyBarista author), in his other guise as a barrister about the the decision of the Court of Appeal to allow the first criminal trial without a jury in 400 years to proceed.

Juries have long departed from the civil scene and, of course, are not present in Magistrate Court trials. Criminal lawyers tell me that the Jury is an important institution.  Others say that Jury trials are outmoded and unreliable.

Now that the there aren’t any newspaper stories about High Court judges sitting as jurors and the middle classes are, they say, managing to avoid jury service;  we are left with the prospect that some jurors have intelligence levels more suited to watching daytime television or  being in the dock rather than on the jury and that a defendant may as well be tried by a baked potato or a cauliflower cheese.

We shall find out what the gen on the street is tomorrow….

Blogger off! You’re not welcome here…

A trip to Simon Myerson QC’s blog, Pupillage And How To Get It,  threw up this gem from regular commenter Bar Boy “The bloggers don’t get tenancies line has certainly been trucked out at Inner. I do not recall anyone present thinking this was alarming, but that was only because the message was in keeping with the lack of transparency and accountability etc., which students quickly come to understand as being the norm at the bottom of the Bar pyramid. I remember the occasion well. One bencher, three students. Three students falling over themselves to agree with bencher that bloggers were the wrong sort for the Bar. Bencher walks off, and the three students then start discussing what they had blogged about recently.”

Laughable really. What has the profession got lurking away that they don’t want to see parodied or disclosed in a more serious way?  Probably nothing, so why the fear of bloggers?  It is highly unlikely that any barrister would do anything to prejudice a case, reveal details about his or her clients or be abusive to individuals.

Is the profession frightened of the wider public knowing about the difficulties the Bar is facing? I can’t imagine they are for one minute – just read Bar Chairman Desmond Browne QC’s annual report, available here, and you will get a pretty clear view about what ther Bar is facing currently.

Anyway… as Simon Myerson says… ” In a profession dedicated to representing anyone and everyone, denying a blogger anonymity to comment on the legal world as viewed from the bottom of the pyramid seems to me to be a retrograde step. I am not in a position to make a legal difference, but this blog will continue to respect the anonymity of those of you I know, and to allow anonymous comments. People may factor in anonymity when they assess the value to be given to a contribution, but sometimes it is helpful to hear every view – even the scurrilous, the aggravating and the just plain bonkers.”

I wonder who Simon Myerson QC  has in mind when he talks about the scurrilous and just plain bonker?   Can’t be me… I don’t practise law… I’m just an academic and a git who blogs.

British Legion ask BNP Griffin to stop wearing poppy as political statement

Hat Tip to Bendy Girl for alerting me to this when I read her blog:

The British Legion has written to the leader of Britain’s most ludicrous and unpleasant Party (I am allowed to express my bias in this country for, thankfully, we are not yet ruled by fascists) to STOP WEARING THE POPPY AS A POLITICAL STATEMENT.

Please take a minute to read their open letter. I’m a fan of The British Legion – most people are…

Here is the start of their letter… please read the rest by clicking here:

“Dear Mr Griffin,

We couldn’t help but notice that there was egg on your face (and on your suit jacket) on the day after you were elected MEP for North West England.

Please don’t leave egg on ours.

You wore a Poppy lapel badge during your news conference to celebrate your election victory. This was in direct contravention of our polite request that you refrain from politicising one of the nation’s most treasured and beloved symbols….”

More…

Lawcast 142: Peter Crisp, CEO of BPP Law School

The acquisition of BPP by Apollo – and what it will mean for legal education

BPP Law School backs £300m takeover by US bidder
Legal Week: “The parent company of top UK law school BPP has accepted a £303.5m takeover offer from a US education provider in a move that will be closely watched by the legal profession.BPP Holdings today (8 June) made an announcement on the London Stock Exchange that the all-cash offer by Apollo Global worth 620p per share – a premium on Friday’s closing price of 567p – had been agreed by the board of BPP, subject to a shareholder vote….

I have done two podcasts to get an insight into this development.

Lawcast 142: Peter Crisp, CEO of BPP Law School on the acquisition of BPP PLC by Apollo

Legal Week reported last week on the acquisition of BPP (and this includes BPP Law School) by Apollo, an American company. I interviewed the Chief Executive of the College of Law, Nigel Savage, for his reaction and today I am talking to the Chief Executive of BPP law School, Peter Crisp, for his reaction.

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

Lawcast 139: Nigel Savage, CEO, College of Law on the acquisition of BPP by Apollo

Listen to the podcast

***

See also Charon post and comments section: BPP Law School backs £300m takeover by US bidder (1)

Blogging and anonymity..

Today, a Times journalist outed the Police blogger ‘Nightjack’ when Mr Justice Eady cleared the way to do so after defying an injunction of disclosure of the blogger’s identity.

Iain Dale covered the story earlier and one of his commenters put the Eady J judgment up in segments. I provide the URL because the comments section on that post give a flavour of  reaction to Eady J’s judgment.

Briefly: Night Jack was a serving Police Officer in Lancashire.  He has been disciplined by his Force. (BBC) The issue about being a serving Police officer is not, as it happens,  important to the issue of whether an anonymous blogger, commenter, ranter is entitled to the protection of the law in keeping his or identity secret.

This Mr Justice Eady makes clear: “When I move, therefore, to the second stage, the exercise becomes somewhat artificial. That is because I have to proceed on the hypothesis that one or more public interest considerations have to be identified which would be capable of outweighing the Claimant’s right to privacy – when I have already held that no such right exists.”

So the issue for all bloggers, commenters, users of discussion boards etc etc seems to be this: Do you have a right to protect your anonymity in law should someone discover your identity, through lawful means,  and then reveal it to the world at large?

The answer is NO.

Mr Justice Eady makes this clear: “…..Those who wish to hold forth to the public by this means often take steps to disguise their authorship, but it is in my judgment a significantly further step to argue, if others are able to deduce their identity, that they should be restrained by law from revealing it.”

That seems to be it… in a nutshell. It is ironic for two reasons:

1. Journalists have gone to jail rather than reveal a source – yet now seem to be outing bloggers, who, it seems are not (always) journalists.

2. Names of judges found guilty of misconduct to stay secret
• Straw wins four-year battle to keep identities hidden
• Challenge by Guardian rejected by tribunal
Guardian

There is no such thing as real anonymity – the disclosure of identity can be compelled by law in several situations.   I’m not over bothered about whether someone is or is not anonymous.  I used to keep the game of anonymity going long after I outed myself.  Some anonymous bloggers even get pissed and publish information about their identity on Twitter in error – which is always amusing.

I am pretty relaxed about commenters being anonymous on my blog. It depends whether I like what they say or not when they post anonymously.  But, it is, after all my blog.  I tend to leave anonymous comments up unless they are trying to persuade my readers to buy dodgy porn, viagra or how to improve their law practyices – in which case I delete when I find them. I would also block an anonymous commenter  if they were being abusive to another commenter.  Reasoned argument always sails through, even if anonymous.

There are law bloggers in the States who have adopted a NO Anonymity policy. That is their right and privilege.  Sometimes, however, a blogger wishes to be anonymous because they wish to share information without being seen as the source.  I can’t really see any problem with that.

Prats who go around acting big on blog comment sections or discussion boards, being hurtful to others, are just tedious.  Their abusve comments have absolutely no value.  If they wish to be critical or abusive  – have they got the courage to say that to someone’s face or in print using their true identity?  I suspect not in many such cases.  They are thus revealed as cowards and their comments discredited accordingly.

Finally – I will say this. I enjoy reading blogs written by anonymous bloggers.  They are either completely off the wall – anonymity allowing rants and a degree of amusing bad behaviour. Anonymous bloggers are rarely abusive to anyone not in the public eye and it is clear to even the meanest intelligence that more often than not their intention is to amuse, entertain and comment through satire or parody.  (If they pick on those who cannot defend themselves, I suspect the blogging community would not be that impressed).

I enjoyed reading NightJack’s blog. He gave us a valuable and interesting insight into policing in this country – which is in our, the public’s, interest.  As far as I know there is no suggestion he did anything illegal, nor did he compromise the identity of anyone he commented on. Frances Gibb in The Times does, however,  state… “In April Mr Horton was awarded the Orwell Prize for political writing, but the judges were not aware that he was revealing confidential details about cases, some involving sex offences against children, that could be traced back to genuine prosecutions.

I can’t comment on that – but is it that likely that anyone would spend endless hours trying to do that? I doubt it – but I am happy to be told otherwise.

I’m not particularly  impressed with The Times for doing this. I think it was a piece of banal journalism and I hope that it will earn The Times and that journalist a degree of critical publicity. They have a right to investigate – but the story has the whiff of traditional journalists becoming jealous of non-traditional bloggers who are getting bigger audiences.  I don’t like that smell much.  I thought The Times was above that sort of thing.


Nutters coming to a Piazza near you.. if you go to Italy on Holiday

One of the good things about reading political blog and journo RSS feeds is that one gets tipped off about some bizarre events.  No… not ducks and moats this time – something a little bit more sinister… GUARDIA NAZIONALE ITALIANA.

Italy is one of my favourite countries.  I know it quite well.  I drink their wines, I eat their food and I murder their language….BUT… it is, for all its beauty and style, probably the most right wing country in Europe and becoming increasingly so with two parties, some say, to the right even of our ludicrous BNP and the buffoon who leads it. (I believe I am still entitled to indulge in vulgar abuse in our sceptred isle?  I shall consult Geeklawyer – the Grand Master of vulgar abuse when it comes to insults!)

Claude Carpentieri, writing in The Liberal Conspiracy, states: “The Italian government has just issued a White paper on law and order that gives the go-ahead to private vigilante groups. While the paper states that such groups will have to sign up to a licensing scheme, it’s interesting to take a peek at those who are enthusiastically jumping at the opportunity. Enter the Guardia Nazionale Italiana, whose website is currently recruiting “true Italian Nationalists and Patriots, people who are able to wear their uniform with pride and dignity, and for everything that it represents, are able to serve our land and the Italian people…. You may be excused if it rings familiar: black trousers with yellow band, black hat donning the Imperial Eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, khaki shirt carrying both Italian flag and a certain symbol (a black sun that is popular amongst German neo-nazis), black armband, black tie and black boots.”.

Well… even though many of them eat too many buns, I’d rather have our Police Community Support mob than these buffoons… who will, soon be marching in the Piazza of Firenze, Venezia, Siena and Roma…Have a look at their uniforms.

And now… a little light entertainment  to remind ourselves how mockery works….SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER from The Producers.


Caption Competition

I haven’t had a caption competition for some time. There is a modest prize – a book on legal humour from Wildy & Sons to the winner.  As always, on my blog,  my decision is final.  It has to be thus, because I will probably be half in the bag when I make it.
I just could not resist this pic of Jack Straw from the Ministry of Justice website today.  What is he doing?

Over to you.

BTW… the news is up on Insite Law

15th June: News up on Insite Law

15th June: News up on Insite Law

BLAWG REVIEW #216

John Bolch of Family Lore is the host of the internatioanl carnival of law bloggers that is Blawg Review.

On this day in 1215 King John signed Magna Carta. Today, King John Bolch gives us his Magna Carta of what the law bloggers have been up to last week.

It is visually arresting and the theme is used cleverly to reveal what bloggers have been writing about.

Read Blawg Review #216 –  I can commend it to you!

QI fact… not even Mandelson can beat this… with his titles

Hat Tip to John Bolch at Family Lore – Host of Blawg Review #216 on 15th June (tomorrow) for alerting me to this…

QI: Fact of the Day

The official title of Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, dictator of Haiti (1957-71) was “President for Life, Maximum Chief of the Revolution, Apostle of National Unity, Benefactor of the Poor, Patron of Commerce and Industry and Electrifier of Souls”

Lord Mandelson… you need to up you game on the titles, mate… an ‘electrifier of souls’ ?

Sunday night… the eve of another week…

Sunday nights are curious things.  I used to worry about what was happening on the Monday, but gave that up years ago on the premise that there was no point in worrying about Monday until Monday arrived.  If there was something to worry about on Monday, that could not be dealt with on the Sunday night because I didn’t know about it, I couldn’t really see the point of worrying about it on the Sunday… if you get my drift.  This is a principle I apply to other aspects of my life, including my own eventual trip across the River Styx.

Above is Jock – talking a lot of sense about Scotland and Independence. I found it on Tom Harris MP’s blog which is always worth a visit even if you aren’t a fanatic for politics. Have a look at the film – particularly if you are Scots!

And then we have the law schools of England & Wales who will, soon, be deciding their fees for next year 2010 intake. The 2009 fees are already fixed and some are as high as 10% higher than the year before.  I wrote about this earlier in the year: Greed is Good?

Are we going to see BPP charging even higher fees now that they have bought by the Americans?  I don’t know.  I suspect so, but I will ask Peter Crisp, the CEO of BPP Law School, when I do a podcast with him on Tuesday.

So… where are we going to get the Police to probe the MP expense frauds from?

It seems that 300 officers (1 in 11 from the Met counter terror and serious crime squads) are being investigated for possible fraud on their Amex cards.

The thought of senior Plod fishing while dressed in women’s clothing while doing covert surveillance on a suspect  is a pretty surreal one, but it appears that one officer purchased a fishing rod and items of women’s clothing with his Police issue Amex card – for use to cover police expenses.

The Guardian has the full story…

Predictably the “it beggars belief” cliche comes up with the Guardian quoting some Green Party member as saying… “”It beggars belief that our police, who are supposed to be solving crime, are suspected of fraud on a grand scale.”…

Well.. there we are… Britain in 2009.

13th June: Postcard from *East of London*

Dear Reader,
As I sit here, necking Rioja straight from the bottle, I could not help but sit back and think about The Queen watching her soldiers march up and down at the Trooping the Colour to mark her official birthday.  She used to sit on a horse and salute in earlier times but now, at the grand age of 80, she stands on a dais and takes the salute from there.  I wrote earlier today about the honours and awards bestowed on the people of Britain who like that of thing.

So now that The Telegraph has run out of expenses stories, is life on the political front returning to normal? Hardly…. Brown survived what is now seen as a particularly lame putch that would have Silvio Berlusconi laughing on the Bridge of Sighs in Venice and singing O sole MioJust one more term…. give it to me!

Hazel Blears, after repaying £13 grand in expenses and crashing out of government in a flurry of cartoon noises, is now popping up on television recanting with the fervour of a self-flagellant;  apologising for everything, including wearing a ‘Rocking the Boat’ badge  on TV the night of the Euro elections after she resigned and mocking Gordoom’s absurd YouTube video.

And… the Prince of Darkness continues to tighten his dominion over all matters spiritual, temporal and governmental.

Hat Tip to @WalterOlsen: British cops deliver Catch 22 to photographers: you’re not allowed to know which areas you’re not allowed to photograph

PC Plod hasn’t really quite got the hang of the internets thingy yet… or Google STREET View.  By the way… five minutes on RollonFriday came up with this very useful information, courtesy of Supes on RoF: “There is no where in Britain that you are not allowed to photograph. There are places where police can question you about what you are doing. They cannot ask you to delete photographs.”

Supes from RollonFriday discussion board also gave me (I post as Brigadier Grappa on RoF.. and returned to doing so today ) this useful link if you are into photography – as some of you are: Read the Info

Courtesy of @obnoxiotheclown:New Shoplifting deterrent at Salford Market…

And finally… if you want to see how the new Mayor of Doncaster made a complete prat of himself on a BBC radio interview – and left the studio mid interview.. then this priceless transcript is for you.  It is, I have to say, a wonderful piece of political interviewing and is worth the read.

A short Postcard this week, I’m afraid… the truth is… I have to stand down to spend more time with my wine bottle…. but I’ll be back

Best, as always

Charon



Lawcast 141: The House of Lords judgment on control orders

Lawcast 141: The House of Lords judgment on control orders

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog about the House of Lords judgment in Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent) v AF (Appellant) (FC) and another (Appellant) and one other action

Lord Pannick, QC represented the lead appellant, AF “Since the Home Secretary can no longer impose control orders without telling the controlees the substance of the case they have to meet, the right decision — legally and politically — would be to abandon the discredited control order regime and concentrate on prosecuting in the criminal courts those against whom there is evidence of wrongdoing.”

We also cover Diane Abbot MP’s campaign about secret evidence

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for itunes

House of Lords judgment

Carl Gardner blog | Head of Legal blog

The Queen’s Birthday… the Official one.. that is.. she has two

From Yes, Minister

An episode of the Whitehall spoof Yes, Minister underlined how politicians and officials responsible for the system believe honours will be seized with alacrity. The programme featured an exchange between civil servant Bernard Woolley, and minister Jim Hacker, as they drew up the department’s list. (The Guardian June 2003)

Hacker: “When did a civil servant last refuse an honour?”

Woolley: “Well I think there was somebody in the Treasury that refused a knighthood.”

Hacker: “Good God, when?”

Woolley: “I think it was 1496.”

Hacker: “Why?”

Woolley: “He’d already got one.”

Today is the Queen’s Birthday (Official birthday – she has two)  and, as is customary, she gets to dish out the honours – or, to be more accurate, the government does. We live in the 21st Century but still this rather bizarre practice continues whereby people are given titles or awards.  It is harmless enough and perfectly reasonable to reward people for what they do by giving them a medal if that is what they want. (Apparently, they only dish them out to people who will actually accept them… a very few turn them down).

Regalia, badges and ribbons are given to the recipient so they can wear them at home or at ceremonial events and confirm their place and position in Britain’s absurdly hierarchical society. There are people who compile lists of the ‘nobility’.  Burke’s Peerage is but one. Many of the old titles derive from the Norman conquest and feudal days – the land grabbers of the day who were useful with a sword and a lance.  Other honours were dished out to some quite unsavoury people by various Kings and Queens in later years.  The recipients of these titles were, I understand, more concerned with the land than the bit of ribbon or badge that goes with it. Today there is no land, just the badge and the ribbon.  You can even buy a badge to ‘wear with your everyday clothing’. YouGov has the details

For my part, I am not remotely interested in honours and awards but, like George Bush, I am pleased for those who want them and get them.  It is unlikely that I would ever get an honour and,  if one was offered,  I would turn it down on principle – for I have no need of baubles and feel that the time has come to end this preposterous and meaningless division based on the peerage and knighthoods.  I cringe when I see candidates on The Apprentice, keen to get a decent job, grinning and say ‘Yes, Sir Alan”.  Frankly, I am surprised that a man of Sugar’s intelligence and experience should wish to be called ‘Sir Alan’ but, as we say East of London … chacun a son gout. It’s a free country… or is supposed to be.

I have a new plan – for years I have refused to address anyone by their title. I am going to encourage as many people as I can to adopt this plan.   And now, having been ‘overlooked’ yet again… I am orf to have some breakafast in my own reality of a truly democratic, caring and socially non-divisive, Britain… I shall be wearing the Red flag again… and despite the absurdities  in government in recent months (and even years) I shall continue to believe in a socialist and fair Britain where everyone has the same opportunity to get on in life and be successful  and, at least,  get  a reasonable wage to live on and access to education, justice and health.

Have a good one, comrades.

Oh… and as The Queen has two birthdays… I’m going to have two birthdays as well… you should think about doing the same?

And the Prince of Darkness tightens his dominion over Britain…

His Excellency Baron Mandelson of Foy etc etc etc, First High Lord Protector of The United Kingdom,  has left Gordon Brown to open a few village fetes while he makes a state visit to Europe to indicate that the government’s position on the Euro is open.  Some say that Mandelbrot did not need to take a plane to Brussels, thereby saving on expenses… he merely transubstantiated and relocated – as he does, they say, at will.

Before he left to tell Europe what Britain’s plans are, His Almightiness  developed a new logo to put, like an imprimature, on all documents approved by him….

Tom Harris MP tipped his followers on Twitter off to a squabble about the new logo.  It is in the FT, rather than an amusingly insane political blog, so it may have some ‘traction’ – a word being used increasingly by politicians, but abandoned by PR Schmoozers and bloggers some time ago!

Whether His Imperial Highness is or is not running the country while Gordon Brown stalks the corridors of Downing St chucking his Nokia about… I don’t care.  You have to hand it  to the guy.. he just keeps coming back and has had more resurrections than any deity on earth.  If he can do the business for the Labour Party and get the country out of the present mess … I don’t care if they make him President of Europe…  for Life

The Unelected Governors of Britain

Guido Fawkes has a list of all the unelected Lords and Ladies who are working for Mr Brown and who owe no duty of loyalty to anyone except him. – 20 of them, would you believe! Astonishing that he doesn’t seem to have enough people in his own benches in the Commons  to run the government… that must be very pleasing for his own MPs.

And… why do grown men and women get off on titles in the 21st Century? Just asking…

Lawcast 140: Testing for drug and alcohol abuse

Lawcast 140: Testing for drug and alcohol abuse

In recent weeks I have read of employers testing employees for drug and alcohol use and abuse as a means of selecting them for redundancy. Drug testing in sport has been with us for years and now, also, is drug testing becoming fairly routine in the City and commercial sector. Drug and alcohol abuse testing in Family Law and Child Law cases is also increasing.

Today I am talking to Rod Carillo from Trimega Laboratories about the services which Trimega Laboratories provide….

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

Trimega Laboratories website

Lord Mandelson giveth… and he taketh away….

In the beginning I created  Brown and  the Cabinet and the ministers.

And the policy was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of Blair moved upon the face of the waters.

And I said, Let there be a revolt  and there was a revolt

And Brown saw the light, that it was good: and that I divide the light from the darkness.

Oxford University…. still at it?

The Independent: Tories suspend Oxford students over ‘racist jokes’

A row broke out after electoral candidates were asked to tell “inappropriate” jokes during hustings for junior officer positions on Sunday afternoon.Nick Gallagher, the current publications officer, reportedly said: “What do you say when you see a television moving around in the dark? Put it down, you n*****, or I’ll shoot you!”

Mr Gallagher, who is also general editor of the association’s magazine Blueprint, was allegedly asked to tell the most racist joke he knew and name his least favourite minority.The Tories confirmed the two suspensions from the party today. A spokesman said: “People who behave in this disgusting and reprehensible way have no place in the Conservative Party.”

And the response of the University is?….

[With apologies to Lord Snooty from The Beano]

Lawcast 139: Nigel Savage, CEO, College of Law on the acquisition of BPP by Apollo

Lawcast 139: Nigel Savage, CEO, College of Law on the acquisition of BPP by Apollo

Legal Week: “The parent company of top UK law school BPP has accepted a £303.5m takeover offer from a US education provider in a move that will be closely watched by the legal profession.BPP Holdings today (8 June) made an announcement on the London Stock Exchange that the all-cash offer by Apollo Global worth 620p per share – a premium on Friday’s closing price of 567p – had been agreed by the board of BPP, subject to a shareholder vote….

This effectively means that Apollo, an American company has bought degree awarding powers in the United Kingdom as BPP is the only private company to hold such degree awarding powers. The College of Law, the largest law school in Britain also has degree awarding powers but it is a charity and is not for sale.

I received this statement from the Quality Assurance Agency – the body responsible for granting degree awarding powers ….. today…

“BPP College of Professional Studies has taught degree awarding powers, which cannot be transferred to another organisation. The Privy Council granted the College the powers to award taught degrees for six years with effect from 1 September 2007. A change of ownership may not, in itself, affect the entitlement to award degrees, provided the college continues to operate as the entity which has been granted degree awarding powers, and within the terms of the criteria relating to those powers.

I am talking to Nigel Savage, Chief Executive of The College of Law, for his thoughts on this latest development.

Listen to the podcast

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See also Charon post and comments section:  BPP Law School backs £300m takeover by US bidder (1)

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Podcast version for iTunes

The rebellion is over… for the moment.

Well… he is no ‘Great and Terrible King’ like Edward 1, but Gordon Brown survives… for the present.  It may well prove to be a disaster and, no doubt, David Cameron is ‘over the moon’ …to bring back a phrase beloved of football managers years ago.

Tom Harris MP, who I had the pleasure of doing a podcast with recently, has a rather good post on the issue.

Prime Minister’s question

The comments are worth reading as well.

Tom Harris  did have the courage to suggest that Brown might step down as leader.  Tim Kevan, over at Barrister Blog is backing Purnell to be the next PM and says that Paddy Power is offering of 12-1.  Might be worth a punt… I’ll put a tenner on it… for democracy.  (We are still allowed to bet?… Are we? … in Brownian Britain??

And with my winnings… if I do win… I’ll buy a copy of Tim’s new BabyBarista novel.. coming soon from all good bookshops.  In fact, I’ll buy it anyway.

BPP Law School backs £300m takeover by US bidder (1)

BPP Law School backs £300m takeover by US bidder
Legal Week: “The parent company of top UK law school BPP has accepted a £303.5m takeover offer from a US education provider in a move that will be closely watched by the legal profession.BPP Holdings today (8 June) made an announcement on the London Stock Exchange that the all-cash offer by Apollo Global worth 620p per share – a premium on Friday’s closing price of 567p – had been agreed by the board of BPP, subject to a shareholder vote.

The takeover will be closely watched by UK lawyers given BPP’s status as one of the most influential players in the legal education sphere. BPP is sole supplier to the so-called City LPC consortium, acting as exclusive LPC provider to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith, Lovells, Norton Rose and Slaughter and May”

If the sale is approved by the BPP shareholders, as is likely, this will mean that two of three largest providers of vocational legal education in England & Wales will be controlled by American companies.  It seems clear, from what limited comment I have been able to obtain so far,  that this could be very good news for BPP;  bringing fresh expertise and investment into an already established provider of courses.  Apollo’s online learning experience will also, inevitably (I am advised), be of considerable benefit and put pressure on other providers to up their game.

It follows, of course, that the new owners will want American returns on investment which, some say, are a bit more demanding than those required by British and European investors.  I don’t know – but it was an interesting viewpoint which, if followed through to a logical conclusion,  will mean an examination of less successful areas within the BPP group, perhaps some re-structuring,  and consideration being given to cutting expensive low  yield courses.

Focusing attention on BPP Law School – it is quite possible that the BVC course  may be subject to one of two strategies in the present climate: closure or fee raising.  BPP is not going to go short of applicants for their BVC programme because of a perception in the market by students, despite the  high fee, that they will be better placed by attending BPP than if they attended other providers.  This is a fairly widely held belief, it would appear, from talking to BVC students and those who have qualified recently – a perception not necessarily held by Chambers more interested in degree results than the grade achieved on the BVC.

Interestingly: BPP Law School has out performed its parent company, BPP Holdings plc, with annual turnover up 29% to £19.8m. Turnover for the whole group was £118.7m, up 7%. BPP Law School accounted for 65% of the growth of the entire BPP group in 2004.”

Since then, BPP has gone on to expand its law school operations, opening new, offices, designing new courses and maximising their degree awarding powers to look at lucrative course opportunities at both LLB and LLM level.

BPP Law School provided the figures on the number of sponsored students – 34%.  This is high, but not surprising given their position as exclusive LPC provider to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith, Lovells, Norton Rose and Slaughter and May. BPP may well, as a result, be better placed to weather the current financial climate better than smaller providers who are almost entirely reliant on students who fund their own LPC and BVC courses.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, effect the change of ownership has on City law firm perceptions of BPP, fees and policy.

I am currently talking to quite a few people to get their views – if they are prepared to give them – and in the meantime I would be most interested in your thoughts and reaction to this news.

As ever – the comments section is open for your thoughts…


The country is in turmoil.. and what are the honourable members doing?

The country is in recession, the pound is falling, the bull run on the market since March has ground to a temporary halt, Lord Mandelson is running the country through a battered and shattered prime minister and…  what are the Honourable members arguing about?

Let me tell you… they are arguing about whether there is a conflict of interest for Sir Alan Sugar to continue entertaining millions through The Apprentice and go to the Lords as Enterprise Tsar. See: The Independent Story

Sir Alan Sugar donates his fee for The Apprentice to Great Ormond Street hospital, I understand.  He won’t be paid for his work as Enterprise Tsar;  which he regards as helping the country rather than being overtly political.  He may vote Labour – good on him.  I do, so do countless others.

The appropriately named Shadow culture, media and sport secretary, Jeremy Hunt,  questioned how Sir Alan could combine the two jobs after his appointment in Gordon Brown’s emergency reshuffle on Friday…..

For heaven’s sake (whatever you wish it to mean) … get on with trying to run the country, sort out the expenses mess.. ditch or don’t ditch the PM,  and stop serving your own interests and worrying about your seats.  An election will come in 2010.  That is a good year away.  Are we going to have to watch  MPs of all persuasions posture, steer for position to save or improve their necks while the country goes even further downhill?   Some of the people in this country voted for the BNP.  Maybe, just maybe,  these BNP elected MEPs would not have been elected if MPs had been serving the country rather than their own personal and political interests…

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The duck don’t care if Sugar does The Apprentice and is Enterprise Tsar – although he is  baffled as to why Sugar should want to go to the Lords… Sir Alan has a far better ring to it than Lord Sugar.

Sorry… no room at the inn…

Law firms the world over are in recession, partners are worrying about their profits, they are cutting back on the head count – perhaps for ever on  the recruitment rates we have have seen over the last ten years of bull run.

Law firms in the City are asking trainees to defer training contracts.  Associates are not being taken on to the roster when their contracts are completed.  Jordan Furlong of Law21.ca has a fascinating article in Slaw.ca.  It is of universal application.  If you are a young lawyer – or planning to become a lawyer – you really should read this.  If you are a managing partner and haven’t worked out all the angles, you will also find this article of interest.

If you are running a law school – or are employed by one – this is an uncomfortable read.  I have been expressing similar views for some time… but hey… what do I know?   Jordan Furlong is a man who knows.

Read: Jordan Furlong, The canary in our coal mine

Hacking my way through European languages: French

It must be 40 years since I staggered my way  through my French ‘O’ level oral examination before a bemused examiner.  I cannot, of course, remember what I said… but I seem to recall that I did manage to include the following at some time during these horrific proceedings.  I should have been tried as a war criminal for breaking the Geneva Convention with that examiner.

“Bonjour Monsieur.  Oui… Je suis de l’Ecosse. Ma mère est morte. Mon père est mort, mais mon frère est en vacances. Je ne suis pas mort. J’ai un chien qui mange des légumes.”

The examiner, who was about as French as a blazer wearing Bufton Tufton from Weybridge smiled, as if to suggest that the dog on Britain’s Got Talent last year could have done better and asked me to stop.  I did not see him waving a white flag – but I suspect, had he had one, he would have hit me with it to get  me to stop.

Twenty-seven years later, a successful fugitive from language justice, I found myself at the age of forty at La Coupole, a very amusing restaurant in Paris.  I was with a very attractive woman.  I had decided that I wanted to celebrate a birthday in Paris and have lunch.  We went by Eurostar.  After sinking a bottle of Roederer Crystal, a gift from my friend, I ordered a second.  It was at this point that I decided that I could still speak French.

“Je voudrais…”

“It’s OK Monsieur” said the waiter with a smile “I speak perfect English.”

I had to laugh and told him in Franglais that I had travelled to Paris that day with the specific purpose of murdering the French language and having a good lunch.  Although I did not meet him, humourist Miles Kington (Inventor of Franglais)  attended the very same penal establishment in Scotland where I was educated.  This may explain why those from that excellent school from thirty-five odd years ago  lack the ability to speak foreign languages properly.  We had an excellent day – two more bottles of excellent wine were consumed at which point we decided to go on a rather drunken tour of Paris.  I had to go up the Eiffel Tower, naturally – quite a feat when one is over refreshed.  The journey back on Eurostar involved more wine and shaking hands with some very amusing French people who were astonished by my improving Franglais..

All this is by way of explanation… Today I found myself at PC World.  Don’t ask. I saw a DVD from Berlitz for FRENCH.  I had no plan when I rose this morning to teach myself French.  It is now installed on my laptop.  I have a black beret, a striped T-shirt… les Gauloises, naturellement.. and a glass of Burgundy.  I shall be speaking French before the night is out… and then I shall invade France again…

Demain, nous naviguons vers la France … à plus tard

Libel and privacy law – a stain on our law?….

If  the News of The World headlines had screamed “Max Mosley goes yachting again – SHOCK!!!” it is unlikely that Mosley would have taken them to court for infringing his privacy.  He did so because they revealed his perfectly lawful private amusement of strutting around shouting in faux German and being whipped by scantily clad beauties.  This of course interests the public but, in my view, is a matter for him and it is not in the public interest that he should have to submit to such revelation by the press.

Unfortunately, as The Sunday Times reports today, his court action enabled “Mr Justice Eady, a High Court judge, (to deliver)  a series of rulings that have bolstered privacy laws and encouraged libel tourism.”

For my part, I think it is perfectly reasonable, when one’s private life does not impact on one’s ability to do one’s job or cause harm to others, that it should remain private and not be subject to Press intrusion  – after all, Mosley is not a Cabinet Minister, a judge, a teacher or performing any job where behaviour of this type might throw into doubt his ability to perform.  However, where behaviour breaks the law it is perfectly reasonable for a newspaper to argue that it is in the public interest for such behaviour to be revealed.

We do appear to be slowly developing a rather insidious privacy law that will allow celebrities and others to manipulate litigation to suit their needs and enable them to enjoy greater protection than ordinary people who cannot afford to fight newspapers.

Libel is a quite different animal and there is increasing cause for concern that Britain is becoming the Libel litigation capital of the world.  This, in my view, is not good news for the rule of law generally nor, specifically, for freedom of speech.

Not everyone reads The Sunday Times but the article in The  Sunday Times by Robert watts   ” UK faces backlash over ‘libel tourists” is worth a read and has prompted me to cover the key points in it and make a few observations.

Key point summary from the article

1. American politicians are pushing through free speech laws to protect US citizens from libel rulings in British courts that have been accused of stifling criticism of oligarchs and dictators.

2. Libel tourists find the libel regime in London particularly claimant friendly. Ukrainian businessman sued a Ukrainian language website based in his homeland for £50,000, simply because its contents could be viewed in Britain.

3.  Now lawmakers in several American states, including New York and Illinois, have moved to block the enforcement of British libel judgments in the United States. Congress is also considering a bill that will allow defendants of foreign libel suits to counter-sue for up to three times the damages sought by a claimant if their right to free speech, enshrined in the First Amendment, has been violated.

4.  Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace, Global Witness, Index on Censorship and representatives of Oxfam and Christian Aid are all known to be alarmed by the way UK courts are being used to challenge their reports. “Our libel laws have made Britain a place where any of the world’s bullies and wealthy celebrities can wander into court 13   and launder their reputations,” said Mark Stephens, a partner at the law firm Finers Stephens Innocent, which advises many non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The article makes the point that defendants are ‘guilty’ until they prove their innocence, there is no legal aid, damages are often higher than in other jurisdictions and the government  allows ‘libel and privacy claimants to sue under “no win, no fee” arrangements. This enables lawyers to claim a 100% “uplift” on their normal rates. One of London’s leading libel lawyers charges up to a total of £1,200 an hour.’

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The reality seems to be that many claimants are not at all interested in the damages – and this applies to privacy cases as well.  Being the cynic I am – I will correct that last remark.  The claimants are interested in the damages, but not to line their own pockets so much… but to act as a poison pill or shark repellent and deter people from publishing. The very high cost of privacy and libel  litigation is also a major factor.

Lawyers are in business to make money – and, I am told, libel lawyers do rather well out of it.  It is not a particularly complex area of law – no more so than a complex criminal fraud, commercial transaction or tax matter (I am told) – but the fees being charged are, some say, rather higher.  It is, if this is the case, a perfect illustration of market economics – and the adage ‘is the punter desperate enough to pay?’

What claimants really want is for the story or report to be suppressed or, putting it more bluntly, to frighten people into not reporting or writing about the claimant’s activities.

Given that we live in the 21st Century, that we value democracy, that we say we value openness and transparency, that we value freedom of information and freedom of speech – surely the privilege of celebrity, the privilege of being able to engage in business in a free country should permit transparency where likely wrongdoing is involved, where the rules are being broken or bent.  Ironically, we have just gorged ourselves on four weeks of stories on MP expenses and wrong doing by peers – simply because the MPs were not able to suppress the information we are entitled to – despite their disgraceful and hamfisted attempts to do so.
Corporate and commercial secrets must be given privacy protection. Celebrities, as with the rest of us, are entitled to privacy – but if they or companies or organisations tread outside the law it is perfectly reasonable, and in the public interest, that this wrongdoing should be revealed by the press and other media.  We should ensure that our libel and privacy laws do not err too far against genuine public interest issues.


As for being a supermarket for foreign users – this is ludicrous.
Why should our laws be shaped by the needs of those who have no interest in our nation, but simply use our courts because their winnings are likely to be higher?  Why should we give protection to those from overseas who can frighten those in their own countries into submission by bringing a claim against someone in their own country in our courts- simply because the internet enables readers in this country to view what is happening elsewhere.?

Lord Phillips has talked about the rule of law at a forum in Qatar recently.  This rather shoddy business of our libel laws being perverted and developing along lines to suppress freedom of speech and reporting in the genuine public interest is a worthy cause for close inspection by judiciary and parliament alike.

As ever… over to you. The comments box is yours.


The Rule of Law…and Harriet Harman QC

Mosaic representing both the judicial and legislative aspects of law. Woman on throne holds sword to chastise the guilty and palm branch to reward the meritorious. Glory surrounds her head, and the aegis of Minerva signifies armor of righteousness and wisdom.


Lord Phillips, soon to be president of the UK Supreme Court, has been attending the QatarLaw Forum. Joshua Rozenberg has an interesting piece in the Law Society Gazette ‘Gavels not guns’ in which he summarises the points made by Lord Phillips and draws attention to the curious matter of Harriet Harman QC, a former practising solicitor, and her enthusiasm for changing the law restrospectively.

Summary from The Gazette

Professor Professor Pierre Legrand of the Sorbonne in Paris stressed that the rule of law should not be regarded as a technical framework disseminated by benevolent people who understood the way of the world. If the rule of law was to operate persuasively across cultures and traditions, it had to take account of local circumstances, values and legitimate expectations. ‘There is no one-size-fits-all model,’ he said, ‘and indeed there should not be’.

Lord Phillips agreed that ‘the search was not for identical laws or legal procedures’. Phillips set out six broad propositions by which adherence to the rule of law was to be judged. Nothing less than the survival of the world depended on them, he said. Huge international pressures were building up, both environmental and political. There were only two ways in which these tensions would be resolved. ‘One is war and the other is law.’

“Without a universal commitment to the ultimate authority of law – law founded on principle and administered through independent, stable and respected judicial systems – the world as we know it is not going to survive.” Lord Phillips said.

Rozenberg writes:Which brings us to Harriet Harman. One of the Phillips principles is that the rule of law requires constant vigilance. ‘It is not a luxury item that can be put away in the cellar in times of emergency, to be brought out again when things get better,’ he said.  Phillips thought bankers and other ‘fat cats’ who had received apparently ‘obscene’ bonuses should face sanctions if they had breached their legal duties. But not otherwise – ‘what is not acceptable is to attempt to punish them by retrospective legislation or by media blackmail’. Everyone present understood this to be a reference to Harman, who had insisted that the law would be changed to deprive Sir Fred Goodwin of his pension from Royal Bank of Scotland. Labour’s deputy leader said at the beginning of March that Goodwin’s contract might be enforceable in a court of law ‘but it is not enforceable in the court of public opinion; and that is where the government steps in’.”

Harriet Harman is not a stupid woman.  Quite the opposite – but it was curious to hear her express these views in connection with Goodwin.  The so called Court of Public Opinion is a very dangerous concept, an ‘unruly horse’ as Lord Denning and others (albeit talking about public policy) put it many years ago.

I tend to agree, as most will I suspect, with Lord Phillips’ statement: “‘Judges and lawyers have a particularly important role to play in ensuring that popular emotion does not subvert the rule of law.”

There is a wider issue here and it is that of respect for the law. The rule of law can only work if those subject to the law respect it.  This  applies both to domestic and international law. For good law to work there must be consensus – it may not be perfect, but at least is is agreed at international level between states and in a domestic setting through the electoral process.

Democracy, with all its inherent failings, allows men and women to be elected to represent our interests as a nation, as a people, to an agenda the particular political party in power sets out in a manifesto. When governments depart from their manifesto, they may well run into dissent from the electorate.  The European referendum promised by Labour is but one illustration of the phenomenon.

There has been a tendency in recent years to bring out new laws to react to events: the counter terror laws, an illustration of these laws.  Policy made on the run, on the hoof, without expert and experienced review can lead to some badly thought out laws – quite apart from the problem of the state, or de-centralised organs of local government,  then misusing those laws to their own needs and ends.

We have far too many new and ill thought out laws – some deeply unpopular with different parts of society.  By way of simple and possibly emotive example – the Hunting Ban laws are so badly drafted that the Police have, effectively,  given up trying to enforce it.  The intrusion into our lives through DNA databases, identity cards, legislation permitting several hundred agencies to share information  – perhaps kneejerk over reaction to the perceived terror threat – are deeply unpopular with many in this country from all political persuasions.

When people start to lose respect for the laws, it is but a short step to losing respect for law and enforcement then becomes more difficult;  ultimately leading to protest and, possibly, riot.  The Poll Tax law of twenty years ago is a classic illustration of what happens when respect for law is lost.

China knows how to enforce Law.  They did it twenty years ago in Tiananmen Square.  A man with a shopping bag standing in front of the tanks may have held them up – but not for long.   Lord Phillips is right… the rule of law is preferable to war but, in a domestic setting, it is the politicians who bear the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that our laws meet the needs of the majority and are not drafted to suit the interests of a state hell bent on control.  The rule of law can only work, ultimately, through consent and support.

Postcard from Londonium – Circus Maximus edition

Dear Reader,

The men and women in togas skulked in the shadows; James Purnell, keeping his own counsel, Hazel Blears wearing her ‘rocking the boat’ badge, Caroline Flint praising one moment and then damning when she didn’t get the job she wanted; quite possibly a job vacated by one of several Cabinet Ministers who fell on (or were pushed onto)  their Gladius during one of the most amusing weeks I have seen in politics for years.

Unfortunately, Foreign Secretary Miliband (not, it would appear, the bravest of souls) decided not to follow his mate James Purnell into battle.  Darling is now sitting pretty in an unsackable position and the Richard III of the Labour government, Jack ”The Lad Chancellor’ Straw, sits, as ever , smiling inscrutably… waiting… always waiting;  presiding over a Ministry of Justice which appears to be hell bent on delivering legal services and justice  to the public at the lowest possible cost with his legal aid reforms, virtual courts and complete indifference to the legal profession as a whole in terms of its preparedness to do work at the pitiful rates being offered.

All three parties have provided us with wonderful entertainment over the past three to four weeks –  so much so that it has been like the Circus Maximus sitting here East of Londinium.  Brown sits in splendid isolation in his bunker at Number 10 waiting, now, for the next round of bad news – the results of the Euro elections. The hyperventilating autocuties at the BBC, the self important ‘newscasters’, the pundits, the ravening  horde from the press and the political bloggers are taking a breather until the next battle to topple the prime minister begins again on Sunday night and in the Monday press.

I too, shall take a break from politics.  I shall, as always, be at my post… scanning the horizon for U-boats to ensure that our shores are safe.  I’m getting on with the job. So far I have a 100 % hit rate.  Not a U-boat in sight. WIN!!!

England expected and England f****d it up big time yesterday by managing to lose their game in the Twenty Twenty series to Netherlands. Being, British, I offer my congratulations to the Netherlands – they played the game of rounders well –  and pour deserved scorn on the boys who lost yesterday.  With The Ashes just around the corner I am beginning to wonder if I should invest in the Sky Sports package for a month or so. (I shall, of course, do so)

Here is the BBC match report – it makes grim reading.

There have been quite a few comings and goings in the last week but none quite so spectacular as the departure of David Carradine who, Thai Police say, died in his hotel room with a noose around his neck and penis.  His agent maintains that he was murdered – but, according to The Sun, Thai police say that no-one entered or left the room, a statement based on examination of CCTV footage.

Auto-erotic asphyxiation, appears to be a fairly common pastime with some men, and I recall the tragic case of Stephen Milligan, a conservative politician who was found dead in 1994 with a noose around his neck and an orange segment in his mouth.  There was some talk, at the time, that INXS musician Michael Hutchence may have died as a result of auto-erotic asphyxiation. As ever, I take a fairly broad liberal view on private entertainments –  but, as these cases demonstrate, it is probably best to have a partner around when indulging in the more extreme pleasures in life.

I enjoy watching The Apprentice. I am also a fan of Sir Alan Sugar so I was sorry to learn in The Sun this morning (one has to read the tabloids to keep a finger on the pulse of modern Britain) that Margaret Mountford, one of Sir Alan’s so-called ‘sidekicks’, is leaving the show.

Margaret Mountford is always amusing to watch;  the subtle expression, the raising of the eyebrows, the amused disdain.   A former partner of City law firm Herbert Smith, she has been a non-executive director of Amstrad for years.  She is leaving the show to concentrate her attention on her Ph.d research on Egyptian manuscripts. I shall miss her shrewd and wry observations.

Well… that is all for the moment – but these being momentous times.. I shall be back with more posts later today and, certainly, tomorrow.  Now for some scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and a mug of tea.

Best as always

Charon

The search for Sir Alan’s Prime Minister…. continues…

Sir Alan Sugar joins government as Enterprise Czar.  He will, no doubt – for that is the “British Way” – get a totally meaningless peerage for his efforts – another de-valued bauble after recent events in both the Commons and Lords.

Interestingly – as pointed out on twitter – and there is nothing wrong in the government spending money… on things other than Duck houses, Moats, plasma TVs etc etc etc… the government is now placing orders  with Viglen which Sir Alan chairs and is a major shareholder in. Telegraph Story

Hat Tip Ian Parker-Joseph, Leader, Libertarian Party UK

At least Sir Alan Sugar knows what he is doing and could do something useful for the government and the country by taking on this role

Interaction and a bit of humour… Another reason I enjoy twitter

Ian Parker-Jospeh has a fine taste in wine!

Charon Reports on Orchard v Lee

The Case of Orchard v Lee
[2009] EWCA Civ 295
“13 year old boys will be 13 year old boys who will play tag. They will run backwards and they will taunt each other. If that is what they are doing and they are not breaking any rules they should not be held liable in negligence. Parents and schools are there to control children and it would be a retrograde step to visit liability on a 13 year old for simply playing a game in the area where he was allowed to do so.”Waller LJ

KEY FACTS

A thirteen and three-quarters year old boy (SL) was playing tag with another thirteen and a half year old boy (LR). They were playing in the courtyard and part of a walkway which was the social area for their age group when, running backwards and taunting LR, SL ran into the appellant who was working as a lunchtime assistant supervisor at the school. The back of his head came into contact with the appellant’s cheek and although at first any injury seemed slight it developed and her injuries were quite serious.

There were no school rules prohibiting running in the walkway; a point noted by the trial judge His Honour Judge Iain Hughes. The appellant brought proceedings naming SL, LR and the School as defendants. No proceedings were ever in fact commenced against the school and the matter proceeded to trial before His Honour Judge Iain Hughes QC with the only defendants, the two boys.

LAW

In some respects it is surprising the case went on appeal. The Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s decision – providing some reassurance to insurers and potential child defendants precocious enough to have a good knowledge of the principles of the law of negligence.

His Honour Judge Iain Hale stated the law in this way: “… Following the guidance of the Court of Appeal in Mullin v Richards [1998] 1 WLR 1304 , I am satisfied that the test is whether an ordinarily prudent and reasonable 13 year old schoolboy in each defendant’s situation would have realised that his actions gave rise to a risk of injury.”

Lord Justice Waller stated that “The primary question should be whether the conduct of the child was culpable, namely, whether it had fallen below the standard that should objectively be expected of child of that age.

Lord Justice Aiken, agreeing that the appeal should be dismissed stated ” As Waller LJ has stated, S owed the appellant a duty of care. The injuries were directly caused by the incident and there is no question of them being too remote to be recoverable if an action in negligence were otherwise successful. Therefore the only question for the judge and this court must be whether the conduct of S, as a 13 year old boy, fell below the standard to be expected of a reasonable 13 year old boy in the circumstances in which S found himself that afternoon, so as to constitute negligent behaviour.”

Stating the general position in negligence cases, Aiken LJ went on to state ” The question of whether a person has acted negligently is not answered simply by analysing what he did or did not do in the circumstances that prevailed at the time in question and then testing it against an objective standard of “reasonable behaviour”. Before holding that a person has acted negligently so as to be liable in an action for negligence, the court must be satisfied that a reasonable person in the position of the defendant (i.e. the person who caused the incident) would contemplate that injury is likely to follow from his acts or omissions. Nor is the remote possibility of injury enough; there must be a sufficient probability of injury to lead a reasonable person (in the position of the defendant) to anticipate it. See in particular the speech of Lord Porter in Bolton v Stone [1951] AC 850 at 858. “

HELD

The appeal was dismissed.

COMMENT

It would appear that Lord Justice Waller is being kept busy by the children of England. In Palmer v Cornwall County Council [2009] EWCA Civ 456, Waller LJ ruled that a 14 year-old boy, hit in the eye during lunch break by a rock intended for a seagull, can sue Cornwall County Council.

Waller LJ stated: “It seems that one of the year group had placed some food on the ground to tempt seagulls to swoop down so that he could throw stones or rocks at them. In throwing one such rock he accidentally hit the appellant in the eye.”

The facts revealed that only two dinner ladies were supervising 300 pupils. Waller LJ described as “perverse” the recorder’s finding that the older children, in Years nine and ten, were adequately supervised. “Certainly to ask one supervisor to supervise well over 150 year seven and eight pupils was quite inappropriate and, since that led to that one supervisor only being able to glance occasionally at years nine and ten, that left those age groups effectively unsupervised.”

The children of England seem to be a force to be reckoned with in Tort cases, let alone hoodies with knives riding biciycles on the pavements, terrorising pedestrians and shoppers in leafy West London. All is not lost for those who wish to sue because of the activities of children. While Orchards v Lee may place a hurdle in the way of suing the child, Palmer v Cornwall County Council confirms that an adult or other legal entity can always pick up the bill if the facts fall within current law on negligence.

Dealing room cheers at Brown going… but false rumour!…

GuidoFawkes reports that there were cheers in dealing rooms throughout the City today at the rumour that Brown had resigned… the rumours were false and Downing Street had to put out a statement that the Prime Minister was ‘getting on with the job’.  Cabinet shuffle coming… will anyone want to be in it?.. and how long can Brown last? Friday?  Sunday night / Monday morning?

Inherent prejudice in judicial selection…

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
Albert Einstein

The Law Society Gazette has an interesting article in the edition today “Inherent prejudice in judicial selection”

I quote from the opening to the article: Official research published today reveals a ‘widespread and underlying perception’ of ‘inherent prejudice’ in the judicial application process and suggests that solicitors still see the bench as a career for ‘other people’. The study, sponsored by the Judicial Appointments Commission, surveyed barristers and solicitors eligible for appointment. Of the 2,182 respondents, more than half (55%) said there is prejudice in the selection process, and a quarter said that the process is unfair. Only 51% felt judges are selected purely on merit.”

In a recent issue of the Law Society Gazette Lord Judge LCJ welcomed more applications from solicitors to the higher judiciary but made the perfectly reasonable point that often firms are not prepared to release experienced lawyers for the time necessary to undertake training and to fulfill their obligations to sit part-time.

It is perfectly true that the judiciary has been a natural career progression for many barristers;  but the days of the tap on the shoulder and the mysterious selection processes of times past have gone,  to be replaced by a Judicial Appointments Commission and a more open and transparent process.

Talking to solicitors and barristers about the difficulties facing solicitors when it comes to selection for the bench it is apparent that a lack of experience in the rules and procedures of court, evidence and a lack of experience in advocacy will be a hurdle to overcome for solicitors who do not practice routinely in the courts or as solicitor-advocates in the higher courts.

It would appear also, that not all lawyers are happy to take the ‘vow of poverty’ and put themselves forward for selection to the Bench. Judicial earnings are, perhaps, modest when seen in the context of fees earned by many City and commercial firm solicitors and many in practice at the Bar.  Men and women are having families later in life than in earlier times.  School fees and other costs have to be paid for those who want their children to be educated privately.  A career in the judiciary is, perhaps for some, not an attractive or realistic proposition.  I remember speaking to a High Court judge many years ago over dinner and he told me that the Bench is not for everyone.  Some barristers, he told me, are unsuited by temperament to sitting in a judicial capacity.  He was not being critical;  merely stating it as a phenomenon and that some of the very best talent, therefore, was lost to the judiciary by choice of those who preferred to remain in practice at the Bar or undertake other work later in life.

Sir Hugh Laddie, of course, went to the Bench, resigned later and worked for a firm of solicitors.  A Times report states: When Laddie announced his intention to resign from the bench in 2005, it came as a shock to the judicial system. Eyebrows were raised, particularly since he was sure to have been appointed to the Court of Appeal, had he stayed. But he chose freedom over promotion and found refuge as a consultant in a firm of solicitors founded by an old friend. He was active there, giving expert evidence, lecturing around the world and advising on numerous cases.”

Some say that judicial appointment lower down the pecking order at district judge, tribunal chairman or even circuit judge level is seen as a bolt hole for a pension by many lawyers.  I don’t know if this is the case.  I can’t imagine that it is – for while there may well be some who are just not up to it at that level,  it cannot be a widespread or serious  problem in terms of quality because in the modern era of press inquisitiveness and new media, we would have heard about it.

Reading the article in the Gazette, mindful of the encouragement of the Chief Justice himself recently, it seems to me that solicitors will be welcomed by the Judicial Appointments Commission provided they fulfil the criteria and that no longer will the judiciary be the exclusive preserve of the Bar.  It seems to my academic eye that charges of inherent prejudice, if prejudice still exists, can be allayed by positive action by solicitors in putting themselves forward in competition with barristers for appointment.

I rather suspect that for the higher appointments, those best qualified from the solicitors side of the profession will continue with their lucrative and rewarding careers as partners and that judicial office holds little attraction or charm.  Many City partners retire at 55 and the last thing on their minds at that age when they have enough dosh – I am advised – is sitting in a dusty court room listening to lawyers.  Some of these ‘high flying’  lawyers are on the golf courses, on their yachts or finding themselves in far flung lands, possibly even riding a Harley-Davidson and spending more time with their inner selves!  Others who are fascinated by law will continue to practice law in one form or another, possibly even as a judge,  well into their seventies – and long may that be the case.

Britain leads the Western World…..as top repressive surveillance regime

OUT-Law reported recently “The Government has rejected claims that it is conducting too much surveillance on citizens and has said that it has got the balance between surveillance and liberty right. It has rejected many recommendations recently made by the House of Lords.

The government has also rejected the perfectly sensible suggestion put by the Lords that surveillance be subjected to judicial oversight. Only recently the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas,  warned that  the UK could “sleepwalk into a surveillance society” as a result of ID cards and other plans.

The government has changed its position several times on the reason for ID cards. Richard Thoms stated You have to have clarity. Is it for the fight against terrorism? Is it to promote immigration control? Is it to provide access to public benefits and services?”

Today I read an interesting article in The Register A recent survey from internet security consultancy, Cryptohippie, suggests that the UK is setting the pace in at least one area – though being classified as the West’s most repressive regime when it comes to electronic surveillance might not be a title that this government is entirely happy to wear. This result emerges from Cryptohippie’s recently published Electronic Police State 2008

I quote from the article: “The audit focusses on 17 factors, ranging from requirement to produce documents on demand, through to the extent to which states force ISP’s and phone companies to retain data, the blurring of boundaries between police and intelligence work and ultimately the breakdown of the principles of habeas corpus……. The top four places in the survey are occupied by China, North Korea, Belarus and Russia. However, electronic policing also requires some degree of technological sophistication – so it is not surprising to find the UK dropping in at no. 5 and the US at no. 6. France and Germany arrive a few places below that.”

I am, thankfully, not alone in believing that we have already lost an element in the war on terror – not because the terrorists have won a victory, but because the government has found it most convenient to be able to cite ‘National Security’ issues to promote their agenda to control, to govern from the top down and restrict our freedoms  as a trade off for providing our armed forces and intelligence service with the tools they are believed by government to need. Martial Law is a long way off – but all steps leading towards even the most watered down version of it should be resisted.

It is not long ago that Jacqui Smith pushed the 42 day detention without trial and raised national security concerns in the Damien Green MP fiasco – concerns revealed to be preposterous by the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is not that long ago that we learned that local councils have been misusing RIPA terror legilsation to spy on people emptying their bins and walking their dogs.

This government has little taste for listening to experienced advisers and specialists, let alone the people it purports to serve. The leaders of the intelligence community, a former Lord Chancellor,a former Attorney General, a former Director of Public Prosecutions came out against the 42 day detention proposal which the government tried to bully through the Commons.What especial expertise lies in the current Cabinet that can afford to igniore such experience and moderation?  We are not given reasons for government decisions.  They are proclamations.  This is the way of those who prefer to rule rather than govern.

I make no party political point here because we have no idea how the Tories would act – for they do not reveal, as yet, many clear policies on this or, indeed, other aspects of government. It saddens me however, as a Labour voter for nearly 30 years,  that the greatest erosion on our freedom and civil liberty in many years has been presided over and brought about by a Labour government.  We all understand a need to equip our police, armed forces and intelligence services with the tools to combat terror – but other nations, who do not suffer attacks from terror groups, have not resorted to quite the same degree of surveillance and restriction.  We can’t even photograph a police officer, an ironic law given the excessive force used at the recent G20 protests.  This seems to be borne out by the cryptohippie report.

The last straw for me came today when I read a tweet by @Ianpj, leader of The Libertarian Party UK, about a plan  by Lancashire Police to launch a DVD to teach primary school pupils how to spot terrorists.

This is an outrage, a disgrace, and brings shame on this country and the Police service in Lancashire.  I quote from the Mail article:

“The force’s new Preventing Violent Extremism unit said the DVD aimed to teach youngsters about terrorism and fundamentalism in an ‘accessible way’. Children will be encouraged to inform on their classmates if they feel other pupils are expressing extremist views. The video features a talking lion, who explains that a terrorist can look like anyone, and urges children to tell the police, their parents or a teacher if they hear anyone talking about terror related activity. It also uses the example of Guy Fawkes saying that his strong views began forming when he was at school in York.”

This has gone too far. We destroy the innocence of childhood with this – and  it is a very dangerous step in an increasingly repressive and badly governed land.  If we are not careful we won’t have a ‘government’ we will have a regime.

I end with two quotes: The first, with the rather chilling words from The Register article…  “The usual image of a “police state” includes secret police dragging people out of their homes at night, with scenes out of Nazi Germany or Stalin’s USSR. The problem with these images is that they are horribly outdated. That’s how things worked during your grandfather’s war – that is not how things work now. “An electronic police state is quiet, even unseen. All of its legal actions are supported by abundant evidence. It looks pristine.”

And finally…. this quote from an article written by Lord Bingham, a former Lord Chief Justice of England and, until recently, senior law lord:

“The test of legal permissibility falls to be judged, ultimately, by the courts. But in times of crisis the courts too have tended to be uncritical of the executive. During both world wars judgments were given that would never have been given in quiet times, and the first half of the 20th century has been described as a period of judicial catatonia.”


3rd June: News up on Insite Law

News up on Insite Law


Jacqui Smith: The departure of one of the worst Home Secretaries in history

Billed as the youngest Home Secretary in our history, tipped as a future Prime Minister, Jacqui Smith leaves the Home Office less fit for purpose than it was when she arrived. I am not talking of minutiae and administration but in terms of reputation. Leaving aside her own poor judgement in terms of expenses claims, and the questionable, if amusing, taste of her husband when it came to private amusement with a video, Jacqui Smith seemed to be in thrall to Number 10 and presided over a number of civil liberties disasters.

Pushing through the re-classification of Cannabis, against the advice of her own team, pushing for an extension of detention without trial to 42 days (thankfully booted into touch by objections in the Lords, failing to come to grips with Policing, a relationship with the Police federation in terms of pay and Police appointments and, perhaps, most serious of all, her involvement in the Damien Green Affair. While denying she called in PC Plod it became clear that she was the source of concerns about National Security – later shown to be preposterous by the DPP Kyle Starmer QC – revealing her as a person unfit to hold one of the most important offices of State. She is unlikely to be missed by civil libertarians. The incoming Home Secretary could possibly go down in the record books as being one of the shortest holders of the office.

***

BREAKING NEWS:
“Sources say Smith is stepping down for the sake of her husband, who has been watching so much porn he is on the verge of being declared medically blind.”

Newsarse

Lawcast 138: Des Hudson, Chief Executive of The Law Society of England & Wales

Lawcast 138: Des Hudson, Chief Executive of The Law Society of England & Wales

TodayI am talking to Des Hudson Chief Executive of The Law Socoiety. Lawyers are facing unprecedented pressures; partly through the most severe recession since the the Second World War and partly through the changes coming as a result of the LSA. We talk about Tier 5 Employment migrant lawyer issues, Best Value tendering, the role of The Law Society in these changing times, Virtual Courts, and the good work the Law Society is doing in promoting human rights causes and the plight of lawyers in some overseas jurisdictions; notably Fiji, Pakistan and Colombia.

Listen to the podcast | Podcast version for iTunes

2nd June: News up on Insite Law…