Independent: Mutilated for voting in defiance of the Taliban

The Independent reports today….

Mutilated for voting in defiance of the Taliban… grotesque and barbaric.  This is the future for Afghanistan? If Coalition forces and the Afghanistan army cannot make further headway?

What is is with religion: – a conjuring trick at best, a brutal tool of social control and fear at worst?  How many wars in the world today are being fought in the name of a god – who may well not even exist? (and, frankly, if god does exist – he ain’t exactlya barrel of laughs or a fun guy with this lot spreading his religion – it is unlikely, I suspect, that a woman would not be allowed to be ‘ god ‘ in this appalling interpretation of Islam.

Blawg Review #227 is up…

Blawg Review #227 is up at The Inspired Solo. Sheryl Sisk Schelin has eschewed ‘themes’ and parodies the many blawgers (myself included)  who have used the Blawg Review concept of themes – mercilessly..

The problem with themed blawg reviews is mainly one of oneupsmanship — somebody gets clever with the Shakespeare, then the next guy has to go all Dante on you, and the next thing you know, we’re struggling to get through an irreverently witty translation of Innocent the III’s De miseria conditionis humanae and, really, who needs that? Right. We just want the good stuff from the blawgs.

It is a good read and she gives a wide coverage to topical issues – including ‘anonymity on the web’. I don’t actually care that much if someone is or is not anonymous when posting or commenting.  If I don’t agree with what they write, would I necessarily be more inclined to agree simply because I knew their name?  Would I think to myself….. I really don’t like this blog post by William Shakespeare but…hey…. he wrote Julius Caesar, Hamlet and the Scottish Play…. so… I’d better take note and start agreeing with the shit he is writing?  I don’t think so.  Shit is shit and the flies ARE wrong.

It gets the blood of a few friends of mine running and Dan Hull of WhatAboutClients? is one who has set up a “No-Wuss” zone for his blog… Stand, identify yourself and deliver is the mantra of those who deplore and decry anonymity. Fair enough….. but If I don’t like a comment posted on my blog posted ‘anonymously’ because it is ABUSIVE or rude about another blogger  I simply re-write what they have written to make them look dumb and link their “anonymous name” to a dodgy porno site…. usually deters people from being unpleasant to others on my blog…fortunately it is a very rare event anyway because I suspect that the nutters and others who have time to read my blog are of a liberal disposition or are pissed.)

I am not anonymous - I am pseudonymous, although if I wrote under my own name and called the blog after myself I would then be eponymous.  So as not to be synonymous, for who would want that?, I may start calling myself Hieronymous and just be done with it…

I’ll be back later, when the combination of neurofen to kill the pain from an unpleasant abscess (no dentists ‘abite’ over bank holiday near me) and Rioja has done the business,  with a post and maybe even a cartoon….


28 August: Charon after possibly too many glasses

Fortunately, the debate on the release of Al-Megrahi has been thoughtful, incisive and fascinating – whatever view you take on the decision by the Scottish Justice Minister to release Al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. I have learned a great deal from the debate.  Inspired by Carl Gardner’s measured post (which I still agree with) I wrote what I hope was a measured piece, acknowledging my lack of knowledge of the Scottish Judicial process.  Since writing that blog post  I have had the pleasure of exchanging views with the author of LoveandGarbage, Advoc_8 (see the comments section in my original blog post) – Scottish lawyers -  and I have read the incisive views of Jonathan Mitchell QC, Professor Hector MacQueen and many others who commented on blog posts.

I came across this statement by Allymax on Ian Hamilton QC’s blog – make of it what you will. It is in the comments section and you will need to scroll down in the comments to find it.

See also - an astonishing situation where one of our leading QCs seems to have got it very wrong – Geoffrey Roberston QC is brought to account by Loveandgarbage and others – click here

OK… I do the occasional parody – but usually because I wish to express a view in a different way….. Do have a look at Allymax – the statement has been sent to every MSP!

Oh… and in case Allymax or others raise the matter… I am proud to be a Scot – I just happen to like people from all parts of the United Kingdom….and from ….many other parts of the world!  It comes with a forward looking view and a degree of optimism :-)

28th August: Postcard from the Medway

And so I woke this morning, the eve of the last Bank holiday until Christmas, and said… “Today I feel naval.  I shall go to the historic dockyard at Chatham and see a submarine.” And I made it so… as Captain Picard of another type of ship used to say… endlessly on Star Trek. At eight bells…armed with my Samsung Jet phone and a camera that works first time, I made sail for Chatham.

“Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway and of which two-thirds is in Gillingham and one third in Chatham, Kent,  came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, leading to a requirement for additional defences. For 414 years Chatham Dockyard provided over 500 ships for the Royal Navy.” Wikipedia

Among many other vessels built in this Dockyard and which still exist are HMS Victory, launched in 1765 – now preserved at Portsmouth Naval Base

William Camden (1551-1623) described Chatham dockyard as

stored for the finest fleet the sun ever beheld, and ready at a minute’s warning, built lately by our most gracious sovereign Elizabeth at great expense for the security of her subjects and the terror of her enemies, with a fort on the shore for its defence

I am pictured above on the open bridge of HMS Cavalier, in a rather epic rainstorm which gave added atmosphere and a very mild taste of what the Captain and his officers would have experienced in storm lashed seas of the Arctic convoys.  (There was no canopy in WW II.)

I went with John Bolch of Family Lore, who lives near the docks… and who’s excellent book “Do your own Divorce” is published today. In fact, we started our trip with a tour around the spy submarine HMS Ocelot.  I resisted the temptation to buy a small scale model of HMS Victory, a pirate flag, a White Ensign and endless other gift items in the Museum shop.

A submarine is no place for members of the Fatbastard Club.  It is extremely cramped down below and those of a claustrophobic disposition would not enjoy it.  I particularly enjoyed lugging my 56 year old  old git frame through the tiny circular openings in the bulkeads to get from one section to the other. I did it in the naval manner; grabbing a rail, swinging legs through the circular hole, slide through and grap a rail above the hole on the other side – t’was fun! It was not quite Das Boot in terms of slickness but Hans, my mate -  the Kapitan of a U-Boat that still sails the high seas – would have been proud of me. ( He used to visit me occasionally when I lived on a boat in Chelsea last summer.) It was fascinating to see a British submarine from our fairly recent past. Everything was crammed in. The crew of 70 slept in very small cots, only washed hands face and cleaned teeth (water in short supply on a three month voyage) and were reputed to have the best food in the Royal Navy. The Captain’s cabin is very small.  Naturally, I enjoyed looking through the attack periscope which gave a chillingly clear picture of a ship moored nearby.  The young lad from France enjoyed looking through the periscope as well.  His mother looked a bit tense and asked if it was OK.  I did not want to mention Sir Winston Churchill ordering the sinking of the French  fleet during WWII,  assured her that it would be fine,  that I’d be having a go after him and may even make  the sound of a torpedo being fired.  She looked at me, smiled, shook her head as if to say “Mon dieu… Les Anglais” This seemed to settle her.

I found the trip fascinating.  The tour guide was excellent and I am pleased that money has been found to preserve these important warships from our past and that they are so accessible to all.  The entry fee of £14 for a trip around the dock lasts for a year… and in three hours you will only scratch the surface of what this wonderful dockyard has to offer.

It was time to move to HMS Cavalier - the last surviving destroyer from WWII.  HMS Belfast, a battleship, is very much bigger and is based on the Thames in London. This was a very different kettle of fish.  It seemed so spacious after the submarine.  The Captain’s cabin was luxurious, as was his day cabin and the wardroom even had a fireplace.  It is painted in ‘Arctic Blue’ a blue-green-grey mix – no doubt to confuse the Turpitz or Scharnhorst or U-Boat commanders on the Arctic convoys.

I felt like Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea as I stood on the bridge.  A storm had risen quickly, as it can in these parts, and rain and wind lashed the open bridge as I gazed out over the two 4.5 inch guns to the bow and imagined myself scanning the seas for U-boats.  I felt quite at home.  Regular readers will know that I  live near water and spend much of my time, at my post, preserving peace for our country by scanning for U-Boats.  It is testament to my efforts that there have been no U-boat attacks in London since I started doing this!

I felt like a tourist – on his hols.  As I stood on the bridge of HMS Cavalier… I noticed the voice pipe through which the Captain would communicate with those below and thought to myself… that worked…. my Samsung Jet took me endless hours of farting about to get it to work (or, more accurately… to understand how it works) , more hours trying to get it to download pics to my PC (the software did not work) and eventually I fooled it into thinking it was using Bluetooth by hitting it with a hammer. Sorted.

I’m orf to splice the mainbrace, eat a square meal, drink a bit of rum and I may even do a hornpipe or buy a pirate flag on ebay later.  As Churchill once observed… the Royal Navy… rum, sodomy and the lash…. I am a bit busy to try the last two options. Have a good Bank holiday.

Sorry… didn’t manage to shoehorn any law in this week… perhaps something for the weekend? .. as barbers used to say after cutting one’s hair.

Best, as ever

Charon

Slayer of prawns…and other matters…

I am Charon… Slayer of prawns! It is my duty… they cause global warming and I eat a great many in my quest for Greendom to rid the waters of Britain and elsewhere of prawns. Well… I had little sleep last night and after my experiences earlier with a Samsung Jet mobile phone, I believe I may be hallucinating.  Pictured left is a gift from a good friend @jaffne, a woman of many artistic talents including making things from paper.  As you can see my prawn has a red flag.  The red flag features in my life – I do vote labour, I am of a mildly anarchic persuasion when the mood suits and I often wave a red flag at myself in my mind when I think I may be overdoing it – rather difficult for a man whose mantra these days is… Absolutely Nothing in Moderation.

I am looking forward to receiving Prawn with red Flag  by Jaffne 2009 in the post soon!  I shall return the compliment with a bizarre cartoon…soon.

I went to London yesterday  to perform the duties of a relatively sane person and do three more podcasts for my series for The College of Law.  I interviewed three women – all fascinating, all a pleasure to interview.  I can’t reveal too much yet… but they were extremely interesting interviews to do . All will be revealed soon when the series ‘goes live’ in late September.

I left the College of Law in excellent spirits and made my way to Goodge Street to meet a good friend and talk of many things. Inevitably, a bottle of Rioja for me and Fosters beer for him.  There is no accounting for taste but he is from South Africa and I call him Johnny Biltong. We then decided it would be a plan to return to his apartment on the river at Battersea – nearly opposite the boat I lived on last Summer at Cheyne Walk on the Chelsea side of the river near Battersea Bridge.  I could see little point in adding to South Eastern Railways problems by being over refreshed on one of their trains late at night, so we decided to talk on into the night.  It was about 2.30 – 3.00  am  that I realised that I would be kipping on the floor.  To be fair, my friend did offer to let me have his bed and he would kip on the floor – but as I have slept on a japanese futon for twelve years, the floor was just not a problem. Unfortunately, I woke at 5.30 with the sun and was up, bright as a button, if perhaps, a little unsteady as I put my desert boots on.  My friend needs sleep… and he had just returned from South Africa the day before – so I made my way along the river path to Battersea bridge, crossed over and made my way to The Chelsea Bun to have breakfast.  Breakfast improved my steadiness and I made my way to Victoria Station for the train to East of London on the Medway.

I was having a cigarette outside Victoria Station, still dressed in the clothes I wore the day before – black jeans, combat boots and a grey polo shirt (simply because I had not planned on being kidnapped by  Johnny Biltong so hadn’t packed an overnight kitbag).

…. and then I heard the words “Hello… “

I turned… astonishingly… there smiling beside me,  was my first interviewee of the day before.  I can say this -  the lady occupies very high office, in the legal sphere,  and loves cricket.  She was a pleasure to talk with during the interview.  There was I, doing my best not to look like Oliver Reed after a long night, smoking a fag.  “Good morning …*X*…. what a small world.” was all I could muster,  before explaining that I had met a friend for drinks the night before and had missed my train.  She laughed… chatted for a few moments and went on her way to work!  You really could not make it up… I think I may have got away with it as the adrenalin kicked in.

I returned to the Medway towns where I am living for the present – overlooking water with views of Upnor Castle, naval dockyards, gulls and cormorants.

Today was SAMSUNG JET day – Orange was sending me my new toy. It arrived at 11.00 ish.  I am reasonably competent with ‘techie things’.  I do all my own websites, graphics, can make films, edit them and do sound… but I am NOT a teenager. I don’t do text very often… I call people on a mobile… but I just had to have a smartphone… or what Samsung say, theirs not being a ‘smart phone’ but ‘Smarter than Smart’.

I don’t like instruction manuals.  I am a bloke.  I believe I can operate any bit of kit through farting around with it. The Samsung Jet defeated me.  The instruction manual may as well be written in hieroglyphics…. it made no sense and didn’t seem to cover any of the things (in a sane manner)  I was interested in…. like: setting up email without having a stroke, going onto the internet without having a heart attack, downloading a java twitter client without wanting to be waterboarded just to calm me down.

I struggled, I’m afraid… in fact…. I couldn’t even find instructions on how the bloody rotating cube gimmick navigation aid worked.  I was convincing myself that Orange wanted to give me a bad day and  had disabled the navigation rotating cube  (the BIG idea for Samsung Jet) just for ME…. frustration mounted…. I tried to set the phone to my wi-fi.  That took me fifteen minutes.  My remaining life may well be short… I could feel my will to live draining away…. and then I saw this in the instruction manual on page 61… and I am not making it up… I’d like to have been able to give you a picture I took of the page… but I can’t…because I obviously need to go on a COURSE and learn how to use this bloody phone to transfer pics by BLUETOOTH …. so  I am using my fingers to type out the details  from the “INSTRUCTION” manual…

MAKE FAKE CALLS….

You can simulate fake incoming calls when you want to get out of meetings or unwanted conversations. You can also make it appear as if you are talking on the phone by playing back a recorded voice”

There follows a whole pile of gobbledygook to tell me how to fake an orgasm… Settings —> Application —–>Fuckpiggery —-> Fake call —–> Fake call voice.
So… tomorrow, I shall be recording a fake recording using one of my fake voices (I dare not ask anyone I know in case they think I have really lost the plot) … so that I can sit in meetings and pretend I am being called by Gordon Brown or my psychiatrist…and have to leave immediately.
I haven’t done it yet… but I felt like running onto my balcony and throwing this idiotic device into the river…

So if you get a call from a Mr Fish…. he will be the best informed fish in Britain…  because he will have worked out how the Samsung Jet works without an instruction manual …he will have connected to the net to read BBC news..he will be sending emails to his friends, downloading movies, bluetoothing pictures of himself on a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and….  he may even end up tweeting using my Tiny Twitter account (which I did manage to get to work)…. You won’t be called by a Mr PRAWN …because I have just eaten him… with chilli and garlic.

1000 cameras solve 1 crime… we LEAD the WORLD!!!

The BBC reports…solemnly… tonight….

1,000 cameras ‘solve one crime’

Only one crime was solved by each 1,000 CCTV cameras in London last year, a report into the city’s surveillance network has claimed. The internal police report found the million-plus cameras in London rarely help catch criminals. In one month CCTV helped capture just eight out of 269 suspected robbers. David Davis MP, the former shadow home secretary, said: “It should provoke a long overdue rethink on where the crime prevention budget is being spent.”

He added: “CCTV leads to massive expense and minimum effectiveness.

“It creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security.

This is beyond parody… this is idiocy – I would find it funny … if it wasn’t quite so serious.  All those bun eating slackers sitting in warm booths watching us and only 1 crime solved per thousand cameras?  LUDICROUS!

I am grateful to fellow tweeter @MrsPBoutique for drawing my attention to this BBC story,

Bolch did it! His book is NOW OUT!!

An ex girlfriend once called me ‘Lord of the Aisles’ on account of the number of times I had troubled the Registrar of Marriages and a country vicar – of methodist persuasion – although I told him I was an atheist.. and wouldn’t be involved in any of the mumbo jumbo bits.   I was fortunate in being able to handle my own divorces in a thoroughly civilised and amicable way and as I now have an ASBO prohibiting me from going within 200 yards of a Church, Register Office or other ‘approved premises’  licensed for the purposes of matrimony – I won’t be needing John Bolch’s EXCELLENT new book Do Your Own Divorce – (Now in print!)

I have read the book… indeed, I get a mention in Dispatches, no doubt for persuading Mr Bolch to try the odd glass of Rioja – although I have had absolutely no success in converting him to the wonders and delights of SMOKEDO.

It is a very good book – clear, practical and well written.  It will save you a lot of money (priced at only £10.99 – but £7.14 on Amazon)  but John does explain that in certain circumstances legal advice from a solicitor will be required. Bedtime reading it is not – especially with your future divorcee present – but I enjoyed reading it from the standpoint of an academic and writer.

Available now from Amazon.

Insite Law FREE resource for Family Law

Insite Law FREE resource for Family Law The first chapter of the FREE Family Law resource being prepared by John Bolch, Solicitor and author of the Family Lore blog is now up. The remaining chapters will follow shortly. The first chapter on Marriage is brief. Chapter 2 will be on Divorce.

Have a look?

The other FREE resources in the series are well under way and those published may be accessed through the left hand column on the main page of Insite Law

22nd August: Postcard from a Tent in Tripoli

There is absolutely no connection…and I must make this clear to Foreign Office best practice standards… between my visit to Libya, a subsequent meeting with a man in a tent and the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber.

I just happened, like Lord Mandelson and Prince Andrew before me may have thought to themselves…. when they went out to Libya recently (if, indeed they did)…. that I had never been to Libya…. and… given the warmth of the Libyans towards Britain at the moment….  I thought I’d go out and see if I could blag a round of golf and free petrol for my motorbike for life…  I was always taught… if you don’t ask you don’t get…

I was quite surprised to find a reception committee waiting for me at Tripoli airport. I’ve never seen so many Scottish flags in my life. The place was crawling with Libyans wearing kilts, tossing cabers, and even some enterprising souls came up to me and asked if I’d like to buy some Edinburgh Rock, a signed copy of Alex Salmond’s book Principia Economica: The Arc of Prosperity from Iceland to Holyrood… and one charming chap wearing sunglasses with a huge range of military medals on his blazer  even sidled up to me and whispered “Want to see some pictures of the Loch Ness Monster?” I was told later by my guide, a Celtic supporter on the make, that the man who had sidled up to me was none other than Colonel Qadhafi himself…. I was pretty sure it wasn’t.

After a shower and a shave and some mint tea…. I was whisked off in an airconditioned Range Rover across the desert terrain.  We listened to bagpipe music on the way. Although I am a Scot, I am not a fan of the bagpipes after the first two hours and listening to Amazing Grace and Scottish Country Dancing (Stripping the Willow)  music for three hours was difficult.  I was beginning to wonder if the Libyan Secret Service were softening me up for interrogation later or even if they were planning to put me through a show trial in the Netherlands.

I needn’t have worried.  We arrived at a tent. We are not talking Milletts bivouac tents here – this was the real McCoy (if you forgive yet another Scottish metaphor)… a man in robes approached me.  He looked a bit like Michael Jackson on a bad day, although this man’s nose did appear to be a real one.  He looked as if he had been binge drinking with Alice Cooper and Oliver Reed for a month… but, this being Libya, and the fact that Oliver Reed is a goner… meant that this could not be so.

The man I met was charming… he kept looking at the ranks of photographers and grasping my hand to shake it.  I have long wondered if world leaders do much apart from looking into cameras and shaking hands with other world leaders.

I asked the man… after doing the usual As-Salamu ‘Alaykum bit… if Tony Blair was about.   The man smiled in the wily and shrewd way generations of desert people have and said nothing…. well he did say… “Sometimes, Grasshopper… it is best to reflect on other things” He touched his nose, which did not fall off, and winked.

It was surprisingly easy to get this man to agree to give me petrol for my motorbike for life.  He was saddened that he could not offer me a round of golf but added “I know people in Scotland….. they can get you a good game of golf at Gleneagles or St Andrews… of this… I am sure. ” He grinned… a slightly sinister grin…. I knew what he meant.

I asked him if he was pleased with his new found friends in Scotland.  The man smiled…. and said “I am not sure about that Milliband man… is he kosher?”!

Like the British Government … on this matter I am saying…. nuffink

Well… there we are… a quick trip back to Tripoli in the Range Rover, I stocked up on Edinburgh Rock, Scottish Highland dancing dolls, and even bought myself a kilt…duty free.  I can tell you… this was a first.  I have never bought a kilt duty free in 56 years on this earth.  It was good to get back to my drinks cabinet…. all this dry nonsense… couldn’t be doing with that at all.

Best, as ever

Al-Charon

Cardiff Law School on the ‘naughty step’ ….

Nearly Legal writes:

“Our non-lawyer/law student readers, or even non-barrister readers, might have to forgive us for this for this Naughty Step, but it was too good to resist, particularly for those of us – i.e.  me – still newly qualified enough to harbour memories of their professional courses (LPC/BVC), and also familiar, from the other side, with the conduct of University exam committees.

And so, we welcome to the Step Cardiff Law School, who are here for their truly remarkably inappropriate behaviour in the face of a High Court order, as well as managing to ensure that they lost a judicial review of the conduct of their exam committees.

Clarke, R (on the application of) v Cardiff University [2009] EWHC 2148 (Admin) was a judicial review of Cardiff University Law School brought by a BVC student from 2004/5, Ms Clarke. The story went something like this…”

Read the rest of the post – not a great story for Cardiff Law School

In fact… it is disgraceful…. do read it. It is cringe making…. OUCH!

Insite Law free resources project

I am delighted to report that Dr John Birchall, a barrister and experienced academic, will be writing the free text and produce free lectures for Equity & Trusts and Land Law and his new text will start to appear on Insite Law Magazine from the third week in September.  This means that we now have 13 major subject areas covered – an extensive free resource for students and others, including non-lawyers who are interested in law.  I am pleased that students and others are looking at the resources or using them  – some 31,000 pageviews on Contract’s 30 page URLS in the short time it has been up.  Nick Holmes was right – Free Legal Web is an idea worth looking at – free to the user.  I am grateful to all the sponsors who have already got involved.

The free resources will, we hope, not only be helpful to students but also to practitioners in keeping up to date – because we are monitoring all the main House of Lords and Court of Appeal cases in these 13 subject areas, providing links to BAILLI and by doing a short analysis.  The Contract, Intellectual Property and Sale of Goods updaters are already being done… and the others will start to appear as texts, lectures come online on Insite Law from mid-September.

Contract lectures: I have now produced 12 of the 20 lectures to support the Contract materials – so if you would like to listen to a ‘bit of Contract’ while you are on the train… or elsewhere… no problem! See my Contract book.

Lockerbie bomber released on compassionate grounds

The Lockerbie bomber is to be released on compassionate grounds, the Scottish Government has announced.

The BBC reports: Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, 57, was jailed in 2001 for the atrocity which claimed 270 lives in 1988.Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill revealed that the Libyan, who has terminal prostate cancer, would be allowed to return to his homeland.

Let me explain what my opinion is on this:

1.  Al-Megrahi was convicted by a Scottish court and tried under Scots Law at a specially convened court in the Netherlands.

2.  Dealing firstly with the issue on the premise that he was rightly convicted.  Clearly, it is within the power of the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who admitted the correctness of both conviction and sentence, to order release on compassionate grounds.

3. Al-Megrahi committed an act of international terrorism.  The United States, the United Kingdom and many other forces from the coalition are currently fighting a war in Afghanistan to drive terrorism from our lives.  Men and women are being killed daily; giving their lives so we may be secure. That is the political premise on which the war is being fought – and whether you agree with that war or not, the fact of men and women dying in our name is clear and beyond doubt.  What sort of message does the early release of a convicted terrorist send to the ‘forces of evil’?, to the men and women on the ground in Afghanistan fighting in our name for our long term security?

4.  For my part – I agree with Carl Gardner – whatever the evidence of Al-Megrahi’s terminal condition – he should have served his full sentence in Scottish custody.

On the premise that he was wrongly convicted:

5. There are many who voice concern and discomfort that al-Megrahi may not be the person who committed this atrocity. Certainly, no-one else has been convicted.  This has been well documented and I need not rehearse the matter here

6.  If he was wrongly convicted, the proper process is to appeal.  Perhaps an appeal should have been allowed much earlier?  I cannot comment – I am not familiar with the processes of Scots Criminal Justice. He dropped his appeal earlier this week.

7. There are those who suggest that his release was political.  I agree with Carl Gardner and many others I suspect -  that if there is even a hint of political dealing for trade  here with Libya it would be shameful  – those responsible should be held to account and resign from their posts.  They are not, clearly, fit to govern our nation.

8.  I don’t have much interest in the purely emotive arguments being advanced in newspapers in this country and overseas – although the relatives of those who died, of course, have my sympathy.  This decision is about the rule of law and about nothing else. What value is criminal justice in such an appalling case of atrocity (in contra distinction to the early release of Ronnie Biggs?) when the law, already merciful in the sense that the death penalty has been abolished in our country) and the sentence of a properly constituted court is not carried out?    I don’t always agree with Carl on complex issues – but on this he is dead right – would the Scottish Justice Secretary be releasing al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds if most of those who died in that atrocity had been Scots?  It would be a political disaster for the ruling party in Scotland, I suspect.

9. This man is a proven and convicted killer of 270 people.  He is not a Ronnie Biggs.  I just hope this weakness on the part of the Scottish government – a view I hold and which I am entitled to hold – does not come back to haunt us, whether Scots, English, American, Canadian, European or other nationality.

As ever… your views and thoughts are most welcome in the comments section.

IMPORTANT UPDATE

If you would like to see a serious politicians view on this decision - Tom Harris MP, Labour member for Glasgow South – whatever your politics - please do read this… it is measured and very pertinent.  More particularly written by a Scot – albeit an MP in Westminster not the Scottish parliament. Tom Harris’s view may, I hope, be shared by many.

***

UPDATE 21st AUGUST

BBC – Lockerbie Bomber returns.

Here is the BBC Report… I just wonder, in the light of this report,  if  the Scottish Justice Minister still feels that he got it right?  The bomber appears to be being received as a  conquering hero….I could be wrong – but there are a hell of alot of very happy Libyans in the film….

Will the Scots Justice Minister feel quite so pleased with himself when he sees this? Compassionate Justice?  No… political grandstanding?  Beginning to look like it. A pretty shoddy lapse of judgement… well done Scottish Parliament – own goal, I think… but.. what do we mere citizens of the United Kingdom know? …. compared to the all seeing lawyer politician who runs Scotland’s Justice Ministry?  – rather depressing.

I have to say… not that I am a medical man…. that al-Megrahi looks rather well… will he do a Saunders (Guinness fiasco/farrago)? … will he rise like Lazarus from the dead? … to coin a rather old biblical metaphor.

Do read Tom Harris MP’s post – link above -  for a viewpoint from a politician from Scotland – I am not making a political point – I just think it would be worth doing so.

The Scots Justice Minister is a defence lawyer, so, one presumes, has some acquaintance with the law, concepts of justice, the rule of law, – but maybe he just doesn’t understand the appeal process in Scotland?…  the fact that judges should be independent and that politicians should not really meddle in the rule of law (or, indeed, at all) …or  the judicial process….  of course… I may have missed the point entirely, not being attuned to law across the border and that Scots Law can accommodate convenience without in any way being devalued and humiliating themselves on the world juridical stage.

Surely this cannot be about what Libya can do for Scotland? .. or is Alex Salmond  (or even our real UK wide politicians in Westminster – as opposed to what may as well be a local council masquerading as a proud parliament in Edinburgh) about to announce an ‘Arc of prosperity from Edinburgh to Tripoli”?  I  really do hope not

UPDATE 21st August

From blogger Loveandgarbage

A very well argued piece from a Scot about the Scottish Justice Secretary:  MacAskill: still unfit to be Justice Secretary

UPDATE

22nd August I am grateful to @ advoc_8 for this sane and sensible assessment of Lockerbie by Alistair Bonnington
Formerly of Glasgow Uni Law School’s Lockerbie Trial Briefing Team

US FBI Director highly critical - read his letter to Scots Justice Secretary

UPDATE

24th August

Jonathan Mitchell QC Megrahi’s release: Kenny MacAskill was right

17th August: news up on Insite Law

You just have to read this from Idealawg:

The “slackoisie” controversy does not die: My four questions

(I add my observations in the comments sections… the debate going on is wonderful stuff! )

>>> Insite Law Magazine updated… no new cases, though.

FREE online resources update

Inspired by the Free Legal Web project established by Nick Holmes of InfoLaw – Insite Law will be providing an extensive range of text, lectures, analyses completely FREE to students and other users and each online resource will be updated daily, where necessary, to cover the latest cases and statutes.

By 1st October we will have the following subjects covered:

Contract | Sale of Goods | Tort | Criminal Law | Constitutional Law | European Union Law | Competition Law | Employment Law | Family Law | Intellectual Property (and may also have set up Land Law | Equity and Company Law.)

Have a look at the Law of Contract | Sale of Goods | Intellectual Property free resource to get an idea of the style and depth of the materials. John Bolch will be converting his Wiki into text format, suitable for law students, and is gradually building up a superb resource in Family Law

This is not ‘Corporate’ publishing: Insite Law will host all these resources but the authors will retain copyright and be responsible for production and updating. Each resource will be free, cover the law in depth, be up to date and link to BAILLI reports and other free resources on the net where appropriate. I am writing a Tort text in the same style as my Contract and Sale resources and will publish in instalments, aiming to have a complete resource by December. The other writers – all experienced practitioners, will do the same. Recorded lectures will accompany the text, case and news resources. These are all FREE to the user for personal use, but will be sponsored by advertisers who wish to participate. Advertising will be discreet and be limited to law schools, law firms, chambers, publishers, service suppliers to the legal profession and bookshops. The resources, particularly the updating service, may be of interest and value to practitioners.

We are not aiming to produce leading ‘works’ on each subject. Our resources will, we hope, encourage students to purchase the more substantial texts recommended for their courses and provide an excellent foundation upon which you can build your studies. It is very much a live ‘work in progress’ and will be the most extensive resource of its kind in the UK as it develops – and it is ALL FREE. We hope you will enjoy using it.

15th August: Postcard from LA LA Land…

A quick note this week… and what an extraordinary and surreal week it has been… to let you know that I am not working as a sales assistant or ‘host’ at one of Abercrombie & Crotch’s shops.  I am, I fear, too ugly and too ‘rough’ for this… but I would rather be a bit of blawging rough than work for that particular outfit and their ludicrous 45 page handbook on matters of dress, style and general fuckpiggery.

Reported below is the EXCELLENT news that Riam Dean has won her case against Abercrombie & Fitch with a reasonably decent damages award. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – well done.  Takes courage to stand up for principles – perfect qualities in someone who wishes to become a lawyer.  Usefullyemployed is slackjawed at the PR statement put out by Abercrombie & Fitch’s general counsel… a rather sad indictment on the company’s ability to even show a bit of decency and human behaviour.  I am quite sure the Abercrombie & Fitch general counsel is a good lawyer and I certainly do not blame them for taking legal advice on damage limitation… but who puts out PR statements from lawyers for christ sake?  The statement, if you wish to read it… and it is a bit ‘lame’ (in the American usage of the word) … is in the comments section of UsefullyEmployed’s blog post

Pictured left is how I would look if I was on the Abercrombie & Crotch website... trouble is I would be rejected for the following reasons (a) old git (b) no-smoking permitted…after all, they would not want me to start doing press ups in the middle of the store with a lit fag in my mouth per my Smokedo routines (c) I am not exactly welcoming in the picture… so would not be a good ‘host’… but GREEN would be OK… they really do diversity at Abercrombie & Crotch… so… green body colour would be just ‘fine and dandy’… as some yanks like to say when they are behaving like extras in Gone with The Wind or The Great Gatsby. Had Abercrombie & Tits done the decent thing and made a reasonably kind apology of the sort a human being would have done – I would have applauded them for it… being that sort of chap… and I suspect most people would… but they didn’t…. so they get to go in my postcard… as, unlike NearlyLegal, I do not have a ‘naughty step’… but I do have a very rare and exclusive award, reserved for special occasions… the Charon Puts It Down the Bog Award… and Abercrombie & Tits get it…

So…what else happened this last week? I would have enjoyed reporting on the wonderful cricket on the Monday and Tuesday… but there wasn’t any.. because the Aussies bowled out our lot in 2.5 days, inflicted an almost surreal innings defeat on England,  and there are many jokes flying around the internet….

It is rare for me to leave my post these days...but on Friday, rising at the hour of dawn 4.30, I made my way to London on a train, catching a very early train… to do a series of recordings for the podcast series I am doing for The College of Law – we have some great people lined up… I’ll tell you who…. soon…big hitters….. ’nuff said. It was a WRAP, as they like to say in the TV business,  at 1.15..and I made my way over to Chancery  Lane to investigate the latest Tort textbooks – to ensure that I know what other writers are writing about.

I purchased a book on Tort… it is rather good… by Catherine Elliott and Frances Quinn.  (Sadly the latest Street on Tort is not out yet – my book of choice for Tort).  The Elliott and Quinn Tort book is well presented…. and comprehensive.  I have only one criticism..and it is a very serious criticism…. it is written beautifully in plain English, so clear that even the most recidivistic of  asylum seeker or immigrant  wanting a British passport, to comply with the new tests, could understand it  and …. even worse… makes complex policy issues, difficult cases and legal principle laughably easy to understand.  This, of course, is not acceptable if we are to retain a monopoly over interpreting and applying  the Laws of England & Wales..  long held…. since time immemorial… 1189.   I am writing to The Pope at his modest and humble dwelling in The  Vatican to see if I can have it placed on their Banned Books List (Index Librorum Prohibitorum) … this book is, actually, fun to read and don’t be deceived by its apparent simplicity… it covers a lot of ground as well as some of the ‘big tort-beasts’ do and is a very good base from which to build…

I read a lot of it back on the train from Victoria to East of London last night where we appeared to go via Siberia… there were ten stops… and even though I was fairly pissed, or … flying, even… for which I blame Carl Gardner of Head of Legal…and others… (Later or Infra… as I still like to say to irritate the Woolfians.) I could both read and ‘inwardly digest’ it…. as a blazer wearing teacher from my prep school days used to say .. when he was but three chapters ahead of his pupils in the same book and not supervising us in the ‘showers’. Fortunately, he was not a catholic priest or an old lag doing twenty years to life in prison… or prep school may have been rather less of the Halcyon Days and more Prisoner in Cell Block H .

Well… to a rather surreal evening I had last night… I am sure those to whom I refer will not mind my describing the series of events which unfolded…

I had a plan after my podcast recording session at The College of Law.

Imbued with a strong Scots work ethic from the age of seven when my parents deported me as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ on a Comet 4 aircraft from Singapore to Scotland  – to  begin a ten year stretch at two rather good detention centres; confusingly for Americans, called Prep School and Public School – which was anything but public (Glenalmond) ) -  I had planned my entire afternoon to ensure I was organised before meeting Professor John Flood who is both a serious lawyer and an observer of the human condition through his RATS blog. at 5.00. I shall adopt the modern style of numbered paragraphs and headings used by judges when giving judgment and describe the events of the afternoon seriatim... or… in the modern vernacular… as they happened,  one after the other…. or… in turn.

The first meeting

1. I arranged to meet a very good friend of mine to discuss an idea at 2.00 at my venue of choice ye Old Cittie of Yorke, the famous pub next to the entrance of Gray’s Inn.  They have private booths there and I secured such a private booth at the back of the pub.  Discretion and privacy are ensured.

2. In breach of this purely social arrangement, for which no legal liability attaches (Simpkins v Pays), my friend faffed about -  driving from the boats at Cheyne Walk Chelsea, where I used to live on the houseboat he now occupies, to Holborn.  He arrived at 3.30, the time of my second meeting. It was rather like a Brian Rix farce.  I told him that I had two lovely women arriving at 3.30 to discuss serious matters of business – the fact that they were both young, attractive, lively and drink a lot, was not germane to the reason why I had to discuss matters with him very quickly. Be that as it may, he left after speed drinking a glass of Rioja (I do try look after my business guests) and I waited for meeting No 2.

The second meeting

3. This was due to begin at 3.30.  Delays, occasioned by London Transport (an intervening cause or novus actus interveniens as Tort specialists like to call it), provided mitigation to any form of legal action on my part against the young ladies – for I knew that they would simply plead Frustration in Contract, plead Non haec in foedera veni (Davis Contractors v Fareham UDC [1956] per Lord Radcliffe) – it was not this that I agreed to do -  and escape liability for breach of contract.  There would also, almost certainly, be an intention to create legal relations issue, rendering the agreement unenforceable under the law of  contract.

4. The young ladies arrived at 15.45 hrs, adopting the military convention of time by which I run my exceptionally organised, multi-tasking, life. (? – yeah right!) I shall not identify these women, save to say that I know them well, lest their employers be surprised, should they be readers of my blog, to find key members of their team getting over refreshed with Charon in a Bar at 15-45 hrs.  The plan had been that I would sit and listen to their ideas and then I would give my view. The plan was that no alcohol would be taken – for they had a business engagement – and they would leave at 5.00 when my third engagement of the afternoon began – the meeting with @johnaflood.

To adapt, slightly, the dictum of Lord Cairns in Hughes v Metropolitan Railway (1877)

“it is the first principle upon which all the Courts of Equity proceed, that if parties who have entered into definite and distinct terms involving certain legal rights – about meeting for the purposes of a business discussion – afterwards by their own act or with their own consent enter upon a course of negotiations which has the effect of leading one of the parties to suppose that the strict purpose of the meeting will not be adhered to, or will be kept in suspense, or held in abeyance, and then they get completely pissed, over refreshed and rat-arsed, (to cover all eventualities), the person who otherwise might have enforced these rights will not be allowed to enforce them where it would be inequitable having regard to the dealings which have thus taken place between the parties.’

5. The young ladies advised me that their meeting at 5.00 had been cancelled. I could hear the sound of a wheel falling off as I ordered a bottle of perfectly drinkable Tempranillo (£15.35) from the enthusiastic barman. I was, of course, due to begin my third meeting of the afternoon with John Flood (pictured left)  at 5.00. I reasoned to myself that John  would probably enjoy meeting the young ladies. Curiously, John Flood did not arrive on the dot of 5.00 either… but there is a sinister and very dark reason why he did not…. the reason is that I had misdescribed the pub I would be in as the Bung Hole… and not the Cittie of Yorke.  I was, therefore, embarrassed to receive a text message at 17.23 hrs from John to say that he was in the Bung Hole nearby.  I telephoned John and he arrived…. with remarkable speed – to what was turning out to be my Brian Rix farce afternoon. (If you are not familiar with Brian Rix farces.. do not feel embarrassed… it is not compulsory to be so… unlike Ballet, Opera and a bit of The Bard)

6. John accepted my apology with grace and humour.  I then informed him…as if my Brian Rix afternoon was not complete, that my close friend and ex-girlfriend (X) wanted to meet him because they knew each other from her academic days. The text stated that she had seen notice of my meeting with John Flood on my blog and could she come?. and could she bring her new boyfriend?. to whom she was, in fact, engaged.  This was not only cool… it was EXCELLENT…  Who needs a spliff when wine and the bizarre can happen at but a moment’s notice?!

7. (x) arrived with new boyfriend – an excellent chap who was a bit bemused at first, in fairness, to find a lot of over refreshed people around him talking quite sensibly about law -  (X) his fiance deep in conversation with John Flood, and me talking to the young ladies and… the Master Criminal of the event himself for reasons I shall explain…my good friend and fellow blogger Carl Gardner… author of the new improved  Head of Legal blog.  Carl is from The North… and although he drinks and enjoys wine… he was on beer… wheat beer, as it happens… or what the Germans call Weiss Bier. This little bit of information will prove useful to you later… I happened to mention that I was in London and he had seen this on my Twitter posts… We spoke and he duly arrived at Ye Olde Cittie of Yorke.  There was talk of many things;  writing projects and  lawyers being up to their necks in culpability for the credit crunch – on the premise that they advised the investment bankers and other bankers and drafted the very instruments which brought financial Armageddon to the world but a short time ago.

8.  Another wheel fell off. The young ladies from the 3.30 meeting were now well into an evening of amusement, My ex (X) and fiance were stuck in, Carl Gardner was emptying the Cittie of Yorke cellar of Wheat Beer…when he made the fantastic announcement that beer was good… and ” If you don’t like Beer what is the point of living in England.” I burst out laughing… it was wonderfully surreal and for those of you who have heard my many serious and sensible podcasts with Carl on human rights issues (9 in total, now) his voice is distinctively and richly Northern.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he was drinking German Weiss Bier…or at least the one I bought when it was my round was German!

7. 19.30 hrs: The Bar at ye Olde Cittie of Yorke

I was purchasing another round for the table when John  Flood appeared at my side.  He was fairly sober, of course.  He told me that he had to leave.  I had, through circumstance, not had a chance to speak to him about the matters we planned to speak of… or even speak to him at all…. I apologised for this and pleaded the… This can happen in Charonland…defence.  He took it rather well, I hope…. such is life.. but I did feel slightly guilty, especially after directing him to the wrong pub earlier.  I have written to him… naturally.

9. The evening proceeded… and best that I draw a veil over proceedings..save that it was a great evening and one event, in particular of many, raised my spirits… to good levels..  I escaped at 22.00 hrs, after much planning with Carl about future ideas – we shall reveal these in time and found myself on the Trans-Siberian express from Platform 5 at Victoria.. heading via 10 stations I had never heard of ….to where I live – a journey that usually only involves one stop at somewhere they call Bromley South…and so, I returned to EAST OF LONDON.. bed at 2.00 am and up and at it, scanning for U-Boats, still mildly over refreshed… at 5.30! T’was good.

10. I called Carl Gardner a ‘master criminal’ earlier in the postcard… I absolve myself from all blame for these proceedings and blame him for encouraging me to drink wine… he did it.  I saw him.

Best, as ever

Charon


Abercrombie & Fitch told to pay disabled worker Riam Dean £9,000

Abercrombie & Fitch told to pay disabled worker Riam Dean £9,000

Times: A law student who was prevented from working on the shop floor of a clothing chain because her false arm was contrary to its “look policy” has been awarded more than £9,000 by an employment tribunal.

Abercrombie & Fitch, a US chain that opened its first branch in London in 2007, told Riam Dean, 22, that her prosthetic arm was deemed unsavoury by its “visual team”

See my earlier post:

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

I wish Riam Dean well…. not easy to take on a big company…takes courage… rather good qualities for a young lawyer I would have thought?

UPDATE 14TH AUGUST

Have a look at UsefullyEmployed blog post on this subject – he makes a number of good points

Free online materials project – Criminal Law

I am delighted to be able to say that Andrew Keogh, Barrister and author of The White Rabbit blog, an experienced practitioner and published author,  is going to be publishing his new Criminal Law text and lectures on Insite Law FREE.  I am hoping to be able to announce Constitutional Law soon.  I am looking, now, for an author for Land Law and one for Equity.  Users will always be able to have full access free – revenue is generated fom sponsored advertising from law schools, bookshops, publishers, law firms and chambers interested in reaching students – but the advertising will be discreet and professional.

Have a look at what is available so far? : Contract, Sale of Goods and Intellectual Property. Coming soon – UK & EU Competition Law, Tort, Crime. It is likely we will also cover Company law, Land Law, Employment Law and Tort (my Tort book will be published in instalments and will be complete by December) In most cases, recorded lectures will accompany the online materials (25+ hours in most cases) and these will also be FREE