Postcard from The Staterooms: Tales from Battersea Square edition

Dear Reader,

I live in an apartment on The Thames at Battersea.  Within a 100 yards is Battersea Square – a tree strewn, cobble stoned ‘triangle’ with cafes, a hairdresser, The Battersea Rickshaw (A fine Indian restaurant), Barrio (a bar), a dry cleaning shop and an estate agents.   Being a creature of habit, I have breakfast, invariably falling in the door at 8.00 am (9.00 am on Sundays), at Mazar, a Lebanese cafe bar run by Marlon and his extremely friendly team.  ( I always eat the same breakfast – see my *About* section and smoke Marlboros, drink coffee, read papers and watch the world go by)

I’ve only been living in Battersea since February – but I have met some very amusing people in The Square.  With their blessing, I thought I would write about a few of the people I have met.

First – Alyson Jackson, a designer, who has a shop packed with unusual furniture, lights, rugs, and general ‘curiosities’. Alyson is running a campaign to *Say NO to the new road changes being proposed to Battersea Church Road*.  If you live in the  Battersea Square area – please contact Alyson for further details, if you want further details.  I am always interested in art and anything to do with art.  Alyson was even kind enough to buy one of my absurd F**kART drawings!  I was flattered! I won’t, however, be taking up her habit of jogging past looking athletic and fit.  I do admire those who jog.  I find it easier to get on a bus these days.

I like her shop Mish-Mash – and, if you are looking for unusual furniture, paintings, gift items – why not have a look at her website, or even better – drop in to her shop.  You never know… I may be drinking Lebanese Red in The Square and I would be delighted to meet you should you find yourself down here!   I do not, however, have *opening hours* – so I may or may not be in The Square!

And so… to cricket… and The Lashings World XI.

I enjoy cricket.  I watch it – Test and One Day Internationals. I no longer play it and even when I did, I did so badly as befits a hack player.   I am looking forward to The Ashes.  Long time resident of Battersea Square – he appears to run his business empire from a table outside  at Mazar with his iphone and iPad and a mad dog called Buddy who barks at postmen – is David Folb, who owns Lashings World XI and a nightclub bearing the same name in Kent.

I am talking with David about the possibility of lawyers playing against some of the great legends of cricket – many of whom meet with David regularly at his table outside  at Mazar; including Henry Blofeld, the great cricket commentator, who I had the pleasure of meeting yesterday. I’ll say no more at present on this….but the Lashings World XI website will give you a hint at what I am planning in this direction.  It may or may not come off – but if you are a lawyer and are interested in cricket and interested in talking to me about *A Plan*….  please contact me by email and I will call you back.   Have a look around the Lashings website if you are *into cricket*


And… you just have to love that logo – which I first saw on the side of a black Range Rover which parked up in The Square when I first arrived.  Wonderful!


More on this when I know more – but I am keen to see lawyers take on some serious cricketers.  Who wouldn’t want to bowl out Richie Richardson or knock a legend for SIX?

You may like to scroll down and read up on some law? This being a law blog n that! Or click on link…

Law Review: Troop abuses – Counter terror – Torture – Civil liberties review

So… my life is not just unremitting legal analysis and tilting at windmills….


@Saryapples said she would abseil and she has…. here is the original post… if you wish to support the charity she did it for.


Have a good week

Best, as ever


Law Review: Troop abuses – Counter terror – Torture – Civil liberties review

UK troops face 90 new claims of abuse in Iraq

The Observer: A special unit of military investigators and former detectives is to look into complaints of ill-treatment

A specialist team appointed by the government to investigate claims of abuse by British troops in Iraq has received 90 complaints involving 128 Iraqi civilians. The files, relating to allegations between March 2003 and July 2009, have been sent to Geoff White, a former head of Staffordshire CID, who heads the Iraq historic allegations team.

Unpalatable though it may be for some, at a time when men and women are serving in Afghanistan and losing their lives so that we may enjoy security and our freedoms, the investigation into abuse and possible breaches of the Geneva Convention et al  by our troops is essential if we are to operate by the values and mores which we have signed up to and the laws our country operates by.  It may well be that some claims are ill founded or may even be fraudulent – but the investigation must be open and transparent so we can be sure that armed conflict is conducted according to international law.

To those who say that the Human Rights Act is inhibiting our country – please permit me to paraphrase the thoughts of Lord Bingham, a former senior law lord, who asked in response to this issue – which human rights would you like not to have?

MI6 chief: we have nothing to do with torture

Guardian: Sir John Sawers talks of dilemma between protecting Britain and using intelligence drawn from tortured terrorist suspects

“If we know or believe action by us will lead to torture taking place, we’re required by UK and international law to avoid that action, and we do, even though that allows that terrorist activity to go ahead.”

Sir John Sawer, ‘C’, MI6

There are some who say that evidence gained through torture is, in any event, suspect.  I cannot comment on that, but given that these comments are made by men and women who have experience in counter-terror and government, they indicate the dilemma.  Sir John Sawers did admit that it would be wrong not to investigate or use information obtained from other sources where torture may have been deployed.  His concern that the judges are putting secret information at risk in their quest to ensure our country’s compliance with human rights and international law is, however, more questionable.  I cannot imagine that the senior judiciary would wish to see secret operations compromised. Citing the Binyam Mohammed case – where evidence of torture was disclosed –  is  not a fair criticism of the judiciary.  This was information, if I recall correctly, which had already been disclosed in the United States?

The fierce battle behind the scenes for the coalition’s soul

Observer: A raging argument over counterterror laws is putting their commitment to human rights to a crucial test

Andrew Rawnsley, writing in The Observer today, raises a number of important issues.  The article is worth reading in full if you have not had time to do so.

Rawnsley writes: “In the headlines, the thwarting of a transatlantic terror plot. Playing out behind the scenes in Whitehall, a story that the government doesn’t want you to read. An intense internal battle is being waged over how to respond to terrorism without compromising fundamental principles of justice and civil liberties. It is dividing the intelligence services, splitting the cabinet and has left David Cameron and Nick Clegg in a state of alarmed semi-paralysis. It is a big test of the unity of their partnership, their leadership mettle and their willingness to honour the promises they made in opposition.”

The Tories and Lib-Dems in coalition are committed, in theory at least, to repealing some of the more oppressive laws and roll back the undoubted erosion of civil liberties which happened under 13 years of Labour government.  Control orders is one issue.  Detention without trial is another issue.  Jonathan Evans, the Head of MI5,  wants to keep the present 28 day period and control orders.  Interestingly, his predecessor, Dame Eliza Manngham-Buller, was sceptical of control orders and ‘downright hostile to extended detention without charge’

Lord McDonald QC, a former DPP, was asked to review the laws on these and other issues. The review has gone to ministers with the recommendation that control orders should be retained. It proposes that detention without charge should be reduced to 14 days, but with an option for suspects to be put on a further 14 days of “very restricted bail”, which would introduce the control order concept into another part of the law.

Rawnsley notes “The review’s conclusions were supposed to have been made public at the end of September. Then publication was kicked back to the end of October. That is because weeks of fierce internal argument have resulted in deadlock. Lord Macdonald has not changed his views. He recently warned the home secretary that he will write a dissenting report.”

Theresa May, home secretary,  with ‘no history of engaging in the delicate judgments the role demands’ has sided with MI5.

She knows it will be hugely embarrassing for the government if it publishes their recommendations only for Lord Macdonald then to denounce them. Ms May went to Number 10 a fortnight ago for a difficult meeting with David Cameron and Nick Clegg. When she revealed that they had hit this impasse, both men were horrified. David Cameron told the meeting: “We are heading for a fucking car crash.”

Will the Coalition be brave enough to roll back the oppressive laws?  It is a difficult call. Interestingly, the 28 day period has only been activated three times and Rawnsley observes…“In one case, the charges were dropped; in a second, the accused was acquitted on the direction of the judge; in the third, the accused was acquitted by the jury. It is another draconian provision which corrodes Britain’s reputation for justice while offering no palpable advantage in the struggle against terrorism. Even some of the architects of this legislation are repenting. Tony McNulty, security minister in the last government, now says that control orders and 28-day detention should be scrapped.”



Theresa May rebukes Lord Macdonald over control orders intervention

Observer / Guardian: Row comes as Chris Huhne says keeping orders for terror suspects would undermine key British values

The home secretary, Theresa May, today rebuked the man she appointed as the external supervisor of the review of counter-terrorism laws amid reports that David Cameron fears it is heading for a “car crash”.May made it clear that the role of Lord Macdonald, a former director of public prosecutions and now a Liberal Democrat peer, in overseeing the internal Home Office review was restricted to ensuring that it was being done properly, saying decisions on the outcome were for ministers alone.

Possibly not the most sensible statement Theresa May could have made?  We shall see what is in her mind when she makes her opinion known later in the week.

Breaking News: Harriet Harman wins hearts and minds of Scots for election – SINGLE HANDED!!

Harriet Harman rebuked for calling minister ‘a ginger rodent’

Harriet Harman has been rebuked for calling a senior member of the government “a ginger rodent”.


With elections in Scotland coming up fairly soon… it is good to see Harriet Harman QC at her best…. supporting the bullying of *Gingers* and, at the same time, ridiculing Scotland  (Some Scots have Red hair – and the classic pastiche *Jock* hat & wig is modelled above – I am dark brown with a bit of grey at temples!)  by calling Scots Lib-Dem MP Danny Alexander  a *Ginger Rodent*… What is more baffling… she made this speech, I am advised, in SCOTLAND! Oh Dear!

I wonder how the Scots Labour MPs will react to this – let alone Big Eck.  Not her finest hour…. ridiculous!

Leave the humour to the political cartoonist, Luv… political comedian you may be, Harriet… professional comedian … you ain’t!

There is, of course, a degree or irony ….or even extreme ironing… about the possibility that Harriet Harman QC MP *possibly* is not really acting in the spirit of  the very legislation she pushed through Parliament… anyone offended by her *joke* in the workplace?

Equalities Act

In the interest of political balance – given my post on Chancellor Osbore below…. I should really draw your attention to this from The Mail today.  Obviously… I had to modify the screen grab.   I just can’t help myself sometimes.

Breaking: Clocks go back…Osbore says we must suffer a period in the Dark Ages!

Tomorrow night… a dark eve, as the clocks go back and we enter a new *Dark Ages*,  will bring a period of darkness to our sceptred isle…. possibly…. unless, of course, we have The Great Fire of London on 5th November because there are no fire engines to put the usual 200 fires we have in London on Bonfire Night…. OUT!

If you fancy reading a good  analysis of the planned Fire Brigade strike on Guy Fawkes night by Jack of Kent (Lawyer, David Allen Green) … then… have a look… it is incendiary… if you forgive the metaphor.

Breaking: Cameron brings the Neville Chamberlain spirit back to life!


An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Winston Churchill



Martin Schulz, the German leader of Europe’s Social Democrat MEPs, the parliament’s second biggest bloc, said Mr Cameron’s promise was “nonsense” and the Prime Minister was “setting himself up for a fall”.

He said: “The negotiations have barely begun – it is not for Mr Cameron to announce their conclusion.”

He added: “The figures he is talking about bear little relation to reality. He is setting himself up for a fall.”

A diplomat from one of EU countries that signed Mr Cameron’s letter predicted that the final deal would be larger than promised. “It will be very difficult to keep at 2.9 per cent with what the parliament is saying,” said the diplomat.

And a European Commission official stressed that Mr Cameron’s guarantee “doesn’t change anything” because legally binding “conciliation” talks continue until Nov 11.



Guest Post: A post from @lesleyalmost

I am a fan of twitter and I like people who try and raise money for charitable causes. We can’t support everything by donating but I am delighted to support this idea!  And @lesleyalmost is fun on twitter.

A *Guest* post from @lesleyalmost

I feel both privilege and pressure to be doing a guest post for Charon QC. I read his blog faithfully and occasionally add a daft comment as is my wont. I then try not to feel inadequate when I see other comments showing fine legal debate on points of law. Charon has an outlook on life that is similar to mine I think. I know I like to listen to the opinions of others, it is always interesting to understand how people form their viewpoints, what has influenced them. I am open to hearing what people say even when I may not agree. Charon does all this with kindness and humour and, I am glad to say, good manners. Manners do make the man…….

So, to the purpose of this guest post. I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want everyone to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on my blog,

Why do I do this? I do it because I love children. I have three grown-ups of my own and am proud that they are considerate and compassionate individuals. They are my inspiration for the blog. They are not perfect by any means; they are probably the untidiest bunch I have ever seen but I love them. I know my children are lucky to have a comfortable home, easily-fooled parents and access to education. So many children have difficult lives and this is wrong.

I decided last year that I should do my bit; if I have opinions then I should act on them. I had an idea a few years back., just the one……. It started as an idea for a ‘celeb’ type book; celebs would tell me what they wanted to be when they were 8, a book would be compiled and all author profits would go to children’s charities. This was rather a palaver to organise and there are tales of many meetings. I won’t go on, it makes me yawn to think of it but suffice to say this idea, although still there, is on the back-burner After some lateral thinking I came up with the idea of a blog and started mine in April 2010.

I like blogs. I have found many interesting and amusing ones from my roamings on Twitter. I have been educated, amused and sometimes horrified at some of the reporting, musings and rantings that I have stumbled upon. People are warm, laugh-out-loud hilarious and aren’t afraid to show it! My blog is normally light-hearted, sometimes serious. Like everyone else I write from a very personal viewpoint. I have written about my children, the dog, my ‘rules for life’, blood diamonds and my love of Manchester United. I have asked my fellow tweeters for themes to blog on as I like a challenge. One of these ended up being a children’s story about Star Wars, Unicorn and Platypus. I have enjoyed writing every one and hope that this will pique your interest enough to venture over to the blog and take a look?

I understand that my blog needs readers to survive and hopefully prosper. For this to happen I need to post to generate interest and readers for the blog. A blog is a vacuum that depends on visitors to survive; I am conscious that I must put in the effort to achieve my aim. It is probably a good thing that I can type as much as I talk People are very kind and have so far written to me about their donations of over £3000!

The other crucial part to my blog is what everyone tells me about their childhood ambitions. This is the bit that has probably entertained me the most and I am more convinced than ever that we normal peeps are much more exciting than the ‘celebs’ of this world.  I have a few favourite tales of childhood ambition but the one that me made smile the most is from a friend of mine, Joy. Joy wanted to work in the greengrocer shop so that she could do the ‘twirly’ thing with the brown paper bags!!!

So, my plea to you today?

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

My thanks to Charon, you lovely man

Take care of you and yours.


PS – Is it only me who starts humming My Sharona by the Knack when they think of CharonQC? Oops!

CHILD BENEFIT LATEST!: Fair’s fair in Coalition tax fuck-ups!

Child Benefit Cut ‘Unenforceable,’ Treasury in a Flap

It seems there is a bit of a ‘flap’ on…..  tax law is difficult…. and so, it would appear, is government!  The devil is in the detail…. but have no fear… Beaker will ride to the rescue and make a “Renouncement” ?

The Wall Street Journal reports… “The government is struggling to find a way of making George Osborne’s plans to remove child benefit from those paying 40% tax work.

A Treasury source says the policy is “unenforceable” and likely to be ditched before its scheduled introduction in 2013. Another source at the heart of government says the expectation is that it will eventually not happen. Elsewhere I hear that it is “panic stations in the Treasury.”

At root is a problem that should have been apparent to those designing the policy, if detailed advice had been sought from civil servants before it was announced at Conservative party conference.

Child benefit is generally paid to the mother. She is under no legal obligation to tell the father that she receives it. The Treasury confirms this. It is her benefit. The father’s tax status is irrelevant. If a mother claims it there is nothing forcing her to flag up to the taxman that her husband earns above the level that Osborne stipulates should mean no child benefit.

Indeed, the child benefit was designed with the express purpose of keeping the cash away from men.

Judge Judge judges…. True story!

Kenneth Clarke and Lord Judge: a plain-speaking verdict on life after cuts

Joshua Rozenberg in The Guardian: Lord chancellor and lord chief justice share a talent for bluntness, but who is the most realistic about how the deficit will affect the legal system?

I’ve had a busy week – but this article by Rozenberg is worth a read.  I did catch the TV footage of Lord Judge appearing before he Commons justice committee.  He was excellent. Truth speaks to power! Mind you… easier if one happens to be Lord Chief Justice, I suspect…..

Lawcast 169: Prisoner votes – An analysis of Hirst and Frodl with Carl Gardner

Coalition in the dock over prisoner voting
Last week Joshua Rozenberg, writing in The Guardian, stated.. “The government can equivocate no longer, it is legally obliged to remove the blanket ban on voting behind bars…”
Will the Coalition government have a more refined taste for human rights than the last Labour government which declined to comply with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (or dragged a lot of feet to cover all bases)?  Joshua Rozenberg observes:  “To some extent, its hands are tied. Five years have passed since the European court of human rights decided that the general, automatic and indiscriminate restriction on voting by convicted prisoners was a breach of the human rights convention”

“The Prison Reform Trust submitted that the disenfranchisement of sentenced prisoners was a relic from the nineteenth century which dated back to the Forfeiture Act 1870, the origins of which were rooted in a notion of civic death. It argued that social exclusion was a major cause of crime and reoffending, and that the ban on voting militated against ideas of rehabilitation and civic responsibility by further excluding those already on the margins of society and further isolating them from the communities to which they would return on release. It neither deterred crime nor acted as an appropriate punishment.”

Today I am talking to ex-government lawyer Carl Gardner about the ‘Votes for Prisoners’ issue and two key cases on the matter United Kingdom v Hirst and the Frodl decision

Listen to the podcast

I covered this issue in a guest post by John Hirst – which generated a lively discussion.

If you wish to comment on this podcast – please do so – but NOT here. Please do so in the comments section for the original post. This will enable all the comments on the issue to be kept in one place.  (Please TRY to post on the main prisoner vote (link above)  post, as I can’t transfer them without doing so manually!))


Caselaw considered



Law Review: Torture and War – shall we sweep it under the carpet?

We wear red poppies to honour those who gave their lives and who serve in our forces so that we can enjoy a degree of freedom – and, rightly so.  Men and women serving in the forces today are risking their lives to protect our national interests, political and economic.  Most, play by the rules of war and the Geneva Convention to which we are signatories.  Some, however, do not.  Are we to sweep this under the carpet?  Are we to pretend it did not happen?  Are we to rage against Wikileaks as some US commentators are doing?  Do we want to see Wikileaks proscribed by the Americans so they can take the site down and regard Assange as a ‘hostile’ and use ‘non-judicial’ methods to ‘take him down’ – and for that read ‘assassination’?

Four stories from the Press today provide much food for thought….

Humiliate, strip, threaten: UK military interrogation manuals discovered

Guardian Exclusive: Methods devised in secret in recent years may breach international law

Iraq war logs: These crimes were not secret, they were tolerated

Guardian: Why did we not investigate allegations of murder and torture in Iraq at the time, when it was well known what was going on?

Fox News editorial: WikiLeaks employees should be declared ‘enemy combatants’

Leading the attack on whistleblower web site WikiLeaks, Fox News editorialist and former Bush-era US State Department official Christian Whiton said on Monday that the US should classify the proprietors of WikiLeaks as “enemy combatants,” opening up the possibility of “non-judicial actions” against them.

Read more…

Iraq war logs: Apache attack’s child victims speak out

Guardian: Cockpit video of gunship attack that killed 19 and gravely injured two children was first major leak of Iraq war material

I watched most of this video.  It was quite a shock – the brutality of war made stark. Again, I cannot help but put the point – if there are rules for war, we should observe them, even though others may not.  I also pose the question – If it is war, why are there rules? Is the maxim ‘All is fair in love and war’ right?

In the film you will hear soldiers on the helicopter which machine gunned 19 people say of a child injured ‘It is their fault for bringing children into a war zone.’  It transpired that the driver of van ‘taken out’ by the gunship was merely trying to help.  The occupants were not combatants.  They were doing what many would do – seeing if they could provide assistance. I could see no evidence of the occupants of the van carrying weapons.  All I saw was a wounded man being rescued.  The machine gunner on the gunship must have seen what we can see on the film.  They ‘took the van out’  Two young children were badly injured.

We would not have seen this film, of course, but for Wikileaks.

Rules of War…rule of law?

Postcard From The Staterooms: CSR edition

Dear Reader,

It just becomes more surreal.  Not that I am complaining – a most amusing week.  Politicians explained the Comprehensive Spending Review – Beaker was filmed doing an interview (Above) with members of the public/activists… whatever…exercising their right to express their views, and twitter broke down, predictably, on tribal lines to debate the merits/demerits of the Coalition Government’s plan to *Wreck Britain/Save Britain* (You choose).  Cameron announced that a second aircraft carrier would be built after all – largely because it was too expensive to cancel – but there would be no planes to put on it because it now appears that General Dannatt and others think that aircraft carriers are too vulnerable and we don’t actually need them.   Then HMS Astute, a new hunter killer submarine, went aground during tests in the the waters off the Isle of Skye.  The good news is,  as we are not fighting the Russians in the plains of Germany, we have to plan what to do with 20,000 troops and 350+ tanks etc in Germany.  I would imagine that the Germans will be happy to see us leave?  A Russian submarine, however, was sighted 70 miles off the coast of Britain – but we couldn’t see it, because our Nimrods are being scrapped…and there is talk of the perfidious French helping to guard our shores – prompting inevitable comment about Trafalgar, Waterloo, Vichy France and general and sundry ‘surrender monkeying’.

And so… to other matters…

We don’t bribe people in Britain… well…. sometimes we may have done… when it comes to consolidating arrangements with foreign regimes in the the Middle East who buy a lot of arms from us.  And.. there is a new Bribery Act which is keeping City Co-Co lawyers busy and angst ridden in terms of what advice they can give to their corporate clients.  We want to host the World Cup soon…. possibly to ensure that we actually qualify for the first round. It appears that FIFA officials have been taking bribes.. who would have thought such a thing possible?  This week we have seen *Shrek Wreck*….. a saga of a rather thick footballer with a predilection for shagging grannies and tarts, apparently,…. posturing with the aid of his agent and, this very morning… pictured in the tabloid press grinning away with his new title of the World’s most expensive footballer on £250,000 a week. This is good news for The Treasury.  As Mr Rooney is widely believed to have enough difficulties with English – according to the popular press commenters – it is unlikely that he will be found doing a bit of tax-exiling in Monaco or other exotic parts where *foreign* is spoken. It does seem rather obscene that a footballer can earn so much, yet do so little for the England Team…I suspect that some of his fans, who may well be suffering real hardship soon.. may find the earnings a bit excessive? Hey.. what do I know..? I know nothing about football..and don’t actually care what he does or earns.

Expenses: police urged to reopen prosecution into Baroness Uddin

Telegraph: Police have been urged to reopen a prosecution into the expenses cheat peer who was this week suspended from the House of Lords after illegitimately claiming £125,000 in parliamentary allowances.

I was listening to Radio 4 recently where sundry Lords were explaining – rather earnestly – that The House of Lords had to restore credibility with the cap-doffing, forelock tugging, public.  The House of Lords, in my opinion, is an outmoded ‘form’  for the 21st Century and with one peer currently being prosecuted for fraud: Lord Taylor – and three peers being suspended this week, including the truly astonishing Baroness Uddin (quite apart from star jailbird performers from a bygone era,  Lords Archer and Conrad Black) the percentage of dodgy peers to ‘good peers’ seems to be growing.  Time to get rid of the whole shooting match, including the rather absurd titles, and replace it with a second Chamber where *grandeur*   is not part of the realpolitik of government.  I have no problem with the good peers putting themselves up for election.  There is, without question, a great deal of talent in the Lords.

And..finally… I invited John Hirst, aka Jailhouselawyer, to do a guest post on prisoner votes.  It has generated a lot of heat and a fair bit of light.  Tomorrow, I am doing a podcast with Carl Gardner, ex government lawyer and author of The Head of Legal blog, on this issue.  The Law is the Law – politics and sentiment, a quite separate issue.

Finally… been a long day…. the only cleb I follow on twitter…. at least he engages and I am enjoying his book!

and if you fancy an amusing article with a serious point … here is one from @suzannemoore197


Have a good one

Best, as always


Rive Gauche: HMS Astute runs agrind and Abseiling tweeterers!

Submarine runs aground off Scotland

Guardian: No reports of injuries or environmental damage as HMS Astute runs aground off Isle of Skye

It is Friday and I felt like doing a quick  *Rive Gauche* post.  It is unfortunate indeed that a submarine named *Astute* has gone aground.

It is with great pleasure, therefore, that I draw your attention to a fellow tweeterer @Saryapples – who is going to abseil off a very high hotel!  If you would like to donate a modest sum (Even a £1 helps) you may do so here!


This is what Sarah says!:

So Rebecca & I have decided to jump off the 12th floor of a hotel in Newcastle!  Abseilling from the roof of the Vermont Hotel….. and we’ll be dressed in a suitably Halloweeny fashion… costumes to be confirmed!

I know that we all receive a lot of these requests… but even £1 would be SO gratefully received. The Stroke Assocoation does amazing work, for a condition that will sadly touch us all at some point -every year an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke.I can guarantee that the photos we’ll post after the event will be worth your sponsership alone! 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to visit our JustGiving page !!

You may donate here if you wish to

Random musing while drinking Rioja – Cameron employs *Patriots* to advise him on business!

I was amused by the recent edition of Private Eye (15 October) which began…

DAVID “We’re all in this together” Cameron has chosen a patriotic bunch to sit on his “business council”

The Eye article then stated that Martin Sorrell of advertising group WPP has moved his company offshore to avoid tax. Paul Walsh of drinks company Diageo has threatened to do the same. … and, of course, Sir Philip Green…giver of advice to governments on cuts and waste, has arrangements with his wife in Monaco.
All this is, of course, within the rules…. but it is ironic when the mantra of the day is “We’re all in it together”…. when, so obviously, we are not quite ALL in it together.  There are, of course, many millionaires in the current Cabinet..and it would appear a fair few millionaires or potential millionaires (when their books come out) in the Shadow Cabinet.

I don’t have any problem with businessmen and women making money – they are the lifeblood of our country – and the small businesses do also add up to employ a substantial number of people.  I just wish they would call a spade a spade.  I believe that a fair few entrepreneurs like Alan Sugar and Duncan Bannatyne (who I have been a bit caustic about recently on another matter which has, thankfully, blown over) prefer to stay here!  Full marks to them.

I hope the private sector can mop up the public sector redundancies.  There will be a fair number of talented people – so there are genuine opportunities to attract good talent?

Law Review: Saudi prince not above our law

Justice, even for princes

Guardian: Britain’s conviction of a Saudi prince for the murder of his servant has inspired Saudi Arabians longing for impartial justice

Excellent article – written by a Saudi.

Prince Saud’s conviction gives all of us some hope that one day our people will enjoy a modern court system that sees no difference between a prince and a pauper. I am hoping that Britain might export its brand of justice to our country to help modernise our medieval judiciary. That is undeniably a better and more useful export to our people than any sales of fighter planes.

Law Review: Pre-Nups in Family Law cases

Not being a family lawyer, and having absolutely no plans to ever marry again now that I am deliriously single  (My ex and I are good friends), I rarely take any interest in family law cases – leaving that to my friends over At Pink Tape, Family Lore and The Divorce Manual (Now Researching Reform)

The extensive  judgment of The Supreme Court to my eyes, therefore, can be summed up in this way:  “Fudge: Pre-nups are OK if we think they are OK but it is for Parliament to settle the matter.”

Read judgment

German heiress wins legal battle over pre-nuptial agreement

Katrin Radmacher, a German heiress, has won a Supreme Court case over her divorce which gives new status to pre-nuptial agreements.

The Telegraph reports: By a majority of eight to one, the justices dismissed the ex-husband’s appeal, saying that following their ruling “it will be natural to infer that parties entering into agreements will intend that effect be given to them”.

The justices said they agreed with the Court of Appeal that in the right case a pre-nup agreement can have decisive or compelling weight.

Lord Phillips, president of the Supreme Court, said the courts would still have the discretion to waive any pre-nup or post-nup agreement, especially when it was unfair to any children of the marriage.

I cannot, for the life of me see, in the 21st century, what business it is of the State or the judges to decide upon matters of divorce between consenting adults.  I have no problem at all in the State intervening to ensure that children are looked after – because if the parents can’t do it humanely and sensibly it is only right that the state shoud step in.

For my part – marriage is a relationship and just as with any relationship, if the parties wish to have a degree of formality, can be subject to the law of contract.  This is what a pre-nuptial agreement is.  And for those who are concerned that this may be unfair because a wife or husband is pressured into it – the Law of Contract does provide relief by way of Duress and undue influence.  Arrangements between consenting adults in the modern day should, if they wish it to be so, be regulated by the law of contract and not the idiosyncrasies of the values of a bygone era.

It will be interesting to see how many carpetbaggers, WAGS and Heat magazine readers will be marrying should pre-nuptial agreements gain more judicial favour.   Marrying for money may not be quite such a sensible deal in future if the pre-nup is drafted properly?!

Law Review: Alex Aldridge – political point scoring is no way to reform financial regulation

Dear chancellor, political point scoring is no way to reform financial regulation

Alex Aldridge in the Guardian: George Osborne’s merger plans for the Financial Services Authority and Bank of England are no safeguard against future economic crises

“Shuffling the deckchairs” is the phrase that invariably crops up when you talk to City lawyers about the imminent overhaul of the UK’s framework of financial regulation.

George Osborne‘s view is that separating the Financial Services Authority from the Bank of England was central to the 2008 global economic meltdown. Few agree. Certainly, the chancellor’s plan to effectively merge the FSA and the Bank, and then stick what’s left over into a mixture of existing and new bodies, is no safeguard against future economic crises.

Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 5: Going to trial with a lawyer who considers your whole life-style a Crime in Progress is not a happy prospect.


To: The Partners

From: Matt Muttley, Managing Partner


Going to trial with a lawyer who considers your whole life-style a Crime in Progress is not a happy prospect.
Hunter S. Thompson

It seemed appropriate, given the extraordinary events of last week and the events to come this week in terms of Osbore’s Spending Review, to quote the great Hunter S Thompson.

1. George Osborne takes spending axe to prisons and legal aid

The Guardian reports: Leaked documents show Ministry of Justice will lose 30% of budget in comprehensive spending review.

There are two issues here of relevance to The Partners:  The first is the possibility that we could buy a prison and turn it into bijou studio flats for young professionals who can’t get onto the housing ladder.  There is a suggestion that some prisons will be sold off.  I have asked Dr Strangelove, our Director of Education and Strategy and a fellow Partner,  to review this matter most carefully.  Secondly, given that the government can’t actually seriously reduce the legal aid budget in terms of crime, but can in terms of family law, there is every prospect that our Megaladon LLP division could get in on the act and offer No Divorce No Fee offers.  As the prospect of the courts actually declining to divorce people is very remote, we will get our fee and there may well be some mileage in the ‘financial arrangements’ inter partes? We need to review this.

2. I thought The Partners might enjoy a laugh this week – so you might find this nonsense amusing

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly on pro bono and the Big Society

The Law Society Gazette: “While prime minister David Cameron’s idea of the ‘Big Society’ has left many people unclear as to what their own role or contribution to it could be, for lawyers the answer looks fairly simple: pro bono work can use lawyers’ skills, knowledge and professional standing to meet unmet need. The legal profession has much of the infrastructure in place to help lawyers play that role.”

Please note that I am all in favour of lawyers in other firms doing pro bono work.  I am also happy to applaud the work done by lawyers who do pro bono for altruistic reasons.  The government is not going to plug the legal aid *HOLE* through the kindness of lawyers.

I do find it amusing, however, gentlemen, that a government minister thinks he can fool our profession with this nonsense…

The coalition government is keen to show its support for pro bono work, and Jonathan Djanogly, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, will speak at the launch event on 19 October. He will not be a lone representative of government there, with the attorney general Dominic Grieve QC and solicitor general Edward Garnier QC likely to attend to hear speeches from Djanogly and the lord chief justice.Djanogly takes the view that pro bono work is not just good for the public interest, but good for the legal profession itself. ‘Pro bono work provides lawyers with a sense of community,’ he argues. ‘Lawyers get quite easily “silo-ed” – whether that’s as a high street conveyancer, or a commercial lawyer sitting on the eighteenth floor drafting euro bonds. Pro bono can take them out of their specialism and into other areas – some of those areas they may want to return to later in their career.’

I leave to you to make of this what you will.  Interesting to note that The Gazette describes Djanogly as …“…every inch the City lawyer – neat, smooth, friendly and to the point.”

Silo-ed?  I do wonder, sometimes, about the education system in our country. I suppose that if Djanogly had been at the Department of the Environment’ he would be banging on about people being *windfarmed* or*Severnbarraged*?

I seem to recall a Telegraph story on the matter of MP expenses.  I supply the link  for your delectation and delight…

MPs’ expenses: Tory MP Jonathan Djanogly claimed almost £5,000 for automatic gates

The Telegraph: “Jonathan Djanogly, the multi-millionaire shadow business minister, claimed almost £5,000 to have automatic gates installed at his large home in his Huntingdon constituency.”

Automatic gates at his house…?  Gentleman..I ask you…. . why would a smooth, friendly, to the point, multi-millionaire, successful EX-City lawyer needs such a device?  I can well understand why we do, but we are not friendly.

Matt Muttley

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Law Review: Profits warning by Apollo – owners of BPP University College. Will it impact on BPP?

Curiously, the Apollo profits warning this does not seem to have been picked up on by The Lawyer or Legal Week as at this morning (as far as I could see) – but it is important because Apollo bought BPP Law School last year as part of their acquisition of BPP Holdings PLC.

The Financial times had this news snippet on Friday: Reed Elsevier, the Anglo-Dutch publisher, was marked 2 per cent lower at 551½p as bid rumours faded and investors focused on a profits warning from Apollo Group, a US higher education provider. Apollo said it expected admissions to fall significantly in 2011. That news also weighed on Pearson, parent company of the Financial Times, off 1.8 per cent to 991p.

FROM THE WIRES had this…

Investors fled for-profit college stocks on Thursday after the sector’s bellwether predicted a 40-percent drop in student enrollment next quarter and withdrew its forecast for next year. The news chilled an industry facing increased government scrutiny over concerns about soaring student loan defaults.

Enrollments at for-profit schools surged during the recession. Big advertising budgets drew students trying to bolster their resumes as a hedge against high unemployment. But critics claim the schools are not helping students find better jobs and say enrollment counselors sign up many students who are unprepared for higher education. When they drop out, they are still stuck paying back their student loans.

Apollo Group Inc., which runs the University of Phoenix, attributes its expected enrollment decline to changing practices aimed at satisfying new government regulations.

Read the full story….

This may well cause Apollo problems in the USA – a 40% predicted drop in enrolments is by no means insignificant. Apollo are the owners of the newly created BPP University College.  Will this impact on BPP?  I’m not sure.  BPP is well resourced in the UK and, in law terms at least, does not appear to have any difficulty filling places.   Subsidiaries are often affected when parent companies suffer a downturn in profits.  Will this be the case here?

I shall ask Peter Crisp, CEO, of BPP University College for his assessment.

Guest Post – The White Rabbit: Time to reclaim the label ‘libertarian’.

This week I am delighted to invite barrister Andrew Keogh, the author The White Rabbit blog, to be my guest…

It is tempting but at best over simplistic to say that liberalism is the fault line of British politics. More accurately, it straddles one of them. Twice in history large chunks of the historic Liberal Party have been incorporated into the Conservatives – the Liberal Unionists in the 1880s and the National Liberals in the 1930s. Indeed, until Jo Grimond began to give it independent (and leftward) traction, the vestigial Liberal Party of the 1950s looked little more than a curiosity and adjunct of the Conservative Party, tolerated and preserved like a slightly embarrassing household ornament presented by an eccentric elderly relative.

Grimond changed all that. In so doing he drew on a long and rich tradition of radical liberalism, the land reformers, the pacifists (there was a splendid Liberal MP who went to jail in the First World War for inciting the troops to disaffection – and quite right too – the incitement I mean not the jailing), the tradition of the ‘People’s Budget’ and the threat to create a thousand peers to teach unelected aristocrats to respect democracy. That same tradition produced the Liberal ‘Yellow Book’ of 1928. I’ll come back to the Yellow Book. It’s still important.

Grimond’s vision was a ‘radical realignment of the left’. His successors – even the disgraceful and ultimately disgraced Thorpe – applied themselves to this task. Except the present one. The task advanced slowly and incrementally. Its biggest boost was a bowlderisation of the original vision with the alliance with, and ultimately incorporation of, assorted faction fighters of the Labour right who brought with them a pile of unattractive baggage. Notwithstanding this, the Liberal Democrats in the 2000s, like their Liberal predecessors in the 1960s, were perceived – with some force – to be to the left of Labour. The Liberal Democrats/Liberals had the good sense to oppose idiot foreign wars and had a good grounding in liberty know to oppose the authoritarian and centralising rubbish that spewed forth from Labour governments.

The question of what is wrong – as in really wrong at core – with the Labour Party is asked far too infrequently. The temptation is to say Labour = Stalinism + Elections. There may perhaps be an element of oversimplification in such an assertion. Nonetheless clunking lumpen labourism has always been characterised by aforesaid authoritarian and centralising instincts. As such, it merely corresponded with the dominant strand of European left thinking going back from the nineteenth century to about the middle of the last. Old Labour at least cared about equality and its principal tool in attempting to advance equality was bureaucratic nationalisation. This tool failed due to a failure to grasp that the traditional heavy industries on the shopping list to be nationalised were in decline – this much is trite but less remarked upon is that the centralising and hierarchical structures created for the nationalised industries (invariably and inevitably a Board with a capital ‘B’) failed to release the creativity of the workforce. It is little known but true that the nationalisation of the mines by the Attlee government was met by localised strikes at some pits. They didn’t want the old mine owners – who were oafs and brutes – back but they wanted workers’ control of the industry. They didn’t get it.

Old Labour’s fault line was the cold war. The old right were people who would – and who could blame them? – sooner live in the United States than in Stalinist Russia. They were ant-unilateralist and averse to nationalising things any more than absolutely necessary to humour the party overall but they were in favour of equality. Remember old Labour rightist poster boy Anthony Crosland wanted to ‘close down every fucking Grammar School in the country’, an aspiration advanced greatly by one M. Thatcher. The Labour left, with honourable exceptions such as the late Eric Heffer were either soft on Stalinism for pacifist cum sneaking sympathy reasons or were actually closet Stalinists. It has been my occasional past misfortune to listen to old Labour leftists blethering on about ‘the socialist countries’. Some readers may have the misfortune of recalling that gruesome old gargoyle of a left Labour MP Ian Mikardo. He wasn’t soft on Stalinism – he was a Stalinist. Who won in the Labour left/right faction fights depended on the grotesque spectacle of trade union barons wagging cards representing sometimes seven figure numbers of ‘votes’ at Labour Party Conference – an absurdity that was accepted with straight faces all round.

New Labour retained all old Labour’s authoritarian instincts but abandoned its impulse to equality. Devoid of any moral substance the bubble eventually burst, sustained for many years by the toxic nature of the Tory brand. Add a detoxified gloss to the Tory brand and watch the project (sic) implode with the bust that followed the deregulated credit boom and public disgust at tail ending illegal US wars. And the Liberal Democrats? Just before economic liberalism became a busted flush, prominent members of the Liberal Democrats trumpeted it in a document called the Orange Book – the old free market religion was back again.

What is to be done? I offer no party political solution. Probably because there is none presently available and to attempt one attacks the problem from the wrong end. I don’t think I’d join any political organisation except possibly the Spanish CNT but that was there, that was then. Let it bleed, to borrow a phrase. I barely have the beginnings of a program. Such as they are, here are three modest proposals.

First modest proposal: let’s go back to the semi-syndicalist Liberal Yellow Book. It’s actually startlingly radical and starts from the premise that those who commit their labour to an enterprise are as least deserving of equal standing in that enterprise as those who supply capital. What follows from this? Firstly works councils at plant level with real powers. Any problems so far? Secondly, compulsory profit sharing – not too alarming? Thirdly, employee boardroom representation. Let’s make it 50%. These seem modest proposals with potentially far reaching consequences. Everyone pats the John Lewis Partnership – a very mild variant of this sort of idea – on the head but no-one seeks to extend (least of all in more radical variants) this approach. To be honest, the old leftist romantic ion me is in favour of workers’ control of everything but such a programme is presently unrealistic. The Yellow Book type compromise ought not to be.

Secondly, give control of social housing to those who live in it. Labour in the big cities in the twentieth century was rightly popular for clearing the slums. As with nationalised industry, socialised housing became bureaucratic and remote and went, via telling tenants what colour they could paint their doors, to monstrosities like the Heygate Estate at the Elephant and Castle, soon rightly to be demolished after less than 40 years. What started with a frankly pretty unaccountable Housing Committees ended with equally inaccessible but now grotesquely overpaid Housing Association Chief Executives. What is wrong with self-managing housing co-operatives and letting people make their own decisions – including making their own mistakes instead of having the mistakes of various bureaucracies inflicted on them?

Thirdly and finally, there is nothing inevitable about the nation state. Historically it is a recent phenomenon and has hardly acquitted itself with distinction. As a general guiding principle let decisions be taken at the lowest level consistent with efficiency. In some instances, this is the European level. With strong localisms and a strong Pan-European dimension, what would Westminster be for?

The word libertarian seems to have been hijacked by the oddball right. To the extent that much of the right libertarian critique of the state has force, it is totally undermined by their failure to grasp that finance and/or industrial capital can be equally destructive of freedom as the state and usually acts in concert with it to that end. Time to reclaim the label ‘libertarian’.

Postcard from The Staterooms: Bananaskins edition

It has been an unusual week. A Dragon and twitter self publicist made a bit of a fool of himself on twitter and despite fanboys and girls rushing to his rescue to praise the heroic twitterer without stopping to thoroughly consider what was being said, Duncan Genocide (Copyright Harry & Paul) managed to issue a rather sinister tweet on twitter to @sharongooner…and I quote: “Just so you know.  If anyone believes your silly tweet & if it hurts my family I will sue you for as much as I can.” I covered the ‘incident’ on my blog yesterday [Duncan Genocide doesn’t seem to understand Twitter that well – a personal opinion…not a LIBEL! ].

I find it curious that a man who is reputedly 167th in Britain’s Rich list, worth over £370 million and who has a Titanium Amex card, apparently, could wish to sue someone who is not rich for as ‘much as he can’. This smacks of bullying.  The likelihood of Bannatyne actually winning a libel case in that context was remote – and it would have been a foolish thing to do because the British don’t like bullies and, I suspect, there would have been a Streisand Effect on twitter and on the net.
To be fair to Bannatyne – even though he has blocked me (Presumably because I parodied the Dragons? ) he does do a lot of good work for charity and it is right that he should protect his family. For a man whose judgment in business is obviously extremely good – this was not apparent on twitter yesterday.  Having reflected on the matter overnight, and learning from Sharon Gooner’s tweets that there will be no litigation against her, I think it probably not unreasonable to put this incident down to a “bad day on twitter“. I won’t, however, be following his ‘tweets’ (a) because I am blocked from doing so and (b) because I can’t be arsed to follow anything Bannatyne does from now on.  Lord Sugar is far more amusing, far more interesting and… I understand… far richer!  I shall make him a few more quid by buying his new book.  I enjoy autobiography and, I hear, it is rather good.  Apparently, Private Eye thinks so!

Talking of bullying… I am not too keen on the handling of an important law student  issue recently by RollonFriday. I think it was a bit cruel.  To be fair…RollonFriday did ask for observations from twitter users and I responded by saying they would get a bit of flack.  Judge for yourselves.  The original story by Carly Moore-Martin in The Law Society Gazette is here…

The training contract lottery

And RollonFriday’s treatment (uncharacteristically brutish?) is here.

I think that RoF would be better sticking to ‘sticking it to Law firms and Law Schools’ – which they do well. RoF – again being fair – is usually on the side of students, so I am a bit baffled as to why they went for Carly Moore-Martin in the way they did.  Perhaps they will make it up to her?  (Hint!)  They suggested it was because they wanted to encourage debate in their tweet.  I hope Carly Moore-Martin is thick skinned – she certainly seems to have the nouse to write an article on her predicament in The Law Society Gazette – and that takes a bit of nerve – and full marks to the Gazette for running the story.

I wish Carly Moore-Martin well..and, for the record, I take my hat off to all students who fund their own law studies, provided they know the facts about the profession, and wish them well. It is a hard profession, particularly in these difficult times – and I would never discourage anyone with a reasonable prospect of getting a 2.1 from a reasonable university (as here) from having a go – if they are absolutely certain they understand the risks.


Right… just to let you know… that George, WEST LONDON MAN, was released from custody at La Guardia airport New York through the excellent representation given by experienced New York Defense lawyer, Scott Greenfield (who writes the excellent Simple Justice blog) and will soon return to this blog… writing away now!

If you have never read West London Man – a social satire – and wish to do so here are the first 25 episodes. There are even podcasts and I play the part of George.  My ex-wife plays the part of Caroline and Scott Greenfield plays himself in episode 25 and Colin Samuels US lawyer from California and writer of one of my favourite blogs Infamy or Praise, and a good friend, who helped me write the last three episodes, plays…. Hank, the US lawyer and La Guarda guards!.

Read /  Listen to Episodes 1-25 of WEST LONDON MAN!

Season II Episodes 1-12 coming soon……

Have a good weekend

Best, as always



STOP PRESS – MARR AGAIN… taken from my Comments section from Pragmatist…

Great stuff, though surely Mr Marr’s little effort from last Sunday rates a mention in the Bananaskins edition? It’s still doing well on Twitter…!/search/andrew%20marr


STOP PRESS:  Saturday night 22.50 pm


Oh dear… DB may be gorn! He didn’t like the ‘haters’…so for that reason he is *OUT*… ah well….. there we are…. That’s twitter….. sometimes it can backfire…..

Sharon Gooner retaliated on twitter this evening – which,  while not the sort of thing a lawyer would have advised – is totally understandable.  She was slagged off by many of Bannatyne’s twitter followers.  She is not a celebrity.  She is a woman who works and tweets.  Below you will see an example of the  unpleasantness she has had to endure on twitter.  This, even without knowing Bannatyne personally, is not something I would imagine he would have any truck with. His  *Supporters* need to think carefully about this – because, as sure as eggs are eggs, mainstream media will pick this up – and that won’t be a pleasant experience. They also need to think about whether it is fair to tweet so unpleasantly about someone else?  Time to apologise, make up and stop the nonsense?  It takes a BIG man to apologise or resolve and make up.  Bannatyne is a big man… he does a great deal for charities but will he be here ?

A Bannatyne supporter doing his bit for BIG Society and The National Interest on Twitter tonight… why do we bother?  I am fairly certain that Bannatyne would be horrified by this…

This rather unpleasant man lives in *Shittie Swindon* – his words on his own profile when I looked tonight.  @s1monsays

And while you are at it.. do look at this…..  Matt commented on my earlier post.. this post is worth reading

A Brave Heart in the Dragon’s Den

Further update…

I very much doubt that this man would have the nerve to say this to Sharon Gooner’s face…and that is the problem with people like him.  I notice that he is perfectly charming to Dragon Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne.. so he is clearly not orf his head on booze as far as one can ascertain looking at his time line.

Does Bannatyne really want PR supporters and *Google juice* like this…..?  I don’t think so….

I am publishing this – unpleasant though it is – because I feel very strongly that twitter and Google and decent manners and humanity is rather more important than the vanity of a Dragon and his absurd followers*  (Those who indulge in the above).

Enough is enough Mr Bannatyne. Tweeting to those who follow you to say *don’t stoop to the level of the haters* is just not good enough.  You called lawyer David Allen Green *Big Boy* yesterday (See post of yesterday) ..are you a *big enough man to sort this amicably with Sharon Gooner*?  I do hope so.




Duncan Bannatyne Walks Into A Bar…

Law Review: Ambulance chasers look forward to rise in Kneejerkitis injury claims

One of the fascinating things about politics is politicians saying things when they really do not seem to know what they are talking about.

The latest nonsense (containing ‘no surprises’ – a wonderful euphemism for *Money for old rope*?)  on the  No win No Fee concept  from Lord Young seems to predicate change which will leave us roughly where we are at the moment – a classic British fudge… but I could be wrong.  Do, please, read this excellent Guardian article from Des Collins…

It is a curious business.  People do get injured.  A lot of people can’t afford lawyers.  The No Win, No Fee concept gives people a chance of getting proper legal advice – and, yes, it may well lead to a few *chancers* gaming the system – and we should give some protection to those who do the *Good Samaritan* bit… but…… only up to a point – what if they actually cause more harm?

I shake my head in wonder and amazement….   I do hope they give Lord Young and his remarkable bow tie – something else to keep him occupied.

Ending the ‘compensation culture’ is not as simple as it seems

Guardian: Lord Young’s health and safety report shows that balancing the rights of defendants and claimants is a delicate business

I just loved this extract from Des Collins’ rather good article. Des Collins is a practising solicitor, so on that premise, I am more than happy to put forward the entirely radical idea that he may well know what he is talking about!

How and over what period are these recommendations to be implemented nationwide? Much of the primary legislation needed would find little favour with Brussels. Even if much of this were to reach the statute book, it is likely that the level of discretion which would remain with the courts would leave matters not wholly different from where they stand at present.




Lawyerwatch has some interesting points on this…

Some Common Sense on Compensation Culture

Lord Young’s report Common Sense and Common Safety is out. It speaks of a common sense approach to health and safety and takes the usual swings at greedy lawyers and claims management companies. Tempting as it is, I am not going to dissect the report line by line, instead I wanted to emphasise some points where Lord Young is plainly speaking sense. For my first point I draw you attention to page 19:“The problem of the compensation culture prevalent in society is, however, one of perception rather than reality.”

Duncan Genocide doesn’t seem to understand Twitter that well – a personal opinion…not a LIBEL!

Dragon and unremitting self publicist on twitter (books, gyms, good works etc) @Duncanbannatyne (aka known as Duncan Genocide by Harry & Paul) has managed to piss off a lot of people on twitter by arguing with a young woman who offended him.  The whole thing got out of hand….  just follow the #duncanbannatyne or similar to get the story.

Duncan Genocide has 182,000 followers – I am not one of them… in fact… I am BLOCKED from following him…. he doesn’t like me, obviously.  Bovvered?  Nope.

I am not going to cover it – because it is now @DavidAllenGreen story -*Genocide* was *HARD* on twitter..and tweeted this… to lawyer David Allen Green… not a terribly clever thing to do…. since David Allen Green is a rather sensible and good lawyer.  (See tweet capture below)

This is the Duncan Bannatyne Tweet to lawyer David Allen Green…captured from the public timeline!

I do despair of celebrities who think they can own and manipulate twitter… fair enough pimping the odd book  etc… but bullying is most unattractive.  The original tweet complained of was clearly a joke. I did see it.  Perhaps not a great joke… but anyone with even half a mind… would see it as a Dragon’s Den joke!  Now the joke – in my opinion – is the Dragon….  and for that reason… *I’m OUT* and will never take Bannatyne seriously again unless he apologises to the original tweeter and twitter for his… to coin a phrase… *Ridiculous* behaviour.

Life is just too short…..

This is a personal opinion, sanctioned by English Law (and a raportage of events which are within my personal experience in terms of being blocked!), and is NOT a libel or any form of intrusion into the life of a heroic celebrity.  I believe we are still allowed to express personal opinions in our green and pleasant land even if a Twitter Cleb doesn’t like it?

This is Duncan Genocide’s tweet to @sharongooner (who I think has been very ‘cool’ about the whole thing – and even deleted her tweet as she did not intend to offend.  She made me smile when she tweeted… *going to the naughty step* – full marks to SG!)


Law Review: Barrister wins damages against Police – Law story round up – Solicitors from Hell website owner loses case and has damages to pay!

Police who handcuffed barrister in RCJ offer £100,000 and apology

The Solicitors Journal reports: “The barrister awarded £100,000 in police compensation after being led away from the Royal Courts of Justice in handcuffs says the cost to the taxpayer could be three times that amount. Lamb Chambers’ Colin Challenger, who has donated the cash to charity, mounted civil and criminal cases against the Metropolitan Police after his wrongful arrest in court last year.”

A scuffle broke out at a bankruptcy hearing at the  RCJ.  Four protesters were evicted from the court by Registrar Barber.  Challenger, it was alleged, shoved one of the protesters.  He was arrested despite protestations from onlookers that he was, in fact, the victim of a physical attack.  Challenger fell into a diabtetic coma after police confiscated his insulin and he had to be taken to hospital.

The police have now settled the claim after Challenger’s solicitors “prized the grudging apology and ‘undisclosed damages’ from the commissioner”, with costs yet to be decided.The 57-year-old barrister has previously represented the Metropolitan Police in several high-profile cases. He said: “Regarding Sir Paul Stephenson’s idea that police should have a level of immunity – once upon a time I was in favour of this.

This is extraordinary.  And the police want immunity from, prosecution against them to be made more difficult.  Shocking behaviour on the part of the police.  If they can do this to a senior member of the Bar at a court, one wonders what the police are getting up to in less public circumstances.

Quick links to lead stories in The Guardian today

Control orders for terrorist suspects to stay, says counter-terrorism review

Brutal deportations must stop

Migrants still face abuse in detention

Quango cut: Controversy over scrapping of Youth Justice Board

And some good news!

Summary judgment in a “Solicitors from Hell” case

A solicitor who was defamed by an anonymous posting on the Solicitors from Hell website won summary judgment and libel damages of £17,500 from Rick Kordowski, the man who set up and runs the site. Courts rarely grant summary judgment in defamation cases, doing so only when a defendant has no defence to the action.

Mr Justice Eady, sitting in the High Court on 11 October 2010, also ordered Mr Kordowski to pay costs of £28,000 to solicitor Megan Phillips, of law firm Bhatt Murphy, and issued an injunction banning him from repeating the allegations.

Ms Phillips’ counsel, Guy Vassall-Adams, had told the judge that Mr Kordowski had no chance of being able to justify the allegations – which were completely untrue – as he had made no attempt to verify them for himself and had allowed them to be posted anonymously.

The solicitors from Hell website states on its Home Page: “Name and shame those shady Solicitors. No need to register or even leave your name.

Rabinder Singh: We need a written constitution

Guardian: Read the full text of the speech given by Rabinder Singh QC for the 2010 JUSTICE/Tom Sargant memorial annual lecture

Interesting stuff – need to think about it, though.  I am not convinced…. but open to re-thinking and other persuasive argument.

Law Review: Contempt Law –

Contempt laws to stay despite online onslaught

Guardian: Is it possible to keep information from the public when websites such as Wikileaks seem to be beyond reach of the law?

The practical reality, in the internet age, with the High Court’s writ reaching only England & Wales, is that it is almost impossible to stop sensitive information which could be prejudicial to a fair trial reaching the public domain.  We have seen the futility of maintaining injunctions in privacy and libel cases – but the conduct of a criminal trial could have very much more serious consequences for the defendant if the trial becomes unfair through jurors seeing information which they ought not to be seeing to judge the particular case.  I wrote about this some time ago and a regular commenter suggested that jurors, on the whole, had a good sense of fairness and could be relied upon to try cases fairly.  I hope he is right.

The attorney general has dismissed calls to scrap laws that prevent publication of prejudicial information about unconvicted defendants.

Delivering the annual Kalisher lecture to the Criminal Bar Association on Tuesday, Dominic Grieve QC rejected claims that contempt of court laws were no longer fit for the age of Twitter, blogs and online news archives.

The government’s senior legal adviser acknowledged the problems that can arise now that damaging information may circulate so freely. In the Baby P case, a judge had banned the identification of three people convicted of causing the death of Peter Connelly because two of them were subsequently due to stand trial for another offence.

“It was not long before their identities were being distributed on social network sites, external websites and even via text messages with an instruction to pass them on,” Grieve said.

Scotland Yard’s electronic crime unit had been reasonably effective in getting the names removed from UK-based sites, he explained, but dealing with foreign sites was more difficult. In the end, other measures were taken to ensure that Steven Barker and Tracey Connelly received a fair trial last year.

Joshua Rozenberg summed the issue up neatly – and I agree with his view :

Grieve is right to maintain restrictions while taking a largely non-interventionist approach to contempt of court. Despite the growth in social media, it is still possible for juries to try defendants without knowing facts about them that would render acquittals impossible.

Freedom of expression is essential but delaying the publication of prejudicial information is a small price to pay for an even nobler ideal: a fair trial.

Law Review: Change is coming with the university fees cap being removed. The College of Law, Kaplan and BPP may have to watch their backs.

The New Statesman thunders / drones away (take your pick, depending on political persuasion / principles – or, if you are a Lib-Dem front bench minister…… find some principles…….)

Will this picture come back to haunt Nick Clegg?

New Statesman: He was among 57 Lib Dem MPs who signed an NUS pledge to vote against any rise in university tuition fees.

The Lord Browne proposals to remove the cap on university fees cannot possibly have come as a shock to anyone with even the vaguest understanding of tertiary education. I have been involved in degree and post-graduate and professional legal education for over thirty years – most of that in the private sector where fees are charged.  The College of Law, Kaplan, BPP Law School, City University,  et al are all charging astonishing fees at £14,000 + for the new Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) – and those who wish to go on to a career at the Bar (which may or not be profitable – or even begin) have no alternative but to pay those fees if they want in.

College of Law supports Browne’s plans on higher education

The Law Society Gazette: The government must follow Lord Browne’s recommendation to remove the fee cap on higher education, the College of Law said today.

Such a move is necessary to increase competition between higher education establishments, and remove the ‘dividing line’ between public and private tertiary education, the College said.

Chief executive Nigel Savage said that higher education establishments that train students in professional subjects need ‘robust relationships’ with the commercial sector, and that greater diversity in higher education is ‘critically important’.

He said that higher education providers must deliver greater quality if they decide to charge students higher fees.

Nigel Savage is right on one thing – if the universities are to charge higher fees, they will find students demanding higher standards and no shortage of lawyers to represent their interests should litigation be required to hold universities to account.

The private sector – and for this purpose public sector universities running the LPC and BPTC which  operate to private sector standards – is used to vocal students and knows all too well that if they do not deliver to the standard advertised, and reasonably expected,  complaints will come in thick and fast; some complaints leading to litigation.

I am still thinking about the Lord Browne proposals.   I would like to make a number of predictions.  I write only about universities offering law programmes.

1.  Weaker universities offering law degrees will fail. I would not be surprised if we see 10-15% of law faculties at the bottom of the ranking getting into real difficulty.  They will not be able to charge the higher fees of a Russell Group university.  They will not, therefore, be able to compete on quality and standard of teaching and resource – quite apart from the fact that the legal profession may well reduce in size and not be interested in taking students from the weaker universities.

2.  Russell Group universities will improve the quality of teaching provision – they will have no alternative but to do so and, in any event, it will make good business sense in the new era of competition.

3.  There are some very talented people working in Russell Group and other top universities. These younger members of faculty have already seen the growth enjoyed by The College of Law, BPP and Kaplan.  Legal education is a multi-million pound business.  I would be very surprised if some top universities do not, now, investigate the possibility of running LPC and BPTC programmes as part of a degree and post-graduate degree offering.

4.  If my prediction Number 3 is correct,  this will put The College of Law, BPP, Kaplan, City et al under severe pressure – partly because the top universities will offer a combined degree / professional course 9with an add on LLM) more cheaply but also because they enjoy a better reputation internationally.  If, for example, Cambridge University was to offer a degree + LLM + LPC/BPTC,  would you rather have their qualification or one from the existing providers?

5.  Competition is coming. The fees hike, while significant, is not insurmountable for law students where the prospect of a reasonable career exists – provided they are realistic about their own ability to meet the standard required by the leading employers or the rigours of a highly competitive world of private practice at the Bar or as a general practitioner in a solicitors firm.

6.  I also foresee that the length of degree and professional  courses will come down, perhaps to two years, possibly even eighteen months. This will reduce the cost without unduly impairing the coverage.  It is not ideal – but needs may well force this change.  Online legal education is on the rise – this could be exploited to cut time and costs. I discussed this issue years ago with Lord Goldsmith in relation to Bar education when he asked me and a colleague for advice on that issue.

Having set up BPP Law School with BPP Holdings PLC 20 years ago, I know how difficult it was to get a foothold and establish a well structured course – but it isn’t that difficult and is well within the capability of the top law departments in the top universities.  It is about (a) Money to resource (b) Attitude to service and (c) Getting the right people in to teach it – and recognising, for professional courses, that teaching is more important than research.  The fees generated from professional courses will, of course, provide funds for research – which is vitally important.

Law is a relatively easy field to predict. Many lawyers will enjoy a good career – some will earn fantastic amounts of money,  so a debt over 30 years should not be a major obstacle.  I have no idea what will happen to arts courses where job prospects based on the field studied are not so easy to come by. The tragedy is, to some extent, that education at university is (or should be) more about education than business.  We lived in a changed world.

I didn’t get a grant. I refused to take money from my parents once I was 18 – largely because I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do, let alone my old man.  I dug graves and winged it with a very generous overdraft from National Westminster – about 30k in today’s money.  It took me some time to pay it back and I didn’t get too many unpleasant letters. We didn’t have to pay fees.  I think our generation and those who didn’t have to pay fees were very lucky indeed.


Why the top law schools can charge more despite greater competition

BARRISTERMAN comes to the Rescue of Bloggers who have been *MARRED*!

Andrew Marr says bloggers are ‘inadequate, pimpled and single’

Guardian: BBC presenter tells Cheltenham Literary Festival that citizen journalists will never replace real news

Well.. what an amusing day on twitter following Andrew Marr’s ridiculous nonsense about bloggers….. Follow the Twitter Andrew Marr feed to get a view on the ridicule the greatest living British BBC journalist and fearless interviewer has been subjected to!

I don’t actually care what Andrew Marr thinks…. and I don’t live in a basement, my Mother is long dead, I am not bald, I don’t have pimples – but I do drink and I am single, through choice for the moment, and I do blawg…. and as Julius Caesmarr would have said… “Friends, Bloggers, Countrymen… lend me your ears… because I really do need some new ones after today.”

Not a great idea to piss off the entire blogosphere, Mr Marrvelous.  For my part… I couldn’t give a damn what you think of bloggers – hence my use of one of my F**kArt paintings for this story.  You won’t need a superinjunction this time, mate!

See @robinbogg who can usually be relied on… on twitter… to amuse! Read his blog post?

Muttley Dastardly LLP Episode 4: Thinking of a Career in Law? Hahaha!

Partner and Director of Education, Muttley Dastardly LLP
Dear Prospective Applicants,

It is that time of year again.  You are back at university.  The long summer holidays are over.  Binge drinking in Cornwall is a long distant memory.  Your *Gap Yah* is finished and your parents are now able to get on with what is left of the rest of their lives knowing that you are safely on the treadmill called life.  Now you are back at your cash poor universities or are attending one of the shiny new, reassuringly expensive,  law schools doing your LPC.  If you haven’t already been snapped up by one of the big law firms,  sponsoring you, you are probably sick with worry about your future prospects – and, frankly, you have every reason to be.  We are not out of the bears shitting all over the credit crunch woods yet… Lord Browne is about to release his entirely predictable report to allow the Vice Chancellors to increase their fees, law firms are still reeling from  the credit crunch… well…some law firms are…we at Muttley Dastardly LLP are fact, to be honest, we are rather enjoying it.

Over the next few weeks, on The Lawyer, Legal Week and websites you will be able to find lots of shiny brochures to download from BIG law firms and BIG law schools – implausibly showing pictures of glossy potential lawyers smiling away….possibly even sitting on the grass…although why they should be sitting on the grass when they should be inside working is a matter of some surprise to *US* at Muttley Dastardly LLP.

There will be lots of pictures of young people in suits, carrying briefcases, looking busy and important. Our Psyops team has replicated the genre below…. we’ve gone for the lawyers happy on a beach look… (right).

OK… we talk straight… expensive… but straight at Muttley Dastardly LLP.  Listen up…. and, I cannot resist using that dreadful phrase so beloved of cliche ridden writers…and smell the coffee.

1.  The economy will improve

2. Law firms will recover

3. Universities will raise their fees – and so will the BIG law schools for you (although not for us!)

4.  The Legal profession is changing – read the journals and keep up to date.

5.  You have to get a 2.1 to even stand a chance of selection for a decent law school at LPC level and, being honest, a decent university if you are going to get into a City law firm or any major commercial firm.

6. Being really honest… you haven’t a chance of getting into Muttley Dastardly LLP unless you went to Oxbridge or a top Russell Group university – why would *WE* take second best?

7. Be realistic… City practice is not for everyone – there is a wonderful world of law out there for lawyers who don’t want to be rich beyond the dreams of avarice, who don’t want to be movers and shakers in the City and business world, who don’t want to rub shoulders with the likes of Duncan Genocide from The Dragon’s Den. [Good one, Harry & Paul] We don’t have a clue what these lawyers do… but hey.. there must be a Facebook group.. or Twitter hashtag… and you could always Google?!  FTW!…as, I believe, some say…..  LMFAO, ROFL  etc etc etc…..

8.  We will always be honest with you…. if we take you on as a trainee, you will be worked beyond the limits of The Human Rights Act, you will learn a great deal about *OUR* type of practice and if you don’t cut it… we will give you a black plastic bag to take your belongings away in and that’s it.

Good luck with your studies this year.  I look forward to hearing from you… if you think you are hard enough.

Dr Erasmus Strangelove

Strength & Profits


With thanks to Inksters Solicitors, Cellmark,, BPP University College, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Wildy & Sons, Camps Solicitors accident claims

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Law Review: Putting Police beyond the Rule of Law?

Protect police from lawsuits, says Met chief

Guardian: Rights groups attack Sir Paul Stephenson’s plan to curb court action against officers

Chief Plod, quite possibly taking advantage of the climate of fear of cuts, appears to think that police officers should enjoy greater protection from being sued than ordinary people.  I could understand the idea if this was simply a matter of very minor infringements like hassle when stopped for speeding, or being given a bit of *verbal*  while the copper was on the beat (assuming they do that these days) – but this is a request from Chief Plod to The Home Secretary to make it more difficult to sue police for allegations of brutality or wrongful arrest.

The Guardian notes “Critics say the plans amount to an attempt by the police to put themselves beyond the rule of law and undermine constitutional safeguards against abuses of power. The Met’s chief says money is being wasted on speculative claims, with lawyers gaining large fees that would be better spent fighting crime.”

Solicitor Louise Christian denounced the suggestion: “It’s clearly an attempt by the police to escape the rule of law. When access to justice is denied, the principle of the rule of law is damaged. The rich and powerful can always go to court, it’s people without means who can’t.”

James Welch, legal director of the civil rights group Liberty, said: “The ability to challenge police misconduct in court is a vital constitutional safeguard against abuse of power. Under current rules, if you lose a case in the civil courts you can expect to be ordered to pay your successful opponent’s legal costs.

“A service bound to uphold the rule of law should not attempt to carve out an exception for itself.”

I agree – bizarre.  But *good* to see that modern policing still continues with the belief that the police service is a separate entity from the public they serve and is therefore entitled to ‘special treatment’.  God forbid that any government should agree with such a sentiment. It works both ways.  The Police service is entitled to fair treatment from the public it serves.

Celebrities on twitter: Oh.. how they love to rim… sorry… rib.. their mates!

I am bored with celebrities on twitter and spent a very happy ten minutes or so unfollowing the buggers. The Dragons have been smugging excessively, or in the case of Duncan Genocide (Excellent name for Bannatyne from Harry & Paul!),pimping his gym, book and other products…and Lord Sugar seems to have lost the plot recently with the tweet below – flashed all over the Sunday newspapers. The irony is that Lord Sugar… who, as it happens, I do like – said he was reluctant to go on Twitter in case he came across as a ‘mug’.

This tweet doesn’t help, SurAlanLordDukeoftelly… but at least you usually have a sense of humour!

The remedy is, of course, to use the twitter *Unfollow* button… but, in the case of Duncan Genocide, you may find it  so much more fun to *Block & Report for Spam*… in fact, why not *follow*…then *Block and report for Spam*…..   this may discourage these Clebs from cluttering up Twitter with their bloody pimping.


Lawcast168: Carl Gardner on “Monkeying with national sovereignty”

Lawcast168:  Carl Gardner on “Monkeying with national sovereignty”

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of  Legal blog, about the extraordinary idea being put forward by Foreign Secretary William Hague that we need to enshrine Parliamentary Sovereignty in our law.  There are many dangers in doing so.  There could well be *unintended consequences* and Carl Gardner says that the drafting of this legislation will need especial care.

For my part, I think it is important that we look at the law behind political statements closely.  Carl did it in the article and in the podcast explained the position fully. The podcast is entirely suitable for lawyers and non-lawyers – and politicians may find it of some value?

Monkeying with national sovereignty

William Hague’s national sovereignty clause is a pointless, perilous sop to Eurosceptics

Carl Gardner wrote an excellent piece in The Guardian recently – and I just had to do a podcast with him.  I hope you enjoy it.

Listen to the podcast

Rive Gauche: Shadow Lord Khancellor – Another Law firm gets ACS law treatment!

I do not have any particular problem with Sadiq Khan MP being  promoted to the Shadow Lord Chancellor position for being a driving force behind Ed Miliband’s accession to the imperial Labour throne – but I do think, as a lawyer, and now shadowing one of the great offices of State, that he may need to brush up on his legal skills and, in particular, statutory interpretation.

MPs’ expenses: Sadiq Khan misused Commons’ envelopes (!)

The Telegraph reports, (Slavering?): “Following a formal sleaze inquiry, the Labour MP for Tooting was found to have broken the rules by using Parliamentary stationery during the general election. Under strict rules designed to prevent incumbents having an advantage over challengers from other parties, MPs may not use postage-paid Commons’ envelopes at election time. Mr Khan said that he used the stationery only to let his constituents know that he was unable to act on their behalf during the campaign. Around 500 received the letters. But he agreed to apologise to the House and repay the cost of the mail-out, £173.36, meaning he was spared a full Commons’ standards ruling. The deal – brokered by John Lyon, the Commissioner for Standards – would have remained secret had Mr Khan not made it public on his official website.

This is by no means one of the great ‘expenses revelations of all time’….. but I did like the bit where Khan stated…“The Parliamentary Commissioner reached a slightly different interpretation of the rules, which I respect.”

I’m not sure any of this Shadow Cabinet stuff actually means that much.  Labour have come up with a plan in opposition (described as ‘Bonkers’ by former Lord Chancellor Jack Straw) to elect members of the Shadow Cabinet.  The Great Leader is then able to chuck out the portfolios to  people in this pool. Should Labour return to power, the Prime Minister doesn’t have to appoint from this elected pool.  He or she may choose as they wish.  Jack Straw observed, drily, that some of the new shadows appointed may be severely disappointed when it the time comes for a return to government.

I am, however, looking forward to Ed Balls giving Theresa May a hard time.  Whatever one may think of Balls, he is a fairly fearless debater – so it could be amusing as well as interesting.  Mr Khan may well find the old bruiser Ken Clarke QC, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice,  quite a handful to oppose!

Roll on Friday has word of… Second law firm suffers cyber-attack over copyright claims

After the galactic embarrassment suffered by ACS:Law last week, a second law firm has had its website attacked by irate file sharers.

London firm Gallant Macmillan plies the same greasy trade as ACS:Law – firing out countless letters demanding cash from individuals who may or may not have shared files illegally. It acts for the Ministry of Sound, and over the weekend the websites of both the firm and its client crashed after suffering distributed denial of service attacks.

However, this isn’t Gallant Macmillan’s only problem – it is also engaged in a fight with BT, which is resisting the firm’s attempt to recover details of its customers. BT has just been granted an adjournment, and a spokesman said that “the incident involving the ACS:Law data leak has further damaged people’s confidence in the current process. We’re pleased that the court has agreed to an adjournment so that our concerns can be examined“.

Things are certainly hotting up for lawyers who are in this less than pleasant game.

Patrick Wintour, political editor of the Guardian writes… “Sadiq Khan, one of Ed Miliband’s first supporters and a barrister, has been appointed shadow justice secretary. His appointment will signal a more liberal view on counter-terrorism issues.”

Guido Fawkes is less complimentary….

5 Things You Should Know About the Shadow Justice Secretary



Migrationwatch drops Sally Bercow libel threat

The Lawyer reports: Migrationwatch has dropped its libel complaint against political commentator Sally Bercow less than a week after she instructed lawyers to defend the threatened action.

Lawyer David Allen Green, author of the Jack of kent blog – rides to the rescue and does it again.  He published the correspondence on his blog.

Good effort – and not wishing to diminish the work done by Green, this case would not have caused him (I suspect)  to even break into a mild sweat.  It seemed to me, and many other lawyers and commentators, that the Migration Watch threats were unlikely to succeed before the court.  However – people who are not specialists in the law don’t know that, so Sally Bercow was facing the very real prospect of misery and expensive litigation until David Allen Green stepped in and sorted it.   There are, however, dangers in publicising legal cases on twitter.  I think it was justified in the Joke Trial issue and here – but it would  be unfortunate indeed if Twitter was abused by lawyers.  We wouldn’t want Twitter to become a ‘court of public opinion’…I prefer litigation to be dealt with in court…assuming, of course, that we have any left after the Spending Review scheduled for 20th October.

The Supreme Court’s future …is still under review!

Law Review: The Law of Privacy – Hague’s great *Nonsense* on Sovereignty

The English Law of Privacy

Hugh Tomlinson QC of the The UKSC blog reports: “On 25 August 2010 Supreme Court Justice Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe gave a speech to Anglo-Australasian Lawyers Society at Owen Dixon Chambers, Melbourne on the subject of privacy.  His title was “The English Law of Privacy: An Evolving Human Right“.   The lecture contains an interesting an useful overview of the current law of privacy, particularly in relation to the media.  Lord Walker suggests that, as the law of privacy develops “its origin in the law of confidence will become a historical curiosity” and that we have now reached the point where “invasion of personal privacy” is a separate tort.”

I’ve read Lord Walker’s excellent lecture on this complex subject – a must read for anyone interested in the law of privacy and libel.

Monkeying with national sovereignty

Carl Gardner: William Hague’s national sovereignty clause is a pointless, perilous sop to Eurosceptics

Can parliament still be sovereign if, as the courts have consistently ruled, European Union law is supreme over national law? Legally, the answer is surprisingly simple: it can be, and is. Yet the question nags at Eurosceptic Conservatives, and the coalition agreement committed the government to “examine the case” for legislation that makes it clear that ultimate authority over British law remains in Britain.

But they’ve not taken long to examine it. The foreign secretary, William Hague, announced yesterday in Birmingham that an EU bill to be put before the Commons later this year will contain a clause intended to “reaffirm once and for all the sovereignty of our ancient parliament”. His case for doing so, though, does not bear even brief examination……

(I shall leave you the pleasure of reading what else Carl had to say.  It is worth a read.)

I am doing a podcast with Carl Gardner on the subject later today.  I agree with Carl.  I can’t quite see what Hague is on about here.  I suspect, as Carl observed drily to me, that Sir Humphrey would approve of this nonsense. I’d be surprised if Constitutional lawyers are impressed with this – but, who knows, there may be a few out there!

Breaking News: Bugger *No Win, No fee*… the new Black is… *No Fee, No Win*!

Hat Tip to barrister @Sendall for this wonderful suggestion – when he asked me if it would catch on in a wry moment of twitter DM discussion about pro bono work!  Made me laugh…..  Anthony Sendall is an enthusiast for pro bono work and does a fair of bit of it (as others do) … and I am all for barristers and solicitors who help others by using their skills pro bono.

Law Review: “Defend the Children of the Poor & Punish the Wrongdoer”.

Above the entrance to The Old Bailey is  inscribed the admonition, “Defend the Children of the Poor & Punish the Wrongdoer“.

Well… after the Tory Conference this week and the fiasco on Child Benefit, this part of the inscription may leave some reeling and as to the second part; while I am sure that The Lord Chancellor, Ken Clarke QC,  is keen, on behalf of the  floggers, hangers and deporters of middle Britain,  to punish as many wrongdoers as possible – he doesn’t seem terribly keen (a) on having lawyers involved or (b) putting wrongdoers into costly prisons or (c) having that many courts to deal with wrongdoers.

Kenneth Clarke reveals what cuts will mean for the courts

Joshua Rozenberg reports: It’s not just using lawyers that ministers want to discourage, it’s using the courts themselves.

The forthcoming consultation paper on legal aid will be a “total review”, Djanogly told a Policy Exchange debate. “It will look at the scope of legal aid, at eligibility, at mechanics and how best to merge the Legal Services Commission with the Ministry of Justice.”

He promised that it would be very much more than a savings exercise. “The review is going to take account of financial constraints, the interests of justice, access to justice and public interest implications.”

It’s not just using lawyers that ministers want to discourage, it’s using the courts themselves. People who might otherwise have fought their cases in court will be channelled into alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation.

So, it would seem that legal aid has to be cut back, although this may be difficult in criminal cases and, certainly for serious cases involving children, and it may be that we will see magistrates being given extra powers – assuming, of course, that they haven’t closed all the courts down.

Justice on the cheap? Well… as the old saying going goes… if you pay peanuts.. you get monkeys.  We are luck to have so many who are prepared to serve as magistrates for free.  We can’t expect them to undertake a great deal more work and is it fair to expect lay benches to deal with matters which previous wisdom suggested should be dealt with at the Crown Court?

Things are not looking good for Justice.  I gather that The Supreme Court, listed as a ‘Quango’ (would you believe) is still ‘under review’.  Our senior judges do not get obscene salaries – there are clowns running town halls paid far more – so what sort of ‘British Justice’ system the Coalition government wants will, no doubt, be revealed in time and it will, of course, be Labour’s fault that we have to strip it to the bone.

Law Review: Rough Justice and ‘rough love and justice’

Maybe it is a sign of the times we live in – but this morning I start by referring to new *initiatives* in law and justice which may not work – or are just plainly bizarre –  and the dread *law of unintended consequences* will come into play.

First…… the problem of the Solicitors from Hell website which appears to be taxing the patience not only of members of the profession featured in it, but the judiciary as well.

Judge blocks website’s ‘Solicitors From Hell’ comments about lawyer

The Independent reports: “A second High Court judge has issued an interim injunction banning the owner of the website Solicitors From Hell from publishing or republishing defamatory material about a lawyer with a London firm. It is the second time in less than a month that a court has issued an interim order against website owner Rick Kordowski. Mr Justice Edwards-Stewart granted a similar order against Mr Kordowski on September 23. The latest order was granted by Mr Justice Tugendhat, who today handed down a written judgment explaining his reasons for issuing the order on Friday.”

Briefly – Mr Kordowski built a website to allow members of the public to place real or imagined complaints about solicitors online.  I say ‘real or imagined’ because it would appear that Mr Kordowski does not check the truth or substance behind the complaints (or, indeed, if there is any truth in the complaints).  What Mr Kordowski does offer – for a free of £299 – is to remove the complaint (whether it is true or not?).

It would seem that the judges can only deal with this phenomenon on a case by case basis – unless I have missed a point, which is possible – and in Ms Farrall’s case Mr Justice Tugendhat has granted an injunction – which is rare in interim applications in defamation cases.

It could take a while before all the complaints are injuncted if this is the only way of dealing with Mr Kordowski.

Next we have the arrival of The Legal Ombudsman. Perhaps the profession has only itself to blame for this wondrous creation.  Neil Rose of Legalfutures is now a Guardian blogger in addition to his work for his Legalfutures operation.

Ombudsman service puts lawyers on the receiving end of justice

The Guardian: The new sheriff in town aims to deliver swift but fair decisions through a simplified complaints process

‘Sheriff in town’ is a good metaphor here – because it would seem that a hint of the wild west and rough justice is the the central theme in this quango which did survive the bonfire of the quangos.  Neil Rose writes: ” The idea that lawyers will be on the receiving end of “rough and ready justice” is an unusual one for the profession, but that is exactly what the new Legal Ombudsman (LeO) service promises.

Although some within the new legal complaints-handling scheme balk at this description, the LeO board chairwoman, Elizabeth France, says she is proud of it. She of course does not mean that lawyers will suffer injustice at the hands of LeO, but rather that it will not be the kind of quasi-judicial process that has been used hitherto and that only lawyers could construct….

LeO board chairwoman, Elizabeth France says….”We’re going to be inquisitorial,” she says. “The ombudsman’s team will look at the evidence they’re presented with, ask any questions they need to ask and level up the playing field to the extent of helping to articulate a complaint, but they will be doing it in a way which is not bearing, I hope, any resemblance to the legal process.”

This may well prove to be a useful field for lawyers who want to bone up on judicial review.  As always with new ‘ideas’ it is best to see what happens but I have a feeling that while the public may enjoy and develop a taste for a ‘naming and shaming lynching’,  lawyers are going to be less compliant.  On the other hand, they could always sort the complaint out within eight weeks – assuming, of course, that the consumer doesn’t want his pound of flesh and day out in this new ‘Wild West’ themepark. It may work…. but it probably won’t. Let’s see… but I do love Ms France’s point about the service bearing no resemblance to the legal process.

And finally….a matter I addressed in a facile and parodic way last night – putting prisoners to work.

Ministry of Justice Breaking News: Ken Clarke to star in new production of Jailhouse Breaksrocks #cpc10

This stunt could be full of problems and, again, provide good work for lawyers.  I seem to remember a former Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw, saying that it was not part of the function of the Ministry of Justice and ‘the Law’ to provide work for lawyers.  Well…maybe Ken Clarke and the present government with this and allowing The Legal Ombudsman to survive the bonfire has a different take on this?

And.. for a wry smile… Bitcher & Prickman by US lawyer and artist Charles Pugsley Fincher is always worth a trip…

Law School News…

From BPP Law School: Two budding lawyers have each won the chance of a lifetime opportunity – a free place to study law, as part of a pioneering competition to promote social mobility and diversity within the legal sector.

Ministry of Justice Breaking News: Ken Clarke to star in new production of Jailhouse Breaksrocks #cpc10

Ken Clarke proves you can do more with less

Telegraph (where else?): Three cheers for Ken Clarke. In a strange conference in which hopes far exceed the money needed to underpin them, he has come up with the best idea to emerge from the platform.

Saying that prisoners should work a 40-hour week for the minimum wage makes sense on every level. Victims would be rewarded from the proceeds, cash sent home to families and taxes paid. The iniquity of having fit and healthy young people sitting idly in their cells at the taxpayers’ expense currently instils the idea that it’s fine not to earn a living.

Now, assuming the scheme gets off the ground, all that is going to alter. There are already good examples in British prisons. High Down runs a gourmet restaurant, The Clink, where prisoners are trained up for the catering trade and given hope of a good job on their release. Wansdworth does IT, bricklaying, plastering and shoe repairs. Now it’s up to Mr Clarke and individual governors to build on that model.

Normally, I’d be quite happy to admit that the Howard League (referred to in the article)  comes up with good ideas – but I really am not sure that this plan will work.  There are Union issues.  There are Employment Law issues, There are Human Rights Act issues.  There are administrative, supervision and …. well… there are issues…. possibly issues which may have ESCAPED… Mr Clarke’s attention… if you will forgive the pun.

The mantra is… GET EVERYONE BACK TO WORK…. unfortunately… there are 470,000 vacancies at the moment (apparently) … but there are a lot of unemployed (Millions of ’em) …. and MORE to come?… so 85,000 prisoners…. who will want/not want to work… could be a problem.

But.. as I said in my last post… happy to be proved wrong

Perhaps these working prisoners could be given the vote?  see Jailhouse Lawyer’s blog for all the gen on prisoner votes and UK compliance with European Court orders!

And… while you are at it… from Jailhouse Lawyer… this…?



And… for you music lovers out there… here is Elvis Clarke QC, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice,  singing… what else?…. JAILHOUSE ROCK

Law Review: Juries and Twitter/Google et al – Let’s put prisoners to work as well say Tories

I am reasonably certain we can trust the judges to determine a matter based on the evidence put at trial – but can we be so certain about jurors?  It would seem not and the judges, while directing juries not to look at Google, The Daily Mail, Facebook, twitter and other information on the net, seem to have given up the ghost.  This does not bode well for our ‘hallowed jury trial system’ according to an interesting article in The Guardian this morning.

The Guardian reports: “Judges are “giving up” trying to stop juries using Google, Facebook and Twitter to access potentially false and prejudicial information about defendants, Sir Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, has warned.

High-profile criminal trials, such as that of Baby P, have been put at risk by material posted abroad but widely available online – and Macdonald admits that the consequences can be serious.

But although policing the accuracy of information on the internet is “an unmanageable task”, Macdonald said, it should not invalidate a trial if jurors are found to have conducted online research while a case is in progress.

“This is a serious point and we struggled with it, in criminal justice, for years trying to protect juries from what they might read about a case on the internet, material they weren’t supposed to know about while they were trying it,” Macdonald said.

“In essence, we’re finally giving up and just concluding that you have to expect juries to try cases fairly and they’re told to do that so I think this is a serious issue around privacy, because policing the internet is really, I think, an unmanageable task.

One of the ironies of freedom of speech and the internet making information more widely available, is the very real possibility that such freedom and freely available material can prejudice justice.  Can anything be done other than asking reasonable jurors to behave honestly and fairly?

Ken Clarke to unveil plans for prisoners to work 40-hour week

The Guardian: Justice secretary to end enforced idleness in jails with some of cash earned going to victims

Political Conferences tend to be rather like X-Factor on television but for a specialised audience,  and the speakers tend not, usually, to be subjected to a great deal of criticism by the attendees.  Grandstanding is very much part of the ethos and ‘staff of life’ at these conferences so I am not sure whether we should take too seriously ideas being put forward by Ken Clarke,  Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice,  to put prisoners to work, give them 20 quid and plough the rest of the money into the system to pay for their detention and into a compensation fund for their victims.  Sounds good – but, I suspect, this little wheeze will not be a main feature on the Ministry of Justice website in twelve months or so and will be consigned to the Google search archive. We shall see.  For what it is worth – the thoughts of Chairman Ken are reported in the Guardian article.  I’m not going to bother to quote – because this appears to be a bit of ‘red meat’ being chucked to carnivorous Tories who miss the old days of flogging, hanging and deportation to Australia and Benidorm. As always, I could be wrong.  We shall see.

Charon Reports: From the Conservative Party Conference #cpc10

As usual, I flinch not and when it comes to reporting I do so from the comfort of my desk at my window overlooking The Thames.  I’ve not really ever got the point of the need to stand in a puddle while reporting on floods, stand about in a fur coat outside BBC television Centre when it snows, or, indeed, stand outside Parliament while reporting on matters political.

So… on that premise, I bring you news of the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham – described yesterday on TV… or was it radio… or even ‘pub talk’? ….  as Britain’s second city; once the very heart of industrial and manufacturing Britain but now just a large car park with a lot of restaurants.

Day One involved George Osbore – who seems to find it difficult to shrug off his childhood name of ‘Gideon’ –  giving us the low down on his latest well thought out plan to get rid of Child Benefit for everyone earning more than £44k – giving rise to the wonderful anomaly that a single person earning £45k with children will lose child benefit,  but middle class couples who both earn less than £44k – but between them rake in £87k – can continue to get it. Needless to say Mumsnet has not been overcrowded by couples earning less than £44k.

I don’t suppose that my tweet, offering advice, was that helpful…

The Daily Mail, The Sun and other sundry news providers raged about the injustice and I enjoyed a few happy moments (not blessed with the pleasure of having *greedy, venal, precocious and spoiled little darlings*) watching the sheer terror on the faces of various members of the middle classes being interviewed about the loss of their M&S shopping allowance from 2013.

I am advised that there is to be a protest march..and tweeted accordingly….

I did enjoy one comment from a regular on The Sun who summed the issue up perfectly… “if you can’t afford to feed ’em, don’t breed ’em’.” Rather more insightful than the usual knuckle dragging comments on online tabloid stories.

Guido Fawkes came in for quite a bit of stick on his story about William Hague sharing a room with his SpAd – and some even refused to have anything further to do with Guido Fawkes or his website!

Leading commentator, blogger, television commentator, radio presenter,  publisher and occasional kneejerkitis sufferer,  Iain Dale, had an amusing piece in his blog this morning about ‘sharing rooms’….

Guido in ‘Sleeping with Employee’ Shock Revelation

Dale revealed.. (breathily?)…..

Remember how I took Guido Fawkes to task for his insinuations about William Hague and his assistant, Chris Myers after they innocently shared a room together during the election campaign?

I interviewed blogger Harry Cole on LBC during the furore and reminded him of the time he shared not only a bedroom, but a bed, with fellow blogger Mike Rouse. He made the perfectly fair point that Mike wasn’t his boss.

So what are we to make of the revelation that Guido Fawkes and his able seaman employee Harry Cole have been sharing bunks in a barge moored alongside the conference centre here in Birmingham.

I wonder if bargepoles are being touched…

The response from Guido amused me and I have even decided that Toby Young, often so terribly serious on TV, does have a sense of humour and I have revised my opinion accordingly.  It is Young, not William Hague… on the right!  Tory Bear (aka Harry Cole) is occupying the centre ground…. but for the purposes of the picture only.  I would not wish to defame him by suggesting that he is, in any way, a *Centrist*!

Picture tweeted by Guido Fawkes… no idea who took it?  Not Osbore, surely?

More tomorrow… if my doctor says that I can take  the excitement….

Oh… and, remember… it is all Labour’s fault… and we are all in this together…..

Channel 4 *Dispatches* – Are we getting closer to Truth and Evidence?

I watched the Channel 4 Dispatches programme with interest. I have followed the Coulson #Metgate issue for some time and my position has been consistent, as it is tonight – where is the*Evidence*?

Evidence which can stand up in court is, of course, what is important.

Are we getting closer?  Will this come out?  Serious allegations have been made.  MPs seem to be terrified of News International.  Proud to be British if these allegations are proven?  Proud of of our MPs?  Proud of NOTW?  Proud that democracy can be controverted in this way if the allegations can be proved?  – or should we all just ignore it?

Interested in your thoughts, as always.

You may be interested in the fact that Coulson will / may/ possibly  have to testify on oath – see:

You Coulsn’t make it up – and he won’t be allowed to… when he gives evidence under cross-examination.

You Coulsn’t make it up – and he won’t be allowed to… when he gives evidence under cross-examination.

Some time ago Lord Prescott, Tom Watson MP and others whipped themselves into a lather about Andy Coulson, late of The News of The World and now Downing Street ‘Malcom Tucker’ for The Tory / Lib-Dem axis of…[ Please feel free to add your own word here to suit your tastes].

It all went a bit quiet – but I am pleased to report that Scots Law bloggers LoveandGarbage and Lallands Peat Worrier have been on the case with this and reveal that Coulson will (possibly – added) now have to give evidence, under cross examination…

I’ll let Lallands Peat Worrier take up the story with this intropduction to LoveandGarbage’s post…

With his usual quick-witted legal instincts, gallimaufrous legal blogger Love and Garbage outpaced the clopping metropolitan press, recognising the combined implications of Sheridan’s perjury trial – starting today – and the New York Times investigation into the invasive and illegal journalistic practices of the News of the World. At that time, the paper was edited by one Andy Coulson, now director of communications for David Cameron. As Love and Garbage recognised, the practices of the News of the World – and what its editor might or might not have known about those practices – may be of  distinct interest in the case of HM Advocate v. Sheridan & Sheridan. On the 26th of September, the Sunday Herald ran with this piece, indicating that Coulson had indeed given a precognition to the Sheridan defence, headlined “Downing Street spindoctor dragged into Sheridan case”. Would he testify before a Scottish court we all wondered, subject to the formidable cross-examination skills of old-hand advocates, Maggie Scott QC and wur ain Paul McBride QC?  On the 4th of September, Love and Garbage wrote………

Do have a read…. and do Lord Prezza and Tom Watson MP a favour and let them know!

Law Review: New Legal Ombudsman – New Murder Law – New Legal Year

The amateur tradition is alive and well in Britain and old ‘rickety edifices’ are being swept away with the appointment of Adam Sampson, a former CEO of Shelter, who has no legal qualifications (but is married to a criminal barrister) as Legal Ombudsman.

Got a legal complaint? Now you can take it to the new legal ombudsman

The Guardian reports: A new legal ombudsman service is being launched on Wednesday with powers to investigate clients’ complaints

I particularly liked the fact that the new Legal Ombudsman will not be able to investigate complaints from “No Win No fee” operations if the work was carried out by non legally qualified personnel.  Oh… the irony.

Adam Sampson provides some ‘homely’ examples of his experience with lawyers in The Guardian article –

“a barrister slamming down photos on the table in front of a paedophile client while shouting “look what you’ve done … you’ve got to plead guilty”….

“Along with seeing some indifferent and occasionally shoddy legal practice, I have seen countless examples of really committed and skilled lawyers going the extra mile for their clients. That was certainly true at Shelter.”It was also true, for example, of the solicitor my brother used in his divorce, who truly sought to understand and deliver on my brother’s desire … not to do any further damage to his relationship with his wife and protect his relationship with his kids…..I saw how hard she worked and the result of all her efforts. There are shoddy lawyers out there but we mustn’t give the impression that we think that they represent the majority.”

Astonishing…..I wonder if we will need a SuperLegal Ombudsman to oversee the work of The Legal Ombudsman…. perhaps we could get  a plumber in to do that one?

As with all these things, we shall have to wait and see what happens.  I suspect it will muddle along in the finest of British tradition and will be a complete shambles… but we shall see.  I’ve always thought the old maximum “It takes a thief to catch a thief” worked well… and with the legal profession a lawyer would, I suspect, do a better job.


LSC hit by £300,000 legal bill over tender

The Law Society Gazette: The Legal Services Commission faces a £300,000 bill for the Law Society’s legal costs, after losing a High Court battle over its family tender process.

The LSC said it could not disclose how much it had spent on its own legal fees in defending the action, as the figure had ‘not been finalised’.

The court ruled on Thursday that the LSC’s tender process for family legal aid contracts was unlawful, and effectively quashed the outcome, which would have reduced the number of family providers from 2,400 to 1,300. It ordered the LSC to pay the Law Society’s costs, which amount to £300,000.

The LSC will also have to pay its own costs. It said this figure has not been finalised, but it is likely to be ‘substantially less’ than the Law Society’s costs.

It isn’t possible to give LSC  chair Sir Bill Callaghan (who is ‘disappointed’ by the result) a knighthood…because he already has one – but I am sure that there must be some other deserving soul at the LSC?

New defence to murder charge comes into force

The Independent reports: Men and women facing domestic violence could argue they were forced to kill their tormentor under a new murder law which comes into force today. Killers can escape a murder conviction by proving they were motivated by “words and conduct” which left them “seriously wronged”. Under the changes, the defence of provocation is replaced with a new defence of “loss of control” caused by “a fear of serious violence” or in response to “words or conduct which caused the defendant to have a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged”.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Changes to the law on murder contained in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 come into effect today. The new law also replaces the partial defence of diminished responsibility with a new defence based on “recognised medical conditions”.

Nadine Dorries MP in Re-Make of *CARRY ON NURSE*? – “Disabled with laughter” (Genghis Khan)

Follow the saga by looking at my post below if you want the context……

Nadine Dorries MP – a sufferer of *kneejerkitis*, *callousitis* or just *stupiditis*?

UPDATE 10/10/10

Nadine Dorries replies.. and it is worth reading

She writes fiction..

You may also wish to look at this… from The Credo

Nadine Dorries, MP: Making stuff up

Nadine Dorries MP – a sufferer of *kneejerkitis*, *callousitis* or just *stupiditis*?

It would appear that Nadine Dorries MP is none too keen on @Humphreycushion (H returns the compliment) who is disabled, awaiting treatment, because of H’s excessive twittering and objections to her as an MP. Dorries and serial ranters and nutters on twitter have accused @Humphreycushion of being workshy and scrounging off the state.  If the State was actually able to deliver medical services instantly, then @Humphreycushion and others would be able to work – but we do not live in a perfect world, let alone a perfect country.

One would have thought a former nurse would have been more sympathetic to people who suffer from health problems.  Dorries has blogged about it, rather unpleasantly, here.

Ms Dorries ends her piece with this…. “In the meantime, do you know of anyone else who has Tweeted more than 35,000 times in less than six months? If so, email my office and let me know. Or, better still, if it’s someone you know is on benefits, contact the DWP.”

I have tweeted 61,000 times in two years and I shall continue to tweet – but there again, I work for myself and can do as I please.  Some people, despite best efforts – health or local unemployment rates, are not in that fortunate position.

In the meantime… I am assuming Ms Dorries is whiter than white on the expenses front after her *beasting* by The Telegraph last year on the matter of expenses? All good on the IPSA front?

MPs’ expenses: Tory MP Nadine Dorries admits she only spends weekends and holidays in her ‘main home’

Iain Dale (pictured right above), has several jobs – and is a blogger I do enjoy reading, even if I don’t always agree with his views.  If I want to read a blog where I agree with absolutely everything the blogger says I will read this one – it is excellent – absolutely spot on with my beliefs!

I do not like twitter or blog bullying – leaves an unpleasant taste!  Messrs Clegg, Cameron, Miliband et al shall, of course, continue to provide me with hours of harmless amusement over the drunken years to come.  The last laugh, of course, is on them when I start to agree with what they are saying or do – which, dare I say it, in moments of lucidity…. sometimes, I do.  Only in the National Interest, you understand…….

From The Office of Chancellor Osbore: Worst defence Budget I’ve EVAR!! seen

Tom Harris MP writes…..

That Osborne interview in full

Defence budget chaotic, says Chancellor George Osborne

The BBC reports: Mr Osborne said defence was the “most chaotic, most disorganised, most over-committed” budget he had seen.

He told the Telegraph: “We are going to have a bunch of kit that makes us extremely well prepared to fight the Russians on the north German plain. That’s not a war we are likely to face.”

The chancellor said there was little the coalition could do about the situation.

Breaking News: Ed Miliband back to give another speech…….

Fiends, it is 150 hours, since I became leader of my Party and I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all the unsolicited advice you have given me and for the votes from the Union members  – although not those fuckwits who were too thick to follow basic instructions about ticking a box saying they were a supporter of the Ed Miliband Party which, had they done so, would have given me even more votes in my overwhelming victory. I know that all MPs and Members of my party are united and, in unison, are incredibly honoured to have me as their leader.


David, I want to say to you, I have always known what an extraordinary leader of your Party you are.  And now you are about to show to everyone else with the graciousness you have shown since last Saturday when I was overwhelmingly elected to be leader of my party, and the extraordinary and inspiring speech you are about to make to your party, what an extraordinary person, like me, you are.  Thank you.


Conservatives, let me scotch it about David and me right away. David, I love you very much. I respect and admire the eloquence and strength you showed on your holiday in Cornwall some years ago when, selflessly, you modelled the entire range of summer clothing from the Boden catalogue, thus laying the foundations for your rise to power.  I respect and admire  the commitment you have shown to make your party both a serious party of government and community-based movement.

David…. even when you threw my party out of government I loved you, because I am an optimist, leader of a new, re-born, regenerated, reinvigorated, resurgent and re-programmed Labour movement – we are the new optimists…..never in my wildest imagination did I believe I would become leader of my party and cruelly destroy the dreams and aspirations of another David.  I shall use this prescience running a government in the future, possibly even with you, because I love you so much.


[Why are you Clapping?  Asked David Miliband of Harriet Harman QC – Can’t you see he has lost the plot?]

David… because I love you so much, and being an optimist and leader of another great party….mine….I wish you well with ‘Conference’ this coming week….. We all know how much we both have to offer our country in the future.


PS… I’ve attached a picture of me with Lord Windbag – another famous Leader of The Labour Party who didn’t win an election,  for your library archive  which I promise I won’t nationalise when I come to power.  That is the sort of thing my brother would have done….he nationalised my trainset you know… I may have told you.  I was a deprived child.  I didn’t have many jokes… in fact this is my only joke…so I may have told you it before…..

Muttley Dastardly LLP EPISODE 3: Human Rights – Memorandum to The Partners from Dr Strangelove


To: The Partners

From: Dr Erasmus Strangelove MA(Oxon), BCL, Ph.D FRSA, Barrister
Director of Education and Strategy


1.  Gentlemen – I have been asked to set out by way of review, as far as this is possible given the vacillation and lack of principles in political circles, the position currently being taken on Human Rights by leading members of the three political parties. [I have included the Lib-Dems for the purposes of this memorandum as a political party, but judging by YOUGov polls it may cease to exist and simply become the tree hugging wing of the Conservative Party with other Lib-Dems going over to join the Ambassador from Planet F**k in what he is now calling Optimistic Labour]

2.  Human Rights is important to this firm – not, of course, in terms of our observing same with our employees – but in terms of maximising and leveraging fees, profit and revenues.  I believe that there are many opportunities ahead for significant billable work in this field in the next five years.  Our forces, unions, police, riots, cuts, government incompetence et al will and ‘should’ provide some fairly good abuses and we must be ever ready to assist our clients with claims and litigation.

3.  The Tories: Before the election, David Cameron, who, it has to be said does not appear to have law (Rule of or otherwise) uppermost in his mind, declared that the Human Rights Act was the creature of evil and had to be replaced with a Big Society BRITISH Bill of Rights.

Partners may well remember Cameron’s speech where he came up with this bollocks.  I quote by way of reminder…

The fact that the murderer of Philip Lawrence cannot be deported flies in the face of common sense. It is a glaring example of what is going wrong in our country. What about the rights of Mrs Lawrence? The problem for this government is that the Human Rights Act is their legislation and they appear to be blind to its failings.”

Lord Howard QC – that well known hanging and flogging Home Secretary,  still appears to have something of the night about him and has called for the HRA to be replaced.  Now that he has been shunted upstairs we do not, fortunately, have to consider his views at all, let alone seriously.

One advantage of Coalition government is that the extreme right tin foil hat wearing members of the Tories have been reined in and an excellent article in The Guardian has noted…

Lord McNally is one of a number of coalition outriders for the retention of the HRA. Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve QC is “broadly comfortable” with the Act. In 2006, Ken Clarke branded the move to a British bill of rights “xenophobic”. Nick Clegg, the deputy PM, has even claimed this year that he will lead the charge for the Human Rights Act, although when this campaign is due to start in earnest is unclear. A band of Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have clearly influenced the government’s climbdown on the Human Rights Act, but this change must not be a silent one.

4. Views from Planet F**k: The new Leader, Ed Miliband, who destroyed his brother’s political career with the panache and skill worthy of a Partner at Muttley Dastardly LLP, gave a rather weird speech at ‘Conference’ the other day when he declared himself all in favour of criticising the Labour government of the past – despite his writing the last manifesto – and declared that Labour had to be the party of Civil Liberties.  This latter was rather ironic as I seem to recall that the largest erosion in civil liberties in history came in the twelve or so years of Labour government.  Red Ed is in favour of civil liberties – without explaining to his Red Flag singing sycophants what they are –  but wants to retain CCTV and DNA.  This tends to indicate that he hasn’t really understood what civil liberties are and his thoughts are a *work in progress*.  They may continue to be for some time until he fucks the leadership up and we get another lengthy leadership election.  We are *monitoring* the new Labour Party most carefully and Psyops18, our covert dissimulation unit, are (sic)  on twitter 24/7 both monitoring and sowing dissent under the guise of Libertarian ranters.

5.  Conclusion: I shall continue to review – but the prognosis for good fee earning looks good

Dr Erasmus Strangelove

Strength & Profits


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Law Review: Panorama looks at abuses by the British Army – Supreme Court fate still ‘under review’

Last night I watched an extraordinary film from BBC’s Panorama. I found the film shocking – for if the allegations are proven, our Army has not complied with the Geneva Convention, our soldiers have betrayed the country in a misguided sense of loyalty to regiment, and senior officers and leading politicians have colluded in this.  I am not talking about the heat of battle.  This Panorama film covers the torture of unarmed hooded prisoners.

We are asked to support our troops and this we do willingly, despite whatever misgivings we may have had about the political decisions.  Those  few, in our armed services, when proven to have broken the rules, when proven to have killed or tortured, are not deserving of support through cover up and should be prosecuted.  the Rule of Law applies just as much to the military as the civilian – unless, of course, you wish to take the view that in war there should be absolutely no rules at all.

The BBC reports: “In two separate inquiries, the British Army stands accused of committing war crimes in Iraq, and ex-Defence Minsters are now being called to account. With the MOD and the military justice system tainted by allegations that soldiers have got away with torture and murder, Paul Kenyon asks if the British army can really be trusted to police itself.”

It would seem that soldiers who suffered from collective regimental amnesia during the original investigation are now coming forward with what may just be the truth after being promised immunity.  It is a pity that they were not brave enough to do so without such a promise.

Panorama: Britain In The Dock | Baha Mousa Inquiry

Legal Aid – A Pyrrhic Victory?

This is interesting from Richard Moorehead’s Lawyer Watch…

The High Court has declared the LSC process contracting round to be irrational. Those without family contracts breathe a collective sigh of relief. Many celebrate and within days the gloom will gather again. Why? Firstly, the spending review is likely to lead to dramatic cuts in the actual levels of family aid and Article 6 challenges aside the Profession won’t be able to do much about it.

From MacRoberts Solicitors….


I approve!

Being a college or university student can be a very exciting but stressful time, not least when you are waiting with anticipation to get your degree result. Most people accept what they have been given and move on to the next chapter of their lives. However, Queen’s University Belfast recent graduate Andrew Croskery is an exception to the general rule. In a first of its kind action, Mr Croskery has applied for a judicial review of the 2:2 degree classification he received

The Law Society has caught up with the news that the Supreme Court is on a list of Quangos under review. I make no critical point here – the Law Society  Gazette is a weekly publication – but I am delighted that the Gazette is flagging this important issue up.

The Economist has run with the issue in a well argued piece: Cheap at the price – Britain’s new highest court has made few headlines. It matters all the same

“In five years’ time, it is quite likely that the Supreme Court will look more interventionist,” says Lord Goldsmith, a former attorney-general. Philippe Sands, a barrister who also teaches at University College London, agrees this is the likely evolution over time, but sees a countervailing cycle at work in the next few years. Courts tend to intervene more, he thinks, when Parliament is weak and the executive strong, because the legislature is unable or unwilling to hold the government to account. Now that Parliament is rediscovering its teeth in the face of a coalition government, the judges may be relatively restrained.