Postcard from The Staterooms: The Rains came…..

Dear Reader,

Perhaps it is my Scots background;  years of running around the Perthshire countryside at school… pointlessly… in thin cotton running shorts and a tight singlet designed to reveal muscles and six-pack ; a duty which I now leave to others – but I enjoy the rain, the bleak landscape, storms.  And, as I write, Battersea-on-Thames looks not unlike the quickly cobbled together watercolour sketch above.  Not keen to stand on Battersea Bridge like some latter day James Abbott McNeill Whistler, whose statue is on the Chelsea side of Battersea Bridge near where I used to live on a houseboat, a quick pic pointing to the West up river as ‘a reference’ was the lazy painter’s way of ‘capturing the soul’ of an afternoon at The Staterooms.

And, this said, I now write from the comfort of my desk in the bay window overlooking the Thames.  The ducks, having returned from a rave, carrying mineral water in bottles and quacking quickly earlier in the day, are now reflecting and I have a glass of Italian Shiraz from Puglia to my left.

BAILII is a remarkable resource.  I use it extensively and the free books for students on Insite Law make use of many of their cases. As Nick Holmes wrote on The Free Legal Web: “BAILII is fundamental to free access to UK law. It’s future is in jeopardy. A major funder has decided not to continue funding BAILII, and there is uncertainty about the continuing provision of funding by other major funders.”

Have a look at the BAILII funding page for details. I shall certainly be asking my advertisers on Insite Law if they will be prepared to accept a modest increase on already inexpensive advertising to assist this valuable project.

A BIT OF LAW before the Shiraz kicks in and my mind wanders and wonders….

Lord Justice Stephen Sedley has written an excellent piece on …

The Goodwin and Giggs Show

For more than three hundred years the UK’s constitution has functioned remarkably well on the basis of the historic compromise reached in the course of the 17th century. The 1689 Bill of Rights forbade the impeachment or questioning of parliamentary debates and proceedings ‘in any court or place out of Parlyament’. Parliament in return has made it a rule, enforced until now by the speakers of both Houses, that it will not interfere with the decisions of the courts, whether by anticipating their judgments or by attacking them. If Parliament does not like what the courts do, it changes the law…

Well worth a read…..

I am grateful to The Solicitors Journal for alerting us all to this law intel: “Lord Justice Thomas has been promoted to president of the Queen’s Bench Division. Sir Roger John Laugharne Thomas QC, 63, is currently vice president of the QBD and will replace Sir Anthony May at the start of the new term in October.”

Lord Phillips, when Lord Chief Justice, said of Thomas: “Margaret Thatcher once famously said of William Whitelaw ‘everyone needs a Willie’. David Neuberger suggested to me that every Lord Chief Justice needs a John Thomas.”

Illness made it impossible for me to do our fortnightly Without Prejudice podcast last Thursday.  But, regular participant David Allen Green was on the airwaves in a most enjoyable episode of Law in Action.  Well worth a listen. (Available for 26 days as at the date of writing Super Injunctions 7 June 11)

Barrister and former MP, Jerry Hayes, has an excellent piece in Total Politics (pic credit): “Forget the predictable tabloid outrage about Ken Clarke’s sentencing proposals. The real problem the justice secretary needs to tackle is the effect of the cuts to the justice system, says Jerry Hayes…..”

The trouble is that the MoJ was created in its present form purely as a power base and ego massager of that old Gromyko of Labour politics, Jack Straw. For reasons beyond modern psychiatry, the hopelessly inadequate Jacqui Smith was appointed Home Secretary. Straw took all the best bits, and created a massive department with over 80,000 civil servants. And it just doesn’t work.

An excellent read…


Unlawfully Detained!

Anna Raccoon writes: “Last year I reported extensively on the case of Steven Neary, a 20 year old autistic man. At the time, only Private Eye had taken any interest in Steven’s ‘case’ and a friend of his Father’s asked me if I would promote the case on this blog, given my interest in Court of Protection matters.  The main stream media, despite many approaches, were monumentally uninterested in Steven’s plight……

The High Court today have ruled that they UNLAWFULLY DETAINED Steven and UNLAWFULLY deprived him of his LIBERTY for a full year.”

Anna Raccoon did a remarkable job in drawing attention to this.  The mainstream media are now rushing to claim credit for breaking the story – and Anna notes… are checking her back story!

I will say this – with care and deliberation:  I posted about Anna Raccoon’s story on my blog to try and help publicise it.  I did note, as many law bloggers do, that there are often two sides to every story. [Law Review: Words fail me – a truly shocking story – please read and publicise ]  I was criticised by some law bloggers for doing so – with some guff about  ‘both sides’,  ‘evidence based analysis’ and other ‘advice’ being given to me unasked. I asked some law bloggers if they would be prepared to blog about this to publicise it.  They declined.  Their call.  Their right.
Sometimes, law and other bloggers just have to take a stand – as Anna Raccoon did – and write.  After all… any bloody idiot can write about an event and take a view when the judgment is out.  Lawyers do that all the time. Bravo Anna!

ON a lighter note…..  John Bolch wrote in his Family Lore  blog that I am to be involved in the Olympic Torch relay for 2012….  Yeah, right!

Well.. the rains have stopped… for the moment.  I think a quick glass at the caff.  I shall return…. later.

Best, as always


8 thoughts on “Postcard from The Staterooms: The Rains came…..

  1. Well done to Anna Raccoon, and boo to those journalists not giving credit where it is due.

    What the whole thing does demonstrate is that public scrutiny of cases such as this is veryimportant. When the state seeks to deliberate on matters in secret, whether on a judicial, or executive basis, it is wide open to abuse. That we got to hear anything about this at all is a tribute to Anna Raccoon and the persistence of Steven Neary’s father.

    One wonders how many similar cases there might be about which we hear nothing.

  2. Hi


    I’ve blogged on this here,

    @lawbore this week has also been raising awareness of the impact of the funding issues on her blog, and was featured yesterday in the @GdnLaw daily e-magazine.

    BAILLI are concerned that this is reported accurately, so as not to jeopardise existing funding. That’s why I’ve liaised carefully with Joe Ury at BAILLI. He is very positive about our attempts to raise awareness.

    We’ve only just started a Facebook page, but one which we hope might be of some benefit:

    BAILLI, people are telling me, is important for legal education, open-justice, self-litigation, access to justice, and a whole host of other reasons.

    Take care Charon.

    Many thanks.

  3. What can I say Charon? I appreciated your courage in promoting my original blog post at the time.
    The difficulty I faced was that two days after that post appeared, Steven was due to come under the Court of Protection – and then no one could have reported on it.
    The main stream media had had the previous six months in which to latch onto the story, but they were not interested.
    No sooner was my post published than the main stream media were clamouring for the story which had been forwarded onto them from many sources – and they were too late. However they used the publicity that the post had created to make an application to the court to be allowed to attend, and report on the hearing.
    I would have loved to have reported both sides of the story – particularly Hillingdon’s belief that it was their decision and theirs alone as to where Steven lived! !!
    Let’s face it – they wouldn’t have commented, and had I waited, the story would have been dead and buried.
    What sickens me more than anything, is that it was only as a result of the blogosphere intervention that Mark Neary became aware that the rules of legal aid allowed cover for this type of hearing – and found a solicitor who knew what he was talking about.
    Until his Facebook campaign – no one had thought to tell him that, and since he had no money, he had had no legal advice.

  4. Thank you for following the news on Steven Neary and your original stance. If his father’s FB page is still open, I will drop by there.

    Thank you also for the pleasing water colour of water and for refreshing the distant tang of my memory of last night’s Shiraz.

    Hope you have recovered from this week’s illness.

  5. Hat tips to yourself and to Anna Raccoon for raising the profile of the Steven Neary case. At the time, I was delighted to offer what little support I could via my blog.

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