Russia hacks Charon QC blog…

I’ve had my suspicions for some time that Mr Putinitabout has been hacking into my blog when he overdoes the vodka.  The photograph below leaked to me privately by Mr Assange, on a break from trying to escape from the grip of the Ecuador Embassy in London where he has imprisoned himself for a few years, confirms my suspicions..

 

 

Discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby star

Thrilling discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby star

astronomy50

Exoplanets found orbiting Trappist-1 raise hope that the hunt for alien life beyond the solar system can start much sooner than previously thought

The Guardian has the story

I read Geology and Astronomy at University back in 1972 before changing to Law. I still retain an interest in Astronomy and Geology.

Law Review: How can you defend a rapist?

lucyread2Barrister, Lucy Reed, author of The Pink Tape blog is always worth reading.

“This : “but how CAN you defend a rapist?” is the apocryphal question asked of any lawyer at any dinner party she is daft enough to attend (actually the question is real enough, though I’m reliably informed by those who have a life that one doesn’t have dinner parties any more one has impromptu supper). It is unwise in the extreme to invite me to participate in a legal ethics quiz after more than a glass of red, because you might just get the full length answer. Fortunately for you, this full length answer is in the form of a blog post so I won’t notice or be offended if you turn your attention to someone else in the room and ignore me as I blather on….”

Read the article

Rive Gauche Cressida Dick to be new Met Commissioner

Cressida Dick appointed as first female Met Police chief

The Evening Standard: Family of Jean Charles de Menezes slam Cressida Dick’s appointment as Met Police commissioner

The new commissioner was involved in the fatal shooting of the innocent Brazilian in 2005

Story  here

Loitering with intent to use a tube station.

 

The Charioteer of Reason

I was listening to a programme on Radio 4 overnight and the narrator used the phrase”The Charioteer of Reason’.  It is a wonderful phrase describing perfectly the difficulties we have at times reconciling competing doctrines, different interests and different political philosophies.

I will shoehorn this phrase into my conversation  down at ‘The Auld Hoose Pub’ in Perth later …no doubt.

Up at 4.15, earlier than intended.  A coffee, a few smokes and then I plan to walk to Perth to catch a bus to Crieff and on to St Fillans on Loch Earn – a particularly beautiful loch about twenty miles from Scone in Perth & Kinross.

Turtle trapped in net…Why do we tolerate this?

I am not surprised that more and more people are turning Vegetarian…given the absurdity of human techniques of catching animals and seafood for the table..  I do hope that if you are planning to eat a Turtle or have Turtle soup tonight or over the weekend – that you have time to think  about this picture.  No Turtle Pizzas at Pizza Express in Perth, thankfully.

 

I assume the the World Winning photographer managed to free the Turtle from an almost certain death in the net? I really do hope so…if not, his photoraph is a travesty of the human spirit.

Rive Gauche :The buffoon President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has turned Souther Rhodesiaa into a basket case country

I spent my youth on Summer holidays from School in Scotland in Zambia – a wonderful country under President Kaunda, and visited Southern Rhodesia, as it was then was, now Zimbabwe.  Southern Rhodesia has been ruled by a troubled man – Mugabe since UDI in the 1970s.  It is now a basket case.   Hopefully, when Mugabe dies – nothing is more certain than “Death and Taxes’ – those who succeed will rebuild the basket case country.  I hope so.

My only visit to Southern Rhodesia, as it then was, was to run the Bulawayo Marathon (Rhodes grave to Bulawayo) – 33 miles, which I enjoyed doing was in 1972.  I stopped at various intervals.  Water bored me then as it does today, save for mornings, and I drank “Lion beer” en route and had a few ‘smokes’. One of the smokes was ‘Malawi Black’ – a local home grown grass…fun running when mildly high. (I was 20)  I managed a creditable time and came in 22nd.  I was very fit then.The winners were all 9-10 stone and very slim.  I was too heavy at 15st – muscle not fat, then. Useful for playing Squash and teaching Karate which I did for a while.  I enjoyed Karate.  I did Wado-Ryu – the fast fighting technique.  Not as stylish as Shotokan.  managed to get a Black belt with 3rd Dan.

 

I can still do most of the Karate moves and still have a Katana Samurai sword.  I used to have three of these swords.

Is the Corbyn Moment Over?

Is the Corbyn Moment Over?
By Phil 


The seisometers are registering something. Is it a tremor triggered by the usual grumbles, or are the plates storing up a major event? This is the problem when it comes to analysing the travails of the Labour leadership. With the irreconcilables tactically and temporarily reconciled to the present state of affairs, the cracks are feeling their way across the Corbynist edifice. Clive Lewis had to resign his business brief after defying the three line whip to support the triggering of Article 50. Before David Davis assaulted her, Diane Abbott’s migraines were the stuff of Westminster gossip. Owen Jones has cast doubt on whether he would vote for Jeremy Corbyn again, while doing his bit to big up our Clive. There is (unserious) speculation about another leadership challenge, and the papers today are stuffed with grumblings – including leaked focus group findings checking out the viability of Angela Rayner and Rebecca Long-Bailey as heirs to Jeremy. Is this yet another episodic difficulty, or a sign the Corbyn era, barely 18 months old, is drawing to a close?

The precipitating factor behind the latest round of chuntering was the aforementioned Article 50 vote and the deep splits that cleaved into the Parliamentary Labour Party. As it happens, I believe Jeremy Corbyn absolutely made the right choice, and I’m sure any leader would have done the same in his position. Plebiscites and referenda are regressive and a step back from representative democracy, let alone the more substantive forms of democracy we should be aiming for. Nevertheless, we have to deal with the outcome of Dave’s gamble because we – the parties, the campaigns, the voters – all signed up to it, and woe betide the political consequences for any of the big parties should they seek to defy the result.

The problem is, from the standpoint of Corbynism and its watchers, is while the enthusiastic uprising of hundreds of thousands of new members put their man in the leader’s office, they themselves were overwhelmingly pro-EU while Jez was, by repute, historically opposed. And since the referendum there has been a strand, in and outside the party, that has tried tying the responsibility for Remain’s loss to him. Never mind that the Prime Minister of the day only persuaded fewer than half of his party’s voters to support his case. Nevertheless, this notion that Jez was/is a secret Brexiteer has persisted and that his actions during the last fortnight should be read in these terms. Pure poppycock, but it has certainly knocked the stuffing out of sections of his support. Is this the beginning of the end?

Firstly, no. There is not going to be a leadership challenge. There is no appetite in the party, and the PLP remain mindful about what happened last year. As the boundary review and battle over merged seats lies ahead, no one is in the mood to upset the party membership. I don’t think shock losses in in Copeland and sunny Stoke-on-Trent Central make that any more likely, either. Nor is anything going to come from the unions. They are very concerned about the poor polling figures, but cannot be seen and will not make the first move to oust Corbyn, especially as it would sow serious division between them. Two years hence the situation might be different, but not now.

All that said, how long can Corbynism go on for if it’s feeling the pinch of real division and failing to gain traction in the country at large? The answer to whether the moment is over is … not yet. Labour is in a dark place, but we should be wary of treating politics as if everything is fixed and ordered in advance. Look out the window and everything is all over the place. In Britain, the dynamic that fed UKIP is dissipating and the LibDems are making an unlikely comeback. Brexit so far has kept the Tories together, but as negotiations get underway it will surely be impossible to keep a lid on things. And with the danger of talks collapsing completely which, thanks to May’s complacency and the arrogance of her lieutenants, cannot be completely ruled out the possibility is the roughest, most frightening part of the road to travel may still lie ahead. And then there is the small matter of Donald Trump’s innumerable idiocies and the government’s evident desire to act as his bag carriers. To go all Rumsfeldian for a moment, these are the known unknowns. Even without them, British politics is still wracked by uncertainty. These problems, insecurity, precarity, fatalism, frustrated aspiration, have not gone away and the government is set to do little about them. These will find expression in some way – indeed, Corbynism is a symptom of it. The spectre of the unknown unknown is abroad.

Is the Corbyn moment over? If we understand it as a consequence of the flux and pulse of political crisis, probably not. It might in fact just be starting.

No Win No Fee Firm in Ireland

No Win No Fee Firm in Ireland
Thomas Phelan

Anyone who has sustained a personal injury in an accident or was harmed by a lack of duty of care in medical negligence is entitled to file an accident claim for compensation if the accident was the fault of the other party or parties. This seems to most people to be straightforward and almost everyone is aware of their legal right to compensation in such a situation. However, what puts most people off from a making a personal injury claim for compensation is often the high cost of obtaining the necessary legal representation even if they know for sure that the accident was not their fault.

The No Win No Fee accident claim was introduced to resolve this serious problem and give wood be claimants a fair chance of obtaining the compensation due to them even if they do not have the funds to pay the upfront fees required to hire a no win no fee solicitor from http://cli.re/GmxAKD who can help in your claim. This brings justice to people that do not have the money to fund a claim and is fairer for all.

Under a No Win No Fee agreement, you the injured or harmed party will only be expected to pay your solicitor’s fees and charges if the No Win No Fee personal injury claim for compensation is awarded in your favour. These agreed fees and costs are in some countries a percentage of the compensation awarded and they are recovered directly from the compensation in other countries this is not allowed and fees must be charged for work done and recovered from the insurance company. The document that sets out the details of the arrangement for a No Win No Fee agreement is often called the CFA or the Conditional Fee Agreement. This is a formal, legally binding written agreement between you and your Personal injury solicitor.

When the injured or harmed party and the Personal injury solicitors sign into such a No Win No Fee agreement, it basically means that the Personal injury solicitors will provide you with a service which will cover all their work in your personal injury claim. There are no upfront costs at all. In other words, the No Win No Fee Personal injury solicitor takes all the risk in your case. In return for them taking the risk of failure, you will be expected to pay their fees and costs if you win the case.

This is a serious risk for the Personal injury solicitor who is backing himself to win like putting money on a horse. If he loses then he may have a large hole in the finances to cover. The Medical negligence claims are full of twists as what seems to be negligence to the lay man (and the solicitor is not medically trained) may not be negligence to an expert and it may have cost a lot of money to get an expert’s report and under No Win No Fee that cost will be lost! Caveat Emptor!

TWEET DU JOUR – John Corbyn may quit as Leader

TOMHARRIS12FEB

Tom Harris was a respected Labour MP and wrote a great blog. A very amusing man – sardonic as well!

I’d be quite happy for Mr Corbyn to fall on his sword and allow someone else to take on the Tories – an open goal at the moment.  Mr Corbyn has not been a great Labour leader.

I’m sure the Labour Party can afford a taxi to take Corbyn home with his possessions from the Labour Leader desk?  Lord Sugar would approve of the taxi, I suspect.

 

Microsoft Calls ‘End of Life’ on Windows Vista Operating System

Microsoft Calls ‘End of Life’ on Windows Vista Operating System

By Matt Torrens, Managing Director Spout IT

Why?

Windows Vista Extended Support, finally comes to an end on April 11th 2017.  From that point, there will be no Microsoft support nor, most importantly, any updates or critical security patches.

 What does that mean, for you?

It means, you need to change.  Many of you will be subject to T&Cs (e.g. CJSM) that require you to run an operating system that is regularly patched.  “We confirm that operating system updates and security patches are regularly applied to all servers used to access the CJSM and all client machines within the organisation.”  So you’ll need to upgrade your version of Windows or, better still, just buy a new PC.

Next Steps?

Chuck out that old PC – no one really liked Vista anyway but, as https://www.netmarketshare.com/ tell us, there’s a few die-hard fans still left!  Let it go, and move on……

If you’re not actively patching ALL your computers, then you should be worried.  A comprehensive patch management programme, will dramatically reduce your risk of infection with nasty things like ransomware.  Go and find your IT guys and demand proper patch management, that includes 3rd party vendors such as Adobe (Flash!), Chrome, Firefox, Java, WinZip and so on; it’s not just about Microsoft!   (Yes, we patch Macs, too).

Your ROI will be almost immediate.

Happy patching!

Kill all the lawyers?

Daily Mail article

A plague on lawyers: STEPHEN GLOVER’s blisteringly provocative critique on the greed, self-importance and lack of scruples of Britain’s last unreformed vested interest group

The loudest laugh in any Shakespeare play is often provoked by the line in Henry VI, Part II: ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.’ Indeed, over the centuries a lot of rude things have been said about representatives of the legal profession.

But however much lawyers may have been ridiculed in the past, I doubt they have ever been held in such low esteem as they are now.

A recent poll in America found that people ranked them lower than any other profession — below business executives, journalists and artists.

Yet lawyers are an increasingly dominant force in this country, not least because Britain now boasts more of them per head of population than almost any other nation.

They are supposed to defend and uphold the law, yet more and more they are renowned for being consumed by a desire to make barrow-loads money in order to feather their own nests.

Sometimes, their fees can run into the millions of pounds for a single trial. Their fondness for money is matched, not infrequently, by their sense of self-importance.

Only yesterday the Mail reported how an official report has revealed that the majority of judges think they are under-appreciated and underpaid.

Of 33 Court of Appeal judges who took part, each of whom earns more than £200,000 a year, two-thirds said their pay is not reasonable. They can say that again!

In short, the legal profession comprises what may be the last unreformed vested interest group — conducting themselves according to their own sometimes opaque rules, which often seem to operate more obviously for their own benefit than the public’s.

Consider the extraordinary case of Phil Shiner, a high-profile solicitor who was struck off eight days ago having had 12 charges of misconduct proved against him, and was the subject of yesterday’s devastating House of Commons report on ambulance-chasing lawyers bringing thousands of ‘spurious’ cases against our troops.

It was Phil Shiner of course who laboured so relentlessly to ruin the reputations of those troops.

But the story of his corruption and eventual downfall does not simply concern one rotten apple. The legal profession as a whole is implicated.

F or while he and his firm pursued those specious claims against hundreds of British servicemen, this dishonest man was lauded by many of his colleagues.

In 2007, he was named solicitor of the year by the Law Society, the professional body in England and Wales that represents solicitors.

The number of solicitors for which this organisation speaks, by the way, has trebled from 44,000 in 1980 to 133,000 today as we become an increasingly litigious, lawyer-driven society — with lawyers naturally being the main beneficiaries.

Even as the Mail raised deeply disturbing questions about Shiner’s integrity and motives, he was being praised by solicitors’ official publication, the Law Society Gazette.

As recently as June 2014, it referred to ‘media manufactured vilification’ and ‘malign hysteria’. Will the Gazette now apologise? Don’t hold your breath.

And will Rabinder Singh QC — now an exalted High Court judge, one of only 102 — express regret for having lavished public praise on Shiner, with whom he worked on several occasions while still a barrister? I don’t expect so.

In 2007, Singh said: ‘My honest view about lawyers is that we should be modest about what we contribute to justice . . . but Phil Shiner is an exception to that rule.

If there were no Phil Shiners in the country, then the sort of legal issues arising out of the Iraq war I don’t think would have surfaced.’

If only there were no Phil Shiners! This is a man who has finally admitted philshinernine allegations of acting without integrity, which included making unsolicited approaches to potential clients.

Among his misdemeanours was the payment of ‘sweeteners’ to a fixer to persuade him to change his evidence in the Al-Sweady inquiry into allegations of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by British soldiers.

This collapsed, after £30 million of public money had been wasted investigating what proved to be false and dishonest allegations made by Shiner.

There could hardly be a graver charge against any lawyer since his falsehoods might have resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of British soldiers who had risked their lives for Queen and country.

Journalists have rightly been held to account over phone-hacking, and a handful were convicted.

But can anyone maintain that the sins of the most reckless phone hacker compared in seriousness with what Shiner did?

And yet while an elaborate judicial inquiry was set up to look into ‘the ethics of the Press’ — under a senior judge, needless to say, in the shape of Lord Justice Leveson — no one has suggested it might be a good idea to hold an inquiry into the ethics of lawyers.

On the subject of Leveson, it subsequently emerged that one of the inquiry’s lawyers — an attractive married lady — was having an affair with a bouffant-haired barrister acting for Hugh Grant, the press-hating actor.

Goodness knows what cooings between the two took place while the inquiry progressed, but a later probe by the Bar Standards Board — surprise, surprise! —cleared the pair of misconduct.

But then the degree to which lawyers police themselves in secret can be breath-taking. When Ben Emmerson QC was accused last year of sexually assaulting a woman in a lift at the offices of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, Matrix Chambers (for which he works) asked former High Court judge Sir David Calvert-Smith to investigate.

After Sir David had interviewed Emmerson, he concluded ‘without hesitation’ that the lawyer was innocent of any sexual impropriety.

It is no slur against either man to suggest that this secretive inquiry does not exactly inspire public confidence.

 Few lawyers can, of course, rival the likes of Phil Shiner in deceit. But that a number of them are slippery to the point of dishonesty can scarcely be doubted. In 1990, ‘no-win, no-fee’ agreements were unfortunately introduced in the dog days of the Thatcher government in the belief that would provide greater access to the law for the poor.

Also described as ‘conditional fee agreements’, their effect has been a huge increase in the number of civil disputes as so-called ambulance-chasing lawyers have induced people to mount or fight cases they would not otherwise have accepted.

Such ‘no-win, no-fee’ arrangements encourage lawyers to rack up costs that can run into the millions, in the knowledge that the person they’re suing will pick up the bill if they win.

Thus a well-intentioned measure designed to help those who would otherwise be unable to afford justice was ruthessly exploited by avaricious lawyers.

A 1979 Royal Commission had warned: ‘The fact that the lawyer has a direct personal involvement in the outcome of the case may lead to undesirable practices including the construction of evidence, the improper coaching of witnesses [and] groundless arguments designed to lead courts into error and competitive touting.’

Prophetic words! If only someone had listened.

In 2012, the Commons Transport Select Committee noted a 70 per cent rise in motor injury claims during the previous six years, despite a 23 per cent drop in the number of casualties caused by road accidents. Bogus claims encouraged by lawyers (especially for hard-to-prove ‘whiplash’ injuries) provide much of the explanation.

Although it has since then become illegal for lawyers to pay insurance companies for the names of accident victims, there still appears to be a lucrative trade in this data.

We are all of us paying significantly more for our car insurance than we should, largely thanks to unscrupulous lawyers touting for business.

Isn’t this absolutely incredible? Before the War, my father briefly practised as a solicitor before becoming a clergyman. He would be utterly aghast if he knew that the honourable profession of which he was once a member had been disfigured by money-grubbing chancers.

These days there are lawyers everywhere, and it is no surprise at all that we have become one of the most litigious nations in the world.

Reforming no-win, no-fee agreements would be an important start in curbing burgeoning litigation, but history tells us than once lawyers have been given a benefit they are loath to surrender it. Might this be because an amazing one-fifth of 650 MPs in the Commons have a legal background, and unsurprisingly are quick to defend lawyers’ interests?

I don’t, of course, want to suggest that most lawyers are crooks like Mr Shiner. I am sure that there are many high-minded solicitors and barristers who above all want to serve the cause of justice. But while I accept there are some modestly remunerated lawyers, the desire to make as much money as possible as quickly as possible appears to have taken hold of large parts of the profession.

While junior barristers bump along on relatively low pay, fat-cat QCs can make grotesque amounts. Last March, David Pannick QC charged £407,250 for a defence involving a two-day trial he didn’t attend.

Pannick also appeared for Gina Miller in the recent Supreme Court case, arguing that Parliament should be consulted before Article 50 (setting in motion our withdrawal from the EU) is triggered. What absurd amount did he trouser this time?

Jonathan Sumption, now a Supreme Court judge, earned almost £8 lordsumption3million over a period of ten months defending the owner of Chelsea football club, Roman Abramovich. That worked out at about £40,000 a day in court.

You may say that if Abramovich was prepared to pay a lawyer such a ridiculous sum of money, that’s his business. But is this a really a free market? Or is it a well-defended fortress of privilege in which a handful of clever but not necessarily outstandingly brainy barristers have scooped up most of the cream?

The law is in many respects another country with its own sometimes impenetrable legal language, strange habits, arcane conventions, and, occasionally, unimaginable rewards. It is a world in which the leading lights — senior judges and highly paid QCs — take themselves very seriously indeed, sometimes complimenting one another on their allegedly enormous intellects in a self-regarding way, and assuming an easy, though hardly merited, sense of superiority over the rest of humanity.

This truism was perfectly illustrated when 1,000 top lawyers, no less, wrote a letter last year insisting that the EU referendum result was merely ‘advisory’ and not legally binding, and that only Parliament should decide whether Brexit should happen at all! I don’t doubt that many lawyers and judges are conscientious and decent people. One particularly admirable member of the judiciary was Sir Paul Coleridge, whose experience of the break-up of families led him to speak out in favour of marriage.

B ut such commonsensical views are rarely expressed by an increasingly progressive, politically correct judiciary. How interesting that Sir Paul was reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice, and found guilty of ‘judicial misconduct’. Shortly afterwards he retired.

Whatever the merits of individual judges — and the commendable efforts of the senior family law judge Sir James Munby to open the country’s most secretive courts to greater public scrutiny also spring to mind — it can scarcely be denied that the senior judiciary is increasingly throwing its weight around.

Such ‘judicial activism’ was encouraged by the establishment of the 1998 Human Rights Act, which allowed our judges to ‘interpret’ such loosely phrased ‘rights’ as privacy. Since then, they have gradually shaped a new restrictive privacy law. Yet if we are to have a privacy law, shouldn’t it be debated and passed by Parliament? (The Act incidentally, was seized upon by a group of Left-wing lawyers, including Cherie Blair, who formed the Matrix Chambers, and enriched themselves considerably through the pursuit of ‘human rights’ cases.)

It’s hard not to conclude that the introduction of the Human Rights Act has increasingly emboldened the judiciary to interpret the law as it sees fit.

There was of course an almighty hullaballoo recently when the High Court, subsequently endorsed by a majority in the Supreme Court, ruled that Parliament must be consulted before Article 50 was triggered. Some senior legal figures were apparently stunned by criticism in this and other newspapers.

But if judges make rulings that have dramatic political consequences, they can’t reasonably expect to be immune from comment in the Press — which is what politicians experience daily.

And yet despite the rise of judicial activism (according to the American benemmersonqcacademic Ran Hirschl we now live in a ‘juristocracy’ rather than a democracy) senior judges in Britain continue to maintain that they are purely impartial and somehow above the political process, in which they nonetheless interfere.

But surely no human being can be utterly impartial or neutral. Values and moral judgments are inevitably shaped by experience.

It was illuminating, for example, to learn that several members of Britain’s Supreme Court have strong links to Europe or the EU. Lord Neuberger, who I accept is a very great man, is married to Lady Neuberger. A week before the EU referendum she declared online that ‘referenda [are] mad and bad’, and dismissed Ukip and Brexit as ‘just a protest vote’. Lord Neuberger’s sister-in-law, meanwhile, announced she has decided to apply for a German passport due to her shame over the referendum result, and criticised the ‘anti-immigrant’ nature of the Leave campaign.

While I entirely acknowledge Lord Neuberger’s neutrality, we surely have a right to know that his nearest and dearest hold such strong views.

In the United States, where the constitutional role of the Supreme Court has long been recognised, it is accepted that the most senior judges have political predilections. Indeed, judges in the U.S. Supreme Court are appointed by Presidents largely on the basis of their known political leanings.

In Britain we do things differently, and I would argue in this instance less well. We have a rising juristocracy — and since 2009 our own Supreme Court with its own grand building — and unaccountable judges, appointed in conditions of utmost secrecy, who like to maintain the illusion of impartiality.

Oddly, most politicians seem remarkably relaxed about the slow ebbing of power towards the higher judiciary. Indeed, whenever a problem arises, their first instinct is often to summon a judge.

The outcome is often unsatisfactory. In 2003, a wrong-headed inquiry — led by the solidly establishment figure Lord Hutton — into the unexplained death of government weapons expert Dr David Kelly exonerated Tony Blair and his side-kick Alastair Campbell. It’s findings left many sensible people gasping in incredulity.

Lord Saville’s investigation into the death of 13 civilians in ‘Bloody Sunday’ took 12 years, and cost £195 million. Lord Justice Leveson’s 2,000-page examination of the Press devoted just 12 pages to the internet.

Y et despite all the shortcomings I’ve mentioned, Shakespeare’s idea of bumping off the lawyers, although undeniably tempting, is hardly practicable. The rule of law is immeasurably precious, and can’t be preserved without an independent judiciary prepared to stand up to everyone, including overmighty politicians —which is not the same as shaping policy.

I’m even prepared to admit that lawyers are a vital element of a healthy and fair-minded society, though I’ve always avoided consulting them as far as possible, and strongly recommend everyone to do the same in the cause of a quiet and happy life.

But if lawyers are too little regulated and too often avaricious, and if judges are a condescending and out-of-touch cadre gradually aggrandising their powers, the rest of us cannot be expected to sit obediently and say nothing.

A thorough inquiry into the legal profession would, in fact, be an excellent idea. The only trouble is that in modern Britain it would be headed by a judge.”

A very British Solution. Trump will not address Parliament because Parliament will be in Recess!

Diplomacy at its finest…

And just in case we need to be protected we have efficient Police to protect  us from him.  (sic)

I assume that the Police will be armed – because Trump probably carries a .44 Magnum…”The biggest handgun in the world!”

I have, as it happens, fired a .44 Magnum  at a Gun Club I used to visit (The Mayfair Gun Club – in East London!) many years ago when I did pistol shooting.  An absurd gun.  Very difficult to hit anything, let alone a target.  The Glock, on the other hand, was remarkably accurate.  Even I managed 148/150 regularly at 25 metres and even managed 150/150 on three occasions. The Gun Club instructors I met were two brothers, One Ex-Para, the other ex-SAS.  Nice guys.  Modest, thoughtful and amusing men who enjoyed their time in the army but never discussed it with us after a shooting session.

Client Eastwood used a Magnum .44 in the Dirty Harry / Magnum Force movies – ‘The biggest handgun in the World’ etc etc.

One of the brothers dressed up in full Black fatigues and black Balaclava when I took a friend of mine to the Gun Club for a shoot,  I wanted to have some fun for Mick Nosh (The Nosh Brothers restaurant – I was a shareholder) He was holding a machine gun – empty, obviously. And when I introduced Mick Nosh to him, he removed his Balaclava before shaking hands and said “Jeez..now I’ll have to shoot you because you have seen my face!”   Good blokes.  I enjoyed pistol shooting. Had an amusing five minutes with an Israeli Uzi sub-machine gun.  Accurate and light.   My then wife was not so impressed by the fact I kept my Glock handgun in a  locked safe at home – in the days before private ownership of guns was banned post Dunblane et al.

I have told this story before but it bears repeating – a friend of mine, a barrister who lectured for me, now a partner in his own London Law firm after re-qualifying, pulled a pistol out of his suit pocket at one of our dinners and fired it at the ceiling – a blank –  the wadding hit the ceiling, the light crashed onto the dining room table along with plaster.  My then wife ran to the bedroom in tears and, half laughing, half crying’ asked me when I went down to see her “Why do your friends need to be armed to come to our dinner parties?”  I had no answer.  To his credit my friend sent some wonderful chocolates to Carolyn the next day and repaired the ceiling!

 

noshbrothers2017Mick Nosh is the geezer without the beard. A very nice man.  Nick was also a good friend of mine back in the day.  I remember him driving a Bentley Mulsanne Turbo and doing ‘doughnuts’ by spinning the Bentley round on a road using the handbrake to spin the rubber and the car around on its own length. .  Expensive way to wear in tyres!

 

 

 

Don’t Panic. Captain Corbyn will steer SS LABOURTITANIC away from the iceberg…

I have voted Labour – with mixed success in terms of satisfied expectations – for 41 years.  I shall continue to do so.  I do hope, however, that Corbyn will be replaced by someone more able and sensible. There are plenty of talented and sensible  Labour MPs who could replace him.

I’m sure that Corbyn is charming and he is very  experienced in terms of fringe politics, but he doesn’t seem to have a grip on practical modern matters.

 

I have a feeling that Captain Corbyn will not see the political iceberg waiting in the waters in which he sails. 

Barrister and ex Tory MP Jerry Hayes is always worth reading for a laugh

WELCOME TO MALICE IN WONDERLAND WHERE THE TORIES HAVE BECOME THE MAD HATTER’S PARTY.

“I really do think it is about time that we all grew up. Trump made some inflammatory, hotheaded, promises on the stump to tickle the collective clitorides (its Greek) of the howling contorted masses of the dispossessed most of which are unworkable. But, shock horror, the President has kept to his word and has launched flotillas of Executive Orders most of which will have a rough ride on the Hill. The Wall is in theory up and running. But Congress might have qualms about the $20 billion price tag. Now we come to the to the banning of people from entering the USA from certain countries. This is repulsive, immoral and probably unconstitutional. Already a Federal judge has placed a temporary stay on it. This will go all the way to the Supreme Court and might even be watered down or abandoned at some stage by Congress. To be honest, it’s a policy that is destined to create rather than hinder terrorist attacks. And over here what to we do? Sign a dopey petition saying that we should abandon his state visit. For heaven’s sake. Trump may be a monster spawned out of the bitteratti and harddonebyists but it is better to engage and try and tame the beast rather than keep him in his White House lair licking his wounds and dreaming of a revenge which he is temperamentally capable of. Isolate him and the world will be a less safer place. Anyhow, whether it be us, European leaders, the courts or Congress who hector and lecture him it will be the proof that his rag bag of despicables want that the political elites are out to get them.

Nobody can seriously doubt that the May visit was not so much a triumph as a diplomatic coup for Number 10 and the Foreign Office. And today, for once in his life, Bozo was on message. Of course he should have a State visit. Nothing is more powerful than weaponising the Windsors. And don’t think that HMQ will be the slightest bit fazed. After all in her many years on the throne she has wined and dined and shaken the hands of some seriously blood soaked tyrants. Its all part of the job. As of yet Trump is not bloodstained. And she can give him something no other woman can. The faint whiff of respectability. Riding down the Mall in an open carriage to the bling gaudiness of a Buckingham Palace which makes Trump Tower look rather understated and middle class. The Royal children will be on parade whilst the President could be forgiven for giving a momentary letch at the Duchess of Cambridge. He may be a monster, but he is nearly our monster. There will be demonstrations and candle lit vigils, but by the time he comes to us he should be used to it. What he has to do is is realise that it’s best not to declare war on the press. They will always win. He has to realise that his relationship with them will always be dog and lamp post. And the roles are interchangeable. He really ought to dump his spokesman Sean Spicer. No doubt he regards himself as rather swashbuckling. But he has more buckle than swash. He really needs a CJ Craig figure.

What sent a shiver down my spine at the joint press conference with May was how a democratically elected leader of the free world could, in an off handed manner extol the ‘virtues’ of torture. It must have made her mentally have a sheep intake of breath. Although not so much as the hand grabbing bathophobic episode. As always May was unfazed. I suspect she was given a briefing about his horror of slopes and stairs.

What is fascinating about Trump is that he defies all the rules of diplomacy and how to run a government. Maybe he will learn or maybe he doesn’t want to. After all, that has always been his USP. Deep down, whether you agree with them or not, most, if not all democratically elected leaders have a sense of their duty to do good. Does Trump? I really don’t know. But I hope he does. He presides over a toxically divided nation.In Good We Trust? Deep in the dark tea time of his soul surely there must be an ounce of decency lurking there somewhere. If not we are all rather fucked.”

 

(Jerry is a good friend.  he assisted me greatly when I needed help.  An amusing drinking companion.)

Drunk Cambridge University student in a white bow tie sets fire to a £20 note in front of a freezing homeless person

  • Student struggles to light note, while cameraman pans to homeless person  
  • Drunk student filmed mocking vagrant in early hours of February 2
  • Video was seen by hundreds of students after it was shared on Snapchat
  • It is understood the student was a member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association but has since been expelled from the group 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4208432/Cambridge-student-sets-fire-20-note-homeless-person.html#ixzz4YCrwu7BY

BUT will the University take action against this insensitive fool?

Rive Gauche: Robot lawyers… I marvel…

LISA IS THE WORLD`S FIRST IMPARTIAL ARTIFICIALLY INTELLIGENT (AI) LAWYER.

Using cutting edge technology, LISA allows you to create a legally binding Non Disclosure Agreement in a matter of minutes. It’s quick, easy and free to use for all businesses and individuals.

Unlike human lawyers, LISA doesn’t take sides. LISA’s job is to make sure that you and ‘the other side’ (the receiver) are able to find a commercially sensible middle ground that is reasonable to both sides, quickly, easily and at no cost. Human lawyers from the United Kingdom with decades of commercial legal practice are the brains behind LISA.

Read more…

The Guardian knows how to do good journalism

The Guardian view on Trump v the judges: hastening a collapse of respect

For a nation that is built on property rights and enforceable contracts, Mr Trump’s politics seem like an invitation to hold a grenade with the pin pulled out

President Donald Trump on Twitter is a bizarre, dangerous political figure who promotes a cult of the leader, using the tyranny of nationalism and state power to suffocate opposition. In person, rather than on social media, his behaviour is only lightly moderated. If you disagree, then you will get the phone slammed down on you. The president’s latest outpouring over the weekend was to attack a US district judge’s decision to temporarily halt his travel ban executive order. The White House statement called the ruling “outrageous”, before officials thought better of using such language.

Then there was Mr Trump’s “so-called judge” tweet – directed at someone appointed by George W Bush. Mr Trump’s legal officers appealed, claiming the court should not be “second-guessing” the executive. The message is clear and instantly recognisable to anyone who has followed events in post Brexit-referendum Britain: for populists who trade on nationalism, law does not matter, process does not matter; what does matter is a perpetual mobilisation against the “enemies of the people”. In Mr Trump’s case, identifying these foes is easy – just dip into his well of deep hatred for the elites: the scientists, the media and the judges who use facts and evidence to dispute his ludicrious empty-headed promises and blowhard rhetoric. In many ways Mr Trump is channelling his inner Richard Nixon, whose White House despised liberal elites tagging them an “effete core of impudent snobs”.

Previous presidents have seen their policies stymied by nationwide injunctions issued by federal courts – notably last year, when President Obama’s education department’s bathroom policy for transgender students was blocked. Presidents have also become exasperated with the supreme court. But it is a big jump from criticising a decision and attacking the authority of a sitting judge. If this continues, then the US would be taking a step into the unknown. In the US, the courts are an equal branch of government. One can differ in the correctness of a ruling, but to challenge the legitimacy of the court is fishing in dangerous waters. Mr Trump’s legal officers will be in the appeal court this week and there’s little doubt that the losers will take the case to the supreme court. Mr Trump’s eye for politics as performance art will no doubt spot a dramatic denouement to his signature campaign promise on the incendiary topic of immigration in the first 100 days of his presidency.

***

There is a wider concern here that Mr Trump’s antics are hastening a collapse of respect for established institutions. The news media have been under attack. Now it is the courts. Does the United States want to go from fake news to fake evidence? For a nation that is built on property rights and enforceable contracts, Mr Trump’s politics seem like an invitation to hold a grenade with the pin pulled out. There must also be an awareness of just how deeply Mr Trump might be willing to divide the US to deflect attention from his own policy failures, and how dangerous are the resentments he stirs. In fact, Mr Trump’s election looks not so much a populist reaction to liberalism, but as an exposure of the limits of both. Both are in search of legitimacy and refreshment.

There is an upside: the space opens up room for Mr Trump’s opponents to organise and criticise. It is hard to argue that Mr Trump’s politics have produced a new wave of solidarity. Every day in office Mr Trump widens divisions: between white and black, men and women, young and the old, military and political, judiciary and executive. The sense of dread is real – and it will not make America great again.

***

The Guardian makes a good and fair point here.  I buy two papers every day The Guardian and “i” 

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Republicans are calling for the Queen to abdicate as she becomes the first British monarch to celebrate 65 years on the throne.

Republicans are calling for the Queen to abdicate as she becomes the first British monarch to celebrate 65 years on the throne.

Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee is being marked with cannon salutes in London’s Green Park and at the Tower of London.

But having celebrated her 90th birthday last year and suffered a heavy cold over Christmas that caused her to miss church, questions are being raised as to how long she can continue in her role as head of state.

“It would be unsurprising if someone at her age wouldn’t be able to do a full time job of being head of state,” Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, told The Independent.

“So it’s very reasonable to expect her to step down and retire an then let the people decide who was going to replace her.”

However, Mr Smith said it was unlikely the Queen would choose to abdicate.

“It would completely go against everybody’s understanding of her view of the role,” he said. “She takes the notion she has some kind of divine right quite seriously.

“It’s been reported throughout her reign that she’s opposed to abdication.”

***

I am not an over-enthusiastic Monarchist, but I do admire The Queen.  She has given a lot to the United Kingdom.  I had the pleasure of meeting her years ago at Buckingham Palace when a Law School I was a director of received a Queen’s Award for Exports.  A charming and very well informed and amusing lady. Very easy to talk with. She is very good at putting people at their ease.  The Gin helped, of course.

America First

And a Tweet du Jour….

The Independent reports that “A therapist tried to explain Trump. It’s not pretty.”

It’s not unreasonable to suggest that Donald Trump is in possession of a larger-than-average ego, combined with a few narcissistic traits.

However, some cite his fixation on his inaugural crowd, his delusion over voter fraud and denial of losing the popular vote as proof of a more dangerous form of narcissism.

That’s to say nothing of his ongoing grudges, his quick temper, his oversensitivity to satire or his ‘celebrity Twitter feuds’.

Of course, nobody can diagnose the new U.S. President with any form of personality disorder without extensive psychiatric evaluation……”

 

Profession under fire after Shiner is struck off – Legal Futures

Profession under fire after Shiner is struck off
By Neil Rose

The decision of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) yesterday to strike off human rights lawyer Phil Shiner over his conduct of abuse claims against British soldiers in Iraq has received unprecedented coverage across the media today and arguably put the entire legal profession on the back foot.

The tribunal upheld 22 charges of professional misconduct, including dishonesty and lack of integrity, against the one-time head of Birmingham law firm Public Interest Lawyers, which shut down last year after its legal aid contracts were pulled.

They included: authorising unsolicited direct approaches to potential clients arising out of the Battle of Danny Boy; paying prohibited referral fees to, and approving an improper fee-sharing arrangement with, a middleman, Mazin Younis, and later bribing him to change his evidence on how the clients had been identified; misleading the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA); failing to comply with his duty of candour to the court; failing to comply with his duty of full and frank disclosure to the Legal Services Commission; and making improper allegations at a press conference that the British Army had unlawfully killed, tortured and mistreated Iraqi civilians, including his clients.

Mr Shiner was also ordered to pay interim costs of £250,000, a huge sum by the standards of tribunal cases, where final costs bills are almost always in five figures at most.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said: “We welcome the SDT’s decision to strike off Professor Shiner, who has been found to have been dishonest. It is important that solicitors can bring forward difficult cases, but the public must be able to place their trust in them.

“His misconduct has caused real distress to soldiers, their families and to the families of Iraqi people who thought that their loved ones had been murdered or tortured. More than £30m of public funds were spent on investigating what proved to be false and dishonest allegations.”

John Gould, senior partner of south London law firm Russell-Cooke, who acted for the SRA in the case, said: “The rule of law depends on the ability of lawyers to represent unpopular clients with independence. The ability of all lawyers to do so is preserved by the public’s confidence that lawyers are held to account if they break the rules.”

Mr Shiner is now also under criminal investigation over the legal aid money his firm received.

Many papers noted that Mr Shiner was named the Law Society’s solicitor of the year at the 2007 Excellence Awards, and in 2004 was named human rights lawyer of the year by civil liberties groups Liberty and Justice.

A Law Society spokewoman said: “Solicitors are held to exceptionally high professional and ethical standards. As with every profession, any solicitor whose actions violate the code of conduct or break the law is held to account and – through the SRA and SDT – there are robust, transparent disciplinary and regulatory procedures to deal with the rare occasions when there is misconduct.

“The Law Society Excellence awards are a recognition of the commitment that solicitors show in serving their clients, which underpins our world-renowned legal system. Phil Shiner was awarded in 2007 in recognition of his representation of the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq and his contribution to the landmark ruling in the Al Skeini case.”

This was the case about the death of Iraqi hotel worker Baha Mousa, who suffered 93 injuries in detention under control of British soldiers. The Law Lords held that the home secretary was in contravention of the Human Rights Act in denying a public inquiry.

Nonetheless, today’s newspaper editorials tore into him and the profession. “To this country’s self-righteous legal establishment – which garlanded him with awards – he was a campaigner for justice, and newspaper criticism of him was just ‘media-manufactured vilification’,” said the Daily Mail in a leader.

“Well now the truth is clear. As the Mail long suspected, human rights lawyer Phil Shiner, who more than anyone led the shameful witch-hunt against our armed forces, was utterly corrupt…

“Rightly, these victims are suing him. If there is any justice, they will take him for every penny of his legal aid-funded fortune. The criminal investigation must now be pursued relentlessly… The legal profession should examine how Shiner got away with it for all these years while it was busy attacking the press.”

The Sun observed how “for years the usual leftie suspects defended odious tank-chasing lawyer Phil Shiner. They’ve all gone very quiet…. After one success, he made a career posing as a valiant crusader for the truth. Each case kept money pouring in – so he paid a tout to concoct more. We are delighted to see this sanctimonious parasite struck off.”

Daily Express columnist Harry Hodges said that “the only time in this sorry saga that the public interest has been served was yesterday when the tribunal finally rid us of this hateful character”.

The Times welcomed Mr Shiner’s “fall from grace”, but said “some pressing questions, however, still need to be addressed”.

It said: “For many years Mr Shiner was hailed as a model campaigner. He was named solicitor of the year by the Law Society in 2007 and he received awards in 2004 from two human rights groups. Yet not a single prosecution ever emerged from the more than 3,000 allegations of British army murder and wrongdoing presented by Mr Shiner to the Iraq Historic Allegations Team. More than £30m of public funds has been spent investigating what turned out to be false and dishonest allegations.

“Sir Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, says that justice has been served and that Mr Shiner should apologise. Soldiers will want more: proper safeguards that they cannot in future be subjected to horrific allegations based on cooked-up evidence. The army is not beyond the law or beyond scrutiny. But when soldiers are sent abroad, into harm’s way, they are right to demand that their reputations not be sullied.”

The tribunal aims to publish its decision within seven weeks. Mr Shiner will then have 21 days to appeal.

The link to this excellent article

And Nicholas Soames MP weighs in with…