Archive for January, 2007

Giant penis etched into school garden with weedkiller can be seen from space. Sky has the story: “The unnamed pair of Year 11 pupils from Bellemoor School for Boys in Southampton, Hampshire, burnt the 20ft phallus into the grass as an end of term joke two years ago.”

Eye on the ball…

A Police officer, who was supposed to be guarding a wall damaged in the recent storms, was photographed by a passer-by. The officer was sitting in his vehicle playing a football game on a play station. The Metropolitan Police said: “The use of the games console was inappropriate and unprofessional. Senior officers are dealing with the matter.” The Sun has the story and a pic.

Shilpa is to meet the Queen, Blair and Gordon Turpin.

It was almost inevitable that Shilpa Shetty, Celebrity Big Brother winner, would meet politicians – but it was pleasing to learn that The Queen will also be meeting her. Mind you…the thought did cross my mind that Buckingham Palace is a bit like the Big Brother House – enclosed building, barred to the public, crowds cheering outside, heavy security and a curious collection of housemates… I exempt H M The Queen from my definition of ‘curious’.

Moving on…

I thought you might like to know that we could face a future without bananas unless drastic action is taken. I know this – because it was in The Guardian:

“It is a freakish, doped-up, mutant clone which hasn’t had sex for thousands of years – and the strain may be about to tell on the nation’s fruitbowl favourite. Scientists based in France have warned that, without radical and swift action, in 10 years’ time we really could have no bananas. Two fungal diseases, Panama disease and black Sigatoka, are cutting a swath through banana plantations, just as blight once devastated potato crops. But unlike the potato, and other crops where disease-resistant strains can be bred by conventional means, making a fungus-free variety of the banana is extraordinarily difficult.”

Have I lost my marbles?…

No…not yet – although it is, I am sure, only a matter of time. But…the Greeks have lost their marbles – The Elgin Marbles. Now school children in Greece are campaigning to get the Elgin Marbles back. The British Museum states that it is not ‘at liberty’ to give them back. I have some sympathy with the view that treasures plundered by our ancestors and forefathers should be returned to the original country – but, where would we be then? What would we have to put in our Museums? Judging by Time Team’s efforts at digging up wretched bits of broken pottery in most of their episodes (being re-run on Sky) – not very much.

Probably better to continue resisting? BBC story

And finally…

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day.
“In English,” he said, “A double negative forms a positive.
In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative
is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a
double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”


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Punctuation… it is useful….

One for drafting ‘aficionados’
Notice the effect of the following Dear John love letter with different punctuation:

Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful.
People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever
when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?


Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful
people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever.
When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?


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After a run of bad luck (Motorbike accident with nasty injuries, tree hitting my house and tearing down all the phone lines, and falling down the stairs; breaking three toes) I have been telling people that I must have broken a mirror recently or at some point in my past.

Here is a mirror breaking story from Ananova to beat them all.

“A 2,500-year-old mirror worth £500,000 was dropped and smashed on a Chinese TV show. A model was showing the ancient mirror to the audience when it slipped from her hands and fell to the floor. It shattered into pieces, shocking the audience – especially owner Chen Fengjiu who was sitting in the front row.”

The show was stopped. The owner has not sued…yet.


The PI Brief Update Journal has decided to continue publishing my monthly column (First report) for them. I have declined an invitation to Canary Wharf, in case I fall out of the window – but, I suspect that I will have to do something fairly spectacular in terms of personal injury to repeat a report on the theme of personal injury. I have to ‘file’ my next monthly report by the 6th February. I am seeking inspiration. Any ideas on what I could write about?

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Sasuke is an astonishing athletic test held twice a year in Tokyo, Japan. Competitors have to complete four levels of increasing difficulty and increasing danger. I have never seen anything like it – a truly incredible test. Only two men have ever completed the course. Here is Makoto Nagano (33) doing the obstacle course. It is worth watching.

And, believe it or not, again from Japan…

Here we have a helicopter being used to open beer bottles.

I was amused to find that a blog linking to mine has a description of my blog. When the cursor rolls over the Charon QC link in the blogroll – up pops the tab: “Think Rumpole on crack.” Nearly knocked a full glass of Rioja over my keyboard.

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It is important that all sectors of the community, interested in the English legal system, are given an opportunity to respond to the current crisis on prison capacity.

Tonight I was able to talk to the secretary-general of the newly formed ASBO Holders Association (AHA) who invited me to a secret location in London.

With his consent I recorded the interview. His lawyer and three council members of AHA, who were not engaged on official AHA business or activity on the streets of London tonight, have approved this report. I would like to stress that ‘Hamish’ (Not his real name) has not been paid for this interview nor has any donation, loan, gift or benefit in kind been given to Hamish or AHA.

This is what Hamish told me tonight….

“It is clearly not a satisfactory state of affairs when the home secretary is placed in a position where he has to write to the the Chief Justice of this country to advise that judges may have to consider alternative sentences to prison for those who practice criminality because of a shortage of prison places. AHA takes the view that the government of this country owes a duty of care to criminals – and those likely to be given ASBOS – to provide appropriate accommodation in a prison or other secure unit. Our members expect, when they go about their business, to do so in the knowledge, that if they do a job well, that their efforts will be rewarded and recognised with a prison sentence.

We believe that the Home Office, in failing to provide sufficient prison places, is ‘not fit for purpose’ and we shall be taking this up at the highest levels. On Monday we will be talking to senior officials at The Commission in Brussels to see if the United Kingdom is in breach of any European Union directives and, further, we will be bringing a claim in the European Court of Justice to the effect that the human rights of our members are being breached by the United Kingdom government’s failure to provide proper prison accomodation.

While I can understand Lord Phillip’s stating today… and I quote from The BBC news website: “The home secretary has not sought to instruct judges to stop imposing sentences of imprisonment.” It is simply not good enough. Interestingly, Lord Phillips is reported as saying “There is well and long established authority of the Court of Appeal that in such circumstances it is appropriate for the judge to have regard to prison overcrowding.”

Interestingly, a retired judge, Keith Matthewman (who does not share the view or opinion epressed by the Chief Justice) supports our view that the judiciary should have absolutely no regard to the administrative incompetence of the Home Office when considering sentences – and we approve his sentiments as reported today by the BBC – which I quote: “I don’t know any judge in this country who’s ever heard of this being said, that this is something that you take into consideration when you pass sentence,” he said. “You can’t take it into consideration. You’ve got to pass sentence on the crime.”

Our members need to know, when they engage in activity likely to result in a custodial sentence, if they are caught, that the full rigour of the law will be applied. It is simply not acceptable to us to be told by a judge that we cannot be imprisoned because there are no places left in British prisons. There is little point in our members engaging in criminal conduct if we are to be told that there is no risk. We may as well stay at home and watch Strictly Come Dancing or, in the case of our unemployed members, get jobs. Where would we be then?

No… we support the views of those judges who intend to disregard the advice given by the home secretary and we shall certainly be doing our best to find out where these more robust judges sit to ensure that our members are able to engage in criminality in a proper way; knowing that there are still parts of the country where it is worth doing so. I mean…. look at what happened with the looters of that ship which went aground in Devon. It was pathetic. No risk at all…. what pleasure is there in riding a BMW bike looted off a beach when the police wave you through. And as for those hoodies knicking nappies…. they should be ashamed of themselves. Only two AHA members were spotted on that beach and both have been expelled from the Association. ”

It was a surreal meeting and quite unexpected. I left Hamish – who took a call from a counterpart in France to arrange a trip to France next week so that English AHA members could test their skills against the French Police and Judicial system. Hamish told me ‘At least in France they have plenty of space in their prisons and their CRS boys really know how to give us a run for our money.”

In a long career, I have never come across such a bizarre situation.

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Anyone able to explain this paradox?…

The question is this: Why was a prison place available for a News of The World reporter (jailed for 4 months for plotting to hack into phone messages of Royal aides. The Sun) – yet no prison places were available for two paedophiles recently convicted, yet released by the judge (albeit, one on bail) because no space coud be found to imprison them? The Sun

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Hail to the Chief …. a state of the union, Friday night, peroration / rant… whatever….

Primus inter pares is clearly a doctrine which Lord Protector Blair has not been that interested in for some time – but one cannot help but admire the fact that he is (a) still PM (b) is taking all the flak and seems to be pretty relaxed about it and (c) will almost certainly (He is still young) go on to do more on the international stage. We are a tolerant and politically disinterested nation. When Prime Ministers leave the stage we tend to regard them more fondly – viz: Margaret Thatcher, Sir John Major (even after the revelations that he was interested in Edwina Currie), etc etc…and quite rightly so.

I accept, having decided to prescribe Tempranillo for my injuries tonight, and having had a few glasses with the Editor of an established political journal late last night, that I may be about to lose all perspective on current political events.

It matters not – because ‘qua Charon’ I do not have political ambitions, nor do I seek to be a ‘pundit’ on such matters. BUT… I have a feeling that Witchfinder-General Reid is probably out of the running for PM after the events at the Home Office this week (if he was ever a serious contender? – as I have believed for some time) and that we will soon have Gordon Turpin, The Highwayman, as PM.

The Sun pictured Reid without a brain in today’s edition – apparently. I gather Reid gave a Walnut Whip [Overseas readers: ‘Walnut Whip’ is a popular British chocolate – probably not 70% cocoa solids and absolutely nothing to do with ‘Le Vice Anglais’ ] to the person at The Sun who devised the competition to find the Home Secretary’s ‘walnut sized brain’. I say, apparently, because I rarely read The Sun – but a friend told me about the pic and the article.

I do not share the same view of Reid as depicted in The Sun. Reid may be a ‘bruiser’ – but he is, to my view, a clever man. Perhaps, with ‘hindsight’ , styling the Home Office as ‘not fit for purpose’ in his early days as Home Secretary, may not have been wise. What goes around, comes around – and Witchfinder is under pressure now. Good that Charlie Falconer, untainted by election pressures (and no longer unduly burdened by having to be Head of The Judiciary etc etc) can ‘come to the rescue’ by asserting that ‘we’ (UK plc?) have a problem in relation to the number of prison places and ‘that it may well be that we may not be able to imprison those who should be imprisoned’ for the time being.

Why don’t we use the Millenium Dome?… a perfect space – and one which Charlie has some experience of. Plenty of room… good light… reasonable security – certainly the equal of some of our open prisons.

What is clear to me – on this, Friday 26th January – is that Gordon Turpin is gagging for it… he has waited for years, since the famous dinners at Granita in Islington, to be PM. He has had to spend nearly 10 years managing the economy, in solitary confinement. Now he can emerge, like a butterfly…pure…, untainted by the Iraq war, untainted by Bush… to deliver us to the promised land and save our souls from perdition and the fires of hell and Al Qaedr et al.

It would not surprise me if Gordon Turpin meets Shilpa from Big Brother, in the not too distant future, for a photo opportunity… and I am sure that someone will tell him that beige chinos, however well fitting, and a blazer, is not a great look for him. [Curiously, I admired his refusal to wear ‘white tie and tails’ for dinners at The Mansion House.] As a Scot… I won’t be sorry to see a Scots PM (we have, after all, had union with England for 300 years) … and what other credible candidate, apart from Witchfinder Reid, have Labour got to put up, now, for PM?

It is just as well that I do not hold myself out as a political commentator. [Do you think Channel 4 might be interested?]

I will end this disjointed peroration by saying that I was horrified by the pictures of the new ‘military’ style uniforms for our ‘border cops’ – the Immigration service. Blue shirts, black ties, epaulettes? I rather liked the more subtle ‘civilian’ dress of our passport control officers. Much more efficient, subtly sinister…much more ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, Ian Fleming etc. The new uniforms will make our Immigration officers look like ‘Cold War’ quasi (or should that be ‘Stasi’) police officers… or, worse, traffic wardens. We do not need to have a uniformed Immigration service…. do we?

I may well need to delete this post on the morrow – on grounds of public decency. If you wish to complain… I am sorry that I do not have an expensive phone line for you to use – You may phone OftheWall or Channel 4. I am sure both organs of our State will be pleased that you have taken the trouble to ‘evict’ me, and, particularly so, in the case of the latter, in the light of their problems today with the latest telephone public vote on Big Brother.

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Something for the weekend?…

It is Friday…the day is done… and here, in remembrance of a brief snowfall in London this week, is a film which demonstrates how not to drive in the snow. Crazy!

If you fancy your own business card and can’t be bothered to sit down and design it in Photoshop – let this tool do it for you. The red for Rioja, the bubbles for ephemera… a minimlalist approach.

Air Traffic control

Tower: “TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 degrees.”
TWA 2341: “Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?”
Tower: “Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?”

Delighted to learn from RollonFriday that injurylawyers4U have won an award.

“InjuryLawyers4U has been awarded the dubious honour of foisting the “Most Irritating Advert of 2006” on an unsuspecting public last year.

The award is decided each year by the media trade mag Marketing. The InjuryLawyers4U ad featured a cross examination in court with both witnesses and lawyers earnestly mentioning “InjuryLawyers4U” as many times as they could. With a whopping 57% of the vote the ad saw off strong competition from the likes of Cillit Bang and Kerry Katona’s efforts for Iceland.

Certainly irritated the hell out of me – but those other adverts featuring people falling over and then cutting to a cheque are equally irritating. Mind you, with my recent personal injury experience, I may apply to feature in their next advert.

Paxo interviews Tony Blair – ‘University Challenge’ style.

I enjoyed this clever short film.

And while you are at it, I think you will enjoy this very clever pastiche with Blair and the song “Should I stay or should I go?”

And finally… If you would like to practice rolling lavatory paper (which, of course you are able to do in the privacy of your own bathroom or even at work) – you may now do it online. Have a good one.

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From The BBC website: “A man who downloaded child pornography to his computer has avoided jail after the home secretary asked judges to limit prison terms due to overcrowding. Judge John Rogers QC gave Derek Williams, 46, of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, a suspended sentence. The judge at Mold Crown Court said he was “bearing in mind” the home secretary’s advice to only jail dangerous and persistent offenders.”

The full story has been reported in the press. The BBC reports: “The Sentencing Guidelines Council recommends a custodial sentence should be the “starting point” for possession of child pornography.” Details of the specific facts of the case are a bit thin in press reports, but it seems that the judge did “bear in mind” the home secretary’s advice to only jail dangerous and persistent offenders” in handing down a suspended sentence.

The shadow home secretary, David Davis, has contributed to the debate by saying, and I quote from press reports : “We now have a situation where sentences are being dictated by the prison capacity and not the severity of the crime.”

What next for the Home Office? Perhaps we could contact our EU neighbours to see if we can hire space in their prisons? Perhaps the United States has a secret facility somewhere in Europe which could be used? Extraordinary rendition…

I would like to help…but I don’t think my spare room would be suitable. Perhaps Channel 4 could help and gain PR points with the government and the public by making the Big Brother house available?

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Winner January caption competition…

Winner of January Caption Competition There were quite a few entries…

“Nice job of cleaning up the Stockwell Tube Carriage Sir Ian. Now, about this politically damaging ‘Independent’ Police Complaints Investigation ‘Lord’ Blair!

Comment by James Lawson — Friday, January 5, 2007

James… if you contact me and let me know which set of lectures you would like…

Charon writes for Personal Injury Law Journal

Tim Kevan asked me, shortly before Christmas, if I would be prepared to write a short monthly piece for the PI Brief Update and the published Journal. I was delighted to be asked, particularly because I was not required to write about the law. As you will discover from my first piece for the journal – I am absurdly qualified to write for this journal! [Flattered although I am by Tim’s effusive introduction – not even after too much Rioja would I compare myself to Rumpole! ]

We shall see if his readers have a taste for more…. I shall keep you posted.

The PI Brief Update is a very useful resource for students and lawyers interested in personal injury litigation – there are excellent articles and analyses by practising lawyers: Have a look (It is free to view online)

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The Carbolic Smokeball Company has generously agreed to provide the prize for my latest caption competition. If you win, you will be given the barrister figurine pictured, a tasteful addition to any desk or bookshelf.

Have a look at The Carbolic Smokeball Company website – a surprising amount of ‘legalabilia’.

Consilio will also provide a prize – a CD on Advocacy in Modern Legal Practice by Jonathan Goldberg QC – an excellent series of films on advocacy by a leading Silk (CPD 3 Hours – if you are a practitioner)

Here is the picture for the latest competition which will run for about 10-14 days.

A picture of John Reid – quite a challenging picture for the caption competition this month…

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Cue: The Great Escape theme tune….music fades

Charon: Good morning, Home Secretary. Thank you for spending time out of your eighteen f******g hour a day schedule to do this interview.

An aide comes into the room at this point with the latest statistics on escaped prisoners. Reid glances at the paper quickly and snaps “Heads will roll”. Aide leaves room.

Home Secretary: No problem. Before you start, let me state that I have written to the judges today to ask them to jail only the most dangerous and persistent criminals.

Charon: Yes… I saw the BBC website report on this. Presumably you have a few places to play with due to prisoners, some erstwhile murderers, escaping?

Home Secretary (Smiling grimly): Yes… but unfortunately…sorry, fortunately, not enough places are being made available in this way. I am on the case. We have plans to build 8000 more places, house them in police cells, army camps, old prison wings which are ‘not fit for purpose’ and anywhere else we can find. We are even thinking about housing prisoners on naval warships which we don’t need at the moment. I gather there is a spare aircraft carrier somewhere on the south coast… Portsmouth?

Charon: Well, Home Secretary, that is fascinating, if a little inconsistent with your statement today on jailing only serious and persistent offenders – but, presumably, we can go back to jailing others when the new prisons are built. But I am not here to ask you about your plans for prisons in the future. I just wanted to ask you a few questions about why people are managing to escape from our prisons and then question you about a far more important issue – your contendership for the leadership and to be the next Prime Minister. I suspect that you will tell me that escaping prisoners and those under control orders is not a particularly big problem, that even the murderers are safe – for, presumably, they wouldn’t have been put in an open prison to end their sentences, so if you prefer, please feel free to tell me your plans to be the next Prime Minister.

Home Secretary (a taciturn expression passes over his face): I think it is clear that there are many in the party who believe that there should be a leadership contest, both for the party and the future of democracy in this country, but it is also clear that Gordon has been answering a lot of questions about Big Brother and other matters not related to the economy to position himself as the next PM when our revered leader retires in June…sorry… July….

Charon: Home Secretary – I appreciate that you have a lot on your plate, and seem to get little sleep and I don’t suppose counting prisoners jumping over prison walls is a particularly restful way to get to sleep – but my question was fairly straightforward. Let me make it more so. Do you want to be Prime Minister?

Home Secretary (looking grave): “It is probably the ambition of every serious politican. I am no different….”

At this moment an aide enters the room and discreetly whispers into The Home Secretary’s ear :“The Chief Justice wants a quiet word, Home Secretary. He has just read your letter.”

Home Secretary (smiling warmly): “Look… Mr Charabanc… I’m sorry about this…matters of state…. these things happen, but I’m going to have to end this interview. Happy to talk another time…. would August this year suit you? I should have more time then and be rested after my trip to the Bee Gees mansion in The West Indies. Thanks for coming. My minder will see you out.”

In my mind, I am led out into the street with a feeling that I have been in the presence of genius.

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Student round up….

I thought it was time for me to post info which may be useful to law students

From Legal Week: The College of Law’s Legal Practice Course (LPC) has been given the Law Society’s top grade in all five of its centres around the UK. The College’s centres in Birmingham, Chester, Guildford, London and York each received a ‘commendable’ practice grade for all six assessed areas of the LPC. The ranking follows a series of three-day visits by the Law Society, which have taken place over the last three months.

From Consilio: The popular revision course from Consilio is being run in April and May: Details 

From The Bar Council: Warning on E-Mail scams: “It has come to our attention that barristers’ names are being used to front email scams and other scams. This is being done without the barristers’ consent or knowledge. If you receive an e-mail of this sort purporting to come in the name of a barrister with whom you have had no dealings, or with whom you are not expecting to have dealings, you are probably best advised to ignore it or to check directly with that barrister’s chambers. The Bar Council can take no responsibility for such matters. The fact that barristers’ names are being used in this way has been reported to the police.”

I’m afraid quite a few reputable organisations and individuals are being used in this way.  I am tired of getting emails puporting to be me from spammers who use my email address as a front! Welcome to the net.

It might be a good idea to keep an eye out on Consilio for the next week.  The Lobster is returning with prizes  and I will shortly be announcing the wnner of the january caption Competition – and posting the February competition.

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Custody in domestic violence cases?…

I have a number of Australian friends – who are thoroughly enjoying the comic opera one day cricket which follows on from The Ashes.

This is the latest bit of ‘sledging’ from my Aussie ‘mates’ : It has the merit of bringing in a legal theme!

“Federal Court Ruling from the Melbourne Age, Australia (AP) – A seven
year old boy was at the centre of a courtroom drama yesterday. When he
challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy
has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially
awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with the child custody law and
regulations requiring that family unity be maintained to the degree
possible. The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt
beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with
her. When the judge suggested that he live with his grandparents, the
boy cried out that they also beat him. After considering the remainder
of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was
apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented
step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.
After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child
welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the English
Cricket Team, whom the boy firmly believes are “not capable of beating

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Snow in London…

I woke, as usual, at 3.30 am to the not so familiar almost muffled sound of silence. I knew at once that it had snowed and looked out of my bedroom window. Snow covered my conservatory roof and garden. Bizarrely, I wondered if it might have snowed on the other side of my house facing the road. It had. No-one was about. I put on a kimono and hobbled downstairs, with my three broken toes, to have a look, to touch the snow. A simple pleasure. I did not make a small snowman. But, I did think about it.

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Sorry… but could not resist…

OK… no more BB comments from me… but I just could not resist.

So… I am back online. BT engineers arrived again this morning with a ‘hoist’ : a van with a crane to winch the engineer up the side of buildings… and I am back with telephones and a good net connection. It made me realise how crippling, to a business and communication generally, the loss of a telephone line can be.

Now you may be just as puzzled as I am about this. But, inspired by a post on a website I frequent, I typed “Best Law magazine’ into Google and this is what came up”

I accept that I have a vested interest in this…but even I was surprised. In fact, after recent events, I was delighted!

Nick Holmes (Binary Law) usually finds interesting matters to draw to our attention and news that Legal Week has started a series of mini-blogs under the title ‘Legal Village’ is interesting.

I rather liked the idea of The Law Society President, Fiona Woolf, being a blogger. Here is the intro to her post on Legal Village: “Sitting at my desk, as the first Law Society President blogger, news reaches of me of another bold step into the future – that the Lord Chief Justice is to de-wig judges hearing civil cases in the High Court and the Court of Appeal from October. For me it’s always exciting to hear about how the judiciary continues to modernise itself apace”

Nigel Savage (CEO College of Law) has a mini-blog and, also on Legal Village: an interesting post by Ted Greeno on the first solicitor to be appointed to The Court of Appeal.

Well…there we are. I have actually managed to find some law related material which may be of interest/use. It will be interesting to see how long these new bloggers keep it up. It can be a lonely business…blawging!

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Shortly before Christmas I was invited by Tim Kevan to write a short piece each month for the Personal Injury Brief Update Law Journal.

Relieved that I did not have to dig out the law books (Tim confirmed that he did not actually want me to write about the law) I agreed to do this.  In fact, I am delighted to be published in this serious law journal.Having had a motorbike crash with injuries and a blood infection following medical treatment for same,  and now, having broken three toes on my left foot (Below), I feel well qualified to write for such a journal

Yesterday, I added to my collection of recent mishaps by falling down the stars.  For the avoidance of doubt, I was sober.  It was 11.30 in the morning.  My stairs are steep and I simply missed my footing.  Unfortunately I landed on my left big toe and have now broken that toe and the two adjacent toes.  Not a great start to the year – but in the face of adversity, one shall prevail.  I should soon be quite expert on medical matters! I shall hobble to The Bollo which is but 100 yards away for sustenance tonight and, of course, a glass or two or Rioja to dull the pain.  Broken toes are astonishingly painful, I have discovered.

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A flashing beacon of justice?…

I read two newspapers on Sundays – The Observer and The News of The World. I was into my second cup of espresso when I turned to page 11 of the News of The World. “TOP JUDGE NICKED FOR FLASHING” ran the headline.

I read this article with particular care and, because of the gravity of the matter, have taken especial care to record certain quotes, directly from the newspaper report. The reporter, Polly Graham states ” One of the country’s most senior judges – who ruled on the Stockwell Tube shooting case – has been arrested for allegedly flashing at a woman on a train.”

The report goes on to state that “Lord Justice Richards was held by British Transport Police after a complaint from a shocked female passenger that a man had exposed himself to her.” British Transport Police confirmed that a 56 year old man had been arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation, but declined to comment further.

The NOTW reporter stated: “Confronted at his Wimbledon home yesterday, Lord Justice Richards confirmed that he had been arrested.”

Lord Justice Richards is reported as saying: “Yes, that is correct I spoke to Police and gave them my full co-operation about an incident last October which I deny.”

Richards LJ continues: “I have not been charged and have been bailed in the usual manner.”

Interesting that the incident is alleged to have taken place last October and that the police, according to the report in the News of The World, mounted an undercover operation which ‘culminated in Friday’s arrest of (Lord Justice Richards)”

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It is rare for me to have ‘Road to Damascus’ moments – but, it did occur to me, in the wake of the absurdity of the Jade Goody episode (infra), that lawyers may have done something bizarre this week and that I should surf the net to see whether lawyers were behaving sensibly. Bingo! Serendipitously – My first port of call was the BBC and then RollonFriday. RoF had picked up on the BBC story of Judge Darlow (pictured).

It is ironic that we have a bizarre story, in this of all weeks, about a judge ( not a chav – but an educated man, learned in the law and with all the benefits of education and a long career in the law) handing down a truly bizarre ruling.

The BBC story

Briefly: Man calls a Police surgeon a ‘Paki’ and ends up in court on race charges. (I quote from the BBC report) “Judge Paul Darlow told the court that it was “rather odd” that charges had been brought against the man. He suggested Dr Jhetam “should not have taken the comment so seriously” and should have let it “roll off his back”.

He told Stiddard to next time “call him a fat bastard and do not say anything about his colour”.

While one can see what the judge was trying to do (avoid the courts being used for less serious matters – one asumes) it was a pretty crass thing to say. The judge stood by what he had said. I am sure that Judge Darlow had absolutely no intention of condoning racism – but, rather, that he felt that, perhaps, there was a mountain being made of a mole hill – and I quote his words, as reported by the BBC : “It struck me as disproportionate to have brought this particular charge on its own to the crown court. My comments were not intended to make light of racist remarks.”

I am fortunate in that I am not ‘over nourished’ but I am not entirely sure that it is a great idea to call those who are: ‘fat bastards’ as a means of resolving anger in a contentious matter. Would Judge Darlow be prepared to use these words himself in a dispute? I suspect not. I have no idea whether the Police surgeon, who complained of the slur, is fat – but it does seem to me to be rather careless to advise a defendant in criminal proceedings, as to how best he should resolve such a dispute, in the future, in this way.

I have this curious image in my mind of Judge Darlow in ‘The Diary Room’ of the Big Brother House. I am reasonably sure, given that it is unlikely that Judge Darlow will suddenly appear in the BB House, that I am still free to have these images in my mind?

Good to see that the legal profession is still able to contribute to the richness of the human experience.

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Policing on the cheap…

I was having an espresso and smoking a Silk Cut when I saw two proper uniformed coppers patrolling Chiswick High Street. They did not have much to do. The burglars were elsewhere in London, the banks were not being robbed and, as far as I could see, all was well in Chiswick. It was, however, good to see them – a rare sighting these days. I said “Good morning” to them as they walked by. They responded in a like manner. It was like the good old days of Dixon of Dock Green – quite unlike the tenor of the story which I picked up on Geeklawyers blog about bomber jacketed thugs acting as private police. Have a look at the story here.

The last thing we need in Britain is untrained, unaccountable, individuals being given police style powers of arrest. I’m not even sure about Community Support Officers being given more power. I am sure there are some decent and honest people who join as CS officers – but the ones I have seen loitering around in West London don’t appear to me to be fit enough to run after pensioners, let alone tackle hoodies and other ASBO collectors.

When the smoking ban comes in on 1st July we will see ‘Smoking Enforcement Officers’ patrolling the pubs, bars and restaurants – driven on, possibly, by incentives, to enforce the letter of the law. Do we need more people with power on our streets? I’d rather see proper coppers on the streets doing these jobs – a possibly curious attitude in this day and age of devolution of power to power crazed local authorities.

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