Archive for January 20th, 2007

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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And…so…the time has come…

Midnight Friday 19 / Saturday 20 January

I gather that Jade was evicted while I was selflessly working on my laptop (see below) from The Bollo tonight. Good stuff. However… I have no further interest in these tawdry Channel 4 (with or without Carphone Warehouse) proceedings.

From tomorrow – I will return to asking why Police are questioning a Blair aide on the cash for peerages issue …wondering why Lord Goldsmith was pictured walking very quickly on a BBC News 24 clip which I saw earlier today (have we started another war while I have been at the Bollo tonight? – which is when we usually see pictures of Peter Goldsmith scurrying into Downing Street) and, to bring much needed perspective back to my life (and, possibly, the lives of others) I will almost certainly be having another caption competition. I must do my bit to calm our nation after the storms (weather – and those relating to the undermining of the entire British politico-economic system, and our future with India, by Jade Goody)

I’m pretty certain that Jade Goody can also be blamed for the recent rise in interest rates by The Bank of England. She may even, quite possibly, be held accountable for the fact that Little Britain was never very funny – but I may be going too far on this. It is, of course, a personal view which I express, when I say that I did not / do not find Little Britain funny. I believe that I am entitled to express a qualitatative opinion on the ‘amusingness’ or otherwise of a programme on British television – but if you feel differently – please feel free to phone OfCom or Gordon Brown (nothing like going to the ‘top man’) and have me evicted from the legal blogosphere. It will probably do me good.

Tomorrow… will be another day…

But if you really want to reflect on the impact of Big Brother and the interests of business.. you might like to read this BBC report

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