Archive for July, 2007

Jaws and Sunday surreality…

The news today (The Sun) that a great white shark has been filmed 200 yards off the Cornwall coast may just be the final straw for beleagured Britain after the great floods. Curiously, the original Jaws film was on TV last night.

The Sun reports: Tourist Nick Martell, 57, from Newcastle upon Tyne, said after the sighting: “Coming face to face with a Great White is every swimmer’s worst nightmare. It’s not the sort of thing you expect in Cornwall, but now I know it’s possible I’ll definitely be on the lookout.”

Excellent understatement. Now, to other matters…

To The Bollo for a late lunch in the afternoon sunshine to digest the Sunday papers, drink Rioja and eat pasta…

I start with The Sunday Times and read about a ‘damning report’ to be published this week: “Official: doctors do less work for more pay”. Nurses are likely to start backlashing after reading this report and Gordon Brown, the paper reports, will accelerate moves to force doctors to open weekend surgeries and hold more morning and evening surgeries – for even more dosh, no doubt.

Mention of Gordon Brown in the article on doctors reminded me that GB is meeting GB at Camp David. Apparently, dress code instructions sent to Downing Street will not prompt Gordon Brown to turn up in ‘ball-crushingly tight blue cord jeans’ like his predecessor. Somehow, it is difficult to imagine Brown in anything other than a rather dull suit. We know, from recent news pictures, that he plays tennis wearing a suit. It is, therefore, unlikely that we will see him pictured dressed up like something out of Brokeback Mountain while he is with Bush.

Scientists breed world’s first mentally ill mouse
I turned my attention to the next story on the front page of The Sunday Times and discovered that scientists have managed to breed the world’s first mentally ill mouse. Apparently, scientists created these schizophrenic mice by modifying their DNA to mimic a mutant gene first found in a Scottish family with a high incidence of schizophrenia. Let us hope that these mice do not escape, watch the Braveheart DVD and start taking an interest in avenging Culloden, or worse, form a boy band or take up cricket.

British teenagers even worse than Danish teenagers
And so… it was on to “Comment” by Rod Liddle, where I discovered: “British teenagers are the worst in Europe, according to yet another cheering survey published last week by the Institute for Public Policy research (IPPR). They are all fat, drug-addled drunkards whose only social activities are vomiting and transmitting sexual diseases – and even worse than Danish teenagers who, everybody accepts, are thoroughly horrible.

While the IPPR wants them to play ping-pong, Liddle suspects they need to be beaten but accepts that ‘corporal punishment (has) become terribly unfashionable in recent years’.

Have you been a naughty boy?
Myrna, Rod Liddle informs us, is a Liberal-Democrat member of Bideford town council in Devon. But, apparently, she is also a stripagram girl who will talk to you in a ‘sexy’ manner for £1.50 a minute. The thought, prompted by Liddle’s piece, of Ming Campbell, in a leather basque, asking Andrew Marr if he had been a naughty boy was too much for me to take in and I had to order another glass of Rioja. Guido Fawkes’ blog (I disclose my enjoyment of this blog) has all the info you need on Myrna.

I had absolutely no idea, until I read Atticus in The Sunday Times, that Boris Johnson campaigned for the job of London mayor under the slogan “Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.” If this is, in fact the case, I shall be writing to Boris to find out where he buys his wine.

And so, it came to pass, that Charon had to go to the land of the blawgs with a goatskin of the staff of life.

18.35 pm. Charon may as well be in The Diary Room.

First up is the blog of Geoffrey Vos QC, Chairman of the Bar who has been receiving judges and lawyers from Kazakhstan: ” I believe that there is a real prospect that these contacts with Kazakh lawyers and judges will create great opportunities in months and years to come for the Commercial and the Chancery Bars.”

Unfortunately, the authorities in Kazakhstan are not too keen on the internet (or blogs!) as a means of fostering communication and good relations. If the Kazakhstan authorities get their way, email and internet communication with the Bar may well prove to be, shall we say, difficult!

I quote from an AP report from Vienna (28 July 2007): “Web sites, blogs and personal pages all are subject to criminal as well as civil prosecution in Kazakhstan, and the country’s information minister, Yermukhamet Yertysbayev, has vowed to purge Kazakh sites of “dirt” and “lies.”

“Those who think it is impossible to control the Internet can continue living in a world of illusions,” Yertysbayev told the Vremya newspaper in a recent interview.

Next, we travel to a very different place:
While it is, perhaps, unfortunate that my next piece, following as it does a piece on Kazakh censorship, concerns the New Zealand government antipathy to being mocked by Australians or other persons (Geeklawyer covers the story): New Zealand’s Parliament has voted itself far-reaching powers to control satire and ridicule of MPs in Parliament, attracting a storm of media and academic criticism. Press Gazette story

Frankly, I cannot think of a single reason to justify parodying New Zealanders.

The news today that “Flog it”, “Cash in the attic” and other TV programmes have been faking it, prompts me to draw attention to Head of Legal’s question “Has the BBC committed offences?”

Unfortunately, I am now well into the Rioja and have no desire to get s.15A Theft act 1968 out and give a view… so, I move on… to another of my favourite blogs… the irrepressible “What About Clients?” conjured up by J Dan Hull.. This week, inter alia, he writes about “Rule Five: Over-communicate: Bombard, Copy and Confirm”

Simon Myerson QC, who, perfectly sensibly, asks visitors to his blog to address him as Simon, has joined the Bar Education and Training committee and continues to provide useful advice to prospective barristers – FREE – and gives a yellow card to an anonymous poster on his comments section for being a bit stroppy with other posters.

John Bolch, Family Lore, recently back from a Spanish holiday, enjoys the fact that a “divorce petition in one of my matters (prepared by the other side I hasten to add) was rejected by the court, one of the reasons being that the term ‘registry office’ had been used when it should be ‘register office’.”

Ruthie, of Ruthie’s Law, has returned from playing rugby (She admits, but not under caution, that she enjoys ‘rough games’) to find herself called for Jury service. Frankly, the idea of lawyers, police, prosecutors or, indeed, anyone with a knowledge of criminal law in practice (or academe) sitting on juries troubles me. There was a time when such people were excluded.

Not many other UK bloggers writing much at the moment…. so… I end with a diversion on the same story I started with.
The latest BBC report on the Great White Shark story I can find at 19.46 on Sunday evening states: But coastguards have dismissed the claims as “scare-mongering”.”

This has all the makings of rather a good film….

As Nick Ross used to say on Crimewatch, before he got sacked for getting old, “don’t have nightmares”

I must now retire and catch up on some documentaries and a bit of politics. I shall, of course, be watching NewsKnight, if only to watch Sir Trevor hack some more jokes to death with unusual timing.

Next week, as they say, is another week….


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A bit of burglary….

Shortly after 5.30 on Saturday evening, I climbed a ladder and ‘broke’ into my house through a first floor window – the only front facing window not locked. I could have kicked the front door in, broken a window, or behaved rationally and arranged for a locksmith to gain entry for me.

I had to gain entry to my own house because I had left my motorbike bumbag in my office, inside the house. I ride a motorbike and use a bumbag to carry keys, cigarettes, wallet, passport, lighters, and other life support systems. I use the bumbag even when I am not riding my bike. Yesterday evening I collected my laptop and wandered over to The Bollo for a glass or two of Rioja. Realising that I did not have my bumbag with me, I returned to the house. The door and downstairs windows were, of course, locked. But, fortunately, on this occasion, I had left an upstairs window unlocked. Fortune favoured me. A Polish builder, working on a house four doors down, was just driving off. I flagged him down, explained the problem, and asked to borrow his ladders. He was happy to assist. I retrieved my bumbag.

It was an interesting way to start my evening and I was able to return to The Bollo. The rioja tasted good and I started to blog – sitting outside. The few spatters of rain did not trouble me unduly. The front awnings provide good shelter.

Reading the lifestyle section of The Times, I saw a picture of celebrated chef, Rick Stein, with spaghetti hanging out of his mouth – not a particularly attractive spectacle. I am bored with all these endless articles on food and celebrity chefs droning on about yet another rare dish recipe they have ‘taken inspiration from’ from some poor peasants in Sicily or other exotic destination for the edification of their rich clientele in the UK. How many cookbooks can the British public consume? Why not just buy the cookbooks published last year at a bargain ‘remaindered’ price from a small independent bookshop? The recipes still work and even if the book is second hand, like some student owned law books, it will probably be in mint condition.

And… now I am about to depart, with my bumbag and laptop, to a place of seclusion to digest the Sunday papers (perhaps a few glasses of Rioja) and blog.

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Announcement by Eva Braun on behalf of Charon QC

After a week of worrying about the Cash for Honours decision and visiting various law blogs, and as a direct and causal result thereof, Charon has been absent from his blawg after a bout of a rather curious illness: Irrationalis Loca Donaldsonia.

Charon has responded well to treatment. In fact, he is self prescribing:

A statement on behalf of Charon QC
Eva Braun. PA to Matt Muttley of Muttley Dastardly LLP

Irrationalis Loca Donaldsonia

The symptoms of this particular disease may be described as follows:

Following the appearance of Sir Liam Donaldson (Government Chief Medical Officer) on television, radio or in printed media, the patient sustains an immediate attack of irrational anger. This is followed by a short bout of Tourettte’s Syndrome where the patient starts swearing uncontrollably. In extreme cases the patient experiences a need to start writing. Often the output is illogical, badly composed, lacking in syntax; with punctuation and spelling presenting at the level of a person with a reading age of 8.

If medical treatment is not given within two hours of an attack the patient may start self prescribing Rioja or other red wines, exceeding the government recommended dosage, usually resulting in further written output of an irrational nature. Often the patient starts to hallucinate and imagine a florid, overweight, man appearing on television to commend the use of taxation to increase the cost of alcohol, announce that he is asking the government to ban smoking completely and recommend restrictions on the advertising and sale of alcohol generally – along the lines of the Swedish government run alcohol monopoly systembolaget. There is no known cure for this syndrome but some psychiatrists have experienced a limited success with patients by using distraction therapy and recommending that the patient visits a pub to drink a bottle of wine and smoke cigarettes. The prognosis is, generally, good and treatment is enhanced if the patient is able to be distracted while drinking Rioja with fellow suffferers.

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Normal service resumed Part 1…

So… after my sweated labour at 3.00 am this morning, actually attempting to write something sensible (infra), I return to more pleasurable pursuits and mark my return to normal service with…

US Judge does a master class in judicial disdain

Hat Tip to Rollonfriday News for covering the story inspiring me on to more detailed research on Wikipedia, Google and reading, for the first time in some years, a US law report.

Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States delivered a dissenting judgment in a case involving a student election at the College of Staten Island. The full report may be read here (The dissent is from p.45)

Last week I commented on the curious Da Vinci judge case where the judge was given a mauling by the Master of the Rolls.

This week a US judge shows how to do disdain at world class levels. The case involves a student election. This is what he had to say…

He kicked off with this: “I concede that this short opinion of mine does not consider or take into account the majority opinion. So I should disclose at the outset that I have not read it

Chief Judge Jacobs moved across to land this… “this is not a case that should occupy the mind of a person who has anything consequential to do.”

and then….

“This is a case about nothing.”

And, rather like a boxer, waiting to land a left hook, he follows up with this: “With due respect to my colleagues in the majority, and to whatever compulsion they feel to expend substantial energies on this case, I fear that the majority opinion (44 pages of typescript) will only feed the plaintiffs’ fantasy of oppression: that plutocrats are trying to stifle an upsurge of Pol-Potism on Staten Island. Contrary to the impression created by the majority’s lengthy formal opinion, this case is not a cause célèbre; it is a slow-motion tantrum by children spending their graduate years trying to humiliate the school that conferred on them a costly education from which they evidently derived small benefit.

And.. the coup de grace: “If this case ends with a verdict for the plaintiffs (anything is possible with a jury), the district court will have the opportunity to consider whether the exercise merits an award of attorney’s fees in excess of one-third of two dollars.”

Excellent stuff… It is worth reading the dissent. Chief Judge Jacobs provides an extract from the student magazine. He states (p 46) “A selection from the illiterate piffle in the disputed issue of The College Voice is set out in the margin for the reader’s fun.”

The full report may be read here (The dissent is from p.45)

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Cash for Honours…

I woke at 3.00 am to find a very clear statement by the CPS on the matter of the “Cash for Honours” case waiting for me in my in-box. That the CPS has taken the step to issue a clear statement on this matter is testament to the interest which the decision not to prosecute will generate in the press and other media.

The full CPS statement may be read here.

The fourth estate may well thunder, opine and rant. Politicians may well take partisan positions, but the fact of the matter, as explained in the CPS Explanatory Statement, is that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution and, therefore, the issue of public interest did not have to be considered.

To summarise I have taken relevant extracts from the CPS Explanatory Statement.

1. Para 1: The CPS “was advised by a team of independent counsel, led by David Perry QC. The Director of Public Prosecutions played no part in the decision-making process”

2. Para 22: “A decision whether or not to prosecute is a two stage process. First, consideration must be given to whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction (‘the evidential test’). Secondly, if (and only if) it is decided that a realistic prospect of conviction exists, consideration must then be given to whether a prosecution is in the public interest (‘the public interest test’)”

3. Para 23: “As will be clear from paragraphs 13 to 17 above, an offence is committed if an unambiguous offer of a gift, etc, in exchange for an honour, is either made or solicited by one person to or from another, even if that other person refuses either to accept or to make such an offer; or one person agrees with another to make/accept a gift, etc, specifically in exchange for an honour.”

4. Para 24: “There is nothing in the circumstances of this case to suggest that the first of these routes to the offence has been taken.”

5. Para 29: “… the CPS is satisfied beyond doubt that the available evidence is not sufficient to enable an overwhelming inference to be drawn, such as to afford a realistic prospect of convicting any person for any offence contrary to Section 1 of the 1925 Act.”

6. Para 30: “In relation to possible breaches of the 2000 Act, we are satisfied that we cannot exclude the possibility that any loans made – all of which were made following receipt by the Labour Party of legal advice – can properly be characterised as commercial”.

7. Para 31: “In relation to any events which might have been interpreted as acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, we are satisfied that the weight of the evidence that has now been considered does not support that suggestion. There is therefore no realistic prospect of conviction in respect of the offence of perverting the course of public justice against any individuals.”

I have no expertise in criminal law, but it is an interest I keep up – and my post is made on that premise. The CPS will not reveal the confidential advice given. Para 4: “It is not our practice to publish such advice, particularly where it analyses in great detail the conduct of named persons against whom no criminal proceedings can properly be brought.”

Interestingly in para 32, the CPS statement ends with – “the conclusions reached by the CPS are the result of independent and professional judgment, following a thorough and professional investigation by the police. Extraneous considerations such as political or public opinion have played no part in the analysis, nor have they played any part in the decision making.”

Of course, as Simon Myerson QC has pointed out in the comments section on an earlier post: “A reaction which says ‘he got away with it because I don’t like the decision so he just must have done’ is neither sensible nor compelling. The proposition is that the CPS have been ‘got at’ or that the decision is corrupt. Those are serious allegations, so let those prepared to make them say what the evidence is. Otherwise, forgive me, they should shut up – no”

Victorian Maiden, over at Ruthie’s Law – has an interesting and amusing analysis on this, albeit in Victorian language. It is thought by Geeklawyer that Victorian Maiden is a real silk, which may well turn out to be the case given the precision of knowledge on posts so far, and if you would like to read a bit of grovelling and sycophancy from Geeklawyer – you may do so here!

The full statement from the CPS

After exercising my brain on matters of law and not wishing, in any way, to turn my blawg into a real law blawg by writing too much law (I like Simon Myerson QC’s description of my blawg as a ‘discursive / gossip blawg’) I feel I am now able to post some complete and utter nonsense, in contra-distinction to the above, later in the day without guilt. I shall, no doubt, do so.

So… what are the papers saying:

Guardian: “Blair aides attack Police inquiry”

Labour angry that investigation undermined authority of government – Lord Levy venting a fraction of his anger – Blair came close to resigning when told by Yates that he intended to interview the PM under caution. Yates backed down after representations by Cabinet Office – Gordon Brown, anxious to draw the matter to a close, defended the police – Despite Blair calling for restraint Mandelson gets angry – Police disappointed – Yates now likely to face three inquiries: Internal metropolitian Police and two external: Metropolitan Police Authority and Commons public administration select committee.

Angus Robertson, the SNP leader in Westminster, claimed: “The idea that the Metropolitan police … is a branch of the SNP is utterly preposterous.”

Times: Relief swiftly turns to anger as MPs confirm that police will be questioned.

Independent: End of investigation greeted with relief and recrimination

The Mirror: Bush has third test on Colon

Well… there we are. Soon I will be down on the high street sipping espressos and smoking Silk Cut. A bit of bacon, eggs and beans today – with the egg, as usual, on the right hand side of the plate.


UPDATE: Saturday 21st July 2007 23.40 pm


I am grateful to Jailhouselawyer (See comments)  for pointing out that Guido Fawkes has proposed a private prosecution.  Here is the link 

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Friday cocktail…

I have absolutely no idea why a current Home Secretary and a fair proportion of the current Cabinet (according to the newspaper of record, The Evening Standard, on Thursday 18th July) have decided to admit to smoking cannabis when they were younger.

I can only surmise that the Brown government has decided the British public will be able to digest this information in a mature and reflective manner without doing something completely irrational or have decided upon some ‘cult driven mass expiation’, in advance of a ‘snap’ election, to expurgate their sins and leave WebCameron et al to reflect upon their younger days.

The Facebook saga, with Oxford using Facebook to hunt down miscreant students, continues to promote comment (Cambridge stated that they would not be using Facebook to hunt down their own students.) See: Martin George | Belle de Jure

Labour wins the two by-elections and Cameron is left to reflect on the wisdom of his choice of candidate in Ealing. Guardian report

Absolutely no-one to be charged in Cash for Honours case.

The Guardian reports: “The CPS had to decide two issues before proceeding with prosecutions. They decided a prosecution would be in the public interest, but after examining the evidence came to the view there was not a realistic prospect of a jury convicting. “

UPDATE:  It is clear, following the CPS Explanatory Statement (above) that The Guardian got the public interest point completely wrong.  The public interest question only comes into play if there is sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution.  There was insufficient evidence in the Cash for Honours matter and, therefore, the public interest issue did not arise.  Saturday 21st july)

The Police are not happy with this decision. Gordon Brown will, it is suggested, be magnanimous, and Blair tells his aides not to do ‘a Campbell’. There can be little doubt the Police invesitgation weakened the authority of Tony Blair and the CPS will have to explain their decision very clearly in the wake of what will, almost certainly, be a maelstrom of criticism and comment from politicians and the press.

UPDATE: The CPS issued a detailed and very clear explanatory statement on Friday 20th July.  See Post above 

In the meantime: I am reviewing hundreds of hours of writing blog posts to ensure that I have not been running any phone-in competitions or otherwise putting things in the wrong order to ‘sex up’ my blog and mislead readers. The BBC appears to be doing the same.

Right… it is just after 6.00 am. The rain is pouring down in West London. The prospect of play at Lords today does not look good. I am feeling antidiluvian and I have an hour to wait before I can get on my motorbike, ride down to the High Street and take three espressos, eat breakfast (Today, in a departure from the norm it will be toast and a banana) – sitting outside, as ever, smoking Silk Cut while I catch up on tabloid world.

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A ‘must read’ for Facebook users…

Martin George has a very useful post “Facebook, Oxford and Privacy” on his blog. Fascinating stuff – definitely a must read if you are on Facebook. A tale of dark deeds by Oxford dons against Oxford students and other matters…


See also: Alex from IMPACT on his take on all this

See also: Lilian Edwards, Pangloss on Facebook

See also: Prisonlawinsideout for more on this 

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A few good reads…

Not a great deal to report on the blawgs this week. Perhaps it is the floods and plague of frogs?, the prospect of Boris Johnson running for Mayor?, worry about the expulsion of russian diplomats?

But, nevertheless, there are a few good reads. Others have covered this, and I give their links later.

The curse of Da Vinci?

Mr Justice Peter Smith came to the attention of a wider public last year when he embedded a secret code in his judgment on the Da Vinci Code case. (BBC) I seem to remember the code, when cracked, read: “Smithy Code Jackie Fisher who are you Dreadnought.”

Dreadnought, indeed. Mr Justice Peter Smith has certainly attracted the attention of the Court of Appeal in a recent judgment. Briefly: Smith J was invited to recuse himself from hearing a case involving an Addleshaw Goddard (AG) partner. (A Beddoe application in which trustees seek directions from the court with regard to the operation of a trust. Mr Howell, an AG partner, was a trustee in the matter coming before the court.)

Smith J had been involved in discussion with Addleshaw Goddard with a view to joining AG. The talks broke down. Mr Peter Crampin QC wrote to the judge asking him to recuse himself and stand down because of the history between himself and AG. The judge refused by letter dated the same day. He said in the letter that if Mr Crampin wanted to renew the application he should make it in court supported by evidence.

Sir Anthony Clarke MR’s judgment is worth reading in full. It will not take long and reveals an extraordinary course of events. It is clear from the evidence that Mr Justice Peter Smith was not entirely happy about the breakdown of talks with AG relating to him joining the firm or the reasons given by AG. I quote from the judgment (Para 12):

“I feel you have wasted my time for several months. I am extremely disappointed because contrary to your fine words you have allowed the bean counters to prevail. I am not very impressed with you or your firm at the moment and I do not think the tone of your emails enhances the position.”

But the exchange between Peter Crampin QC and Smith J is fascinating, particularly towards the end when the judge says: “If you’re going to say that, you’d better say it with specificity, or you’d better withdraw it, or there might be professional consequences. “

The exchange between Peter Crampin QC and Smith J is remarkable – and I won’t spoil your reading by quoting it here.

The Court of Appeal judgment is robust, to say the least; Sir Anthony Clarke MR remarking The judge’s contribution to these exchanges seems to me to be intemperate.”

Sir Anthony Clarke concluded: “It may well be that the judge became somewhat carried away in the heat of the argument. But for the reasons I have given, I would hold that his attitude throughout, from the emails at the end of May, during the hearing on Friday and in his judgment show that the test for apparent bias is satisfied. As the reviewing court, this court is in a position to form its own view. I have concluded that in all the circumstances, a fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that the judge was biased against AG and its partners, including Mr Howell. It was for that reason that I concluded on Monday that the appeal should be allowed.”

The full judgment may be read here

And now the vexed question of “Judgement” and “Judgment”

I was taught that one uses judgement, but a court delivers a ‘judgment’. The Court of Appeal in the case above uses ‘Judgment’. See also: The CPR Parts 24 and 40 (Hat Tip to anonymous poster on Simon Myerson QC’s blog, commenting on Simon’s reference to ‘judgement’.) Ruthie’s Law, commenting on the same case – which is well worth a read, VM uses ‘judgement’ and gives a view that the judge should resign.) Does it matter?

And… finally… if you want a good read on how good the Bar Council is at representing the interests of barrristers – in the view of Geeklawyer – on one issue. Here it is! (As Geeklawyer advises… not ‘Work Safe” and parental control should be exercised.) Offf for an espresso and a bit of Tabloid reading to soothe my mind after this bout of early morning reading.

UPDATE: The Times reports 16 July – that Mr Justice Peter Smith’s conduct is to be investigated by The Office for Judicial Complaints

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Charon is in the Diary Room…

1.15 pm
Charon is in the Diary Room smoking and discussing The Human Rights Act. Big Brother has reminded Charon that it is illegal to smoke in an enclosed public place. Charon asked Big Brother for a lawyer.

1.30 pm
Big Brother has granted Charon’s request and a lawyer has arrived at the House, escorted by Group 4 security : http://www.rollonfriday.com/story362.htm

1.40 pm
Ruthie, who was evicted from the House two weeks ago, has set up a new blog with a mystery Silk. Charon has it on good authority that Victorian Maiden is not only a man, but is a real Silk. Geeklawyer, who faced the public vote last night, is back in the house. Charon has asked for rattlesnake, blackeye beans, lime creme fraiche, and smoked chilli jelly to be sent in from Vivat Bacchus, the South African run restaurant in Farringdon.

2.00 pm
Big Brother has called the housemates to the living room. Housemates have been told that lawyers in The City are expensive and that some law schools are now charging very high fees for their LPC and BVC courses. Housemates have to estimate (a) how much the most expensive lawyers in The City charge per hour, (b) the cost of an LPC and BVC at the most expensive law schools and (c) how much the top legal aid barrister earned last year for conducting criminal law related cases. Housemates have to estimate to within 10 %. If the housemates pass the task they will be rewarded with a luxury shopping basket.

2.20 pm
Geeklawyer is in the Diary Room telling Big Brother it will not be long before “solicitor-inadequates” can now dress in the same manner as the real lawyers if the Lord Chief Justice gets his way.


Big Brother: Geeklawyer, does it really trouble you that solicitor-advocates will be able to wear wigs in Criminal cases?
Geeklawyer: “Frankly why the fuck can they not just let things be? The previous report came to no firm conclusion and it is difficult to do other than draw the conclusion that this is a cost saving measure relieving the state of a couple of hundred grand for judges dress. As usual our fine traditions are being thrown out for no reason other than pandering to the Treasury, New Labour ‘modernist’ fuckwits and the envy of the junior branches of the profession.”

Big Brother: Geeklawyer, would you like us to send in a case of Mead and a new housemate?


3.00 pm
Alistair Campbell is in the Diary Room telling Big Brother that he can take no more and unless Gordon Brown leaves the house within 45 minutes he will climb over the wall and publish the bits he kept back from his own diary.


It is, of course, entirely possible, (probable) that some of my housemates in / on the blawgosphere will not have a clue why I am talking about Diary Rooms and Big Brother – … but all I can say is this… a diarist of my persuasion has to be up on many things…. and yes… . I’m afraid I have watched the programme. Unfortunately, no CPD points for doing so. Fortunately, law blogs I visit provide far more intellectual nourishment…

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Barrister flouts parking rules..

This is not a barrister deliberately flouting the road traffic legislation or riding en route to the Court of Appeal to ask the judges to rule in his favour after his failed application to injunct Islington Council.

The Times reports… “A barrister claimed yesterday that his motorcycle is immune to parking tickets because its wheels do not touch the ground when it is parked.” (It is parked on a centre stand!)

The parking regulations state that an offence is committed “when a motor vehicle is “parked with one or more wheels on any part of an urban road”.

Clive Wolman of 11 Stone Buildings, a journo turned barrister, has had 100 parking tickets, apparently. At 80 quid a go (presumably more now, per ticket – as he may not have paid the fines. This is not immediately clear from the report in the Times) … well, as they say, you do the Maths.

Mr Wolman’s argument turns on a point that “Deputy Circuit Judge Robin Laurie had misinterpreted the meaning of “on”. “

Well… do I need to spend part of my life, as it drains away, discussing statutory interpretation? The Court of Appeal has reserved judgment. Ruthie of Ruthie’s Law and the new Mystery Silk have a lively view.

Do I need to give a view at all? Well… yes, qua biker. Apart from all the usual guff about FREE bike bays being available with reasonable frequency (we could always use more), the fact that a biker may park his / her bike in a parking space (for a fee), the fact that we all have to put up with parking regulations, whether it is a good use of Court of Appeal time… etc etc etc…

My own view is that Mr Wolman needs to get a serious motorbike, some leather chaps, a polished chrome german army style helmet and and a bit of attitude. A 500 cc Suzuki ( a perfectly good bike for commuting etc) is not going to cut it down at the Inns of Court Hell’s Angel Chapter, at Box Hill, the Ace Cafe, or indeed, with many bikers.

Parking his bike on a centre stand, illegally, and then taking the Council to court? I ask you… not exactly ‘street bike’, not exactly radical. In fact a bit of a dull thing thing to do…. and I speak only as a biker. I would not wish Mr Wolman to construe what follows as incitement to commit any more infringements of the road traffic and parking regulations – but…. smoking a cigarette while riding (perfectly possible with an open face helmet), a wheelie or two…. perhaps the odd burn-out or ‘do-nut’… now you are talking radical.

I await the judgment of the Court of Appeal on this matter with interest. For some reason I am singing “Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Wolman…” – to the tune of Dad’s Army, of course!

And.. now I am going to do a bit of jaywalking and nip off to The Bollo for a medicinal glass to calm my vapours after reading about this strange case. Mind you… quite clever, really, when you think about it. Mr “Steppenwolf” Wolman has got into the papers, has the undivided attention of senior members of the, soon to be wigless, judiciary and may well come to the attention of Muttley Dastardly LLP if he wins the case. Hey… who cares… we were all ‘born to be wild’.

Make good progress… and wheelie…. and, on that note – I go to bed to watch news… for tomorrow, as usual, I ride against the French.

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Off with his wig…

It will happen….

Non smokers will enjoy this short film

And so wigs in civil cases are to go… 

Lord Philips has announced that wigs are to be abolished in civil cases and announces a new line in courtwear. Ruthie’s Law covers the story.

 The Times celebrates 30 years of the Employment Appeal Tribunal with a trawl through some most unusual employment disputes.  If you have not already seen it – worth a read.

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Thinking about a career at the bar?…

If you are thinking about a career at the Bar – then please read this interesting post by Simon Myerson QC.

(There aren’t that many real Silks blogging (Charon is, of course, a creature of imagination) and The Pupillage and how to get it blog is a useful resource, imparting solid, sensible and practical advice from the ‘coal face’)

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The Charon Years…

July 10th 2007

I have no idea who chose this cover for my new book, but I look like a steward on a British Airways flight.

June 27th 2007

My agent called to say that it would be safe to publish my Diary. TB had finally gone, or “F****d off”, as he put it. I turned on the television to see GB impersonating an orator outside No 10. I told ‘H’ [My agent] that it might be an idea to wind GB up by seeing if the press would run with the idea that GB would say that he wasn’t going to read my diary and that the past is the past… or some other similar f*****g s**t…

To be continued… at all good bookshops.

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Corporate Blawg’s hosting of Blawg Review 116 is in the building…

“The English Blawg is quite a peculiar fish
Each day is served a slightly different dish”

This is but a very short extract from a Shakespearian drama….

CB… introduces the UK Blawgs with doggerel I am pleased, having awarded myself Silk (at a time when the LC suspended the award for real lawyers), to be enobled by Corporate Blawg without having to incur the unwanted attention of Inspector Knacker of the Yard.

I have to say… CB is up there with Tennyson, Yates, Blake’s Jerusalem, Wordsworth, Rabbie Burns… and even Manley Hopkins. He said he would sing like a swan… or was it drink at The Swan? He does. He has done us, on this side of the pond, proud. Floreat Corporatus Blawgus

It is a good and a must read – and delivered early. That is a British City lawyer for you! I have no idea about whether it was within budget. £1000 an hour? Absolutely… because he is worth it!

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I felt like the Pharaoh Akhenaten…

It was shortly after 7.00 this morning. I was seated, as usual, outside The Hothouse Cafe reading the Sunday papers. Suddenly, a shaft of bright light flooded down through the cloud. I saw the Aten, a disc of fiery light in the sky – the rays bathing Chiswick High Street in brilliant sunshine. I subscribe to no faith. But this morning I could understand why the Pharaoh Akhenaten rejected the non-existent in favour of the reality of the Sun.

Having rejected the utterly ludicrous suggestion made last week by The Bishop of Carlisle (pictured in The Telegraph article ‘going equipped’), that the floods had been sent by god to punish us, I could not, of course, take the view that this same god had obviously tired of vengeance – so, lighting a Silk Cut, I put the re-appearance of the Sun over Chiswick down to rather more plausible science.

And so, now, I find myself outside The Bollo, a glass of Rioja, Silk Cut (cigarettes) and an ashtray to my right; delighted to be mentioned by Times journo, Alex Aldridge, in his article in Times Online ” Seven steps to interview heaven” where he imparts advice to those baffled or being crushed by the rigours of applying for pupillage. Alex also suggests that interviewees remove pictures of their testicles from their Facebook profiles before attending interviews. I am in good, if mildly anarchic, company. Geeklawyer’s ‘punctuation-lite’ blog (as Alex puts it) also gets a mention. Alex… I, who am about to drink, salute you – an amusing article!

The news that Peter Mandelson, erstwhile prince of darkness, is to be sent to The Lords, diverted me for a moment – but even such irony, in Blair’s last official act (Honours List) to annoy Brown, was not enough for me this day. Live Earth and the troupe of ageing rock stars did nothing to attract me yesterday: But there is something touching about some of the most conspicuous consumers on the planet ( I would imagine) telling us to watch our carbon footprint and save the World. At least BBC presenter, Chris Moyles, had sufficient sense of humour left to announce that he was selling his 4 x 4, as it wasn’t good for the environment, and ask if anyone wanted to buy it.

The Sunday Times reports today: “Senior doctors avoid being treated on the NHS” and found that over 55% of senior doctors pay medical insurance to provide for private medical care! This is good to know. At least they will be well enough to ensure that medics beat the British Medical Journal figure of 30,000 killed by medical errors and the 5000 more killed by superbugs (Source: Rod Liddle, Sunday Times) Rod Liddle wonders if all British doctors are members of Al-Qaeda, given recent events.

Boris Johnson for Mayor, even though I am not a Tory, seemed to me a good idea – and I have joined the Facebook group of that name. [Yes… at the risk of becoming delusional and speaking about myself in the third person… Charon has a place on Facebook where he wastes a few moments each day.] Michael Portillo, a commentator I enjoy listening to, states “It is another question whether the Henley MP (an intelligent writer, but whose shambling manner is entirely convincing) could be taken seriously as the potential boss of one of the world’s great cities.” He has a point.

A book on my list for tomorrow will be Alastair Campbell’s The Blair Years. For some curious reason I read far too many political biographies.

While Britain faces a “15 year fight against terror“, Admiral Sir Alan West, our new security/terror minister, advises that it is time for a new approach – time to be “Un-British” and “snitch” – by which he means, inform the authorities about anything and everything likely to be a threat to Britain. It is a bit baffling (even after a bottle of Rioja) to read that our new Minister is recalling the values of of Billy Bunter and Greyfriars Preparatory School Britain of the 1950s to tackle the dangers ahead.

I simply quote from The Sunday Times and hope the Admiral has something up his sleeve. Unlike Admiral Lord Nelson – he has two of them: “Britishness does not normally involve snitching or talking about someone. I’m afraid, in this situation, anyone who’s got any information should say something because the people we are talking about are trying to destroy our entire way of life.

“We’ll have to be a little bit un-British, I think … and say something and tell something.”

Anyway… moving on.

I wish, now, that I had not done so – but I did. I visited the BBC website and hit the link to Alastair Campbell’s diaries – which he has now published. This is but one extract. I had to go back to The Bollo and order another glass of Rioja, such was my condition after reading this extract about meeting Princess Diana (1995):

“She’s standing there absolutely, spellbindingly, drop-dead gorgeous, in a way that the millions of photos didn’t quite get.

“She said ‘Hello’, held out her hand and said she was really pleased to meet me, so I mumbled something back about being more pleased.

“‘It would make a very funny picture if there were any paparazzi in those trees,’ she said.”

More pleased?…. I do hope this is not representative of the rest of the book. Alan Clark knew how to write a diary.

Moving on again… at this rate… I’ll get an ASBO. I may even have to give myself one.

I went to The Bar Council Blog to see if I could find anything for you by Bar Council Chairman and blogger, Geoffrey Vos QC. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the ‘Chairman’s diary is still very busy.’

So… it was on to THE BLAWGS for my review of the week gone by:

Thankfully, Belle de Jure (Edited: see comments) came up trumps. Belle de Jure reports on the difficulties faced by Stephen Fry when he joined Facebook. I shall leave you to visit BdJ’s blog to discover exactly what Mr Fry faced. ( BdJ uses an online Russian translation tool to sing his praises in Russian – which even I would not have managed to think of after two bottles of Rioja – so… Hat Tip to Belle de Jour!)

Corporate Blawg is about to sing like a swan – for tomorrow he hosts US based Blawg Review 116. Barrister Blog has a piece on unfair Bank overdraft charges… so if you want to know what rights you have with your bank: have a look. My fellow smoker, John Bolch, over at Family Lore, has a view on “Roasting the Turkey” about the Child Support Agency. Justin Patten, writer of the Human law Mediation blog, has a new website for mediation. Leagle Beagle catches a die-hard smoker smoking in the doorway to her Chambers which is, apparently, forbidden at that Set, on ‘pain of a public flogging’. You see… diversity really is needed in the law. If we had more non public school types involved at the Bar there would be less flogging in public places etc etc. Lo-fi Librarian enthuses about the fact that The New York Times says “librarians are cool”. Martin George is ‘en vacances’ and cannot blog. His wife thinks this is a good thing.

Nearly Legal, after his almost Sysiphean efforts hosting Blawg Review 115, is relaxing, but notes that an american finds the UK ‘surprisingly interesting’. I am sure Nearly Legal will accept my ‘Sysiphus’ reference as a compliment – It is intended to be. Prisonlawinsideout notes that The Tories plan to put 7p on a pint and use superglue as their secret weapon to fix a broken society. Pupilblog is concerned about tenancy and wonders whether he may have prejudiced his position.

Reactionary Snob, a Scots advocate, has, as usual, something interesting to say – in this post: about why should we listen to Catholic priests about life and many other important matters: Food for thought.

And finally… for this extended post at least, always a pleasure to get a mention from my friend over at The Virginity Project… who continues to remember me as “Table 3 Mike” … whoever he is 🙂

I am also grateful for a very subtle link on Dan Hull’s What About Clients? blog when he mentions Rioja in the context of the bull running at Pamplona (and… middle-aged angst.) It may not be immediately obvious… but I like a bit of subtlety.

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I’ve learnt so much from my previous mistakes… I think I’ll make another.

Tonight, apart from drawing attention to Gordon Brown’s remarkable nasal excavations (posted earlier), I have decided to have a politics free blog post.

Apart, that is, from stating that I rather like the new edict that all government buildings fly the Union Jack as a statement against terrorism and a pride in Britain. As it happens, I do have a ‘Saltire’ (The white cross on a navy blue background of Scotland) – it is hanging on a pole in the corner of my office. I have had it for years.

And… Charles Kennedy has been caught smoking on a train! According to the BBC Charles Kennedy (although British Transport Plod only identified him as a “man’) was smoking on board and “refusing to stop”, thinking it was fine to smoke out of the window.

I am not a Lib-dem… but I do like Charles Kennedy. I particularly liked this quote from the BBC story: “Despite a New Year’s resolution to quit the habit for 2005, he admitted he was still smoking the following April, but said it had come down “drastically”.

A man after my own heart. A great loss to the Lib-Dems – at least he had / has ideas, style and a ‘spark’ even if he was, occasionally, unwell or sweating heavily at conferences.

I understand, that although The House of Commons was exempted from the No Smoking ban, MPs have acceded to the absurdity of their being the only people apart from convicted prisoners and those in hospices in being so exempt, ‘they’ have banned smoking at the H of C (Apart from designated outside areas). MPs are now smoking in the toilets / lavatories – apparently.

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The bogeyman is coming to get you…

The inimitable Guido Fawkes has an extraordinary film for you. Brown digs deep on this one. See the film. Won’t take long. Delicious ?

I’ll be doing a fairly long post later this evening / early tomorrow…. in the meantime… see our PM in action. Priceless. It is not known if David Cameron was able to pick up on this one.


By the way – my dead body is worth $3625. If you would like to find out much medical science will pay for your dead body – try this assessment. Might well pay for the funeral and a decent wake (Well….funeral when the medics have finished with your body). Here endeth my lunch break. Most satisfying.

And just a thought for this afternoon: Via Bore Me

Differences between Glasgow and America after a terror incident at an airport:

America: “Oh my God! There was a man on fire, he was running about, I just ran for my life… I thought I was gonna die, he got so close to me.”
Glasgow: “C*nt wis running aboot on fire, so a ran up ‘n gave him a good boot, then decked him.”

America: “I just wanna get home, away from here… I just wanna get home, I thought I was gonna die.”
Glasgow: “Here shug, am no leaving here till am oan a f*ckin’ plane!”

America: “There was pandemonium, people were running in all directions, we didn’t know what was happening, I thought I was gonna die.”
Glasgow: “F*ck this fir a kerry oan, moan we’ll get a pint in.”

America: “We thought he was gonna blow us all up he had a gas canister, and was trying to get into his trunk, I thought we were gonna die, I just ran for my life.”
Glasgow: “A swaggered by the motor that wis on fire, and the dafty couldnae even open his boot, he wis in fire annaw so a ran up n gave him a good boot to the baws.”

America: “There was this huge explosion, it sounded like war, I thought I was gonna die.”
Glasgow: “There wis a bang, yi know when yi throw B.O basher intae a fire it wis like that.”

America: “I’m too traumatised even to speak, I thought I was gonna die.”
Glasgow “Here mate, gies 2 minutes till a phone ma auld dear, if am gonna be oan the telly a want her tae tape it.”

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Nail fungus…

I accept that this is not the most cerebral post I have made… but I have just seen an advert on British television for “Curanail” – a “New treatment for nail fungus Now available without prescription”

I just wondered how many people in Britain suffer from nail fungus… to justify an expensive Tv advert.


Have fixed the link to Curanail – should you wish to visit the website… mea culpa

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Servant of the people…

I took a few minutes out this afternoon to listen to Gordon Brown tell parliament that he has a few proposals to make the government a ‘better servant of the people’. The metaphor is rather dull. I am not entirely sure that I want a British government to be a ‘servant’ – but let the metaphor pass.

The proposed changes may be summarised as: giving MPs the final say in who we invade etc etc, giving MPs a ‘bigger role in approving public appointments’, establishing Commons committees for the English regions, a future ‘Bill of Rights’, the creation of a national security council (with regular publication of strategy) – but all subject to the caveat that this must limit our (his?) ability to deal with operational decisions and emergencies.

Brown also felt it would be good to surrender the power to appoint Church of England bishops – a new take on government taking action about an entity that does not exist?

Justice Secretary Straw LC will handle the business of bringing shape and reality to these concepts. While Brown is no fan of proportional representation, he welcomes a debate. He also suggested that 16 year olds should be given the right to vote. Interesting idea, given they can’t drink (and there are plans to stop them buying cigarettes) until they are 18! I hardly need to state the obvious….

POSTSCRIPT 8.45 pm 3rd July

BBC coverage of constitutional reforms

The Attorney-General, Baroness Scotland, has decided that she will no longer make key prosecutions in individual cases – for example: Cash for honours.

In the meantime, while they sort out these reforms (and I have had quite enough constitutional reform for one day)… I am off to watch Malcolm Tucker swearing like a trooper in “The Thick of it” and get some good old fashioned political satire on BBC Four.

Bon nuit…

PS… it is pleasing to note that WebCameron has an insight into Brown’s first week: I quote from WebCameron website/blog / Manifesto….

“Brown’s been PM for a week, and it hasn’t stopped raining”

“With reshuffles, constitutional statements and PMQs on the agenda, the weather isn’t much of an issue for me. Except in one case. At the weekend I had to erect a £40 tent from Woolworth’s in my garden so that parents and godparents at Elwen’s christening didn’t get soaked. Working out what went where, getting tent poles to fit with each other, lashing down the cover so the whole thing held together – this made political activity look simple and straightforward.

Why am I writing this now? In the new world of non-spin from the Government (likely to last 2 ¾ days) there is no advance notice of what the PM is going to say in his statement this afternoon, so I am at a loose end. Normally you get to hear the whole thing on the Today programme and read it in the newspapers. So this time only Gord knows what’s coming. I’ll guess it’ll be: “I’ll restore trust in politics”. We must all keep a straight face.

Indeed… Mr Cameron… one must keep a straight face.

Right… I’m definitely awf to lie on my futon and watch The Thick of it.

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No Smoking…

Picture from Guido Fawkes’ excellent blog.

The comments for Guido Fawkes’ are worth reading.

While a few continue to defy the ban, most smokers just get on with it. I’ve already met a couple of interesting people puffing away outside The Bollo – although, when the monsoon rain started at 5.30 yesterday afternoon, I did find it difficult to light the cigarettes. It wasn’t so much the rain – it was the wind!

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