Archive for September, 2007

Today I talk to Peter Crisp, Dean of BPP Law School, about the new power to award degrees. Peter explains why BPP did not talk to The Today programme the other morning and explains BPP plans for the LLB and LLM. He also addresses issues raised by others critical of the new powers awarded to BPP and expresses his vision of the future for legal education.

Listen to Podcast 26: Peter Crisp on the new degree awarding power enjoyed by BPP


See also: What Nigel Savage, CEO, The College of Law had to say about this

See: Consilio for full coverage of the debate on legal education.

Follow up podcasts on this theme:

Consilio | Podcast 28: Richard de Friend College of Law|Podcast 27 Giles Proctor, Nottingham | Podcast 26 with Peter Crisp, BPP | Podcast 25 with Nigel Savage, College of Law


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The Goldfish bowl….

The Independent today reported that barristers who step out of line and find themselves before the Bar Standards Board on serious misconduct issues will be named and shamed.

“Under the scheme, barristers and the charges they are facing will be published along with the date and time of the tribunal hearing. All findings of guilt and resulting sentences will also be made public within seven days of the end of the hearing. Suspensions and disbarments will remain on the website indefinitely, with other findings removed after two years”

Minor misbehaviour will not be disclosed, nor will hearings involving alcohol, incapacity or health matters. Liability rises from £5000 to £15000 and there is also the possibility that a miscreant barrister will be made to apologise to the victim. Independent Story


Well… I feel I have done my bit for serious commentary this week. I have been assiduous in pursuing the new degree awarding powers of BPP story. I have done a podcast with Nigel Savage. I do a podcast with Peter Crisp of BPP at 9.00 tomorrow. I have invited Giles Proctor of Kaplan-Nottingham to do a podcast on the matter (and he has accepted)…. it is time, now, for me to have a glass of Rioja, set up an espresso and nip outside for a cigarette.

Rather bizarrely, a friend of mine suggested that smokers may well be advantaged by sitting outside smoking. Greater absorption of Vitamin D. I just can’t look up this hypothesis on the net, but I am able to relate that the weather is turning cold. I am prepared. I am thinking of buying a Naval Duffle Coat, of the style worn on the Atlantic Convoys in WW II and in the film The Cruel Sea. That should do the trick. I may even buy some binoculars so that I can keep an eye on those inside the pub or bar. And I quite like the look of those hats.

The news that Boris is to take on “King Newt” in the mayor grab is fascinating, in a ‘car crash’ sort of way.

Although I have voted Labour/New Labour all my voting life, I feel that London deserves a bit of Boris. Boris managed to win 3/4 of the vote for the Tory candidate nomination. Good to see democracy at work. Must have been a bit of a waste of time for the other candidates – but, democracy must be seen to be done. Gordon, of course, was not opposed – or should we say ‘Re-Hash Brown’ after the allegations today that Gordon’s speech writers copied bits of Clinton and Gore speeches for Brown’s Castro style Conference speech to the ‘believers’.


I was amused to see a friend of mine, Chris McLaughlin, Editor of Tribune, on television last night explaining why a left-wing fringe meeting hosted by Tribune had been cancelled. It was absolutely nothing to do with the fact that there are, actually, no left-wing members of the Labour party now. The real reason was that a room booking had been messed up. Excellent stuff. Meanwhile, the Labour Party machine seemed to be ruthlessly airbrushing Tony “Who” Blair out of the proceedings and crushing all resistance from potential dissenters. There are only Brownnoseites now in Labour… possibly?

And so… to the news that Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, has joined top US law firm Debevoise & Plimpton to head its European litigation practice. Times Story

Legal Week reports: “Lord Goldsmith himself dismisses allegations that his prime motivation was the lucrative pay-packet, claiming (probably accurately) that he could have made more money had he returned to the Bar”

What a start to the new academic and legal year. First Monday in October. Far more interesting this year than last October?


My search logs for my blawg show, today, that three people reached my blog by searching the term “geeklawyer binge drinking”. I did, in fact, suggest on Geeklawyer’s blog the other night that the UK blogger social should not take place at Cafe Royal but at some other more interesting venue. I may have mentioned ‘binge-drinking’ in my post on GL’s blog. Why would anyone search Google to ask the question “Geeklawyer binge-drinking”? Geeklawyer enjoys drinking Mead. Chacun a son gout, as we like to say down at the Gulag. Mind you…why would anyone get to my blog after searching ‘airline stewardesses’? The net is a truly wondrous thing.

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The Today Programme (BBC Radio 4) has picked up on the story about BPP being given degree awarding powers, noting that BPP’s share price has risen 13% on the back of the news. Surprisingly, BPP declined an invitation to go on the programme ‘because they did not wish to be drawn into a wider debate on education’ – which left the door open to Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the Universities and Colleges Union. Sally Hunt was not enthusiastic about the news and questioned why the Privy Council made the decision in the first place. She expressed concerns about standards and the possibility that a profit motive may make education a secondary matter. A fascinating interview and you may listen to it here.  The BPP story is 11 min 34 secs in to the soundfile. The BBC does provide an excellent service by allowing one to listen again.

Peter Crisp, Dean of BPP Law School has, however, accepted an invitation to be interviewed by me at 9.00 on Friday morning to respond to Nigel Savage’s points made in the Charon podcast yesterday.

Professor Patricia Leighton has written an interesting letter to Consilio on this issue: See Consilio Editorial blog.

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Today, in the wake of the news that BPP Law School has been given degree awarding powers, I talk to Nigel Savage, CEO, College of Law about this news and about The College of Law’s own degree awarding powers and their first crop of new graduates.

As ever, Nigel Savage has robust and thought provoking views. I asked if the fact that 86 out of 599 students in the first College of Law degree group were awarded Firsts was down to the brilliance of his students or the College marking scheme.

Listen to Podcast 25 to find out what Nigel Savage said.


See also: What Peter Crisp, Dean, BPP Law School said in his podcast with me

And.. for the full debate go to our online magazine Consilio where Professor Patricia leighton has some interesting views on this.

Follow up podcasts on this theme:

Consilio | Podcast 28: Richard de Friend College of Law|Podcast 27 Giles Proctor, Nottingham | Podcast 26 with Peter Crisp, BPP | Podcast 25 with Nigel Savage, College of Law

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Legal Education on the move…

Well… things are heating up. The Financial Times today covers the story about BPP being given degree awarding powers.

“Using language that is likely to outrage some academics in more conventional universities, he added: “We don’t have the baggage of traditional research, so we’re more focused on customer service.”

I have invited Nigel Savage and Peter Crisp to do a podcast, and plan to do my podcast with Nigel Savage this afternoon, technology willing.

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A new era in legal education?…

I repeat here, a post on the new Consilio Editorial Blog.

The Times reports: “BPP, the professional qualifications college, has become Britain’s first profit-making body to gain the right to award degrees. It will charge undergraduates course fees of up to £10,000 per year — significantly more than the fees paid by students at all universities in the UK, which are capped at £3,000.”

The article stated… “Carl Lygo, BPP’s principal, described the untapped revenue as “staggeringly huge”

Clearly, BPP now have an opportunity to expand their operations into the academic stage of education.

If BPP designs and run traditional LLB degree courses they will be competing with leading UK universities and, inevitably, will come under the scrutiny of the university league tables in terms of reputation, value of the degree, law school ranking et al. They will also have to compete on terms where these traditional universities only charge £3000 per annum as opposed to the £10,000 figures being bandied about in the Press.

If, however, BPP decides to market their GDL and LPC / BVC as degrees – and they seem to be planning to market the GDL as an LLB (provided students take aditional subjects) and market their LPC and BVC as Masters degrees (again students will be required to take additonal subjects) – will these degrees have any currency as Masters degrees compared with, say, a BCL from Oxford or a postgraduate LLM degree from a major university? See: The Legal Week story. Time will tell.

The College of Law has degree awarding powers.

Legal Week reports: The College of Law has awarded its first-ever batch of degrees, with nearly 600 students handed the honour….. The college handed degrees to 599 students who passed both the Graduate Diploma in Law and either a Bar Vocational Course or Legal Practice Course with 86 of those achieving first-class honours.”

It is, in fact, quite difficult to get a First Class degree at any university, whether old or new on a traditional law degree. With the combining of a GDL, which is a demanding and academic course, with the practical assessment of skills and, to a lesser extent, knowledge on the BVC and LPC it is not really possible to compare a First Class on a tradiutional degree witha First Class on a combined GDL/BVC/LPC.

It will be interesting to see how the academic establishment react to the fact that BPP and The College of Law now have degree awarding powers and degree status for their courses.

Charon QC, resident blawger on Consilio, has done podcast interviews with some of the CEOs of the leading LPC/BVC providers:

1. Peter Crisp, CEO, BPP Law School

2. Nigel Savage, CEO, The College of Law

3. Phil Knott, Managing Director, Nottingham Law School

Have a listen to the pioneers of the new era.

Interested in your views on this.  What do you think?

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What we have come to?…

I took a short break for lunch and found a copy of The Sun at a nearby table. Police in Manchester have been told to stop riding bicycles – in case they fall off and get hurt. (The Sun)

And we have another misbehaving judge story: Judge Roger Keen QC wouldn’t let an accused change his underwear, withdrew bail because he felt the defence were timewasting and ended up being criticised as “rude, discourteous and brutal” during a hearing at London’s Court of Appeal. The news report gives the full story – but Victorian Maiden’s comment is a better read.

Lord Justice Laws said Judge Roger Keen QC should be “ashamed” of his conduct during the trial of Andrew Brian Cordingley at Sheffield Crown Court and said his behaviour had rendered a conviction “unsafe”.

Amazing… truly amazing. Apparently Judge Keen is known in Sheffield as ‘Clever C**t Keen”. (VM is a useful source of information on many matters) This latest episode is not a great example of judicial behaviour. If the CA judgment appears (I have looked for it on the net) I’ll post the link.

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Police Community Support Officers…

The writer of The 3Rs – Reading, Ranting & Recipes Blog visits my blog from time to time. She is a magistrate and an enthusiastic blogger. I enjoy reading her posts…. I also cook from time to time!

On Friday 21st she wrote about Police Community Support Officers – with passion and authority. I wrote about PCSOs the other day. I am not a fan of these quasi-police. If I had seen the 3Rs post on Saturday when I had my own rant, I would have referred you to her view then. I won’t pre-empt your visit. Her ‘rant’ for 21st September is well worth reading. (I can’t seem to link to the specific post, so you will have to locate 21st September and scroll down to the rant.)

Good stuff. I agree with her view. Get rid of PCSOs and spend the money on real police.

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Nineteen to the dozen and other matters…

So…it was all above board when I woke up this morning, bright as a button, but I did find I was back to square one on the work front, which added insult to injury. And, while often keen to go against the grain, at least I was alive and kicking. Turned on the news. The balloon had not gone up and unless England beat Tonga in the rugby next week it will all be over bar the shouting and the RFU will find they have been barking up the wrong tree. No doubt, the RFU will find someone to carry the can. Had a square meal and settled down to pull my finger out on the work front.

Anyway… I seem to have the bit between my teeth on the blogging front at the moment and, grasping the nettle, showered, shaved and prepared to separate the wheat from the chaff on the matters needing my attention today. A friend called and said that he would be down in my neck of the woods and wandered if he could splice the mainbrace with me at lunchtime. I had to tell him, that as a rule of thumb, I would normally be happy to push the boat out, but today I had to lick a couple of things into shape, knuckle down, leave no stone unturned and deal with all my admin in one fell swoop. He seemed to understand, knowing that I don’t mince my words, and said that we could take a raincheck on it and come back to fight another day.

I told him that we could talk turkey and go the whole hog in a couple of weeks Anyway… there we are… without wishing to flog a dead horse, and get on your goat, I’m off , probably in the nick of time, and, when I have completed my labours, at the eleventh hour, get three sheets to the wind down at The Bollo. There we are…time to sling my hook…

Charon is thinking of applying to manage a football team. He feels that he would be able to communicate with the footballing journos without them being too gutted or turning himself into a laughing stock … after all, a week is a long time in sport.

[Red Herrings and White Elephants by Albert Jack is a most enjoyable re-read.]

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I’ve heard of the management technique ‘”giving someone a rocket up the arse” but it seems that this Taliban management consultant is taking the concept literally. Either that or the fun loving blokes on the left have taken up ‘Le vice anglais’ with a bit of extra ‘edge’.

Looking for a suitable reference to Le vice anglais, I searched Google and came up with an article written by Rowan Pelling in The Independent. Apparently Sir John Mortimer QC liked to be be spanked and wield a hairbrush from time to time. Excellent nonsense… and as we were told several times by a history master at the preparatory detention centre in Scotland where I was incarcerated for five years: Churchill stated of naval tradition: “Don’t talk to me about naval tradition. It’s nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.”

No wonder Europeans find the British odd. Long may that continue.

Continuing with the maritime theme…

The Royal Navy do things differently these days.  No longer is it “Flogging around the Fleet”… it is now “Blogging around the Fleet”.  The Captain of HMS Somerset now has his own blog, approved by the MoD, to inform the families of crew about daily life when they are at sea.  No operational details, of course – but I am sure the axis of evil and others will be reading it.

and… finally, on this theme…

The Sun informs us today: “TWO British yachting stars have had a bust-up over their boat’s name — Jackie Big Tits!”. World champions Steve Morrison and Ben Rhodes entered a regatta but were told by organisers the name had to go after a series of complaints. Steve said: “We’re gutted. We can’t just change the boat’s name — that’s what it’s called.”

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Google and other matters…

Gratified to discover (inspired to do so by Family Lore) from my blog stats – that those who type ‘How to become a gravedigger’ into Google are visiting my blog. I typed this rather bizarre question into Google myself and… lo and behold… Charon was a grave digger. (I was a grave digger at university – paid for my law studies / subsistence) Excellent.


And so… a short post before I start again on the law.

A future lawyer? Here is a story about a ‘smart kid’

TEACHER: Ellen, give me a sentence starting with “I”.
ELLEN: I is…
TEACHER: No, Ellen. Always say, “I am.”
ELLEN: All right… “I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.”

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Observations on a theme…

Late yesterday afternoon, shortly after 5.30, I went for a quick glass of Rioja at my usual filling station. Seated at a nearby table outside was a man in his mid to late forties who looked as if he had been an extra in the John Wayne film The Alamo. He was dressed in a cowboy shirt, leather waistcoat, jeans and had a huge cowboy hat on his head with a dead animal tail hanging off the back of the hat. Somehow the look did not quite work. It was not his mode of dress which was irritating but his behaviour. He was on a mobile talking corporate merde du boeuf about ‘deals’ in a particularly irritating and loud Northern Irish accent; completely unaware of the irritation he was causing to others. Why do people need to shout when they are on a mobile? I know the person they are talking to may well be a long way away, but….

I was on the point of asking him if he would mind talking more quietly when a friend of mine wheeled out of the pub, came over, and said he had had quite enough of “Hopalong Cassidy” and was off to another pub.

I started laughing – and every time I looked at the guy after that I just could not help myself. I think actors call it ‘corpsing’, but I just could not control my laughter. He gave me a few odd looks as he ‘moseyed’ off, still talking merde du boeuf into his mobile. I think my laughter was interrupting his concentration.

So… I thought I would theme my post for today, after overdoing the law earlier in the week, by dragging up a few other things which I find irritating – a la ‘grumpy old git’.

Let me start with estate agents… not just any estate agent, but those particularly irritating ones from F*xtons who drive around in Minis. Readers may well remember the expose of F*xtons by the BBC Whistleblower programme. I’m glad of the opportunity to bring it up again. Shake hands with one and count your fingers afterwards. I like to imagine a F*xtons estate agent, thinking of going for a drive in his / her Mini, saying to a colleague “Fancy going for a spiv?”.

Next… Community Service Support Police. Apart from being served with a notice to trim my hedge – which followed their visit to my Staterooms a couple of weeks ago. (The ‘notice requiring me to cut my hedge’ arrived yesterday morning) they seem to be pretty useless – See: the furore about the failure of two Community Support Officers in Manchester to rescue a young boy from a pond (They were not ‘trained’ to enter water). Many of the ones I see around West London don’t look that fit and I saw three of them the other day eating sausage rolls on a street corner – no doubt to build their energy levels to look for out of date tax discs and ‘horror hedges from hell’. Why can’t we have normal Police patrolling the streets? – a fairly rare sight these days.

Call centres have to be pretty near the top of my list. The other day I had to telephone a Gas supplier. The call went roughly as follows:

Ring ring…ring ring…ring ring… “Hello… you are through to XYZ Gas… your call it important to us but all our operators are busy so please hold.” [Muzak, muzak] “Your call is important, you are in a queue, please hold on. If you would like to pay your bill you may now do online at our website http://www.xyzgas.com.” [Muzak, muzak].

I looked at the timer on my phone. I had been holding for 8 minutes and 16 seconds.

“Hello… if you have a touchtone telephone Press the star button.” I did so…

“If you have moved press 1. If you wish to notify us that you wish to terminate your supply with us because you are moving press 2. If you wish to advise us that you are about to pay your bill press 3. If you wish to pay your bill press 4. If your matter relates to anything else please press 5.”

I pressed 5. “Thank you. Please type in the 10 digit account number at the top right hand side of your bill.”

I did not have my bill with me, just a letter about my supply meter reading. I was losing the will to live. My life was draining away. I felt like holding on and, when they answered, saying “If you would like me to talk to you Press 1. If you would like me to be less angry press 2. If you want me to behave like a psychopath press 3.”

I re-dialled, went though the procedure again after finding a bill, and eventually got through to a human being. I said: “Hello!…thank god you answered. Please don’t go away. I haven’t eaten for days or had any water because I have been trying to get through.” A very charming lady laughed and was extremely helpful – mercifully.

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The presumption of innocence…

The McCann case continues to attract tabloid and broadsheet interest – the latest story is that the McCann’s are prepared to take a lie detector test. I wrote a few days ago about my preference for the old fashioned idea – the presumption of innocence – and said that I am none to keen on trial by media.

I received this useful note today – which I have permission to post in full:

“The comments by Charon on the McCann case are quite right and that presumption of innocence should be maintained but so should the presumption of common sense.

The Portuguese criminal justice system is suffering from a hangover from the days of the Junta. The investigative process is shrouded in secrecy but remains fair non the less and suspects are still innocent until proved guilty. One thing that people should bear in mind is that here in the UK the parents of Madeline McCann would have been suspects from day one of the investigation and there would have been just as much media frenzy generated.

The CATCHEM database used by police on investigations into child disappearences indicates that 80% of missing children have been killed either by parents or close relatives and that the snatching of children by roving paedophiles is actually quite rare.

The media have been feasting off the idea that naming the parents as ‘arguido’ is something terribly unfair and that the Portuguese police are somehow corrupt or incompetant. This is a formality in the Portuguese criminal justice system and allows for questions to be put that are not allowed before the formal declaration that someone is a suspect. It is no different in principle to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act caution or the Miranda warning. Still why ruin a good story by telling it as it is!

We don’t formally allocate suspect status in our criminal justice systems but we do nevertheless treat all witnesses as in some way ‘suspect’ and the last person to see the victim alive is usually included in the list of suspects.

I teach criminal investigation and am very familar with the evidence gathering process in the UK, US and Europe. They are different in style but it is quite silly to think that the UK is somehow a more sensitive system.

There has clearly been a fiasco in the leaking of alleged DNA evidence detail to the press and this has hurt the family unecessarily. Our media is the culprit however as they have plenty of access to people who could have put them right on the significance (or lack of) of this from the outset.

Trust no one said the lonely cop!


Barry Turner
Lecturer in Criminal Investigation
Department of Forensic and Biomedical Sciences
University of Lincoln


Thank you for writing Barry. I am delighted to be able to state the following: Barry Turner has written the comparative forensic criminal evidence sections for the Wiley Encyclopedia covering most of the European jurisdictions

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On yer bike….

Doughty Street Chambers seems to be getting a bit of flack from the blogosphere following the imprisonment of Bruce Hyman for perverting the course of justice.

Victorian Maiden over at Ruthie’s Law, commenting on the press release Doughty Street Chambers issued yesterday, states: “as we are now told, Brucie was never actually a member there. He simply gave lectures at events organised and promoted by Doughty Street and worked from there. He resigned before he could be considered for membership and was only at Doughty Street as part of his training having completed a 12 month pupillage at Blackstone Chambers. Dear Diary, curiouser and curiouser. I was under the impression that a 12 month pupillage was a barrister’s training. Obviously, different standards apply in WC1.”

Anyway… be that as it may, it seems that Hyman got off fairly lightly and a number of barristers I have spoken to were a bit surprised at the fairly lenient sentence.

On to other matters…. the biker brief

I received a press release yesterday about ‘motorcycle mad Solicitor Daniella Tarbuck’ who has joined and joined city commercial lawyers Young and Lee.

As an enthusiastic biker (Geeklawyer and Ruthie also ride), I would certainly encourage Daniella to get on with passing her bike test… but would suggest, with some hesitation, that she may have more fun on a Ducati or a jap sportsbike than a Harley Davidson.

And for the England rugby fans – a new shirt for you to wear down at the pub, just to remind you of that glorious fiasco against South Africa.

Mind you, England cricket isn’t too good at the moment. Twenty Twenty is an enjoyable romp, but I prefer the longer versions of the game. Good to see that England management are still having to deal with cricketers doing inapprpriate things. Collingwood, the one day captain, was fined £1000 for nipping into a pole dancing club on the eve of a game. When he realised where he was, he left. Bring Back Captain Fredalo.

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Perverting the course of justice…

UPDATE: Hyman imprisoned for 12 months / Telegraph report

Bruce Hyman, former member of Doughty Street Chambers, is to be sentenced today and, if given a custodial sentence, will be the first barrister in 800 years to be imprisoned for perverting the course of justice.

My first coverage of this: “The Boys from the Bar stuff” was on 26th August.

Victorian Maiden and Nearly Legal both note that Doughty Street Chambers are keeping silent. VM has a take on Freedom of Information which is well worth reading. VM also hopes to be first with the news on the sentence!

See also: The Lawyer 17 September

John Bolch, Family Lore, has an interesting side comment on ‘bad pennies’ in the Law.

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Horse hair and lawyer brickies….

Edward Fennell in Times 2 reports on a new initiative by Addleshaw Goddard. Instead of putting their trainees into a classroom for a week, the trainees were sent off to Romania to build houses for the Charity Habitat for Humanity. This is worthy…. and certainly worthy of Matt Muttley, managing partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP. I am sure he will follow suit and get his new trainees to build a new swimming pool at his country house. Fennell hints at possible liability issues when he states “Would I want to live in a house built by 20-year olds with no discernible building skills? Who knows, but the next time I need a bit of lawyering I’ll remember to phone my local brickie.”

Student behaviour
There was a very interesting article in Times2 today about the difficulties being faced by university lecturers in connection with student discipline. It appears, with the introduction of fees, that a minority of students feel ‘entitled to a certain level of grade purely by virtue of having paid. The article reported one student as asking “I paid my fees so how come I haven’t got any credits?”

Other examples of disruptive behaviour included complaining when an email sent after midnight is not immediately responded to and, bizarrely, ‘refusing to let staff pass on the stairs’.

The nub of the matter is, as the article makes clear, that some students ‘like to believe they are paying for a qualification rather than the opportunity to work for one’. Having been involved in university and professional education in the private sector for twenty-five years I know that students expect a high standard of teaching and service. We did not always, I am sure, meet with everyone’s expectation, but we had few complaints over the years. Public sector colleges, particularly where very high fees are charged for the LPC and BVC, will just have to ensure their standards are high and meet reasonable expectation of their clients. Fee paying students are entitled to a good standard of service. Hopefully, the public sector will meet the challenge.

Are you what you wear on your head?
David Pannick QC in Times Law says no and suggests that the Bar may follow the judges in dispensing with wigs in civil cases. Pannick writes that the Hong Kong Bar is debating the issue hotly and Chairman of the Hong Kong Bar, Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung SC seems to be in support of retaining 18th century court dress in Hong Kong because of the unique political situation. Pannick is clearly not too keen on ‘balancing bit of dead horse’ on his head or ‘being an object of ridicule by dressing up in a horse hair when he goes to work’ and advocates that Hong Kong barristers should throw their wigs into Victoria Harbour

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Ter·gi·ver·sate [tur-ji-ver-seyt]

–verb (used without object), -sat·ed, -sat·ing.
1. to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.
2. to turn renegade.

It is not often one comes across interesting and unusual words in daily converstaion. But a friend of mine at The Bollo used ‘tergiversate’ in conversation recently. I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. He defined it and I provide the dictionary.com definition in case you should wish to shoehorn it into your conversation as well.

Interesting word… Is David Cameron a tergiversator?  Do you know any tergiversators?

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Stairlift to heaven….

The news that yet another rock band from my youth is to perform again has inspired me to go and buy the CD of Led Zep’s first album. I bought the original LP in 1969 when I was detained at a school in Perthshire, Scotland. I seem to remember the LP cost 32 shillings.

“Are you a member of DENSA?” Marco Piere White asked of one of the contestants in Hell’s Kitchen. A useful phrase. I shall tuck it away for future use.

The McCann case

Gary Slapper, Director of the Centre for Law at The Open University is quoted in Frances Gibbs’ article in The Times: “I think a great iniquity against justice has been done by the confused status of information that has been leaked. A system, like Portugal’s, of declining to put any item of police inquiry information whatsoever in the public domain while the case is being considered can be fair – but only if rigidly applied.”

The stream of speculation pouring out of tabloids and broadsheets on this case is getting to the ludicrous stage.

I prefer to follow an ideal of Law … a bit old fashioned, I grant you… the presumption of innocence. Not too keen on trial by newspapers and TV new stations. Sir Richard Branson has provided £100k towards the McCann legal fees.

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A sunny afternoon in West London…

Having done my ‘tabloid period’ (infra) I am seated at my desk in my office and learn, from The Independent, that a Polish computer programmer could be jailed for three years for linking a vulgar Polish word for penis (kutas) to the presidental website and, thereby, causing the presidential website to be ranked first on Google when ‘kutas’ was typed in. One would have thought the Polish president would have been pleased with the publicity… but President Lech Kaczynski (Left) did not seem to find it amusing.

Ever thorough in my research, I carried out a Google search on the Polish word Kutas. It did not bring up the President of Poland’s website. I have, however, found the President’s website. Riveting – I use the word carefully… a homage to the Gdansk shipyard and Solidarity – inspiring Poland to re-discover a degree of freedom and democracy. I have also discovered this afternoon that the current President of Poland looks just like the Prime Minister of Poland.

I was tempted to email The President of Poland, which is possible from the presidential website… but I lost the will to live when I realised that I was even thinking about doing such a thing on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I blame the bi-polar depression I am now suffering after the dual defeat of the England cricket team and the spectacularly bad defeat of the England Rugby team. (Only a week ago – England cricket, football and rugby teams won their matches. Cue: “A week is a long time in cricket, rugby, football, politics, etc etc.”)

Meanwhile, our judiciary has decided that a sentence of 10 months is suitable punishment for paedophile film downloader and actor, Chris Langham.

The Russians continue to send their Bombers towards British airspace and, of course, we respond by scrambling Tornado F3s. Given that the Red arrows are not going to be invited to the 2012 Olympics (Below), perhaps we should send the Red Arrows to intercept these Russian bombers and give ’em a bit of red, blue and white smoke instead of scrambling Tornado F3s?

On the other hand – we could get Rolf Harris to paint President Putin and really make the ‘Ruskies’ think?

For my part, I prefer the more subtle ‘psyops’ approach of sending messages of goodwill to President Putin in the form of pictures of our once and future King.

I understand that President Putin has developed a keen interest in the old Czar and early 20th century Russian history. This picture may, therefore, be a useful addition to his collection of memorabilia. My only worry is that this particular picture of our future King George VII may remind Putin of Yeltsin. This may not be a good thing and may well lead to an escalation in the the number of potential incursons into our green and pleasant airspace.

I also have a feeling, given the fact that I am confined to barracks for the next few days, that it is time to retire to bed to listen to yet more news and thence… perchance… to dream.

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There’s no proof!…

From DES BAROLO in Praia da Lush

CHARON QC hit back yesterday at ‘ludicrous and vile accusations’ being made in Portuguese newspapers that the England Rugby team can’t play rugby and that he drinks Rioja everyday. Devastated Charon, who has been named an ‘arguido’ by Portuguese police (called in to assist West London police baffled by the England Rugby team’s performance in the World Cup), flew to Portugal yesterday to answer questions from Portuguese police.

Charon (54) stated ‘there is not a scintilla of evidence to prove that I drink Rioja every day’. Charon, who has no expertise in Criminal Law, told me “I have no idea why the Policia Judiciaria are involved in the criminal performance of the England rugby players last night in the match against South Africa, nor am I able to understand why they are suggesting to West London Police Community Support officers that I may have accidentally killed myself to explain away my absence from The Bollo last night.”

Portuguese police who are not allowed to comment on matters while a case is ongoing, to protect the innocent, are saying nothing. But sources close to the police in Portugal are feeding ‘your man on The Praia’ with all sorts of speculative bollocks so we can keep you fully informed of developments as they unfold.

From KEV ‘Ezra” POUND in Threadneedle Street

The people of Britain, bloody but unbowed after withdrawing their savings from Northern Rock, queued for hours yesterday to put their money into the Bank of England.

Mable Cleethorpes (86) said, as she was escorted out of The Bank of England by The Chief Cashier, “I had to do my bit for Britain after hearing that an old lady in Threadneedle Street had given all her savings to save Northern Rock. I used to love watching Northern Rock race at Doncaster and it brought a lump to my throat when I heard that an old lady had done so much to help this wonderful horse in his retirement. It was not much, but I can rest now that I have been able to help this old lady. A lot of other people felt the same.”

Margaret Thatcher’s state visit to Number Ten last week has got under the skin of at least one Tory. Education spokesman, Rob Wilson MP, publicly described the Iron Lady as ‘frail and lonely’ and stated that she was having difficulty with her memory. I am no Tory, and yes, it was an interesting stunt to invite her over to tea, but Rob Wilson’s statement lacked grace. A bit creepy?

Fancy a bit of dancing, Poles?
And…. The Sun stirs it again for the benefit of readers with a story today about Poland’s ‘biggest newspaper’ running a special edition bragging how easy it is to get benefits in Britain. Various pictures are published in the The Sun from the Polish paper. One shows a woman with a set of keys and holding a model of a house in the palm of her hand. Another shows a couple, the wife pushing a pram, on a backdrop of British pound notes.
“You can apply for benefits as soon as you take up a job in Great britain’ advises the Polish newspaper. It is not known whether any Polish people bank with Northern Rock.

Red Arrows ‘too British for Olympics” screamed The Sun today….

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport ruled last week, according to The Sun, that the jets were ‘unsuitable’ and ‘not in keeping with the event as they were too militaristically British’. Christ on a bicycle…. What next? I have little interest in watching athletes running a hundred metres or pole vaulting into the air. I would rather watch some bad rugby, and may not even get a chance to do that for much longer if England lose to Samoa in the World Cup. We have been burdened with the cost and duty of running the 2012 olympics.

“As far as I am concerned we need to get as much PR out of the event, publicity for business, publicity for tourism, for Britain, as we can. The sooner the fools who are running our Olympics get this message the better. The Olympics is about taking part…. Sod the athletes. Promote Britain.” Charon said today as he was led away by Policia Judiciaria officers for not having accidentally killed himself and, thereby, wasting police time.

Enough of this nonsense…and now for some different nonsense….

It seems that Dan Hull of What About Clients? may have been drinking some unusually powerful water. His latest post on his liaison dangereuse avec Ruthie of Ruthie’s Law is a masterpiece. I’m fairly sure the Policia Judiciaria will be in touch with him. [Dan… you don’t work for the Policia Judiciaria do you? – Charon]

John Bolch over at Family Lore questions whether Prince Charles, when he becomes King George, should be ‘Defender of Faith’ and suggests “Defender of Reason’ as a more suitable title – while accepting that the latter may prove to be a bit demanding.

Nearly Legal is finding Quantum to be a ‘bit of a sod’. I tend to agree, but here, I applaud his efforts to represent UK Blawgers as a group of intelligent, reasoning, beings who do, occasionally, write a bit about law. I feel inspired to do so myself… but not today. I shall do so when the Policia Judiciaria state that I am no longer ‘arguido’.

Geeklawyer appears to have developed a taste for writing about law as well. Thankfully, he still manages to find time to dredge up a few bad taste Pavarotti jokes. Apparently Geeklawyer is going to be at the Lambs Pub in Lambs Conduit Street. Should be easy to recognise. He will probably be wearing a kipper tie. Pupilblog awaits a decision on his tenancy. (Bon Chance, Pupil Blog)

Justin Patten, of Human Law, may not be doing quite as much blogging – but he has a very useful website and his mediation / ADR articles (which he also publishes on Consilio) are always worth looking at. Human Law Website.

I am taking a brief recess…. to reflect…. I’ll be back soon.

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