Archive for September 2nd, 2007

MASBOS… Asbos for the middle classes…

The Sunday Times had a story today (2 September) about the targeting of drunken and badly behaved barristers (and other professionals) in a drive to raise standards among professionals.

The Bar Standards Board, the newspaper reports, is ‘stepping in’ to make it clear it will no longer tolerate anti-social conduct while off duty and is preparing to introduce a new offence of “improper behaviour” outside chambers. The GMC is also drawing up plans to deal with bad behaviour by doctors.

Clearly… it is not just chavs, hoodies, louts and revellers committing anti-social acts. The Sunday Times reports that Dr Simone Lester, a senior director of NHS Direct, became involved in an alcohol-fuelled argument at Arsenal stadium. She is reported to have called a policeman a “poor peasant” and that he was “worse than Jade Goody”.

So… with a drunken wedding going barrister (acquitted), a flashing judge (acquitted), two Immigration judges making sex videos, one of whom liked to call his brazilian cleaner “real chilli hot stuff”, a drunken Bishop sitting in the back of someone else’s car chucking out toys (Not charged), a Scottish lawyer admitting to ripping screen wipers off 11 cars, a drunken district judge convicted for being drunk and disorderly in a kebab shop (He squared up to a police officer and shouted out to a bystander, “Tell them I’m a solicitor and the county court judge”) and, god help us, a barrister caught secretly filming up women’s skirts in supermarkets – the legal and clericals are heading up the league table.

I can well understand the concept of a pissed up lawyer (or doctor) getting heated at a football match. It is not something we tend to do at cricket matches, so I have no personal experience of calling anyone a peasant, let alone a police officer or, indeed, running onto the pitch, making gestures at opposing supporters, or engaging in other tribal behaviour. But I just can’t get my head around why a barrister would wonder around a supermarket secretly filming women’s underwear under their skirts – as reported in The Sunday Times article.

According to the The Sunday Times, government ministers are ‘paying close attention’ to the conduct of lawyers and members of the judiciary. A new law will be brought in to address the issue of discipline for disreputable behaviour and ‘enshrine in law the concept of improper conduct’.

Well… that should sort it.

The last word, rightly, should go to Sir John Mortimer QC – reported today in The Sunday Times. John Mortimer relates a story about a friend of his at the Bar who drank too much one lunchtime and when he returned to court to make his final speech for the defence in a murder trial said: “Membersh of the jury”, he started off. “This is the moment in the trial when I’m meant to make a reasoned and impassioned speech on behalf of the defendant. This will be followed by a fair and unbiased summing-up by the learned judge. And you will then retire and come to a just verdict. But….” He said, “the truth of the matter is that I am far too drunk to make a reasoned and impassioned speech on behalf of the defendant, the learned judge has never been known to do a fair and unbiased summing-up and you look far too stupid to come to a just verdict. So I shall sit down.”

Tomorrow is on the way… England are not doing too well in the one day international against India… our hopes rest on Collingwood. I may as well have a glass of vino.

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