Archive for February, 2008

I rose, like Lazarus, from my futon to check my emails / blog at 8.30 pm this troubled night… I was dehydrated…  after deciding to have an early night watching the Parliament Channel and various news channels… only to find that I had been called to account by the Ralph Nader of the Net, Mr Pineapples…

Mr Pineapples was appalled and outraged that I had not mentioned the Prince Harry Story in my ‘Earthquake” post… (infra).


I redress this, now, by providing a link to the official website of The Prince of Wales. I have never visited this website before. It is ‘work’ friendly / compliant.

Frankly… I agree with the proposition put by Mr Pineapples. I should have done…. but… the reason why I did not do so is revealed in my response to Mr Pineapples’ comment… (scroll down)

I am now pouring a glass of vino rosso… and preparing to repent of my sin(s)… and the wafers left a few weeks ago by my cousin Cardinale Charoni di Tempranillo, on his last visit, were delicious. I like a bit of transubstantiation on a Friday night.


Tomorrow is March… astonishing. Only the other day I was wondering when March would arrive… and here it is.

I am looking forward to the Ides of March I celebrate it every year… it reminds me that we have not come very far in terms of politics in 2000 odd years – and, this year, … I shall / will raise a glass to the last leader of the Lib-Dems, Sir Ming Campbell, to be struck down by thrusting newbies….

To the Fifteenth….


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A very British earthquake…

The Telegraph reported today: “Earthquake Shakes Britain but damages very little”

By Nick Britten Paul Stokes and Richard Alleyne of The Telegraph:

“It was, ultimately, a very British earthquake: no collapsed buildings or bridges, no death or mayhem”

However… just in… a report sent to me by a friend of mine this morning…. you may have seen it. It has been doing the ’rounds’…

A major Earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale hit in the early hours with its epicentre in Camp Hill. Victims were seen wandering around aimlessly, muttering ‘Foooockinel, where’s the buuuuuuzzzz’.

The quake decimated the area causing approximately £30 worth of damage. Several priceless collections of mementos from Majorca, the Costa Del Sol and Corfu were damaged beyond repair. Three areas of historic burnt out cars were disturbed. Many locals were woken well before their giros arrived. Mercia Sound reported that hundreds of residents were confused and bewildered and were still trying to come to terms with the fact that something interesting had happened in Nuneaton . One resident – Tracy Sharon Smith, a 15-year-old mother of 5 said, ‘It was such a shock, my little Chardonnay-Mercedes came running into my bedroom crying. My youngest two, Tyler-Morgan and Victoria-Storm slept through it all. I was still shaking when I was skinning up and watching Trisha the next morning.’

Apparently burglaries, muggings and car crime were unaffected and carried on as normal. The British Red Cross has so far managed to ship 4,000 crates of Frosty Jack Cider to the area to help the stricken locals. Rescue workers are still searching through the rubble and have found large quantities of personal belongings, including benefit books, jewellery from Elizabeth Duke at Argos and Bone China from Poundland.

This appeal is to raise money for food and clothing parcels for those unfortunate enough to be caught up in this disaster. Clothing is most sought after – items most needed include:

Fila or Burberry baseball caps – Kappa tracksuit tops (his and hers) – Shell suits (female) – White socks – Rockport boots – Any other items usually sold in New Look.

Food parcels may be harder to come by, but are needed all the same: Microwave meals, Tins of baked beans, Ice cream, Cans of Colt 45 or Special Brew. 22p buys a biro for filling in the compensation forms. £2 buys chips, crisps and rola cola for a family of 9.

**Breaking news**

Rescue workers found a girl in the rubble smothered in raspberry alco-pop.

‘Where are you bleeding from?’ they asked.

‘Stockingford’ said the girl, ‘woss that gotta do wiv you?

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Would you like some free CPD?

Would you?…

legaltraining.tv are offering 4 hours of free CPD….

Today legaltraining.tv are launching their FREE CPD portal – Obtain 4 CPD points at no charge. You can’t really get a better offer than that. Free courses – Jonathan Goldberg QC on Advocacy, Professor Bill Rees on The Companies Act 2006, Dr John Birchall on writing good English and Nick Evans, solicitor, has an employment update.

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Leap Year….

As I have an ASBO prohibiting me from entering Churches, for religious reasons, and Register Offices (for reasons of sanity) and I do not need to experience again the delights of matrimony – Leap Years hold no terror for me. It is unlikely, in any event, that anyone I know would be crazy enough to propose to me… on the morrow.

So…. tonight… I am going to leap off for a glass of Rioja at the Bollo after Masterchef – The Final. I seem to be addicted to this cookery programme – partly because I enjoy cooking, but I also suffer from the British disease of enjoying the pleasure of watching a cookery programme and then nipping out for a bite to eat.

Yes… tomorrow… I may well be leaping.

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Charon goes to Bollywood…

The stress has finally got to me…. s0… I have made another movie… rather short…. but  imperfectly executed…

Charon goes to Bollywood….

You never know… you may want to make your own Bollywood film?

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A year ago today…

I’ve just realised… that a year ago today I did my first ‘interview’ podcast with Justin Patten of Human law.  (My first podcast was a couple of weeks before – a monologue).

I’m coming up to my 50th podcast interview – excluding ‘Weekend Review’ podcasts.  I enjoy doing the podcasts – and I’d just like to thank all those who have done podcasts with me. So… I will – Thank you!

A bit difficult to do podcast interviews without an ‘interviewee / podcastee’.

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Quite a busy week in the news… so, today, I have a mix of text, podcasts and even a bit of film.

First, I talk with Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal Blog, about the need for a national DNA database. We then have a look at the political situation in Pakistan following the election last week and at the position of Speaker Michael Martin in the wake of recent press reports about his expense claims.

Listen to the newsreview podcast

Richard Ramsay, one of the Editors of Consilio,  has written a short commentary on the DNA database proposal.


Earlier in the week, I interviewed Ed Vaizey MP, Shadow Minister for Culture about the problem of illegal downloading and, this weekend I did a follow up interview on this and the duration of copyright with Dr Peter Groves. [Click links to listen to podcasts]


Charon the movie? Unlikely… but I did do a short film about The Bollo for readers who might like to see where I spend far too much of my leisure time – possibly. Watch the film.

And so to the second of the newsreview podcasts. I talk with Geeklawyer about file sharing – illegal downloading – HMRC paying £100,000 to buy ‘stolen’ information on tax exiles who bank secretly in Liechtenstein – middle class criminals who pay cash to avoid paying VAT – Shock horror from The News of The World today that Paul Burrell is gay and has to come back to give explain why he was recorded by the Sun telling someone on the phone that he had been ‘naughty’ by committing perjury at the Diana Inquest. Geeklawyer thinks children should be illegal. After my lunch at The Bollo today – the place was crawling with screaming children – I am coming round to his point of view. Listen to my podcast interview, ‘recorded in a clandestine manner’ of course, with Geeklawyer

During the podcast, Geeklawyer asked me to publish a website URL – a Pledge for file sharers:

Pledge “filesharing”

“I will not vote for any party supporting disconnection of ‘alleged’ filesharers but only if 750 other people will do the same.”

Here is the URL.


I may well add to this Weekend Review later – but I need to have a quick glass of rioja…. It is Sunday afternoon, after all.

And… the Training Partner for Muttley Dastardly LLP is much taken with the examination regulations, as reported on RollonFriday, at BPP Law School… Here


National Insurance numbers are important. Their security is important.So what should you do if you suspect or discover their fraudulent use?The Customs & Excise have created a useful webpage with much needed advice.Here it is… NIM39140

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A follow up to the podcast with Ed Vaizey MP, Shadow Minister for Culture on the problem of illegal downloading and the duration of copyright protection with Dr Peter Groves, Solicitor and consultant with Bircham Dyson Bell LLP.


Listen to Podcast 49: Dr Peter Groves, Solicitor on the control of illegal downloading 

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From the Office of The Training & Recruitment partner

Subject: Curious LPC examination procedures

We at Muttley Dastardly LLP have, as you know, come to a most profitable arrangement with a purveyor of LPC course services to train our future trainees in the values and mores of our firm. This has worked to our advantage providing significant discount to the market rates for the training of students to get through the LPC in readiness for taking on the yoke and responsibilities of joining a modest cost labour force for our important work in The City… and, indeed, elsewhere now that we have developed expertise in handling high value family law cases.

I was advised earlier today by our IT department, whose responsibilities include the monitoring of Facebook, blawgs and Rollonfriday.com, that RollonFriday have a story about the curious examination procedures at BPP Law School.

I commend the news item on RoF to you, and summarise the salient points below. I do so, because this initiative on the part of BPP Law School may well cause us to look with favour on their methods when we come to review our contractual arrangements with our current LPC purveyor.

1. BPP appears to have issued a directive to all LPC students that they must erase vertical pen or biro marks on textbooks or other printed materials taken into the examination hall and must also remove, from printed materials, sticky bookmark tabs which were found to be the wrong shape.

2. That students found that Tippex leaves white marks on paper, and therefore previous blue or black vertical pen lines are now white tippex lines, is neither here nor there. The fact is that BPP, in directing students to undertake this completely pointless task, are preparing their students to accept orders and are conditioning them to the realities that paperwork has to be right.

3. In directing students to remove green rectangular tab bookmarks with pointed ends, yet accepting green rectangular tabs of the exact same size with blunted ends”… BPP is seeing if students are able to think out of the box. The dullards, it could be argued, would simply remove the tabs – and, in so doing, would pass the ‘obedience’ test – but would fail miserably the ‘initative’ and ‘thinking out of the box’ test. We want the type of student who would simply cut the pointed end of the tab off and leave the bookmark in position to allow themselves quick access to the relevant information in the textbook.

4. The RoF report also revealed the BPP Student Finance Office (SFO) sent an email to their LPC students wishing them every success in the examination – with the added note that those who had not paid their fees would have their examination results witheld. This reflects, very much, the values and mores of our own finance office here at Muttley Dastardly LLP.

We have no way of checking on the story published in RoF – but it is our experience that they tend to get the right end of the stick…

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Charon goes to jazz at The Bollo…

As I seem to spend a fair bit of my leisure (and thinking) time at The Bollo, I decided to take my television camera along to give you an insight into what The Bollo looks like. It is a Sunday. The doors have just opened and, as usual, I fall through the door. I did a bit of location filming – the conditions were very bright sunlight and the punters had not arrived yet in their droves… but no matter. Kelly Dickson, a very talented jazz singer, was singing. Quite a few punters on Sundays bring their children. Children cry, scream, run about and make a nuisance of themselves. I had to replace the soundtrack from the film – but… with a much better soundtrack: Kelly Dickson singing ‘Close your eyes’ from her latest album Vocal Point. Kelly Dickson’s website is worth a visit

Watch “Charon goes to The Bollo – The Movie”
(It is a .mov format so should play in Quicktime and Windows.)

A bit of a departure from podcasts… and I may well do more roving reports with the camera. Coming up on Weekend Review this weekend – Peter Groves on copyright – Geeklawyer, Carl Gardner and I discuss events of momentous importance from the news of last week and… more… who knows? It has happened yet.

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Today I am talking to Ed Vaizey MP, Conservative member of Parliament for Wantage, and Didcot about proposals to regulate the internet to prevent illegal downloading of media, including music, television and published works. Ed Vaizey is currently the Shadow Minister for Culture.

I am also talking to Peter Lewinton, a graduate in law from Oxford University. Peter founded and sold two small sports Internet companies and was recently assisting Virgin Media as Head of Sport. Peter is the managing director of Legal Training.TV, a leading provider of online CPD courses for lawyers. His expertise lies in the area of online rights, production and distribution.

Listen to Podcast 48: Ed Vaizey MP on the problem of illegal downloads.

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A pleasure to let you know that Jonathan Sykes of Wildy’s has got RSS for new books from Wildy’s

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Adam Smith of LawCareers.net has done a review of several blawgs, including my own.  Good to see a popular website taking the trouble to do a review of blawging.  It may inspire others to blawg?

Read the review here 

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Diana Inquest: Al Fayed speaks….

I do not go to Harrods, but I understand there is a memorial to Dodi and Diana at the shop and Al Fayed appears to have a statue of himself as a sphinx. Al Fayed’s website provides all you could wish to know about these matters…. well, apart from the evidence he is now providing to the inquest.

The BBC report on Al Fayed’s evidence is extraordinary…. I’ll give you a flavour:

“Harrods owner Mr Al Fayed claimed former prime minister Tony Blair, MI5, MI6 and the British ambassador to France were all part of the conspiracy.”

“Asked by Ian Burnett QC, counsel to the inquest, if he stood by his claim that Diana and Dodi were “murdered by the British security services on the orders of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh”, Mr Al Fayed replied: “Yes.”

Al Fayed then appears to inform the coroner of his views on the repatriation of Prince Philip : “In his evidence, Mr Al Fayed branded Prince Philip a “Nazi” and a “racist” and said: “It’s time to send him back to Germany from where he comes.”

“You want to know his original name – it ends with Frankenstein,” he added.

AND… just to be absolutely sure that the inquest had a clear view, Al Fayed stated… ” Prince Charles was complicit, hoping to make way so he could marry his “crocodile wife” Camilla Parker Bowles.”

Will this story ever go away? Paul Burrell, former butler to Princes Diana, appears to have lied to the inquest according to press reports… by not revealing all.


The circus continues…

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Today I am talking to the director of the Oxford Institute of Legal Practice, Julie Brannan. Julie practised law at Herbert Smith, where she was a litigation partner, before going on to OXILP. The Oxford Institute of Legal Practice, a joint venture between Oxford University and Oxford Brookes is one of the leading providers for the LPC, one of five providers for the Qualified Lawyers Transfer test and has built up a good reputation for the quality of provision.

Podcast 47: Julie Brannan, OXILP on the LPC

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Hat Tip to Reactionary Snob, for alerting his readers to the story below:

As Reactionary Snob puts it….

“And people wonder why red-faced buffers like myself don’t trust the government or the mandarins of the Civil Service… This shower couldn’t organise a blowjob in a brothel with a bag of diamonds. I don’t know what is worse – a) they mistake two places with similar names b) they don’t check who and how much they are paying c) that when they receive too much money the council don’t pay it back and d) there’s no chance we’ll get it fucking back! “

LONDON (AFP) – A Staffordshire town is refusing to pay back over a million pounds in grants on Thursday after embarrassed civil servants confused them with another English city. The Department for Communities and Local Government mistook the market town of Newcastle-Under-Lyme — with a population of just 74,000 people — with the industrial city of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne — which is 186 miles away and has 260,000 residents — when calculating funding budgets, resulting in a 1.1 million pound overpayment.

And…. from another political blog… Guido has a story, under the headline “Blinky Ball’s Brainwave to fund the PSBR: Sharia Law” that H M Government is doing a feasibility study to see if it will be possible to borrow Islamic money under Sharia Finance Law principles… ‘Sukuk’. I’ve just read H M Treasury’s paper on the subject.

A parable for our times from the net…

A turkey was chatting with a bull.

‘I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree’ sighed the turkey, ‘but I haven’t got the energy.’

‘Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?’ replied the bull. They’re packed with nutrients.’

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story
Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there.

An Algerian living in Britain who was wrongly accused of being involved in the 9/11 terror attacks tells for the first time today of how his life has been ‘ruined’ by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Last week the Court of Appeal ruled that the High Court had been wrong to block him from suing the government for compensation, paving the way for a ground-breaking claim for damages.” Observer

A short Weekend Review this week – Podcast 47 with Julie Brannan of The Oxford Institute of Legal Practice goes up tomorow.

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Bottled water and interfering busybodies…

The absurdity of paying ridiculous prices for bottled water at restaurants and the nonsense of transporting water from all over the world to a Britain awash with rain and a good quality water supply is finally attracting media attention…. I always drink tap water and so far I have not grown breasts nor do I seem to be off my head on a permanent high from oestrogen and cocaine residues in the Thames. Of course, when I am not drinking water, I drink espresso and red wine.

I was having my usual breakfast this morning at 6.45 am when I saw a jogger go by clutching a bottle of Evian water. The outside temperature was just touching zero… and I was reading in the press that it cost ten litres of water to make just one litre of bottled water. I lit a cigarette and reflected on this. It does a make a bit of a nonsense of carbon footprint and offsets to import water from as far away as Fiji or New Zealand.

But then I remembered a press clipping cut from the Daily Mirror yesterday. “Fancy a fag? Get a permit” screamed the headline. Prof Julian Le Grand of The London School of Economics has come up with a plan to get smokers to opt in and be required to fill in an exceptionally complex form to get a permit (and pay £10) to be permitted to smoke. Smokers should be forced to carry a licence to smoke…say health watchdogs. Clearly, Prof Le Grand Buffoon has way too much time on his hands and we have had quite enough from medical watchdogs in recent years as far as I am concerned. Ministers are looking for input ‘from a wide range of views’, apparently. Why not have a “Porker licence’… for the obese?, binge-drinking permits for topers?, talking licences, valid only at middle class dinner parties, for bores who want to drone on about the value of their houses and the future profitability of their tediously overtalented and e-numbered up children? The list is capable of no end.

I lit another cigarette and even contemplated getting a bottle of Rioja from the convenience store next door and do a bit of jogging, swigging out of the wine bottle, as I ran down the high street. It was just too early for that. I shall wait until sunset.

I found this very convenient wrist bottle on the net for the athletically minded young woman who likes a bit of Chardonnay while she jogs or works out. Weighs half a pound when fully loaded – so a bit of extra exercise as well.

Is it too late for me to apply to run in the London Marathon this year? I do hope so.

I must go now to meditate… to prepare myself to a state of zen in preparation for lunch and the composition and writing of my ‘Weekend Review’. Alternatively, I may contact the Archbishop of Canterbury to see if he needs any help with his next public speech. His last effort won “God Idol”. His next one may get him a hosting position on “Have I got Gods for You”.

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Getting up early has many benefits. Putting the script together for the daily news podcast I do each morning at 6.30 also means that I am fairly on top of legal news. Whether this is a good thing or not is an entirely different question.

To borrow from and adapt the famous aphorism of F.E Smith …” I may not be wiser… but at least I am better informed.”

My daily news podcast lasts for about 4-5 minutes….

Of course… I wear a dinner jacket… or, as some would say, ‘black tie’… as I do for all my podcasts… and there is usually something in The Sun or The Mirror to allow me to end the podcast with something bizarre. Daily News podcast on Consilio: here

Have a good Valentine’s day…. whatever you decide to do. As I do not need the services of a specialist in family law, or a registrar (I have a life time ASBO prohibiting me from entering churches or Register Offices)… I shall be taking a glass or two with my mate Mr Rioja tonight. I’ll have to sit outside The Bollo… all the inside tables are taken by the loved-up or guilty. One does tend to meet unusual people outside pubs – smokers, over refreshed people… and sometimes the odd King (Below)


Odd thought for today: Do you worry about the use of ‘shall’ and ‘will’ to denote the future? The americans don’t. ‘Will’ is the norm in the States. I tend to use ‘will’ and ‘shall’ as I please…. do I need to ostracize myself.. banish myself ? .. cast myself out from social, political, or private favour / favor? (US readers only).

If this vexed question threatens to ruin your Valentine’s evening… as in “will I / shall I… etc” (or even… “should I?”) … The BBC, as ever, comes to your aid: here

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Andrew Holroyd, President of The Law Society writes to Jack Straw…
Expressing concern about bugging of lawyer / client conversations.
Download the letter (Word document) from Consilio

The Law Society gave permission for the letter to be made more widely available.

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On the eve of St Valentine’s day….

On the eve of St Valentine’s Day… the legal profession is able to contribute, albeit in a small way, by advising that caution may be the best way to go.

Robert Verkaik, legal editor of The Independent writes: “Tomorrow is the one day of the year when the head is given over to matters of the heart. But the thousands of couples who pledge their troth on St Valentine’s Day may find it would pay to spend a little time proposing the idea of a pre-nuptial agreement too.”


What will I be doing on the night? … I will probably have a glass or two with my long term inamorata … Mari a Rioja.

Mon dieu… that it should come to this at 4.55 am without even the excuse of being over refreshed ….. I am doomed. I have turned into Basil Brush.

Right… action this day… off to put my script together for my Daily News podcast on Consilio.tv

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