Archive for July, 2008


Perhaps it is the heat, perhaps it is just me, perhaps it is living in Britain in these credit-crunch times – but I have noticed that a number of really quite trivial and unimportant things irritate me.  I do not get angry – I just get irritated.  So… I thought I would start an ‘Irritation” section on my blog to share my ‘pet irritations’ and invite those of you who are so inclined –  (a) to be irritating or (b) share your pet irritations when I publish “Irritation” posts.

1.  The BBC weather forecast for London on the BBC website

I read weather forecasts regularly – it is a minor impediment to an otherwise relatively insane life.  I don’t actually care what the weather is or does – but I do take the most irrational and grave exception when the BBC tells me that there is going to be rain and then we get a heatwave. I  take an implausibly grave exception when the converse happens.

Today, the BBC has changed their assessment of the weather no less than five times; at times representing a forecast on their website at odds with the radio and television bulletins – and what is going on outside my window.  I know – because, again, perhaps irrationally’, I have turned on the radio and television to check.  This may well appear, to the casual observer, to be symptomatic of a mild form of obsessive compulsive disorder or the onset of some dementia bloggerensis and you may well be right.  I will be on my roof deck tonight at midnight checking the  sky, the web, the radio and the television to see if there is any accuracy in the BBC forecasts.  I may well chuck a few chicken feathers and entrails  about to do my own forecast. I appreciate that weather changes – but how can it go from a Met Office “Severe Weather” warning to heatwave in half a f*****g hour?  This is the problem I have today.  I am told that I will be OK once the pills kick in.

Frankly, I have a suspicion that the BBC just wait to see what the weather is actually doing outside the London office and adjust it… which is about as much use to anyone as a one legged pace bowler in a test match.

Please feel free to tell me your “irritations” in the comments section – I may well prefer yours to mine – in which case I may email you (but not if you are a barrister who is hostile to emails – see below)  and propose a swap.

IRRITATION UPDATE / Wednesday 30 July 10.15 pm

It has been a rather irritating day for Cricket fans.  Our batsmen decided that they did not know how to bat today.

I am grateful to The Chief, a visitor to this blog, for sending me an EXCELLENT picture of the weather forecast for Birmingham .  It is from the BBC and gives me comfort both for the weather and the cricket.  It is worth a look!


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On a day when The Lords ruled that the Serious Fraud Office acted lawfully in halting the investigation into BAe and nearly forty years after the invention of email (which pre-dated the invention of the internet), the Bar Council has decided to harness the power of the digitial information era to communicate with members.

I am grateful to a particularly switched on law librarian for providing the text of the article from Counsel magazine: The Email Initiative – proving, yet again, that law librarians are vital even in the age of electronic information.

The article in Counsel  magazine throws up some surprising points.

1.  Any professional body worthy of its name needs to communicate effectively with its members.  The Bar Council is contacting members to inform them of the Email Initiative.  They hope, soon, to have harvested 75% of the profession’s email addresses.  Interestingly – “Many expressed surprise that the Bar Council did not have their email address already.  Others were sceptical about disclosing personal email addresses:  a few were hostile.”

2.  This is a time of increasing change in the legal services sector… effective interest representation and regulation depends on efficient communication, ‘but communicating directly with 15,000 individual members of the Bar is currently a challenge’.

3. The initiative is not intended ‘to deluge’ the Bar with messages or clutter up in-boxes. The Bar Council does understand how ‘frequent email blasts’ can induce communication fatigue…. but the Bar Council wishes ‘to harness the power of technology’ to put them in touch with developments etc etc… consistent with the “one Bar’ approach… The Bar Council notes that its website contains a wealth of information ….. but ‘busy practitioners may not have the time to browse the site to search for material’.

4. Direct email would have several advantages…. better communication etc etc etc.  There were also ‘regulatory’ benefits.

5.  “What stands in the way of this direct communication is the simple absence of a comprehensive set of personal email addresses for the profession. Only half of the profession has provided email addresses.  The plan is (a) to require disclosure – but this has disciplinary implications in the event of failure to disclose or (b) to encourage more members to provide email addresses voluntarily.

Well… there we are. The Bar may be thirty plus years later than other early adopters of information super highway benefits – but….. a new dawn may soon rise in the sky and in-boxes will ping in Chambers throughout the land and barristers….  may not, as the old saying goes, be wiser, but at least they will be better informed.

I suspect that the voluntary approach may not bear much fruit – barrristers being the independently minded lot they are – and… some were ‘hostile’ to the idea, after all!.  Some say… that some barristers do not have email addresses.  I know one barrister who says that he doesn’t get any emails at all – a source of pleasure to him – because he does not have an email address.

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30 July: Daily news and podcast

30 July:  Daily news and podcast up on Insitelaw magazine

Substantial update to Insitelaw in progress for completion today.

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West London Man (19): A short holiday in Padstow, Cornwall

Produced:  In West London

Run Time:  5.37 minutes
Music:  I do love to be beside the seaside
Wardrobe: Boden (left)

The part of Caroline was played by Joanna Le Huquet.  Charon took the parts of George and David Cameron

Listen to the Audio version of West London Man (19)

George and Caroline usually take a summer vacation in Southern France or Tuscany. Conscious, this year, that they should be seen by fellow West Londoners to be doing the right thing, they too are going to have a ‘British’ holiday quickly and then go on their real holiday to Tuscany in early August.  The Boden catalogue arrived and George has purchased some rather fetching outfits for the Padstow trip.  The children, Peregrine and Jocasta are looking forward to playing at the seaside.  George has arranged for a local nanny to look after the children during the day for the short week’s holiday.

George, to irritate one of his Chiswick friends who has an Audi Quattro TT, bought himself an Aston Martin DB9 and he and Caroline went down to Cornwall in the Aston.  The children followed later in the family’s BMW 4 x 4 with Caroline’s Mother who would help look after the children during the week’s holiday.

It was the first day of the holiday.  George and Caroline went for a walk on the beach – George dressed casually in navy shorts and a dark gray polo shirt.  Caroline wore a long floral print skirt and a soft black sleeveless top.

Caroline: George?…. isn’t that David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, sitting on the beach over there?

George brought his Zeiss binoculars up to his eyes and scanned the horizon.  It was not necessary to use binoculars because the Camerons were only fifty or so yards away.

George: I think you’re right, darling… yes…. it is Dave and Samantha?

Caroline: Dave?… do you know Cameron?

George: Well…. not exactly…. I joined WebCameron some time ago and get emails from him regularly.

Caroline: But doesn’t everyone who joins WebCameron get an email from him regularly?

George: welll… yes… yes… I suppose they do.

Caroline: So… you don’t actually know Dave and Samantha then?

George: No…. not as such…. no.

Caroline started laughing and said: Have you noticed that ‘Dave’ and Samantha are wearing exactly the same clothes as we are wearing.

George brought his binoculars up t his eyes again and paused.

George: Bloody hell… you’re right…. how could that happen…?

Caroline: Well they can’t be using a catalogue….. maybe they went to the same shop in West London?

George: Yes… possibly.

Caroline: I wonder if he has brought his bicycle with him?  He got it back you know.

George and Caroline strolled along the beach.  George waved casually at the Cameron’s who were about to be photographed for the newspapers and waved.

George: Hi Dave!… having a good break?  You gave Brown a good fisting in the Commons last week…. keep it up…

Cameron: Thank you… enjoy your holiday too.

George: Absolutely Dave…  gather you got your bike back… some hoodie made off with it is the word on the street….  quite amusing really.

Cameron: It wasn’t amusing at the time. Well… if you will excuse me…. I’ve got to get these pics done.

George: Well Dave… keep it up… you’ll be in Number 10 before Christmas…. and that Vince Cable bloke who called Brown ‘Mr Bean’ will be an excellent Chancellor of The Exchequer.  Good man, Cable….. you made a good choice there.

Cameron smiling wearily:  Mr Cable is a Liberal-Democrat.

George: Absolutely… well… it takes all sorts….. have a great vacation… I’ll be voting for you.  Bye.

Caroline dragged George quickly by the arm, laughing.  The Cameron’s laughed and Caroline was absolutely certain she heard Samantha say “What a strange man…. do you know him?”

Caroline: Well that was a command performance, George…. brilliant in fact.  Instead of saying ‘beasting’, which is probably just acceptable parliamentary language, you used ‘fisting’ and you did not appear to Cameron to know much about politics because Vince Cable is not a Tory…. but who cares… that was funny… very funny in fact… now take me for lunch, then take me to bed and take me..  It has been a while…


Listen to the Audio version of West London Man (19)

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The newspapers stagger like binge drinkers on a hot Friday night in Brighton – some, it has to be said, from the white stiletto high heeled shoes school of journalism –  between feeding on pictures of politicians on holiday to the frenzy about whether Gordon Brown should or should not stand down / be sacked as prime minister.

Yesterday we were treated to a picture of David Cameron and his wife Samantha enjoying a holiday in Cornwall; prompting a journalist to comment that they looked as if they were straight out of a Boden catalogue.  By contrast, Gordon Brown looked as if he had been dressing in the dark again from Primark in what appeared to be  a pair of navy suit trousers, black brogues, an open neck shirt and a very beige jacket. Gordon was clearly at pains, or in pain, to demonstrate that he can look like a holidaymaker by demonstrating his rictus-like smile.  I am certain, but cannot be sure, that he was saying ‘I want a gottle of geer’.  It is said that MPs from Lancashire want Gordon Brown to fire himself.

Meanwhile, in today’s Evening Standard I discovered that arch feminist Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party – but not Deputy Prime Minister – was at the helm demanding to hold meetings sitting in the prime minister’s chair in the Cabinet Room at 7.30 am.  Apparently, the ‘team’ are none to enamoured with Ms Harman – she, herself, we are told, finds it perplexing that she is not particularly popular as a politician both within and without Westminster. Mind you, she is another one who has a predilection for curious jackets.  She looked as if she was wearing one made of giraffe skin when filmed by the BBC today for the lunchtime Harmannews – a very curious jacket indeed.  I found it difficult to concentrate on the turkey slices I am eating this week, after a week on Omega 3 providing mackerel.

For what it is worth – I think that Brown is a disaster, Harman would be worse and that we need the eminence gris, the Richard III of the Labour Party – Jack “The Lad Chancellor” Straw – to part the Red Sea and steer us to the promised land where all is good. Fortunately, I do not make my living from political punditry – so I am entitled to hold bizarre views of this nature without fear of having a pay cut…. and talking of which….

The silly season is upon us…. August approaches. I covered the extraordinary case of a ‘woman betrayed’ in my ‘Postcard from The Staterooms’ – but I almost had to give myself a Heimlich manoeuvre when I looked at The Mirror yesterday morning over an espresso to find the headline “Countdown Meltdown”.  Inside, it was worse.  We were treated to a ‘possibly post-tears style’ photograph of Ms Vorderman and a host of rather ‘mature celebrities’ from a time gone by, who entertain the coffin dodgers in the late afternoon on Countdown,  telling us that it was a ‘disgrace’ the way Ms Vorderman had been treated by Channel 4 and if she wasn’t going to be on Countdown…. then neither were they.  Excellent – we need to encourage younger people – men and women in their early fifties.  Our time has come. Jesus… it is only a bloody television programme and while I accept that it provided good and enjoyable  entertainment for millions (well… under a million in recent months) – it is hardly deserving of all this pathos tinged, asininely British, coverage.

And now… it is time for a “Medal Ceremony” :  FOR IDIOCY – RYEDALE DISTRICT COUNCIL
Regular readers may recall that I have started awarding medals For Idiocy beyond the call of duty.  Blogger, White Rabbit, has drawn my attention to a quite remarkabe story where a ‘Yorkshire Patriot’….. “A local patriot by the name of Andrew Wainwright took to flying the white rose flag. The result: a summons by Ryedale District Council. The ‘reason’ was that the flag supposedly constituted advertising (advertising of what remains obscure) and was thus subject to a planning charge. The result was general uproar, ridicule and the mass ordering of Yorkshire flags by Mr Wainwright’s fellow villagers.  For the full story – and there is more… please visit White Rabbit’s account.

I have started a “For Idiocy beyond the call of duty” category  on my blog – so please do not hesitate to nominate when you come across conduct from one of our unsung heros meriting an award.  I have noticed that the first two awards I have ‘bestowed’ are both local Council.  This could be a pattern?

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I hasten to add… not me. There I was, this very afternoon just before 6.00, enjoying a glass of chilled Beaujolais and enjoying an exchange of nonsense with Infobunny on Twitter – when Infobunny sent me news of a CPS lawyer who is doing part-time work as a nude model. Full Telegraph Story

Clifford Allison, 56, from the CPS Special Crime Division, has diversified –  advertising his services online.  He is up for ‘lingerie, glamour, implied nude (whatever that is), adult and topless’.  Mr Allison has been off work  and his doctor views this sideline as ‘therapeutic’ – and this may well be the case. The Telegraph reports that Mr Allison had been earning £80,000 and had been a former treasurer of the Bar Council

It has to be said that his peers at the CPS regard his new career path with astonishment and, The Telegraph reports:  “A CPS spokesman said: “CPS employees must seek written permission before seeking secondary employment. We will be contacting him to seek some clarification around this issue.”

I fear, that while I am open to offers for voice overs (disaster movies horror movies, news reading, weather reporting and cricket corresponding – as well as adverts for things people do not need) I do not feel I am quite ready, at this point, to branch out in this way.  Mr Allison is in the vanguard.  He boldly goes….. who will be next from the legal profession to follow this trail blazer ?

But… Hat Tip to Clifford Allison – seems to enjoy life.  Have a look at the website entry


UPDATE Monday 28th July – Jailhouselawyer goes for it… you will, I am sure, appreciate his sense of humour..  The pic says it all – go see.

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Audio version for those who have done enough reading – with music etc…


I am not, of course, in Suffolk – but that is not to say that I would not enjoy being so.  It has been a curious week:  First we had the Wood Report on the reform of legal education for barristers.  I enjoyed doing three podcasts on this topic – (1) Jon Mcleod on behalf of the Bar Standards Board (2) Richard de Friend for The College of Law response and (3) Stuart Sime for the Inns of Court School of Law / City Law School response.

Then on Thursday we had the judgment of Eady J to enjoy in the Max Mosley case. My podcast with Head of Legal explores the developing law of privacy and avoids the more salacious elements in the report – although, I cannot resist drawing attention to a couple of dry comments of Eady J:

At para 53…. “…The claimant, for reasons best known to himself, enjoyed having his bottom shaved – apparently for its own sake rather than because of any Nazi connotation.  He explained to me that while this service was being performed he was (no doubt unwisely) “shaking with laughter”.  I naturally could not check from the DVD, as it was not his face that was on display.”

At para 70… “It is also clear that there was nothing spoken by the Claimant on this occasion which reflected Nazi terminology or attitudes.  There is no reason to suppose that it (“We are the Aryan race – blondes”) was other than a spontaneous squeal by Woman A in medias res.”


Mosley judgment Podcast
Podcast 75:  Carl Gardner of Head of Legal blog on the Eady J Mosley judgment et al…

The in medias res bit prompted prolific housing law blogger, Nearly Legal, to remark on Twitter last night “Congrats to Justice Eady for the campest line incorporating legal latin ever.” For a sanguine view on the Mosely case and a view on Eady J’s judgment – The Barrister Bard offers it straight.

The News of The World continues with lurid coverage of the Mosley case, exhorting us all to believe that Press freedom is endangered and Carole Mallone succumbs to the British summer heat by saying (of Max Mosley’s predilection) … ” Where I come from—and I’m not just talking location here, but mindset—people who indulge in that kind of deviancy would be written off as ‘sick in the head’, depraved, morally bankrupt.”

But moving on… to the heart rending story of a woman betrayed…. Carol Vorderman’s resignation from Countdown. Countdown, a television programme loved by millions of coffin dodgers, idle students and the work shy, has has been running, as far as I can see, since the Middle Ages – but not for very much longer. Des O’Connor, a spritely 72 year old,  has had enough and follows Des Lynam into standing down as host.  Carol Vorderman has also resigned – although she says that she would do Countdown for free (Excellent bit of spin) she is, curiously for an expert mathematician, not prepared to do it for a 90% cut in her (reputed) £900,000 salary – which is, of course, more than ‘nothing / free’.  All good things have to come to an end.  Perhaps the Secretary of State for Pensions is behind this ? – get rid of Countdown, get the pensioners to exercise more so they can keep warm instead of worrying about their gas bills and get the work shy off their backsides.  Who knows?

With six podcasts done last week, I began to worry that this blawg was in danger of having far too much law on it. I am, therefore, writing from my roof terrace in West London, after a rather good lunch of smoked mackerel, king prawns and salad, washed down with chilled Beaujolais ( a non binge drinking 12.5% Vol), to say that I shall write no more, this day, of law…

I am thinking of moving to Brighton… the sea air, different bars… and I shall be able to keep an eye on the French.  Thirty years in London is quite enough…. and, after all, there is no need for me to be in London.  It is not as if I am going to be helping Mayor Boris out, I don’t ever get invited to pop into the Palace and I can read the news each morning and blog just as easily in Brighton as I can from West London…. with the added advantage that I shall not ( I hope) have to endure the spectacle of men carrying their baby in a sling attached to their chests and couples being outraged when they can’t find a parking space for their shiny 4 x 4s.  I shall investigate the possibilities. I need to see the sea again…. and be by the side of the sea.  My body is a temple… I am sure that I shall find it more satisfying to smoke in Brighton where the air has more ozone. I am also told that there are some very amusing people to be found in Brighton.  Further, I would be able to indulge my nautical side.  I have the perfect outfit.  Yes… it could be most enjoyable… and… a plentiful supply of fish.  I am very keen on Omega 3 at the moment.

So what are they up to?

Regular readers, who have a taste for a bit of law, will know that my alter ego has a more sensible online magazine and, therein, profiles law based posts from UK and other bloggers. Here, on ‘Postcard’, I note the comings and goings of UK and other bloggers who share my taste for non-law posts.  I am pleased, therefore, to be able to report that Geeklawyer has climbed Mount Fuji in Japan.  He has some excellent photographs, including one of himself standing on top of Mount Fuji holding what appears to be a World War II version of the japanese flag.  He is wearing a balaclava to protect his identity.  Rather implausibly, there is also a rear view of Geeklawyer praying at a shrine. To my jaded eye it looks as if he is helping himself to the Sake left as an offering to the gods.  I could, of course, be wrong. I rely, however, on the developing law of privacy (and exceptions thereto) to intrude and investigate on grounds of responsible journalism and the public interest.   The Geeklawyer harem are much in evidence on the comments section.  There is talk of moobs, buttocks and going into saunas.   But.. hey… that will not surprise regular readers of Geeklawyer’s blog.

White Rabbit is off for a few days but he is musing about Talula does the hula from Hawaii and wanders if we are being invaded by stealh by the Agentines given the number of blokes wandering around in Agentinian rugby shirts.

John Bolch, of Family Lore, deftly weaves a bit of law into a post about a man with a chain saw: “With this chainsaw, I thee divorce”.

And with that… I put my pen down for this week.  There is a chilled bottle of Beaujolais, half full, in the fridge.  It is time for a glass.  It is the heat.  The rains will come soon to purge our land of depravity and corruption of the soul.

Until next weekend

Have a good one

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Today I am talking to Stuart Sime, Barrister and Director of the BVC at The City Law School (Inns of Court School of Law) about his view of The Wood Report.

We discuss the content of the proposed Bar Professional Training Course and the way The City Law School approaches the training of bar students.


Listen to Podcast 76:  Wood Report – City Law School response.

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Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister and author of the Head of  Legal blog, about the judgment of Mr Justice Eady in Mosley.  We examine the developing law on privacy, exemplary damages and question whether the decision was in fact a ‘landmark’ decision in some aspect, including, as a side effect, the law on consent generally after R v Brown.

Carl has also done a short post on the Eady J judgment


Listen to Podcast 75:  Carl Gardner on the Mosley judgment, privacy and exemplary damages

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Today I am talking to Scott Vine, author of the Information Overlord blog, about illegal downloading and the growing use by lawyers of internet based information and communications technology.


Listen to Podcast 74:  Scott Vine on legal information technology

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There are men and women in Britain who, each day, go about their business unrecognised by the media and their peer group – the unsung heroes of our land. It is time, as Barack Obama would say, for us to recognise their heroism in making Britain a more interesting place to live.  I have instituted a “For Idiocy” medal and, from this day, will award the medal where I find it appropriate to do so.

At the same time I am also establishing “**** Corner”. Being inclusive and keen to foster equal opportunity interraction on this blog, I am also instituting a section of the blawg for behaviour that merits inclusion in “**** Corner”.  You, the reader, are invited (a) to provide your own four letter epithet for “**** Corner” and (b) to write in with examples of behaviour meriting inclusion in “**** Corner”.

I am awarding my first “For Idiocy” medal to Ceredigion Council for fining  a painter £30 for smoking in his own van. Decorator Gordon Williams was fined because council officials said it counted as smoking in the workplace.  Gordon Willaims was ‘dumbfounded’,  only uses the van to get to work,  and said ” It is not my place of work.  I paint and decorate houses not vans.”  Story from The Mirror


Ceredigion Council’s inclusion in “**** Corner” is also confirmed by this remarkable work going beyond the call of duty.

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25 July: Daily news and podcast

Daily news and podcast now up on Insitelaw

What bloggers are doing – updated.

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Today I am talking to Stephen Mason, barrister, author and expert on digital evidence – about electronic signatures.


Listen to Podcast 73:  Stephen Mason on electronic signatures


Stephen Mason websiteStephen Mason televised course on electronic signatures for the CPD Channel

(Apologies for minor sound interference in parts of the podcast – a net transmission issue beyond my control.)

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24 July: Daily news and podcast

24 July: Daily news and podcast up on Insitelaw magazine

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Mackerel, Omega 23 and other mattters…

Perhaps it was the image of Dawn Primarolo MP, Matron-in-Chief, in a newspaper today telling us that she is going to stop our world leading olympic medal winning binge drinkers from practising their craft  – but I have decided that a bit of Omega 3 to supplement the beneficial effects of red wine is probably useful.  I have decided to take up eating smoked mackerel. It is my new hobby.  I have a fridge full of smoked mackerel.  To ward off scurvy, I have also purchased some lemon and limes. There is more than enough water in wine and the odd glass of water to ensure that I am fully hydrated… tap water, of course..

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Today I am talking to Richard de Friend, director of the Bloomsbury centre of The College of Law. Richard has had a long and distinguished career in legal education as pro Vice Chancellor of Kent University and, in recent years, with the College of Law.

The Wood report is – rather like a cornetto… soft and imaginative  in parts  in terms of changes to  syllabus but with a hard outer covering in terms of the proposed exam structure…aptitude test and their concerns about fees. We discuss the implications of The Wood report on Bar legal education and assess how the proposed changes to bar education will affect the College.


Listen to Podcast 72


The Wood Report on the BVC

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Today I am talking to Jon McLeod, Chairman, Public Affairs – Weber Shandwick who acted for the Bar Standards Board in the recent report of the Working Group in relation to Review of The Bar Vocational Course.
Jon McLeod went into public affairs in 1994, having spent six years in financial and legal journalism. His specialisms include: Parliamentary and lobbying campaigns, coalition building, national media relations, litigation and legal communications, and strategic counsel.

The Bar Vocational Course is set to be renamed as the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). The Working Party report chaired by Derek Wood QC makes a number of important recommendations and the detail in the report itself provides a fascinating insight into the need for reform and the quality of provision at the various accredited providers – albeit without identifying the providers.

.I am going to talk to Jon as part of a short series of podcasts covering this topic about the report itself and the changes proposed.


Listen to Podcast 71: Wood Report – The proposed changes to the BVC


The Wood Report on the BVC


Jon McLeod, Chairman of Public Affairs, Weber Chandwick

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23 July: Daily news and podcast

23 July: Daily news and podcast up on Insitelaw magazine

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Brutalisation of the human spirit by war?
White Rabbit picks up on a story about an unarmed captive being shot by an Israeli soldier at point blank range – in the foot with a rubber bullet. Please note the comments on the blog post

The original You Tube video disappeared recently – but there is another link to the film. It is disturbing.

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