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Archive for January, 2009


The Law Society of England & Wales has decided to initiate an  independent Review of the regulation of lawyers and law firms.
Today I am talking to The Rt Hon Lord Hunt of Wirral who has been invited to head the review. Lord Hunt is calling for evidence from the entire legal profession as part of his Law Society-commissioned review of regulation. Lord Hunt has launched his evidence gathering process by publishing a formal Call for Evidence document . The publication inaugurates a three month initial consultation period which will end on Thursday 9 April 2009.

Listen to Podcast 92: The Rt Hon Lord Hunt of Wirral – Call for Evidence

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Direct link to Podcast 92 for iTunes

Materials:

Call for Evidence Website | Review of the Regulation of Law Firms: Call for Evidence (pdf)

Before his elevation to the peerage, David Hunt was the MP for Wirral (and Wirral West) from 1976 – 1997 and served with distinction as Secretary of State for Wales, Secretary of State for Employment and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Lord Hunt was senior partner at his national law firm – Beachcroft Wansbroughs (now Beachcroft LLP) – between 1996-2005. He is now chairman of the firm’s financial services division and is regarded as a major figure in the world of insurance and financial services.

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Today I am talking to one of the authors of the influential Captalists@Work blog. There are three contributors. City Unslicker, Nick Drew and Bill Quango MP.  This blog is, in my view, a must read for any lawyer who is interested in the City and who works in the corporate-commerical sector.  In fact.. I would go further and say that all lawyers will benefit from reading it.

I’m talking to City Unslicker. We look at an overview of the current financial crisis and the reasons for it – Toxic assets and why the banks lent so much to people with so little – The Role of The Bank of England and whether reduction in interest rates is working – The possibility of Deflation – Short selling of bank shares – The World shedding 70,000 + jobs a day – Madoff  –  How long the recession is likely to last.

Listen to Podcast 91: City Unslicker on the current financial crisis.

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Direct link to Podcast for iTunes

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I’ve been *Podcasted*…!

Rather like TV crews waiting for events to happen who start interviewing each other… tonight I was the first guest on John Bolch’s (Family Lore)  new series of Podcasts. While John plans to focus on Family Law and related matters, he asked me (given that he has been a guest on my podcasts on many occasions) if I would like to be his first guest.  I put my *vermin in ermine kit* on, brushed my absurd new *mustache* and waited by the telephone;  Rioja to my right, a woodbine to my left.  I enjoyed the experience and I wish John every success with his series of podcasts – which, I am assured, will be on matters legal in future….

Listen to the Podcast… John Bolch interviews *Moi*…

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Direct link to podcast for iTunes feed

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I report tonight, from outside the House of Lords, the upper chamber of Parliament to a nation with a long, proud, but not always entirely honourable history.   The Sunday Times claimed yesterday that four Labour peers, including Lord Taylor of Blackburn, were prepared to change the law for cash. In a statement to the House of Lords earlier, Lady Royall called the claims “deeply shocking”. She pointed out that they were only allegations at this stage but said the claims had been “damaging not just to this House but to Parliament and politics”. She said the matter had been referred to the Lords Interests sub committee, which had already met and investigations were underway.

I met up with Lord CashnCarry, who, clearly, does not read newspapers or watch television, to see if he might be up for a bit of ‘bending the rules’.  Our conversation, which I recorded, went as follows.

Transcript of conversation between Charon and Lord CashnCarry, 26th January 2009

Charon: Psssst…. Lord CashnCarry?

Lord CashnCarry: Yes….

Charon: Thanks for coming… anyone following you?

Lord CashnCarry: No… not that I am aware of.

Charon: Good….  I’ve got a client who is very interested in the Prawn, Pike and Salmon Restriction on Fishing Bill 2009 being proposed by the government.

Lord CashnCarry: Oh yes… very interesting Bill this. I’m a bit of an angler myself  and not just the fishing type… if you get my drift.

Charon: Indeed… your reputation precedes you.

Lord CashnCarry: So… what can I do for you… a spot of adjusting?  A bit of derogation? Perhaps even a full scale revision of the Bill?

Charon: I gather you have had some success recently in… shall we say… delaying a bill?

Lord CashnCarry: Absolutely.  Yes… put in a small amendment here, another small one there…. you do it quietly behind the scenes you see

Charon: Do you put these amendements yourself?

Lord CashnCarry: No no no no no. You don’t do things like that. That’s stupid. What you do is you talk to the parliamentary team who drafts the statute as it goes through and you point out to them the difficulty the ‘interested party’ would be having on this…

Charon: Do you talk directly to the Minister?

Lord CashnCarry: No no no no no. You don’t do things like that. No no no…. far too many people at the meeting…. things being written down… Oh no… It’s some little chappie half way down…It’s about identifying the decision makers. It’s about identifying the people that make the recommendations…..

Charon: Obviously, from our point of view, this would be something we would remunerate you for. Money is no object on this one.

Lord CashnCarry: Money no object you say?… This is absolutely difficult, this is very difficult for me because some companies that I work for will pay me £100,000 a year.”

Charon: £100,000? Really? Astonishing…

Lord CashnCarry: Oh yes. That’s cheap for what I do for them. One firm gave me a yacht. Another gave me a car to ‘use’… if you get my drift. It all depends on what you are trying to do and how much time I think I am going to spend on it. These are the sort of fees I get. I am being absolutely honest with you. I am not exaggerating. It’s whether I want to do it or not. You’ve got to whet my appetite to get me on board.”

Charon: Well thank you Lord CashnCarry…. I’ll need to consult with the ‘interested party’ and get back to you.

Lord CashnCarry: Right Oh…. don’t take too long.. fortune favours the bold… my own in this case… Ha ha ha….. early bird catches the worm, as they say in the House.

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I made my excuses and left.

With apologies to The Sunday Times transcript… you really couldn’t make it up.


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Insite Law magazine now updated with major news/UK blogs update – also Law Society/Bar Council news.

Blawg Review #196 is up   – written by Peter Black of Freedom to Differ, celebrating Australia Day.

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Sunday 25th January
Lord and Commons in the shit and talking it?….

Another interesting week in the law, quite apart from the Inauguration of President Obama, with a few constitutional issues thrown in. Gordon Brown has yet to be invited to visit the new President but may already have had an opportunity to tell Obama about his plans to save the world and enjoy a post-Obamagasm coffee after the call. Who knows? Charon interviewed the Prime Mentalist?

Gordon Brown was taken by surprise this week, believing he had secured Tory support for suppressing information on MP expenses, only to discover that this was not so during prime minister’s questions. Now we shall be able to enjoy looking at 1.2 million receipts from greedy MPs who have lined their pockets and furnished their homes courtesy of the taxpayer. I have little doubt that the newspapers will be providing us with their analysis in due course.

Petulance is always amusing to watch
and I have to admit to laughing out loud as I enjoyed coffee and a woodbine this morning when I read this from The Telegraph:

Supreme Court judges complain about the name of their website.

“Judges at the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom have already voiced their displeasure at their postal address, Little George Street, which they complained was “diminutive” and not befitting “the creature being created”. They are now complaining about the name of their website.”

The Telegraph goes on to enjoy this moment of schadenfreude by noting… “We wanted supremecourt.uk, but we were told we couldn’t have it,” says Lord Hope, who will be the deputy president of the court when it opens in October. “It is now supremecourt.gsi.gov.uk, which is not particularly attractive.”

I am baffled by this petulance. The building their lordships are moving into seems to be a rather good one, designed to let the public see justice being done and, quite separate from Parliament… something, one would have thought, which would have appealed to their lordships’ sense of independence. Hopefully, their lordships will have better things to occupy their brilliant legal minds soon. The prospect of a senior member of the judiciary coming out with some other nonsense to slavering journalists, while amusing, would not be in the interests of credibility and the dignity of the new supreme court.

See also: John Bolch, Family Lore – who has a different take on the same story

It would seem that our political and legal masters are going for three YES votes on X Factor this week… or, if you prefer an Olympian metaphor.. they are going for GOLD!

The BBC reports: ‘Concern’ over peers cash claims

The leader of the House of Lords says she is “deeply concerned” over allegations four peers were prepared to accept money to put down amendments.

The Sunday Times claims they offered to help make amendments to legislation in return for up to £120,000. Lady Royall told the BBC she had spoken to the four Labour peers concerned and would be “pursuing the matter with utmost vigour”.

The BBC reports: ” The former energy minister Lord Truscott did admit to having had “discussions” with the reporter, but told the BBC that “to suggest I would offer to put down amendments for money is a lie”.

The second ‘Lord a leaping’ is Lord Moonie, a former defence minister.  He is reported as saying.. “… that he had been suspicious of the people who had approached him”. The BBC notes…. “He acknowledged discussing a fee of £30,000 with the undercover reporters but said: “I am not aware of having offered to do anything for these people that was outside the rules.”

Stepping up to the plate to represent his country is  Lord Taylor of Blackburn, who said “two people approached him claiming to work for a lobbying firm and looking for help with a bill they wanted amending. He said they suggested paying him £5,000 to £10,000 a month as an adviser but he never said he would accept, no contract was signed and no money changed hands. Asked about his alleged suggestion that the rules could be “bent”, he said: “‘Bent’ to me means you will try to persuade the bureaucracy of the House to change them.”

Finally, the BBC states:

Lady Royall went on to say that if it emerged the peers had broken the rules, they would be “named and shamed” but they could not be thrown out of the House of Lords.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg told Andrew Marr that people would be very angry reading about the “allegations of total corruption”… If anyone needed any reminder of how threadbare and weak the creditability of the way we do politics has become, they just need to look at today’s headlines,” he said.

So… there we are.  Not a bad haul for a wet, grey, rainy morning. Perhaps, next week, we shall see an MP, a peer, or even a senior member of the judiciary auditioning for ‘X’ Factor or “Britain’s Got Talent’  with a dancing dog.  I do hope not.

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So… where does one start?…

After the BBC broke the news about the separation of Prince Harry and Chelsy to a distraught and credit-crunch battered nation last night, The News of The Screws reported, without the crass solemnity of the BBC:  “Harry, 24, is believed to have told his father about the split a few days ago. Both Charles and Camilla were said to be sad for the couple, but respected his decision. The Queen was also informed. “She does not like surprises,” said an aide.

Chelsy has, however, changed her Facebook status to “Not in a relationship”.

No… HM The Queen doesn’t like surprises. I can’t say I blame her.  She has had quite a few surprises in her time. Apart from a burglar turning up in her Buckingham Palace bedroom many years ago, she has woken several times in her long reign to stories in The Press about her children and now… her grandchildren.

Digressing for a moment to reflect on the painting by Lucian Freud of Her Majesty…  I thought it may interest readers to know this….

“The chief art critic of The Times, Richard Cork, describes the image as “painful, brave, honest, stoical and, above all, clear sighted”. But in the same paper, Richard Morrison says: “The chin has what can only be described as a six-o’clock shadow, and the neck would not disgrace a rugby prop forward.”The expression is of a sovereign who has endured not one annus horribilis but an entire reign of them. The Merry Monarch it isn’t.”

The Sun, at the time (2001), called the portrait “a travesty”. The paper’s royal photographer, Arthur Edwards, says: “They should hang it in the kharzi. “Freud should be locked in the Tower for this.”

Back to 25th January 2009…. The News of The Screws is having a field day today. Not only is there the grave news that Harry Pothead flirts with women and has been kicked into touch by Chelsy – NOTW journos are hyperventilating and beside themselves at the shock revelation that Jonathan Ross (just returned to broadcasting on our airwaves after being suspended for insulting national treasure Manuel from Fawlty Towers)  has DISGRACED himself and the nation…. and has given blazer and cravat wearers from middle England something to do, other than hack around a golf course 30 over par, by being able to complain about his  Saturday Radio show…

Britain wakes this morning to the news… ROSS DOES SICK OAP SEX GAG on his BBC radio 2 show.

The News of The World reports…

“THE FOUL mouth of shamed Jonathan Ross put his BBC career on a new knife-edge yesterday—just minutes after he returned to Radio 2 from his three-month suspension.

The mega-bucks star’s crude joke about sex with an 80-year-old woman infuriated listeners.”  I’ll leave discerning readers the delights of reading this story for themselves and merely extract a few choice comments from the great and the good who run our sceptred isle and who gave up their leisure time on a Saturday to do a bit of hyperventilating with NOTW journos…

First up is former visa fast tracking and  libertarian Home Secretary David Blunkett, the man who helped to transform Britain into a surveillance state while shagging a comely young married woman from a well known political journal, –  edited, at the time, by national Mayor treasure, Boris Johnson.

David Blunkett’s contribution to this story of national importance is this… ““It’s time for Ross to donate some of his salary to charity.”

Next, we turn to the reaction by the man who committed political suicide by taking a stand on 42 days and who has now been overlooked again by David Cameron… the best leader of the Conservatives that never was… David Davies…

The NOTW reports with a straight face: “Tory MP David Davies was listening to the show with his young children and demanded the BBC immediately sack Ross. He raged: “On Radio 2 you don’t expected X-rated references to sex, and especially sex with an 80-year-old, during the day”

THE BBC OFFICIAL RESPONSE?

As reported by the NOTW: ” But Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, refused to condemn Ross. He even declined to listen to a transcript of the crass comments and said: “You’re not going to expect me to make any comment on this, are you?”

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson — on £816,000 a year of licence-payers money — REFUSED to discuss the incident and hung up on us.

Later the corporation defended Ross in a statement which said: “Regular listeners will be familiar with Jonathan’s irreverence and innuendo.”

It is 04:52 am in Britain as I write this… a quick visit to the BBC website confirmed….

“A joke by Jonathan Ross on his first radio show after having been banned had “clearly no intention to offend anyone”, the BBC has said.”

BBC website, 25th January 2009

Well… there we are… news of a different type. Back later in the day.. and now for a spot of breakfast… fried egg, bacon, toast, beans…. and, of course, I shall turn the plate around so that the egg is conveniently placed to the right….

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