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Archive for February 1st, 2009

Today I am talking to a prospective barrister who blogs under the name LAWGIRL. She has completed her undergraduate degree, has an LLM and is currently doing an MA in legal & political theory. She is due to do the Bar Vocational Course in September at the Inns of Court School of Law and is, no doubt, gearing up her finances to pay for what is now a fairly expensive course!  We’re going to talk about her thoughts on legal education and the prospects for young barristers.  This is most timely, because next week, I am going to be doing a podcast with Alexander Learmonth, Chairman of The Young Barristers Committee at the Bar Council about the very same issues.

Listen Podcast 95: Law Girl’s quest for pupillage and a career at The Bar

LawGirl’s Blog

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Podcast version for iTunes

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I was chatting to John Bolch, Family Lore, earlier in the day as he embarks on his new career as a podcaster in matters of Family Law – and he told me that one of the reasons why he voted Labour all those years ago, when Tony Blair descended from heaven to lead us, was because Labour promised to reform The Lords.  They didn’t, so he didn’t vote for them again. They still haven’t and their lordships (or a growing number of them) are running amok and rioting at taxpayer expense.

Lord Jailbird Archer and Lord Jailhouse Rock Conrad Black are both experienced in matters of prison.  We have ex-copper and FBI graduate Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate attracting the attention of the News of The World today (See Postcard 1) and we have a whole raft of non-elected Peers rushing around consulting for vast amounts of money and suggesting – allegedly and apparently – *adjustments* to legislation.  This is well reported in The Sunday Times.

The rot has got to stop. It is no use having ex-Archbishops wringing their hands.  We need positive and direct action and we need it now.  Lord Oakeshott, Liberal Democrat peer, summed it up with a wonderful quote, reported in the press this morning:

” Tax-dodgers, bung-takers, fraudsters and perjurers must be cleared out of parliament now.”

The Sunday Times reported this morning: “PEERS who avoid tax or have criminal convictions – such as Lord Archer and Lord Black – are to be expelled from the House of Lords in the wake of the lords for hire scandal. The reforms are being drawn up by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, in an attempt to restore the Lords’ battered reputation after last weekend’s revelations in The Sunday Times.”

Frankly, I would go further and get rid of The House of Lords altogether. This isn’t going to happen and, in any event, I am just a blogger and have no desire to go into politics,  even if I was competent enough to do so.  We need a *Senate*, an elected upper house of experienced people prepared to work in the interests of our country- as, it has to be said, many peers do currently without dipping snouts into the trough.

On a slightly different note, because I am a laid back republican… perhaps we should go the whole hog and get rid of  titles –   these absurd “Geegaws and baubles” (A Glaswegian phrase of which I am fond)?  How can any sensible man or woman in the 21st Century want to be called Lord this or Lady that, Sir ‘X” or Dame ‘Y”?  It is absurd and merely serves to pander to pretension and social division. It is, I suppose, harmless enough when holders of these titles do not use them for personal gain –  and I am not advocating that we should all go around calling ourselves “Citizen”.   I shall, however, choose to call myself Citizen for today… and on that note I am ‘orf’ to have a spot of Rioja, despite the early hour.  The early bird catches the worm… and, it would appear, there may be a fair few worms sitting in our Upper House to catch.

Adieu… until we meet again… on the field of the cloth of Gold…

Citizen Charon.

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So... here we are on 1st February… Obama installed in The White House, The Prime Mentalist yet to have his first Obamagasm, the financial world crumbling about our ears…. and our non-elected Peers are dipping their snouts in whatever troughs they can find – apparently and allegedly. The News of The World continues the fun started by The Sunday Times last week with the wonderful headline…

Peer’s £600k secret payout

Greed in ermine: Fugitive Russian has a Lord on the payroll

The News of The World reports: “A TOP Labour Lord has secretly banked more than £600,000 from a company owned by a Russian oligarch wanted by the Kremlin. The News of the World can reveal that Lord MacKenzie of Framwellgate — who was linked with a prostitute in 2003 — was paid £616,000 by Inter TV.”

The story is worth reading.. usual smut and dark dealings, oligarchs fleeing Russia after upsetting Putin… the usual guff.  The NOTW reports, also,  that fellow Labour peer  Lord Cunningham (Formerly Jack CunningBastard MP – a Private Eye soubriquet, I understand) will also face questions over his links with outside groups. NOTW notes…“The House of Lords is reeling after four Labour peers were accused of offering to help change laws in exchange for cash…”

Lord Truscott, Lord Taylor, Lord Moonie and Lord Snape discussed helping to secure amendments with undercover reporters posing as lobbyists. A House of Lords investigation has been launched. All four deny wrongdoing.

The News of The World then gives Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, a man who presided over yet another surreal institution, the oportunity to do a bit of moralising (as it happens from Davos in Swittzerland where he just happens to be attending the World Economic Forum where the theme is the “post-crisis world”.

I have absolutely no idea what an  Archbishop can contribute to a World Economic Forum after a career devoted to praying to a probably non existent entity and quaffing communion wine each Sunday… but there we are… he is in Davos, Switzerland and he is speaking to you… the people of Britain… in the News of The World.  Not even Moses managed Davos in Switzerland.

It is too early for me to hit the juice… so I shall have breakfast and compose Postcard from London 2 later in the day… Have a good Sunday… mind how you go and….  if you see a member of The House of Lords… JUST SAY “NO”!

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Wikipedia notes: ” Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate (an ex-copper) : “In March 2003, while chairman of the Lords Home Affairs Committee and having spoken out against prostitution and drugs, he was forced to apologise to the House after a newspaper published claims that he had sex with an Algerian prostitute who worked as a barmaid in the House of Commons – Mackenzie denied having sex with the girl, but accepted he had brought the House in disrepute.[1]”

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