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Archive for February, 2009

Podcast 103: Carl Gardner on the Lords judgment in Qatada

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog about the House of Lords Qatada judgment and the aftermath ….

Listen to the report with Carl Gardner

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Podcast version for iTunes

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The saga of The Home Secretary’s whereabouts of a night continues to excite the ravening horde and now Mr and Mrs Taplin of 22 Acacia Avenue are in on the act;  twitching their curtains and demanding the truth about Jacqui Smith’s living arrangements. (BBC report) Apparently Mr & Mrs Curtain Twitcher live next door to Jacqui Smith’s sister and are fully aware of our Home Secretary’s comings and goings and are not at all happy with her explanation.  They want to know – as is their right in what is left of our free democracy.  They took their careful observations to The Tories.  the Tories told them to contact a national newspaper as it was in the ‘public interest’.  So they did… and now Hapless Jacqui has to explain where she does live.

Given that she is Home Secretary and therefore guarded, one presumes, by the Police for much of the time… surely a quick call to the Metropolitan Police SO 51 Psyops & Leaks Unit would illicit this information if Sir John *The Sleazebuster* Lyons is unable to get the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to return his calls?

All will, no doubt, be revealed by our Fourth Estate Dogs of War jihadis… in time…

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Liberty and libertarianism…

First up this morning was the Convention on Modern Liberty, noted below. Then along comes the House of Lords judgment in Qatada.  Carl Gardner, as ever, is on the money with this and his post dissects the issue thoroughly and with elegance. See Head of Legal blog post.

Thirdly… I had the pleasure of talking with Ian Parker-Joseph, Leader of the UK Libertarian Party.  Ian is on twitter. In fact, I was one of his first *Followers* and *Followees*.   I’m doing a Podcast with Ian on Friday… to give you a taste of what we will be discussing here is a link to Ian’s blog and the UK Libertarian Party.

I was particularly taken with this piece of information… a masterly way to make a point:

A COPY OF ORWELL’S ‘NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR’ SENT TO EVERY MP

An Internet grass-roots campaign will this week deliver a copy of George
Orwell’s prophetic novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ to every Member of
Parliament.

The books will be inscribed with the words, ‘This book was a warning, not a
blueprint’, and will arrive at Parliament on or before November 5th — a
date of well known historical significance for that building.

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Outraged by the continual attack upon civil liberties within our nation, a
fortnight ago the Libertarian Party proposed reminding those in Westminster
who they were elected to serve, and in whose interests the laws that they
pass are meant to function.

Spread purely by word of mouth, a campaign to send each Member of Parliament
their own copy of Orwell’s dystopian classic met with overwhelming support
on the Internet, with many more books pledged than the 646 required to
ensure that every one of our elected representatives receive a personal
copy. The Libertarian Party contributed just 75 books itself, with the
remainder coming (directly, or via campaign donations) from people of all
political parties, and of none.

The UK Libertarian Party leader, Ian Parker-Joseph, explained, “As the
people of Britain become ever more spied upon and ever more heavily taxed,
as the government attempts to control how much we should smoke, eat and
drink, as the state legislates to regulate ever more the minutiae of our
lives, the Libertarian Party want to remind people that we have the power,
and that our elected representatives work for us.”

Extract from the Blogofbile

Yes… right up my street.  I shall look forward to this podcast.

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Convention on Modern Liberty

Definitely worth a look.

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Carry on Submariners…..

I am baffled (as most will be)  as to how two highly trained naval submarine captains – one, Royal Navy, the other French Navy – managed to crash their submarines into each other, with advanced technology at their disposal, in the middle of the Atlantic, a huge ocean.  Captain Bligh would not have been amused…. It is like something out Carry on Submarining,

The Independent reports that the submarines had enough nuclear material on board for 1248 Hiroshima bombs.

The good news though is… that stealth technology is clearly improving. ”

The Independent reports: “Naval experts, who underlined that the two nuclear submarines were built with hulls designed to withstand huge pressures, expressed surprise that the sonar arrays of both had failed to detect either vessel. Sonar technology is now so sophisticated manufacturers boast it can recognise a small fish. That it does not seem to have been able to pick out a submarine nearly the length of two football pitches and the height of a three-storey building could be explained by the development of stealth technology, making the submarines less visible to other vessels.”

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Curiously, I was at a loss for something to do this morning so I took a trip to the Moon, fully reported on Twitter – where else! Frankly, we would all probably be more free  if we were on the Moon these days given the taste of the present government for CCTV cameras, ID cards, promulgating new criminal offences and Robocop thinking when it comes to controlling the British people.

The latest stunt being pulled by the government in the dying days of their 12 year “Protectorate” ( taste precluded me from using the rather more emotive “Reich”)  is the plan in the Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Commons committee stage this to week to allow the newly renamed Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission to take away the driving licences and passports of parents who refuse to pay for their children – without a court order. As The Law Society Gazette reported: ” Justice Director Roger Smith described the ‘disproportionate’ sanctions as the thin end of the wedge.  They are sure to creep into others areas of dispute once the link between the method of enforcement and what’s at stake is broken.”

Another stunt pulled by the government was to jail parents for the truancy of their children. The BBC reported this week: “A parent is jailed for their child’s truancy once a fortnight every school term in England and Wales, analysis of court statistics shows.”

This plan was a big FAIL. One wonders if this idea was dreamed up when half the Cabinet were smoking cannabis. Child doesn’t go to school. Jail parent.  Child goes into care if from a one parent family, possibly brutalised by the experience and less receptive to school than before and taxpayer picks up bill for high cost of imprisoning parents. Clever stuff. The BBC dredges up ex-minister Estelle Smith and sundry Lib-Dems to wring their hands and undergo ritual atonement and exculpation.  I can’t even be bothered to quote from the report.

I’m with the ex-Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, on this one.  We have far too many criminal laws, far too much political interference with the Judiciary, way too many CCTV cameras, irritating regulations, cash raising fine schemes and interferences in our lives in this once green and pleasant land.

So…pouring a libation to my taste… on to the other matters of the week…

At a loss for something to do this Sunday morning, I decided to make a moon landing. This was reported fully on Twitter of course – where else?

I was also able to do my 100th podcast with my friend Dan Hull, a lawyer in the United States, who can be relied upon to be robust, controversial and to the point. We talked of many things including the future of lawyers post recession.

Geert Wilders tried to hit our shores to show his film to a group of peers in The House of Lords. He was frustrated in this endeavour by the Home Secretary who banned him from entry on grounds, inter alia, that Lord Ahmed had indicated there would be 10,000 muslims on the streets.  Wilders ignored the letter and arrived at Heathrow to be excluded by Immigration and Border Agency officers. I did a podcast with Carl Gardner who believes that the Home Secretary acted unlawfully.  I agree with his analysis.  Rather more worrying….  this exclusion was yet another example of our government believing they know best.  It was a shameful decision;  riding roughshod, whatever one may think of Wilders, over the reputation of this country to handle difficulty with debate, with reason, with parody, ridicule and mockery – rather than the blunt bludgeon of the law – misunderstood, possibly, in this case.  10,000 muslims did not turn up at Heathrow or stampede on our streets –  possibly because they are more rational than Lord Ahmed.

It is not Thunderbirds are GO for Alistair Darling on the banks lending front, nor, it would seem, on the issue of his own expenses.  Guido Fawkes jumps on the story with his usual enthusiasm.

I quote: “When the man in charge of the nation’s finances, Alistair Darling, has been caught fiddling his expenses, and Jacqui Smith, the woman who is in charge of crime prevention is accused of corruption, you have a government which is a kleptocracy. The New Labour promise to be “whiter than white” is like a sick joke now.”

Another week begins tomorrow.  I shall be at my post, watching our shores, checking the Thames for U-Boats and French Ships of the Line… I shall be back.  Have a good one.

Regards as always


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Podcast 102: Usefully Employed on developments in Employment Law
Today I’m talking to solicitor turned barrister, the author of the Usefully Employed blog about developments in Employment Law.

We discuss:

Redundancy generally given the downturn, collective consultation and the impact on law firms

The British jobs issue at the oil refinery and, now, at Radcliffe power station

The imminent repeal in April of the dispute resolution procedures, the replacement provisions & the resulting new Acas codes of practice.

Listen to Podcast 102

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Podcast version for iTunes

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Charon reports: From The Moon….

I woke this morning and lost the will to live after reading in the News of The World that Peaches Geldof has many bizarre tattoos and Alistair Darling has apparently been re-furbishing his £1.2 million Edinburgh *not his main residence* home at tax payer expense… more of which later.  The question formulating in my mind as I smoked a woodbine was… ‘what to do on this rather dull Sunday morning’.  I watched the gulls and the cormorants enjoying their breakfast and had a Damascus moment.

I would make a moon landing… guided the necessary 270,000 miles by my iMac laptop – with very much more computing power than the original astronauts had when they landed on the moon 40 years ago.. or didn’t if you are an Area 51, UFO/ conspiracy theory fan/nutcase etc etc….

I am not able to reveal how I got to the moon… because I already get a fair number of emails from assorted nutcases and fruitcakes and I do not wish to encourage them.  Suffice it to say that the trip was most enjoyable and I was able to continue making posts on Twitter for much of the journey…  such are the advances in technology from the days when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made their historic trip. My trip was not entirely for selfish gratification.  I did a bit of science up there… or over there as we Charononauts like to say.

I landed on the moon at approximately 11.08 GMT and reported on Twitter (I was able to get a very faint signal)

Ever mindful of *Evidence*, I took particular care to kick a bit of moon dust around to ensure that the ground under my spacecraft looked as if it had actually landed on the moon, planted a couple of flags to get the shadows right and discovered the essential truth that while we do see stars from earth, there aren’t any visible from the moon at certain times.  My trip happened to coincide with one of those ‘starless sky’ times.

It would have been most inelegant not to have done some science. I carried out two brief experiments and shall be sending my findings to NASA , Scientific American, The Royal Geographical Society and Hello magazine.  The first experiment involved cracking open a bottle of Rioja.  When I finally caught the bubbles of wine that formed in the zero gravity they tasted good… I had a specially built straw for this purpose.  My second experiment proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is possible to smoke a cigarette on the moon – and it is lawful to do so as well, there being no busybodies over there to stop me.

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Welcome to my 100th Podcast interview with movers, shakers, practitioners and pundits from  the wonderful world of law… practice and academe.

Today I am talking to Dan Hull, founder of Hull McGuire PC with Julie McGuire. Dan, A litigator and lobbyist with life-long professional ties to Washington, D.C practices in the areas of commercial litigation (primarily U.S. federal courts and ADR abroad), environmental law, employment practices law, and legislative affairs.  He is also the founder of the well known and well regarded WhatAbout Clients? Blog which, at weekends turns itself into the WhatAboutParis? Blog.

We talk about The credit-crunch – law firm redundancies – the ‘knowledge gap’ – the Billable hour v Flat fee controversy and even talk about Geeklawyer.

Listen to Podcast 100

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Charon Reports on the Geert Wilders affair…

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister, writer, ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog about the (possibly)  unlawful exclusion of Geert Wilders.

Wilders has been excluded under regulations 19(1) and 21 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, which faithfully copy out and implement the requirements of article 27 of Directive 2004/38 on the rights of EU citizens to move freely.

Listen to the podcast report with Carl Gardner

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UPDATE 14TH FEBRUARY

BBC Any Questions Radio 4: David Davies MP speaks on Free Speech issue – says Government wrong to ban Wilders.
(At about 28 minutes in to the 50 minute programme)

No sign, as far as I can see (yet) of Liberty response. Will continue to look.  If anyone finds a response before I do – please put comment in and I’ll publicise Liberty response.

Podcast version for iTunes

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Friday 13th February: Daily news up…

Daily News is up on Insite Law + Podcast…

White Rabbit returns to blogging…
Hear from the White Rabbit himself…

Brown fends off MPs but loses second banker in two days
Guardian: Prime Minister makes robust attack on bonuses as watchdog in charge of bailed-out banks steps aside from new post

MPs shocked by Boris Johnson expletives…
Charon reflects on this

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MPs shocked by Boris Johnson expletives…

The Independent: “Boris Johnson launched an expletive-laden attack on the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee after he was criticised for giving confused evidence, it was revealed today.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson cycled through the snow and ice last week  to appear before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.  Apparently the members were not impressed…. The Independent reports: “Tom Brake, a Lib Dem member of the cross-party committee, said they had all been struck by Mr Johnson’s lack of preparation for the evidence session. “When he came to give evidence he was completely unprepared. He was less prepared than some 18-year-old Scouts who came to see us the week before,” Mr Brake said.”It was almost as if he had fallen out of bed 10 minutes before.”

Well… there we are. Brings a bit of colour to life and  at least he didn’t sit before a Select Committee wringing his hands and say how unreservedly sorry he was to have headed a once great bank, now reduced to being a chattel of the State,  and stating with the false gravity of a funeral director on a busy day that he could not be more sorry he had not received a single penny in cash and, as a result, had lost £5 million when the shares in the bank fell through the floor.

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12th February: Daily legal news, blogs and podcast up on Insite Law

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Listen to Podcast 99: Bonfire of more vanities…Charon reports…

Yesterday the Select Committee in The Commons grilled the HBOS and RBS mob and ran amok to great effect; illiciting expressions of ‘profound and unreserved regret’…. with one exquisitely groomed and suave titled banker saying that he could not ‘be more sorry’.  All this is well covered by the BBC and others and I referred to it yesterday.

Today, Prime Minister’s Questions was a cross between Richard III and a Brian Rix Farce. Gordon Brown shuffled to his feet in a manner, to me at least, as if he was reprising Olivier’s introduction to Richard III… “And now is the winter of my discontent made gloriously worse by this ex Chairman of HBOS…”

The saga began when The Daily Mail alleged that Sir James Crosby (adviser to Gordon Brown and knighted by Brown for services to Banking) when head of HBOS, sacked senior manager Paul Moore for raising concerns the bank was open to too much risk.  The BBC reports ” Sir James, who led HBOS from 2001 to 2006, said there was “no substance to the allegations” But Paul Moore said he stood “firmly and confidently” behind his allegations against Sir James.”

With absolutely no ministerial contact whatsoever, apparently,  between Downing Street and The Financial services Authority this morning, Sir James Crosby threw himself onto his sword and resigned as deputy chairman of City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) – conveniently, before Prime Minister’s Questions at 12.00 today.

The BBC’s Maven of Mavens on Economic Matters, Robert Peston, said that he “understood that Sir James had stood down to protect the FSA from controversy.”

The BBC  report states: “The Treasury told the BBC it was Sir James’ personal decision to resign from the FSA”  This of course, is almost guaranteed to send the slavering hacks into a frenzy of “But was he pushed?” speculation and so it proved today on the BBC’s Daily Politics show presided over by Andrew Neil.

David Cameron, fresh out of the oven as Pillsbury Doughboy incarnate, launched into the Prime Mentalist with the fervour of a hunstman on Boxing Day trying to find a fox to slaughter;  accusing the Prime Minister of incompetence, lack of judgement, failing to get his facts right and, noting that the Banking mobsters had apologised, for not having the decency to do likewise for mismanaging Britain. All good stuff… allowing sundry front benchers from both sides to nod wisely, laugh, roar, nod their heads vigorously or, in Harriet Harman’s case do her Nigella Lawson impersonation and smile seductively, but meaninglessly.

The story became even more amusing when it was discovered that Sir James Crosby had been Chairman of HBOS and Deputy Chairman of the Financial Services Authority for some time at the same time, prompting Andrew Neil to the inevitable comment that this was tantamount to putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum.  There was much huffing and puffing by Hazel Blears and the Chairman of the Tory Party, Eric Pickles – with Pickles even asking Andrew Neil if he knew about the conflict of interest and had complained about it at the time.  Farcical, really, but ineluctably British… and hey.. look on the bright side…. if these banking mobsters had pulled this stunt in China they would probably be shot at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing.

Finally… let’s go over to the Maven of Mavens, Robert Peston on why Sir James Crosby resigned…


I can barely wait for more revelations and developments on this sorry saga – but turning now to another form of vanity – the vanity of The Home Secretary and her expenses claim.  Well… it all turns out that she has done absolutely nothing wrong, everything is above board, the complaint has not been upheld and Chief Political pundit from the BBC Nick Robinson hyperventilated on the Daily Politics show  today that the truth of the matter is…. that she was telling the truth and has not broken the law… so there we are… another storm in a second home tea cup.  She is, therefore, fully entitled to continue to be a hapless Home Secretary and spend the next year of her time as Britain’s worst Home secretary in recent years – an opinion I am still entitled to hold even under this government, until Team Brown face the flaming torches of the electorate when Brown has no option but to call an election.

And finally, if you haven’t already seen this and want a laugh… have a look at this excellent nonsense from The Onion…Sony Releases New Stupid Piece of Shit That Doesn’t Fucking Work..

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Listen to Podcast 99: Bonfire of more vanities…Charon reports…

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UPDATE 11th February 7.30 pm

Email from David Cameron (To all who signed up for the original WebCameron)

Dear Charon,

This morning we learnt that Sir James Crosby had resigned from his position as Deputy Chairman of the City watchdog – the Financial Services Authority. This was because of an allegation made about his time as Chief Executive of HBOS. A former employee claims Sir James Crosby sacked him for saying that the bank was taking on too much risk.

Why is all this so important? For three reasons. First, because it raises questions about Gordon Brown’s judgement. Sir James Crosby is one of his trusted economic advisers and the man he put in place to oversee the regulation of our banks. The turn of events now shows Gordon Brown’s misjudgement in putting him in such an important role.

Second, it raises questions about Gordon Brown’s character. In the House of Commons today, I asked the Prime Minister to apologise for getting this judgement call wrong. But, as ever, he refused. Be it for claiming to end boom or bust, failing to regulate our banks, or now this, the Prime Minister is simply unable to admit when he’s got things wrong – so I don’t believe he can be the man to put things right.

And third, it raises questions about the way this Government works. The immediate events leading up to Sir James Crosby’s resignation are still not clear. Was it his decision? Or was he pushed in order to make life easier for the Government? Whatever happened, I suspect this will not be the last of the resignations we see to save this Government’s political skin.


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11th February: Daily legal news, blogs and podcast up on Insite Law

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The Times reports that A senior female executive at a City bank headed by the new Trade Minister was a victim of sexism in a department where meetings ended up in strip clubs, an employment tribunal was told yesterday.Anna Atkins said that she was passed over for promotion at Standard Chartered because of a macho culture where late-night drinking was encouraged…. see Insite Law for more details of late night lap ancing and cigar smoking in the news section of the front page…

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A Valentines Message for our times…

And… an excellent article by AA Gillwho often does the business:

Gold-diggers: Wealth, sex and money vampires

Being bled dry by a gold-digger is every rich man’s nightmare. But, is it just a fair exchange of assets?

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Former banking bosses say ‘sorry’

BBC report

Treasury Committee Chairman John McFall has interrogated the former bosses of RBS and HBOS over safeguarding customer’s money. BBC – a must watch

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10th February: Daily legal news, blogs and podcast up on Insite Law

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Podcast 98: Neville Hobson on Communication, PR, Twitter and other social media.

Today I am talking to Neville Hobson, a communicator, blogger and podcaster, one of the leading European early adopters and influencers in social media communication for business. He is an IABC-accredited communication practitioner with over 25 years’ experience in public and media relations, marketing communication, employee, compensation and benefits communication as well as investor and financial relations. He helps companies use effective communication to achieve their business goals.

I’m going to ask him how communication can help companies and law firms in today’s climate. We talk about Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in and the future…

Listen to Podcast 98

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BAR PODCAST SERIES

BAR PODCAST SERIES

A series of Podcasts on The Bar, pupillage, reform and practice
Tim Dutton QC, qua Chairman of The Bar | Simon Myerson QC | Alexander Learmonth, Chair Young Barrister’s Committee | Law Girl | Ella Shaw | Law Minx | Jon McLeod on the Wood Report.

Listen to the series of podcasts

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