Archive for March, 2009

As fellow blogger and former colleague from a past life The Fat Bigot would say – there is a goat over there, let’s scape it. The Police are to investigate  The Security Service MI5 “about allegations that it was complicit in the interrogation and torture of a Guantánamo Bay detainee” (The Times) . It is believed that this is the first time Police, who work closely with MI5 on counter-terrorism matters, have been asked to formally investigate a branch of our intelligence services.

Presumably there is sufficient concern to justify such unprecedented action and, indeed,  The Times reveals that Attorney-General,  Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC,  said that there were “grounds to open a criminal investigation, adding that it should be conducted “as expeditiously as possible given the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved”. She stopped short of agreeing to a full judicial inquiry as sought by some, including Sir Ken Macdonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions”

If a former DPP, Sir Ken McDonald QC, suggests a full judicial inquiry, the immediate question which springs to mind is why the Attorney is so reluctant to hold one.  Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Milliband have both stressed that Britain does not condone torure – although there is also reluctance to hold an inquiry into the Iraq War in public, perhaps for different reasons – so I feel some unease  with the present compromise and fudge.  Putting one branch of a counter-terrorism, policing and internal security  service to investigate another may prove to be difficult in practice, however impartial the investigating officers may be.

Let’s hope, as David Davis MP (a former shadown home secretary)  has suggested,  that we don’t find a low level M15 ‘goat’ and scape it.

The Independent reports: G20 protests: Cry havoc – and let slip a rainbow alliance of summit protesters. Anarchists and climate campaigners have joined forces to carry a message to world leaders meeting in London.  Protest is good, debate is to be encouraged,  but it seems that the Police will have more to contend with when the G20 leaders turn up in London for Gordon’s address to them about how he plans to save the world.  Instead of reasoned debate, intelligent analysis and interaction, some will pick up sticks, stones and kick their way into the financial heart of London and ‘attack anyone wearing a suit and tie’ according to press speculation.  I have little interest in these people and none for their methods. Frankly, at a time of serious crisis, not just for the Britain but for the world, climate change, while important, is nowhere near as important as getting medicine (and possibly surgery) to the present financially sick world.

It is quite possible, of course, that the press is whipping up a bit of froth here and even The Independent used the well worn technique beloved of tabloid hacks – ‘the one story claimed’ ploy and wrote… “One story claimed protesters would use “discarded lumps of concrete, bricks and wooden stakes”.  Another said an anarchist cell was arriving in a tank.”

A tank?  Protesters are going to arrive in a tank! Excellent nonsense. Get a traffic warden to slap a ticket on it immediately they stop where they shouldn’t stop.  That should sort it.  Get a  herd of Police Community Support Officers to give the protesters some of their  iced buns and doughnuts.

We shall see what transpires….

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Few people get a chance to interview an unelected serving Prime Minister and I am no different. So… I made an  interview up.  Here is an imaginary podcast with the Prime Minister.  I may have to get my coat – but it is Friday night and I was at a loose end with, possibly, too much Argentinian Malbec at my disposal.

Listen to the imaginary interview with Gordon Brown

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Rome fiddles while Nero burns?
The country is going through the deepest recession since the Second World War, the G20 countries are to meet shortly but it would appear that some people have other things on their minds.

Objection! Judges reject new robes
The Independent: High Court judiciary say Betty Jackson designs make them look like characters from ‘Star Trek’

The Queen also appears to have matters of State on her mind. Ian Parker-Joseph, leader of The Libertarian Party UK asks if The Queen is thinking of dissolving Parliament following recent trips to The Palace by The Governor of The Bank of England and The Chief of The Defence Staff.  Are we to have a ‘Very British Junta?” Charon QC considers the matter.

More fiddling while Rome burns occurred yesterday when a matter of national and pressing importance resulted in Parliament having to discuss this today – The Independent reports: “Royal succession rules may be reformed. Royal succession rules may be reformed. Buckingham Palace and PM in talks to give women equal rights to throne”

I cannot really understand why this matter, hardly one of the great issues of our day, has to be resolved now given that The Queen is likely to live for another 20 years and celebrate her 100th birthday and there is no immediate sign of the wayward Princes wishing to marry nice catholic girls…. or is there? The issue has been tabled by Lib-Dem MP Evan Harris, to end the “uniquely discriminatory” rules laid down by the 1701 Act of Settlement. Res ipsa loquitur.

Too young to retire at 70? We should work our judges until they are at least 75…
In 1916 the Earl of Halsbury heard a case on the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords at 92. The Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993 now provides that judges must retire at 70. The Times: is pre-occupied this morning with the thought that Supreme Court judges should work until they are 75.

The news, law reports, an update to blogs and the daily news podcast is now up on Insite Law

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Stick it up your Junta Mr Brown?

Is it time to call in the Generals? Yesterday, Ian Parker-Joseph joked, following Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King’s audience with The Queen (an event without precedent?),  that it would only be a matter of time before The Queen invited the Generals in.

Well… she has done just that.. or rather, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup (Chief of the Defence Staff) has popped over to The Palace for a cuppa… or was it more?  Perhaps to advise about ‘readiness’?  Who knows? Perhaps Her Majesty just wanted an update on The Queen’s Flight or to know if her son ‘Airmiles Andy’ was using any of the aircraft for his important work near foreign golf courses? ?

Today – Ian Parker-Joseph, leader of the Libertarian Party UK, reports:

“Brown and Mandelson are both out of the country, and the signals are coming thick and fast, they are even re running ‘To play the King’ and ‘House of Cards’ on Sky… The madness that is NuLabour and the European project must be brought to and end, quickly. Could Her Majesty be seriously looking to sack Brown and force an election?”

You may think that, Ian – I couldn’t possibly comment…. to borrow a much loved phrase from a particularly venal, albeit fictional, exemplar of the political species.

So, with Dan Hannan MEP ripping into Brown, with Brown being pilloried in political blogs and the dead sea (sic) press, with The City distinctly unimpressed by the offer to purchase £1.75 billion of government IOUs yesterday – is it time for change? Is it time for an election?

Can The Queen do it? YES, SHE CAN?

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Roasted on a spit?
While Gordon Brown is roasted by Dan Hannan MEP on his visit to The European Parliament in one of the most articulate and powerful poltiical speeches I have ever listened to – excoriating – Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, has been unveiling tougher corruption laws. Hannan seems a bit bemused at the furore his speech has caused. Guido Fawkes takes up the story with…

Rushies, Co-Conspirators: “Hannan is Our Leader”


Following the extensive re-design of Insite Law yesterday with nex sections – Editorial, Law News, Law Reports, From The Blogs, Profession, Students and Discussion Board – I am doing a short editorial each morning in addition to the daily news podcast and update.  These will all be archived on the Insite Law blog so you can catch up should you wish to do so.

Daily Legal News, editorial and news podcast now up on Insite Law

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Listen to the Podcast: Charon Reports: Cheating or taking professional advice?

There has been a fair bit of coverage in the blogosphere and the dead tree press about the services offered by Oxbridge Training Contracts,

Legal Week reports: “A controversial company which provides model essays to university students has broadened its services to help prospective lawyers complete training contract and pupillage applications…… The move has provoked anger from some lawyers since the blog Android’s Reminiscences brought it to the wider attention of the legal profession last week when Simon Myerson QC of St Paul’s Chambers claimed in his blog, ‘Pupillage and How to Get it’, that it equated to “cheating”.

Today I talked to John Foster, spokesman for Oxbridge Training Contracts about the legality of his service, his view of the ethics and exactly what Oxbridge Training Contracts is actually offering to students who wish to use their services.  We also talk about the provision of model answers, tailored to specific questions put by the student client, and the problems that could arise if a student submits these model answers as their own work for coursework assessment.

I am a firm believer in the old adage that there are two sides to every story. I asked John Foster some difficult and direct questions and told him in advance of the podcast about the warning placed on the Bar Council OLPAS site this afternoon. Listen to his answers, make your own mind up, and if you wish to comment – please do so in the comments section below.

The Bar Council warning on the Olpas site

Bar Council Warning
The Bar Council is aware of companies operating via the internet who offer to write pupillage applications and provide other services to assist with applications and interviews. We strongly advise applicants that it is likely to be detrimental to their applications to use any service containing customised model entries or answers on application forms or for interview. We have warned chambers about their existence and to be alert to their use.

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Drunken ramblings from London?…

I met up with Geeklawyer on Friday for a short lunch. We talk together on his ridiculous white Google phone after he decided that we just had to do a podcast.  Here is the result.  I’ll get my coat…

Listen to the podcast (And remember, do not do this at home – we are professionals)

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