Archive for November, 2009

Charon makes ABA Journal top 100 blog list?!

I am pleased to report that I appear to be on the ABA Journal Top 100 law blogs list – along with that complete and utter bounder, rogue, mate  and serial Twitterer Geeklawyer.

We are in the IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) section.  It is fortunate we are not appearing in the Legal Theory section.  That would have been just too ironic!

All good stuff.  If you wish to look and vote, please do so. There are, actually, some fantastic US and other blogs on that Top 100 list in various categories  – so t’is a genuine pleasure and an honour to be in such good company.


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Dear Reader,

I’m a bit late with my weekly postcard this week.  I was kidnapped by a very good friend who came to stay this weekend… but, fear not…there is much to discuss this week.  The observant will have noticed an addition to my header – a smoking Santa –  which I ‘borrowed’ from the net.  Unfortunately, there appears to be no attribution, so I can’t credit the artist but if he or she objects, I shall, of course take it off – but I thought it a very fine addition to my blog header for the festive season to come.

The Iraq Inquiry proceeds and retired mandarins are falling over themselves to appear and opine again with those at the very heart of power. I wrote a piece this morning, commenting on an Independent article with some memorable quotes. White Rabbit’s comment in the comment section to that post inspired my main header pic (above) for this week.

I watch rather too much news and politics stuff on BBC News and BBC Parliament. The Iraq Inquiry, of course, keeps me occupied (I watch it on my laptop as I work away) and this afternoon,  I watched The Prime Minotaur clunk and thunder his way through his announcement on Afghanistan with much mentioning of tests being satisfied, statistics displayed with all the elan and  style of a Soviet  grain farm report and I started to think about a famous statue of Theseus slaying The Minotaur.  It just popped into my febrile mind.  The statue depicts the slick, smooth, privately educated Cameron, doing what Etonians do (sometimes in the nude, they say);  indulging in a bit of SM with someone on the other team. Gordon ‘The Minotaur’ thunders away even though he knows that there are more slick PR lashes coming from Theseus Cameron. The raw nudity of the sculpture seems….somehow… appropriate as a metaphor for our times…. and may well prove Nostradamian, should Labour manage to lose the next election, which,  despite my personal irritation with Labour’s track record on civil liberties, I hope they don’t.

Talking of civil liberties… my podcast with Shami Chakrabarti for The College of Law Inside Track series went out this morning.  I highlight it again simply because Shami Chakrabarti talked a lot of sense and was a pleasure to meet and interview.  I think you will find the 25 minutes a rewarding use of time, should you wish to listen to it.

It is, of course, St Andrew’s Day – a day when many Scots go about their lives completely oblivious to the fact that St Andrew is their patron saint.  This was certainly true when I was a lad being educated at two places of detention far from the wages of sin in Scotland.  Things may have changed in post Salmondian Alba.

Two things of note….

Firstly, Blawg Review # 240 celebrating the theme of St Andrew with many mentions of Andrews and a good sprinkling of links to Scots law blogs. You may read it here.  I liked the writer’s wry comment… “Blawg Review’s Editor asked me to host today’s Blawg Review because today, November 30, is St. Andrew’s Day…..And given the speed with which Blawg Review’s Editor forwarded along this list of other law bloggers named Andrew, I can only assume that at least a substantial fraction of them obviously have more sense than to agree to host Blawg Review after Thanksgiving weekend.

And, secondly, Alex Salmond announced in a ‘WHITE PAPER’ (this gives dreams added virility), his plans for a Free Scotland, a Scotland unshackled from the chains of history (including some pretty fucking stupid investments in South America (The Darien Scheme) many years ago)

Although I am a Scot, I have lived in England for 30+ years and have no view one way or the other on the Independence issue.  If the people of Scotland in their collective wisdom decide that their lives will be better, seems not unreasonable to me. If they do go independent, the English taxpayer won’t have to cough up so much, or at least the money coughed up will stay in England & Wales. And as the oil is running out without much thought a la Dubai as to what to do after the apocalypse in terms of generating revenue, now might be a good time to break away. Unfortunately, the ‘Arc of Prosperity’ once dreamed of by Alex Salmond, with a far away heroic look in his eye, is no more.  Iceland is a bit buggered.  Scotland’s main Banks are a bit ‘distressed’ and are now owned by the Westminster government. so there is probably much to think about.  I shall go back and forth to Scotland, as will everyone else, whatever the Scots decide.  It really is up to them….surely? The Queen will still be Queen.  The Royals are still popular in Scotland and certainly not, I am told, ‘unpopular’.  It will be interesting to see if Salmond, who I always enjoy listening to even if I don’t always agree with him, pulls it off.

I can’t for the life of me see why the Tofftastic Party is so exercised about Scotland breaking away. When I last looked, I couldn’t see much blue on the political map of Scotland.  The Tories are not exactly popular en Ecosse. The Labour Party could be a bit f****d if Scotland breaks away – because the map of England & Wales is not very red at the moment and a great deal of Labour’s heartland power base is in Scotland.  They will, of course, oppose Independence and say they are going all out, in a wonderful demonstration of commitment to democracy, to say they will ‘block a referendum’.  Oh… the irony.

Tweet of The week

I end my postcard this week with a very rare photograph of a political meeting ‘somewhere on the River Medway’.  My political ambitions are… by no means… over.

Best, as always


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College of Law Inside Track Podcast: Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty

Today I talk to Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty. Shami Chakrabarti gives her thoughts on why the Human Rights Act is so important and outlines Liberty’s key role in the successful campaign to defeat proposals to increase the period that terror suspects could be held without charge to 42 days. She also discusses the role of the judiciary in upholding democratic values and gives advice to young lawyers interested in working within the field of human rights and civil liberties.

Listen to the podcast

This concludes my series of podcasts for The College of Law. Earlier podcasts in the series may be found on the College of Law website

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The Times had an interesting story over the weekend:

Prince Charles named in £81m Chelsea Barracks court battle

The Candy brothers, property developers for the super-rich, want to call the Prince of Wales as a witness in an £81m case in which they are suing the Qatari royal family over the collapse of their plans to build Britain’s most expensive residential block.

Nick and Christian Candy claim it was Charles’s outburst against the venture to Qatar’s rulers that wrecked their scheme for London’s Chelsea Barracks.

The plan to build the most expensive apartments in London where, The Times reports, a one bedroom flat would sell for £20 million has been thwarted, the Candy brothers allege, by Prince Charles having a cup of tea with his mates in the Qatar Royal family. The Times notes… “The brothers’ lawyers will want to ask the prince what was said during an afternoon tea with the ruler of Qatar when he visited Britain to open a gas terminal in May.”

Prince Charles, noted for his enthusiasm for building in the style of times past, has previous.  He objected to an extension to the National Gallery in London describing Lord Rogers’ work as a ‘monstrous carbuncle’. If Prince Charles is summoned, the Candys would have the right to cross-examine him.  The Times notes: “He would be the first royal to appear as a witness in court since the future Edward VII gave evidence in a gambling case in 1890. In 2002 the Princess Royal, Charles’s sister, appeared in court to be fined £500 by magistrates after one of her dogs attacked two children.”

The Iraq Inquiry has, thus far, proved fascinating and the cause of considerable embarrassment, it is believed, to former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Independent has a wonderful story under the headline…


Iraq: The war was illegal

The Independent reports:

The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war will consider a letter from Lord Goldsmith, then Mr Blair’s top law officer, advising him that deposing Saddam would be in breach of international law, according to a report in The Mail on Sunday.

But Mr Blair refused to accept Lord Goldsmith’s advice and instead issued instructions for his long-term friend to be “gagged” and barred from cabinet meetings, the newspaper claimed. Lord Goldsmith apparently lost three stone, and complained he was “more or less pinned to the wall” in a No 10 showdown with two of Mr Blair’s most loyal aides, Lord Falconer and Baroness Morgan. Mr Blair also allegedly failed to inform the Cabinet of the warning, fearing an “anti-war revolt”.

The description of Lord Goldsmith being ‘more or less pinned to the wall by Lord Falconer and others is surreal but Goldsmith did appear to go through some fairly extensive letter writing at the time by all accounts.

Interestingly, the BBC had a report just over a year ago…

Legal advice given to Tony Blair by the attorney general prior to the Iraq war was fundamentally “flawed,” a former law lord has claimed.

Lord Bingham said Lord Goldsmith had given Mr Blair “no hard evidence” that Iraq had defied UN resolutions “in a manner justifying resort to force”.

Therefore, the action by the UK and US was “a serious violation of international law,” Lord Bingham added.

The Independent has a list of quotes which may trouble Blair who is believed to be concerned that his reputation is being ‘shredded’. I am rather more concerned for those whose lives have been shredded by the death, military and civilian on both sides of loved ones caused by and during this war.

Critical evidence from key figures to Chilcot inquiry

Sir Peter Ricketts “We quite clearly distanced ourselves from talk of regime change… that was not something we thought there would be any legal base for.”

Sir William Patey “We were aware of those drumbeats from Washington [about regime change]. Our policy was to stay away from that end of the spectrum.”

Sir Michael Wood “[Establishing no-fly zones over Iraq] was very controversial … The US government was very careful to avoid taking any real position on the law.”

Sir William Ehrman “We did, on 10 March, get a report that chemical weapons might have remained disassembled and Saddam hadn’t yet ordered their assembly.”

Sir Christopher Meyer “Suddenly, because of the unforgiving nature of the military timetable, we found ourselves scrabbling for the smoking gun.”

Sir Jeremy Greenstock “I regarded our participation in the military action against Iraq in March 2003 as legal, but of questionable legitimacy.”

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I quite like ‘SurAlan’ from his various appearances on The Apprentice and he seems to know what he is doing business wise.  Quite why he wanted to be a Lord in the first place  and then deliver an extraordinary maiden speech in The Lords I’ve no idea… but it didn’t go down well.  He did drone on a bit…about himself. Probably best to leave the jokes to people who can tell them rather than ending up as one.

TV maiden speech | Times review | Real Business review

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Geoffrey Woollard blog

Lawcast 161: Geoffrey Woollard, a prospective parliamentary candidate


Today I am talking to Geoffrey Woollard, a farmer of many years standing who describes himself as an ex-Tory and is planning to stand for Parliament as an independent for South East Cambridgeshire. . Geoffrey responded to my new parody series The Huntsman’s View and I thought it would be an excellent opportunity in the run up to the 2010 election to get a handle on matters political and in particular the process of standing for Parliament by inviting Geoffrey to do a podcast with me. I am delighted that he agreed to do so… so without further ado…

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for itunes


Apologies – some difficulty with Skype at my end with sound.  Happens occasionally.

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Christmas is coming and in some shopping malls it is Christmas every bloody day. It may have been Christmas for the bankers yesterday when the Supreme Court ruled that they didn’t have to worry about the OFT poking its nose into their sordid dealings with customer recidivists (although, leaving the door open for the OFT to have another go by pursuing a different line)… but today was not Christmas for bankers when Dubai announced that it wanted until May  2010 to repay massive debts – about £60-80 billion, apparently, I discovered on Twitter. European bankers are in for about 50% of that according to a friend of mine who tweets.

Gordon Brown, no doubt, is climbing into his Brown of Arabia outfit and heading off to Dubai to solve the problem. FTSE dropped badly on Thursday with some of our banks losing between 3.2| – 8% value on shares.  Could this be the death knell for Dubai?   Too early to tell and the BBC and other news services seem a bit pre-occupied with what Katie Price / Jordan is up to in the jungle with her cross-dressing cage fighter.The sands of time will tell… no doubt.

On to rather good news. Shami Chakrabarti, who I had the pleasure of meeting and doing a podcast with last Friday (Podcast goes out this Monday),  has been given an honorary degree by the College of Law.

Also rather good news, given that BPP Law School continues to refuse to let anyone look at their QAA report to The Privy Council in connection with degree awarding powers – is that The College of Law has put its money where its mouth is and has published their QAA report on their website – for all to see!

The Irish government has finally moved on the appalling abuse meted out to children by Irish priests over many years.  Four Archbishops in Ireland failed to pass on information about priests with a taste for abusing young boys – fearing that the public outcry would be too much to cope with or control. No longer.  The Irish are now going to root out all the abusers. Justice may have been delayed but the Irish Justice minister has stated that it will not be denied.

The Independent reports: Gordon Brown was accused of strangling the inquiry into the Iraq war at birth yesterday by refusing to let it make public sensitive documents that shed light on the conflict. A previously undisclosed agreement between Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry and the Government gives Whitehall the final say on what information the investigation can release into the public domain.” Independent

The Iraq Inquiry will run on for some time – but we appear to be off to a cracking good start with no lawyers on the panel and a senior civil servant, in the background, pulling the strings for what information can be disclosed. I have set up a widget on my online mag Insite Law to keep abreast of developments – and read it assiduously.  Sir Christopher Meyer did a star turn today with the revelation that Blair ‘hardened’ his position after a private chat with George Bush in a log cabin.  Perhaps they said a quick prayer, turned to each other and said “Right… in the name of God… war!…” Who knows? Hopefully someone will ask Blair when he takes his turn next year.

Sir Christopher Meyer did, however,  state that “officials had been left “scrabbling” for evidence of WMD as US troops prepared for invasion.”

Another Meyerism… “I didn’t tell Wolfowitz ‘we’re with you on regime change, let’s go get the bastard’ ..”

I enjoy reading The Economist and no more so than today when our American fellow bloggers and friends are celebrating Thanksgiving or Turkey Day. While President Obama pardoned a  turkey called ‘Courage’ (covered assiduously, also,  by the BBC) and sent it to Disneyland, The Economist reports…

ONE thing Americans should be thankful for this Thanksgiving is that they have not put on as much weight as the average turkey. Between 1960 and 2008, turkeys bulked up by around 11lb (5kg) to 29lb, an increase of 64%, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Coincidentally, in that same period the average American man gained 28lb, almost the equivalent of a turkey, according to data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, another government agency, and a Gallup poll of 2008.

The Telegraph has rather a good story about two lovers who decided to have a shag in an unusual place. And why not?

And talking of unusual places.  Brian Inkster of Inksters Solicitors, serious tweeter and principal of a modern client facing law firm in Scotland is in Argentina with his wife Nicola. He’s not lawyering… he’s doing some equally worthwhile.

They are assisting the charity, Habitat for Humanity, with the renovation of homes for families living in poverty in Buenos Aires. They will be working alongside other volunteers and with ‘stakeholder’ families who will eventually live in the houses. Brian and Nicola have also been fundraising for Habitat for Humanity. The cost of the trip to Argentina has already been met by Inksters. Therefore, every penny that is raised by Brian and Nicola goes straight to Habitat for Humanity to directly assist the project.

In just a few weeks they have raised well over the initial target they set themselves of £5,000. Brian said “we have been overwhelmed with the interest in and generosity we have received for this Global Village Challenge. My clients and our business contacts have been very supportive in helping us reach and surpass our fundraising target. We have also raised well over £1,000 via Twitter alone with donations coming from lawyers as far afield as Canada and the USA.”

Have a look at their website – and if you would like to help, you know how to get in contact through Inkstersgive

Putting up my Friday Rive Gauche a bit early… because I may escape to London tomorrow morning… but there again, I may leave it until Saturday.  And here is how I might look at a shopping mall in Dubai soon.. they say, advertising rates are going to improve…. Have a good Friday.

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Ah… a plot…. let’s go and lose it…

The day began well enough  shortly before 4.00 am, the time I usually rise to beat the Grim Reaper to it  – It being well known that a lot of people snuff it at 4.00 am)  – and I enjoyed doing two podcasts later in the morning: One with Paul and Jack from All About Law and one with Geoffrey Woollard, a prospective parliamentary candidate.  This latter  podcast goes up tomorrow morning.

To illustrate the type of day I am having – the more vigilant will have noticed my use of a capital letter after a colon in the paragraph above. In fact you may use a capital or a small letter after a colon and, if you are feeling particularly pedantic,  you may use one or two spaces after the colon. I have known this for some time… in fact, since I was ten, at a school in Scotland, where I spent a fair bit of my time in class wondering whether a board duster was going to come flying my way or not.  I did actually manage to catch a board duster lobbed in my direction on one occasion and asked if the teacher would like it back. He did want it back. But there we are….

I went for a walk after my podcasts, to get some fresh air and buy essential supplies of wine, fags and some provisions.  I bought myself a Marlon Brando Godfather mug.  I really shouldn’t be allowed out…sometimes. Still.. it is a very fine mug for a cuppa.

The day is not over yet… I am getting cabin fever, having confined myself to barracks for two full weeks and my only social contact has been on Skype video…. so I am planning amusements for Saturday.

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Lawcast 160: Paul & Jack from All About Law

Today I am talking to paul and Jack, the founders of All About Law – a law careers oriented site for law students with independent reviews of law schools and much much more..

Listen to the podcast

Podcast version for iTunes

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Libel: Doctor stands up for freedom of speech

The Times reports: “A British doctor who is being sued for libel after criticising an American company’s research has pledged to turn the action into a test case for freedom of speech. Peter Wilmshurst, a consultant cardiologist at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, told The Times that he aims to use a public-interest defence to fight the claim from NMT Medical and establish the principle that scientists may engage freely in academic debate.”

Dr Wilmshurst is to be applauded for standing up for a very important principle. As he says – he could lose his house if the decision goes against him.

Dr Wilmshurst said: “I have got a responsibility to fight this. There is a fundamental principle of science at stake here. People have to be free to challenge research.”

There is growing concern about the use of England’s draconian libel laws to stifle expert scrutiny of scientific evidence. Simon Singh, the science writer, has been sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association over an article in which he questioned the evidence that spinal manipulation could treat childhood conditions such as asthma and colic.


The Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw, is well aware of the pressing need to rein in the growing problem of libel tourism and the use of libel law to suppress fair, public comment and scrutiny.

Mark Lewis, Dr Wilmshurt’s solicitor said, “Libel law was having “not so much a chilling effect as a killing effect” on scientific debate, by making researchers think twice before challenging findings with which they disagreed.

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The dangers of punditry…

While most bloggers try to comment accurately on the issues of the day and, possibly, add a perspective from their own experience, this excellent post from Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice does illustrate the dangers of punditry and the art of  talking ‘complete and utter bollocks’ as we say down on the Medway.

Freedom of Speech is a prized right… do read the comments (82 when I was on earlier)… they are well worth reading!

And… while you are at it… do go and have a look at WhatAboutClients? run by Dan Hull and his colleagues… it is always worth a read and if you like ‘direct’… you will certainly get it there!

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I have created  a widget on Insite Law Magazine for daily Iraq Inquiry news direct from the Iraq Inquiry RSS feed.

Iraq Inquiry RSS feed widget on the right hand panel of Insite Law

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Cruel Britannia

Is this how low we have fallen?  Is this why David Miliband, Foreign Secretary, is so keen to keep secret the information which our judges wish to make public as part of the due process of law?  Is this what is being done in our name?  Is this how we preserve our so called freedom?

The Guardian reports:

‘Cruel, illegal, immoral’: Human Rights Watch condemns UK’s role in torture

The attorney general was under intense pressure tonight to order a wider series of police investigations into British complicity in torture after one of the world’s leading human rights organisations said there was clear evidence of the UK government’s involvement in the torture of its own citizens.

After an investigation spanning more than a year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) today condemned Britain’s role in the torture of terror suspects detained in Pakistan as cruel, counter-productive and in clear breach of international law.

Critically, a report published today by HRW – entitled Cruel Britannia: British Complicity in the Torture and Ill-treatment of Terror Suspects – draws upon corroborative evidence received from the Pakistani torturers themselves.

Read the full report in the Guardian


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Blawg Review #238 from Ireland….

‘Main of the Match: Appalling Conflations and Tenuous Links As An Island Recovers From A Close Brush With Injustice…

Today HRinI is pleased to host this week’s Blawg Review, following in the footsteps of previous Irish hosts Daithí Mac Síthigh and Eoin O’Dell.

An amusingly themed Blawg Review – but one from a very good Human Rights blog from Ireland

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Whatever your political leanings, this speech by Jack Straw, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice is interesting; providing a review of constitutional change over the last 12 years .

Constitutional change and the future of parliamentary democracy
24 November 2009| Magna Carta Institute, Brunel University

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Lord Neuberger MR

Denning Lecture 2009 at The Inner Temple

Very good – very thorough review.

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The New Statesman reports:

Police arrest people just to get their DNA, inquiry warns

Well… there’s a surprise… came right out of left field that one did.

My thanks to fellow twitterer  @CrimeCounsel for inspiring me…and there was I thinking that there weren’t any law stories in the press today to mock… shows how wrong a blogger can be.

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Nemo iudex in causa sua: Do me a por favor!

Today, Britain begins a process of carefully controlled investigation. We do public inquiries rather well.  We appoint distinguished men and women to listen to evidence and they then go off and write something to the taste of the government in power. Newspapers, television channels, bloggers and other commentators get hot under the collar for a while and we move on. The Hutton Inquiry was a prime example of the genre. The Hutton Inquiry website is no longer operational.  The Ministry of Justice is maintaining it for archive purposes… or possibly… in the modern parlance… for ‘training purposes’.

Will the Iraq Inquiry go the same way?

1. Sir John Chilcot, has insisted that the legality of the invasion in 2003 will be one of the key issues it addresses. Fine.  But where are the lawyers on the panel to conduct appropriate and searching cross-examination?

The Guardian notes: “Lawyers are trained to weigh up evidence and will know and say when they see a decision-making process that appears to be out of the ordinary,” said the British international law expert Professor Philippe Sands QC. “The fact that the members of the inquiry do not include a lawyer is very, very telling”.

The Guardian continued to tap the nails in: “Some of the debates around the legality of the war are quite sophisticated – it is not all clear-cut,” the senior legal figure said. “It’s going to be very difficult to deal with someone like Blair without a panel experienced in cross-examination.”.

2. The issue of the war’s legality is, one would have thought, the central issue.  The judiciary are right to express ‘surprise’ at the absence of a senior lawyer or member of the judiciary on the panel.

3. The Telegraph reports that witnesses could be given immunity from prosecution. This is all very well (and may, indeed be valuable for some appearing?)  but are we really going to get any where near the truth with imprecise questioning?  Are we going to have men and women appearing behind black curtains talking into a voice synthesiser?  Inevitably, there will be some evidence which cannot be aired publicly – in the interest of state security?

Off to a good start then?  We shall see.

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With the news today that BPP Law school’s owners, Apollo Global (who now call the tune) are being investigated for a second time by the United States SEC – this time for accounting issues on revenue recognition – I feel the time has come to push for BPP Law School to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act in exactly the same way as all university providers of the LPC and BSB are.  BPP Law School is not subject to the FOIA.   The College of Law, a charity, is also not subject to the FOI legislation  but they have been more prepared to be open and transparent than BPP law School has been.

1.  I have written repeatedly to BPP Law School’s Chief Executive, Peter Crisp, asking for the QAA report on their application for degree awarding powers (which they were granted by the Privy Council) to be made public.  I wrote again today.  I have not even had the courtesy of a reply to my last three emails on the subject over the past three months. This, does not trouble me.  I am but a blogger – but what have they got to hide in the QAA report?  Why won’t they reveal it?
Here is my earlier Transparency in Legal Education post

The College of Law is prepared to make public the QAA report on their degree awarding powers application.

Catrin Griffiths, Editor of The Lawyer, notes “BPP has been assiduously courting the Tories, with chief executive Peter Crisp up at the party ­conference this autumn doing the prawn cocktail rounds. It has just been allowed to award degrees, but is not yet classed as a university – much as it would like to be.Despite the University of Buckingham’s ­comparative success, private providers of higher education have been viewed with a certain amount of apprehension among the Labour establishment, but a Conservative government would be more sympathetic. For BPP, the timing of the SEC inquiry couldn’t be more awkward.”

2. If I want to find out about enrolments, pass rates, drop out rates etc,  at law schools run by universities I can simply put in a freedom of information request and the universities will, generally, give me this information.  I know this to be the case because a friend of mine, Norman Bair of QED Law has been doing just that for years. If, however, I want to get the same information from BPP Law School I am, now, met with silence.  It is, of course, BPP Law School’s prerogative to keep this information SECRET and it also their prerogative to ignore my emails on the issue, despite the fact that Peter Crisp in two podcasts with me agreed that BPP Law School would be prepared to provide the same information as university law schools are required to provide.

The BSB report on BPP’s oversubscription by 63 students on their BVC course is due soon.  Was this a simple bit of bad admin or was it to inflate the value of BPP for sale to Apollo purposes?  We don’t know.  Perhaps we never will.  All I have received from BPP was a press release they sent out to others who asked the same questions! The BSB report will be made public, I am advised.

BPP Law School should be made subject to the Freedom of Information Act – directly, or indirectly.

BPP Law School is now part of a US education group, a very successful education group which owns the University of Phoenix.  It is a multi-million dollar global business.  It is also an education group being investigated by the SEC for a second time – and this may well turn out to be a very minor matter.  Whatever the outcome of that, Apollo now has degree awarding powers in the United Kingdom – the only private for profit organisation in Britain to have such powers. Remember… the degree awarding powers are not limited to law and business.  Any field of study can be linked to a course and a degree provided.  The College of Law has these powers.  The College of Law is a charity.  There is no difficulty whatsoever with education being in private hands, but my argument.. and certainly in so far as it related to legal education, a matter very much affecting the public interest, is that BPP should be subject to the Freedom of Information legislation. My view is that students, parents and sponsors of students should be able to see this information and be able to ask any questions they wish in so far as permitted by the freedom of information legislation and get straight answers through a formal request under the FOIA if the information is not given freely.

I accept that the government already has enough on its hands in the 33 legislating days remaining – but why can’t the SRA and the BSB make it a condition of accreditation to run LPCs and BPTCs that BPP Law School provide exactly the same level of information to the public, when requested, as all other providers are required to do or, in the case of The College of Law, will provide voluntarily?

Frankly… one rule for BPP and another rule for the university law schools is no longer acceptable.

As ever, I am interested in your views – and if you think this is only fair, please pass this idea onto your colleagues, fellow academics and fellow students.  BPP Law School don’t listen to me on this… but they may well listen to you… or a lot of you, should you be minded to tell them.


UPDATE 6.00 pm Monday 23rd November 2009.

Being fair to BPP, I have now received an email from Peter Crisp…

Dear Mike

I’m afraid there really is nothing more for me to add to the statement I gave to The Lawyer and I can only repeat what Apollo have said publicly on this matter, namely:

  • Apollo has been informed by the Enforcement Division of the SEC that they have commenced an informal inquiry into the Company’s revenue recognition practices.
  • Apollo does not have any further insight into the scope, duration or outcome of the inquiry at this time.
  • Apollo is fully cooperating with the SEC.
  • ·         Apollo believes that its revenue recognition policies are appropriate and in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

As I said in The Lawyer, BPP remains a UK company subject to UK regulation.

I have in front of me a copy of the QAA Institutional Assessors’ Final Report on BPP: it is headed “Strictly Confidential”. I have no authority therefore to publish it.

Best wishes.



I have written back to Peter Crisp to indicate that I spoke to the QAA months ago and they assert that BPP is at liberty and has the authority to publish the report if they wish to.  My post on Transparency in legal Education makes this clear.

Here is my earlier Transparency in Legal Education post

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College of Law Inside Track Podcast: Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions

I talk to Keir Starmer QC the Director of Public Prosecutions about  the role of the DPP, the recently issued guidelines on assisted suicide, the future of the Public Prosecution Service, the relationship with the independent Bar and opportunities for students and qualified lawyers in the service.

Listen to the podcast

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