Archive for November 1st, 2009

Dear Reader,

Lord Irvine may have had a taste for expensive wall paper, but after six years he has finally come out from behind the woolsack to set  the record straight and no-one could possibly accuse him of papering over the cracks.  The Daily Mail reports:

“Former Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine has revealed how he lashed out at ‘insensitive, high-handed and incoherent’ Tony Blair and accused him of snubbing the Queen in the bitter row that led up to him being sacked from the Cabinet. Lord Irvine’s onslaught against Mr Blair, who he taught as a young barrister and introduced to Cherie, was revealed as the peer broke his six-year silence over their feud.

He accuses Mr Blair of failing to consult either him or the Queen about the plan to abolish the historic post of Lord Chancellor – and discloses how he struggled over three days to stop Mr Blair firing him.

Lord Irvine was clearly less than impressed by Tony Blair’s decision to alter the constitution without consulting him and stated in his paper to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution… ”

‘I asked him how a decision of this magnitude could be made without prior consultation with me, the judiciary…and the Palace. The Prime Minister appeared mystified and said that these changes always had to be carried into effect in a way that precluded such discussion because of the risk of leaks.

‘I was surprised he thought the abolition of the office of Lord Chancellor was of the same order as any machinery of government changes.’

One rather gets the feeling reading Lord Irvine’s paper that there is an element of the old Pupil Master about the tone, as if he was upbraiding a young pupil for failing to ensure that the Jammy Dodger biscuits were on his desk in Chambers at precisely 9.00 am and beginning to have reservations about the pupil’s grasp of law.  Lord Irvine says this…“‘it then strongly bore in on me that the Prime Minister had not received any, or any proper advice and was completely unaware that complex primary legislation was required’.

It is pretty clear, also, that Irvine was, shall we say, ‘pissed orf’  about Lord Falconer replacing him when he said this…“‘There was no mention of Lord Falconer,’ says Lord Irvine. ‘We left off on the basis, as the Prime Minister was always wont to say, that no final decision had been taken, but in reality the die was cast.’

Wonderfully Shakespearian… one wonders if Lord Irvine may have said to Blair… “Et tu, brute”

It seems to be Tony Blair week in the press this week. After the good news that Blair’s chances of being President look to be shot down in flames by the reluctance of Angela Merkel of Germany and Sarkozy of France to support his ‘presidency’ – and the news that sundry Europeans are openly mocking Gordon Brown for his clunking fisted attempt to have Blair made president – it is reported in the Mail that Tesco wants to enlist Blair’s support to open supermarkets in the Middle East.

This extract from the Mail report is particularly telling…

“Asked if Mr Blair had been in talks with Tesco about representing them in the Middle East, the spokesman declined to comment, nor would he answer questions about whether the sum of £1million had been discussed.

Sources close to Mr Blair insisted the talks did not break down over the issue of money but would not explain why they failed. Another senior source suggested that the talks between Mr Blair and Tesco had been going on for five months.

The disclosure comes as new details emerged of Mr Blair’s business affairs in the Middle East.

Despite Gordon Brown’s campaigning on Mr Blair’s behalf for the EU Presidency, the estimated £15million Mr Blair has made from commercial activities since stepping down as Prime Minister.”

And then we had the ludicrous position where Postman Pat decides that he knows best and rejected the advice of leading government experts on drugs.  I wrote about this last week (Home Office announces that the world is flat) after finally losing patience with Labour over the latest erosion to our civil liberties…. Imagine….

We now have more experts resigning from ‘independent advisory’ positions and soon there may more resignations.  Would you trust ANY government that constantly ignored the advice of experts on medicine, drug use, military matters, envirnment, prison policy, law….. I have decided not to trust this government any further although I have a sinking feeling that a Tory government will be just as bad and possibly worse.

And the news isn’t much better with the report in The Times about libel tourism undermining British Justice…

Libel tourists flock to ‘easy’ UK courts

The Times reports…” An Icelandic professor has emerged as the latest victim of “libel tourism” in Britain after he was sued in the High Court by a wealthy compatriot for a posting on a website based in Iceland. Hannes Gissurarson was initially bemused when a British diplomat, acting as an envoy of the court, turned up at his door in Reykjavik to serve him with a writ. The professor of political science was told that judges in London would adjudicate on whether his comments on the University of Iceland’s website were defamatory. During the ensuing five-year legal battle, Gissurarson was forced to sell his home and faced legal costs of more than £150,000.”

This is absurd and it high time the laws of libel in England & Wales were examined by Parliament – otherwise, to borrow a phrase used by a former Information Commissioner, we will ‘sleepwalk’ into a new privacy law and a legal landscape of super injunctions which strike at the very root of free speech and fair reporting.

And finally… the news which shocked nearly a million twitterers…

Stephen Fry in a flutter at horrid tweeters on Twitter

The Times reports…

STEPHEN FRY has said he is going to quit Twitter after a fellow user of the popular internet site described him as “boring”.

The television presenter has been one of Britain’s biggest champions of the social networking site. Last month he used it to announce the end of his television series Kingdom. He also used Twitter to spearhead a campaign against a newspaper columnist who had described the death of Stephen Gately, the gay pop star, as “sleazy”, describing the article as “loathsome”.

Yesterday Fry said he was ready to silence his fingers and thumbs and stop providing his 925,000 followers with near-hourly updates on his thoughts and activities, known as “tweets”.

At 2.18pm he posted: “Think I may have to give up on Twitter. Too much aggression and unkindness around. Pity. Well, it’s been fun.”

Twitter is fun.  It is, I suppose,  vaguely useful for chit chat, info and links – and I have met some very amusing and interesting people (real-life and virtually) through twitter – but to get worked up about being described as boring is probably taking Twitter just a bit too seriously.  I write a pile of nonsense on twitter at times.. in fact I have  written just under 30,000 tweets since late June of 2008 when I joined… I would think a fair number of those tweets were done under the influence and probably bored people rigid… easy… just block me or unfollow! Sorted.

Well… another interesting week in prospect.  I am interviewing Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty for The College of Law Inside Track podcast series I do for them… so that should be fun.

Best, as always




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