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Archive for November 26th, 2009

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.

Times

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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