Archive for November 30th, 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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