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Archive for December 9th, 2009

I don’t normally enjoy daytime television, but yesterday’s episode of the BBC’s new ‘Panto Season’ drama  ‘The Iraq Inquiry‘, after a shaky start where urbane beknighted mandarins were paraded en masse, gave way to the appearance of the ‘villain’… or at least one of them – Sir John Scarlett, ‘M’ or ex-Director of SIS / MI6.   The pantomime dames:  Lord Falconer, Lord Goldsmith, Alistair Campbell and Ali BabaBlair and the 45 minutes are due to appear in 2010 – no doubt to shouts of “He’s behind you” and “Oh NO he isn’t!”

I watched with mounting fascination (and some amusement) and marvelled at the relaxed, suave, almost gentlemanly exchange between one of the panel members and Sir John. Sir John didn’t look as if he was even walking fast, let alone running,  to keep up with the ‘Inquisitorial’. The word ‘Inquiry’ tends to suggest an element of questioning, hints at probing…. and yesterday, as other commentators have observed, showed the folly (or cunning)  of failing to put an experienced barrister, for whom cross-examination is both a sport and an art, on the panel. Simon Jenkins has a wonderful piece in the Guardian entitled ‘A very British Inquiry’.  It is worth reading in full.

Blair ‘was told Iraq had disarmed – but still went to war’

Sir John Scarlett tells inquiry of pre-war intelligence doubts

Meanwhile The Sun tells us: “JAILED Amanda Knox has applied to work in the prison laundry, her father revealed yesterday.Curt Knox distanced himself from a transatlantic row over his daughter’s conviction as he flew home to the US from Italy. US senator Maria Cantwell has declared it unsafe because the Italian justice system “raises serious questions”. [The Sun]

Apparently, the Italians are none too pleased at the suggestion that the trial was unfair and their justice system a sham and a shambles.  Both may or may not be true.  I have no idea – but as every country in the world says that their justice system is the best in the world (Well… they would, when you think about it),  it is not surprising the Italians are prancing around like overdressed opera singers, shouting that they will not take lessons from America on ‘justice’ when America has Guantanamo Bay problems.  Frankly, I favour the view – whichever country’s justice system is being reviewed – that wrong and unjust is wrong and unjust and that we have a perfect right to examine and comment on the justice system of our own country and those of other countries if we so wish.

A senior British judge demonstrates how to deal with anger and ‘heated moments’

The Times reported yesterday: “A senior family judge took the extraordinary step of leaving court to calm down because he was so angered by two local authorities who “abandoned” a sick boy to save money.”

It is a shocking case.  The Times continued:

“Mr Justice Hedley said that he was left with a sense of disbelief that the two local authorities, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Orkney Island Council (OIC), had distanced themselves from the boy to avoid footing the bill for his care. He made his judgment public yesterday and also sent it to Westminster and Holyrood to draw attention to the two local authorities.“I found it necessary to adjourn briefly so as to ensure that no wholly improper judicial observations escaped my lips,” he said of the October hearing.

More idiotic behaviour from Homo Jobsworthiens and Homo Plodiens is reported in the Independent this morning… ”

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Police search photographer using anti-terrorism laws

It comes days after a memo was sent to all police forces in England and Wales warning officers to stop using terror laws to harass innocent photographers. The memo was sent after The Independent forced senior officers to admit the controversial legislation is being widely misused.

The Independent reports:

Mr Smith, 53, was taking pictures of Christ Church, in Newgate, when a security guard from nearby bank Merrill Lynch asked for identification. When he refused, the police were called.

Mr Smith said: “A Police Community Support Officer asked me what I was doing. I said it was obvious and he told me he had to question me otherwise he was not doing his job properly. The next thing I knew three police cars with their sirens blaring came round the corner. Again they asked what I was doing.” Mr Smith gave the officers his name.

A spokesman from the City of London Police said: “When questioned by officers, the man declined to give any explanation. He was therefore informed that, in light of the concerns of security staff, and in the absence of an explanation, he would be searched under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.”

I have a bit too much time on my hands at the moment. Britain is about to shut down for the annual binge drinking season and few people seem to have any appetite for work in the  season of office parties. Normally, the Christmas season is the cue for some enterprising firm of employment lawyers to trot out an article about  the ‘office party’: Do not snog the boss’s daughter or wife, Do not turn up dressed like a stripper, and advising in moderate, Law Society approved, tones against drinking too much and then telling the boss that he or she is a tosser or tosserette. I haven’t seen any of these rather dull articles yet… but it can only be a matter of time.  I will be grateful to any reader who finds one of these annual articles from a law firm  and sends me the link.  I need a laugh at the moment.

Anyway… as I was saying… I have too much time on my hands. I may take a trip to London and photograph some Police Community Support officers as they huddle together in small groups on street corners eating their buns.  S 44 of The terrorism Act seems to be alive and well and I’d quite like to see how it works first hand should I hear the sound of sirens and screeching of tyres while taking pics of the PCSOs.

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