This is my last weekend Postcard from the Staterooms-On-Sea. I leave Chatham Maritime on the Medway for London next week; returning to live in Battersea, right on the river opposite the boat I used to live on at Cheyne Walk. This is not a permanent return. I feel like a Tuareg, moving my tent and furniture about every six months or so. I rather like the idea of being able to move about the country and pitch my tent metaphorically in different places. I have enjoyed my time in kent – but I need a bit more of a social life. The apartment is right on the river overlooking the Thames to Chelsea and about 50 years from the very pleasant Battersea Square. (Right)
I’ve just finished reading a fascinating transcript of an interview with David Cameron by John Sopel of the BBC on The Politics Show. It is quite extraordinary, barely months before the election, that Cam & Dec haven’t got their act together on the specifics of the cuts they are going to impose. Save for those who will vote Tory come what may, how are other voters going to make an informed decision unless they are given details. Cameron waffled badly in this interview, allowing Sopel to plunge the toasting fork into Cameron’s buttocks several times. It was like the scene in Tom Brown’s Schooldays when Flashman toasted the young Tom Brown in front of the fire.
Here are a few of the Sopel questions. The answers are worth reading…
I’m sorry to interrupt you, I just want to interrupt you on that because is it that you haven’t identified what the year one cuts will be and therefore can’t tell us, or that you have identified them but now is not the time to tell us?
I want to rattle through some of the specifics where you have pledged, I just want to check that those specifics are still in place, for example on inheritance tax even though there are only a couple of thousand estates, a few thousand people would be affected by it, that commitment, policy commitment remains?
No going back on that one?
And now I want to go to where I think there are, really ambiguity is a good word to use for it. What about recognising tax, recognising marriage in the tax system? Where are you on that because this is going into a right mess at the beginning of the year?
You’ve had two years to work out the answer to that. You launched something and then it kind of all collapsed.
I’m not asking for the detail of everything but for, you’ve had four years to work this one out and you haven’t worked it out.
And then Cameron launched into his ‘Kill a Burglar ‘ speech and made the remarkable statement that burglars leave their human rights at the door. I’m astonished that a prime minister in waiting can make such a statement.
Well we think that the, the proposal has been put forward which is to say that unless the action you take as a homeowner is grossly disproportionate, so you’re raising the bar effectively, that that will be a good step forward. Now if you can find a different –
How have you turned that into law because –
Well I’ve given you two words – grossly disproportionate. That’s –
You can use proportionate force, you just can’t use grossly disproportionate force?
Oh dear… Cameron is not very good at thinking on his feet, it would seem and his side-kick Osbore doesn’t seem to be good at thinking at all.
Interestingly… this from Tweetminster at 6.15 pm this evening:
tweetminster Sentiment (on Twitter) around David Cameron has dropped following Politics Show (& the resulting coverage) http://bit.ly/dAjy1V
Having re-read this grilling of Cameron by Sopel – irrespective of the fact that i am supposed to be ‘socialist’… Cameron worries me. Nothing seems to be structured, coherent, thought out. This is not really good enough for a prospective prime minister who has had some years to work things out. Waffle just doesn’t cut it in tutorials with first year students… it certainly doesn’t when it comes to policy statements from a man who puts himself forward as the next prime minister. Kenneth Clarke? too late for a Conservative leadership challenge?
AND THIS IS THE KILLER QUESTION FROM SOPEL… Very clever as it reveals that Cameron has no understanding whatsoever of International Law, the ICC or what Chilcot is about… tragic… and I am sure that Sopel must have thought very carefully about that question…
Yeah, do you understand why some people say Tony Blair ought to be tried for war crimes?
Well I don’t, I don’t think it’s come to that. He’s, he’s giving an account of himself as we are speaking right now. I haven’t been able to see that. Let’s let Chilcot do his work and do his report, and then I think we can make more of a judgment.
This is rather worrying?
The Law Society gazette ran an astonishing story this week:
Website for blacklisted solicitors plans expansion
While I am n favour of the Solicitors Regulatory Authority publishing reports of disciplinary proceedings taken against solicitors – I am not so sure the Solicitorsfromhell site is an altogether fair way of dealing with complaints. Quite apart from possible issues of libel and unfairness (the owner of the site says he has been threatened with libel by solicitors) – it is not an analytical or objective forum. The site does not appear to permit of a dissent or an alternative viewpoint under each listing post. Mr Kordowski has this notice on the front page of his website:
Note to Solicitors and Firms:
An internet directory or search engine (such as this) is NOT a publisher at common law, just a facilitator.
As held by Mr Justice Eady on July 19 2009.
The Law Society Gazette reports: ” Solicitorsfromhell.co.uk allows visitors to post complaints about law firms and individual solicitors. The postings appear on Google within 24 hours. Kordowski said that he set the website up because he was ‘shocked’ about the number of complaints made about solicitors. He maintained that he is carrying out a public service that is also of benefit to the profession. Law firms can pay £299 to have all current and future traces of their name removed from the site. Alternatively, they can pay between £99 and £199 to have specific postings deleted. Visitors are charged a fee for posting a complaint about a firm.” (Mr Kordowski says that visitors to the site are NOT charged a fee)
Gary Slapper, of the Open University (who is always worth reading in The Times) has a truly weird case this week… and I mean W E I R D
“In the film The Matrix, Keanu Reeves plays a character who moves in and out of the real world. He might have thought he was having a similar experience while defending a recent legal action in Canada. Reeves was sued by Karen Sala, a woman he said he had never met but who claimed that he had disguised himself as her husband and, over 25 years, fathered her four children.”
RollonFriday has a classic this week: Exclusive – Eversheds partner questions parent’s commitment
Eversheds has admitted that it had to carry out an investgation after one of its partners sent a email to a colleague wondering how to deal with an interviewee who had recently had a child.
Delighted to see that the Spacehijackers, who painted their armoured car in Police colours to attend the G20 protests last year, are not going to face charges. The CPS appears to have used the common sense test… “
A theatre group charged with impersonating police officers at the G20 protests are planning to sue the Metropolitan Police after the Crown Prosecution Service dropped all charges.
Eleven protesters, billing themselves as the Space Hijackers and portraying themselves as the “laughing cavaliers of capitalism”, were arrested after they jumped out of an armoured vehicle at the Bishopsgate offices of the Royal Bank of Scotland during the demonstrations in London’s Square Mile on 1 April last year. They were charged with impersonating police but the case was dropped after four hearings after the CPS said it had received new information and no longer believed there was a realistic chance of a conviction.”
I accept that it is easy to indulge in a bit of ‘Police bashing’ – and sometimes, as the G20 police behaviour demonstrates, they deserve it – but this action on the part of the police was doomed to failure right from the start and just plain daft. I suspect a jury would have acquitted had it gone the full distance…. the CPS certainly thought so.
Guido Fawkes notes: “Andy Murray Cursed (Again) Loses Open
“Back in July last year Andy Murray was cursed by Jonah Brown. Earlier this week when Gordon wished Murray well against Federer many co-conspirators winced and commented that this was the kiss of death again.”
Another interesting week ahead for law news… I am planning to do some televised short voxpop interviews with members of the public about legal news stories when I return to London. these will supplement the podcasts which I am already doing and, hopefully, be of interest in terms of seeing how mebers of the public regard our laws and the legal issues of our times. We shall see how it goes! (I shall, do not fear, be behind the camera)
Have a good week
Best as always
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