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Archive for January 8th, 2010

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I always did enjoy that quote of David Cameron’s from some time back.  I may have overdone the lunchtime drink…. me, that is… not Dave.

UPDATE

Whatever your political leanings:

GuyNews is out with a Save our Gordon edition

Dear god… I’m even in it at the end!

🙂

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Would you believe it…Friday 8th January already. This morning, BBC Breakfast News treated us to the quite remarkable spectacle of a roving reporter demonstrating that snow  on ice below can be very slippery.  She didn’t fall, she solemnly demonstrated how slippery the pavement was by sliding her foot across the ice.  I became ‘outraged of The Tundra’ last night, having waited patiently for Newsnight and some relief from Snowpocalypse Now to find Gavin Esler leading on…SNOW..and then bringing on some analyst to administer the coup de gras by talking about…SNOW.  I have given up watching BBC news programmes and shall do so until the snow disappears.

RollonFriday can usually be relied upon to provide a laugh on Fridays.  This week they discuss a fight at Clifford Chance’s Moscow office and end that report with….”Meanwhile, a corporate partner at a large UK regional outfit decided that his firm’s Christmas party was the perfect opportunity to announce his forthcoming sex change – while completely bladdered, with his shirt fully undone, and having wrestled the microphone away from the cabaret. As one witness reported dryly, “he’ll make a graceful lady“.

Liberal Conspiracy has some amusing Cameron poster spoofs…

It is a bit light on News from Tory HQ this morning. The Labour plotters are possibly down at the Job Centre and Miliband is probably doing what Miliband does…so a quick review of a few of the posts from political bloggers.

First up – Guido Fawkes: “Guido is frankly surprised with Mehdi Hasan’s latest article “In Defence of Ed Balls“.  Not that the ’senior political editor’ of the New Statesman is defending the indefensible, it is his admission that “I don’t know him. Never met him……How do you get to be a ’senior political editor’ of a supposedly serious political journal without ever having met Ed Balls? Staggering.” Guido Fawkes

Iain Dale and ToryBear both came up with a post on the Hoon-Hewitt nonsense – Dale | Tory Bear

Tom Harris MP asks the question of the week about Photoshop and airbrushing: So the camera lies – deal with it

The Ranting Penguin reports: Mad Bitch In Court | This one is not for  the faint hearted or for people who wish to keep their jobs if working for an employer at their office. Boris Johnson has A sweet way to enforce law and order.

Politicalbetting.com asks: Do the Lib-Dems gain most from the plot’s failure?. John Prescott states  Bitterites should face secret ballot

That’s enough for now… I have to get supplies and so I am off to clear the shelves of Basil, Sherry and ready made french onion soup… to do my bit for PANIC BUYING and irritate the 4×4 drivers who are just a bit too smug for my liking generally, but particularly at the moment! I am advised that 4×4 drivers are particularly partial to the aforementioned items.  I shall, of course, buy cigarettes and some wine.

Have a good weekend.

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Barely five working days into 2010 and we have had an attempted coup against a sitting, albeit unelected prime minister, a prospective prime minister who can’t seem to get his own manifesto policies straight, a nation under siege from television reporters, notably from BBC News 24, assaulting us almost round the clock with news about Snowpocalypse Now and politicians and political bloggers sharpening their knives for the long run up to the election later in the year. [A larger version of the  NASA #uksnow picture is available here – should you need an early morning snow fix]

Frances Gibb, in The Times, covers a piece of legal history this morning: Case of ‘Heathrow four’ to be challenged as lone judge prepares for historic trial.

“Defence lawyers are preparing to challenge the first criminal trial in England and Wales for 400 years to go ahead without a jury. The case is expected to be heard next week. Lawyers for four men accused of being part of a gang that stole £1.75 million in a raid at Heathrow will seek to adjourn the trial and go before the Supreme Court, the highest in the land. They argue that the case is of public importance and that the men were denied the chance to rebut the allegations against them or to challenge the direction for a trial by judge. The decision that there should be a a judge-only trial was made by the Lord Chief Justice and two other judges in an historic ruling at the Court of Appeal in June.”

The case is interesting for a great many reasons, not least since it will be the first non-jury criminal trial since the days of the Diplock courts in Northern Ireland. The jury-less trial is the first of its kind under the provisions contained in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to prevent jury nobbling. The trial is expected to be rather shorter than a traditional jury trial, barristers will probably have to alter their presentation style – the judge will have access to all the witness statements, something denied to juries and,  as Frances Gibb reports…“Mr Justice Treacy will be both judge and jury: he will resolve matters of law and have to do “mental gymnastics”, as one barrister put it, if he excludes evidence as inadmissable — trying to put it out of his mind and to pretend he has never seen it.”

10,000 own up to ‘morally unacceptable’ tax evasion

Stephen Timms, the Treasury Minister, (Not pictured left – that is Al Capone – a celebrated gangster and serial tax evader) today branded offshore tax evasion “morally unacceptable” today, as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced that about 10,000 people came forward to declare money in offshore accounts before the UK tax amnesty deadline on Monday. Mr Timms said: “Hiding money in offshore accounts to evade tax is economically and morally unacceptable. It robs public services of funding and places an unfair burden on the honest majority of taxpayers. Times

Accountants will tell you that tax evasion is illegal (and, by definition morally unacceptable) whereas tax avoidance is legal and, arguably, morally acceptable. Given that there are believed to be some 100,000 offshore tax ‘evader/avoiders’ getting 10,000 of them to cough up can hardly be described as a triumph.  Those who did cough (and 1000 did on the day of the deadline expiry – 4th January) will have to pay the tax due, the interest, and a fine of 10%.  Those who are now caught will have a fine of 100% of the tax due – although HM government plan to increase this in the future  to 200%.

This prompted one ‘Outraged of Lichtenstein’ tax payer to comment on the Times article:
Richard Koenig wrote: “No Mr Trimms. What is “morally unacceptable”is bankrupt, inefficient, feckless governments stealing from their citizenry. What is “morally unacceptable” is extorting other countries who have efficient markets and competitive tax environments. No one minds paying reasonable tax, but the UK has now entered levels of taxation that are an affront to hard work, talent and life’s blessings. Peaple (sic)  like Trimms make me sick.”

Founder of Oink music piracy site ‘had $300,000 in bank’

The Times reports: A man who ran a pirate music website amassed hundreds of thousands of pounds in “donations” from people who had downloaded 21 million songs, a jury heard yesterday.  The trial continues – but it is interesting because it appears, at first blush, given that the alleged ‘pirate’ did not host any copyright material himself to be a case under the new Fraud Act – which contains a very wide definition of fraud.  I make no further comment – but it would be interesting if criminal or intellectual property lawyers reading this would give an insight into what could be a landmark decision in criminal law?

It is always a pleasure to see serious newspapers getting in on tabloid style puns and The Independent does so with this pun on the MP expenses issue…

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Watchdog accused of ducking confrontation over MPs’ expenses

Sir Ian Kennedy, a well known academic lawyer, (Ex King’s College London)heads the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority – and IPSA is certainly keen to get members of the public involved in the consultation process. You may access the IPSA consultation document here and complete it online: The consultation document is available for completion online.

There is gold in them thar Google hills – and, with the launch of the new Google Nexus phone – the lawyers are about with the first piece of litigation.  I have to say that I did not immediately think of the works of science fiction writer Philip K Dick whose estate is planning to sue Google over the name Nexus One, which it claims was taken without permission from Mr Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? This is probably because I have no interest whatsoever in science fiction in any of its forms. I prefer the fictions of the present and the past.   No doubt the litigation will grind through the courts or there will some satisfactory pay off and honour will be served. Mr Dick’s daughter Isa Dick Hackett said she thought the estate had a strong case against Google. “Google takes first and then deals with the fallout later,” she said.

A raft of political stuff…

There are many articles on the politics of the week.  I have listed these in the news feed on Insite Law this morning. I do no more than list them.  I have commented on some earlier in the week – even if just to do a caption pic or a cartoon and the political bloggers do comment and analysis with style and vituperation.

Hey ho, hey ho…. it’s off to court Trafigura go

Trafigura returns to court in attempt to suppress lawsuit documents

“Trafigura, the offshore oil trader that became notorious for legal attempts to suppress reporting of parliament, is going back to Britain’s judges tomorrow. The privately owned oil giant wants high court records to be sealed to prevent the public and the media from reading allegations made in a separate lawsuit.” The Guardian

After the superinjunction fiasco late last year when Trafigura and Carter-Ruck, their lawyers, were effectively forced to back down by mass civil disobedience on twitter and elsewhere – they have a new strategy – get the courts to seal the court records to stop nosy people poking their noses into Trafigura business. A cunning plan.  We shall see what our Courts make of this given that the superinunctions were criticised by no less than the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge.

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Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog, has an amusing story: Sion Simon, Keith Vaz and Law Officers’ advice

“The DCMS minister Sion Simon has been speaking for the government in the Commons this afternoon, and is in an embarrassing situation: it appears that government lawyers have advised that the Video Recordings Act 1984 should have been notified to the European Commission under the “Technical Standards” Directive, 83/189 (since replaced by Directive 98/34). Since it was not, its provisions are unenforceable; the government has therefore now notified, and by means of the Video Recordings Bill is repealing and reenacting the 1984 provisions. The bill is going through in effect in a day. Oops!”

Capitalists@Work ask: Will a failed Brown-out lead to UK blockout?

“The events at Westminster yesterday make the comic The Thick of It, look quite tame in its parody. Some now quite pathetic ex-ministers hope a simple letter will be enough to get rid of a tenacious and street-fighting Prime Minister. That the plot failed is not much of a surprise, neither the the lack of solid backing for Brown by his enemies. Brown too did not have the stomach to go for a vote and therefore renew his mandate ahead of an election and get a boost for his personal rating as he would be seen as a toughie.

But the real cost to the country is the on-going collapse of the UK credibility in the eyes of the world. Check out what has happened the past month alone…..”

Prof John Flood over at RATs (Random Academic Thoughts has a fascinating piece on his blog: Do You Know What Lawyers Do?

John Bolch at Family Lore covers  the ‘Medieval’ System of Family Law in this country and is quite sardonic with this: “The Independent this morning informs us that “an overwhelming majority of lawyers have told the Government” that the divorce system must be reformed, to provide for no-fault divorce. I’m not quite sure who these lawyers are or when they told this to the Government, but the report goes on to tell us that: “Lawyers told the consumer law website TakeLegalAdvice.com that families would suffer far less during the separation if the husband and wife did not have to cite unreasonable behaviour or one of the other grounds for a quick divorce.”
Read…

And finally…

Being Friday… I write a ‘Rive Gauche’ piece…coming slightly from left field… I shall do so later…but I shall leave you with this picture from Conservative Flickr to which I have added a, possibly, welcome/unwelcome caption…

More law news may be found on my online mag Insite Law

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