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Archive for January 12th, 2010

With…apologies to The Simpsons… although I suspect they could have asked better questions…?

If we expected to see Alastair Campbell crumble, distance himself from Blair , or even see the panel leap into action and ask questions with anything approaching the precision of an experienced barrister, we were disappointed.  I enjoyed watching Alastair Campbell publicise his ‘The Blair Years’ diary (which I have read)  (Guido Fawkes makes the same point) and it is clear that he has paved the way for the ‘main course’ – Tony Blair, as Sir Menzies Campbell (no relation) put it.   Ming (Who is a QC)  did say to the BBC reporter that it was unfortunate that no QCs were on the panel to actually ask focused questions and point out inconsistencies – but there were a few moments of high comedy.

At one point in the morning session, Alastair Campbell’s mobile went off to indicate receipt of a text.  One of the panel members asked if it was Mr Blair.  The rest of the comedy was provided by Campbell saying that he did not manipulate news, terrorise newsrooms and justify not correcting press reports on the dossier and WMD by saying that if he had to do that, he would be doing it 24/7.

Campbell did find time to tweet at lunch… perhaps going back into role?...“Having a sandwich mid inquiry. Watching lunchtime news. God these hacks do talk some drivel.”

Lord knows what we’ll get as a Chilcott Report.  Lawyer John Halton did tweet…

Full marks go to Paul Waugh, deputy political editor of The Standard for his very good and sometimes very amusing tweets throughout.  His write up focuses on the We will be there’ letters.

And.. a follow up post from Paul Waugh.. Arise Sir Dyno-Rod

UPDATE: Hat Tip to @wibblenut

for alerting me on twitter to this….

Iraq invasion violated international law, Dutch inquiry finds

Investigation into the Netherlands’ support for 2003 war finds military action was not justified under UN resolutions (Guardian)

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Police powers to use terror laws to stop and search people without grounds for suspicion are illegal, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

The Strasbourg court has been hearing a case involving two people stopped near an arms fair in London in 2003. It said Kevin Gillan and Pennie Quinton’s right to respect for a private and family life had been violated. It awarded them 33,850 euros (£30,400) to cover legal costs.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows the home secretary to authorise police to make random searches in certain circumstances. But the European Court of Human Rights said the people’s rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated. The court said the stop and search powers were “not sufficiently circumscribed” and there were not “adequate legal safeguards against abuse”.  BBC

Judgment: CASE OF GILLAN AND QUINTON v. THE UNITED KINGDOM (Application no. 4158/05)

Also: This

…2.  Holds that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention;

UPDATE MTPT blog post:

The legality of stop and search

This, hopefully, will curb Police enthusiasm for stopping photographers. The government will need to re-think on this one.  I may do a more detailed analysis if I have time…

***

Watching the Iraq Inquiry..Campbell is doing rather well.  The panel don’t seem to be probing him that hard.

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Campbell faces the moment of truth

The Independent reports: “Alastair Campbell faces potentially explosive questioning today over his role in overstating the reliability of intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s weaponry, as he becomes the first major political figure to appear before the Iraq inquiry. Tony Blair’s former Downing Street director of communications is expected to be quizzed over a key claim that it was “beyond doubt” that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), made in a dossier published in September 2002 setting out the Government’s case for war. The assertion appeared in a foreword to the document, which appeared under the name of Mr Blair. However, Mr Campbell has already admitted that he was responsible for drafting it.”

The Independent notes that Sir John Chilcott, the chairman of the Iraq inquiry, has shown a close interest in the claim.  Good grief… even a first year law student attending a tutorial with a hangover could have picked up on the fact that Campbell’s testimony is central to this inquiry… an interesting day ahead, I think?

Update 10.05 am:  Tweet of the morning…so far!

Confirmed, election to be on May 6

Not, I hasten to add, confirmed by the prime minister… but inadvertently by one of his hapless team with previous.  Tory Politico takes up the story…” The argument about when the general election will be held appears tonight to be over following a blunder by Chris Bryant. Speaking to diplomats at Canning House, a diplomatic think-tank, the Europe Minister seemed to confirm the widely held belief that the poll will be held on May 6 – the same day as the local council elections. Referring to recent tensions between Britain and countries in South America, Mr Bryant said: “I hope that by the time of the general election on May 6, relations will have improved. His loose lips will anger the Prime Minister and senior party strategists, as it’s common knowledge that ministers have been told not to talk in detail about when the election will be called, in order to keep the Conservatives in the dark and so not to help them plan for the big day.”

Oops.  Perhaps there will be a statement from The Bunker that this is ‘silliness’ and the prime minister has discussed the election timing with absolutely no-one at all.. that he is not thinking about the election at this time… as he is getting on with the job?

Marco Pierre White challenge could change divorce battles for ever… (The Times thunders….)

John Bolch of Family Lore comments… or rather…. puts the boot in..and why not?:The Times today carries two articles (here and here) on the Marco Pierre White case. I’m not sure why they are running these articles some two and a half months after the event, or why there are two articles not just one. I am also not entirely sure of the point of the articles, as they seem to add nothing to what we already knew. However, I shall not complain, as both articles include contributions from my excellent fellow family law blogger, the ubiquitous Marilyn Stowe.

Islamist ‘march’ group to be banned

The Independent reports: “The Islamist group which provoked outrage with its plan to march through Wootton Bassett will be banned, Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced today. The order will come into effect on Thursday and make it a criminal offence to be a member, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  Mr Johnson said the group had tried to escape proscription simply by changing its name. He said the order would apply to the group’s other names, including Al Muhajiroun. He said: “I have today laid an order which will proscribe Al Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and a number of the other names the organisation goes by. “It is already proscribed under two other names – Al Ghurabaa and The Saved Sect.”Proscription is a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism and is not a course we take lightly.”

Few people will shed any tears over this at first glance – but proscription does, of course, affect freedom of speech rights and these, this policy reveals, ‘have to be balanced against the wider good’.

The right of freedom of speech, they say now, carries with it the responsibility to speak about things in a responsible way.  That is the problem with proscription.  That is the problem with having legislation banning comment on religion and other matters… the values and mores are the values and convenience of the government of the day – which is fair enough, after all, they were elected to govern – but it does, whether we like it or not impact on the purity of the meaning of the concept ‘freedom of speech’. The definition of ‘responsible’ becomes the prerogative of the state – assuming  they are able to define such a concept to the satisfaction of our increasingly skeptical courts.  There will be some who say that it is better to counter extremism with rational and civilised debate and protest. It will, however, be far easier for the state to bang people up under this legislation – membership itself is the criminal offence – than proving offences under other terror or criminal legislation!  Another step forward?  I’m not so sure it is.

And finally… this from Charles Pugsley Fincher JD at LawComix

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