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Archive for January 25th, 2010

GuyNews from Guido Fawkes has the gen on Lord Pearson’s plans for UKIP to take away part of the BNP vote: “Guy News wanted to get to the bottom of the UKIP burqa ban.  So we sent Emily Nomates, in disguise, to meet Lord Pearson.”

Subscribers get the videos early on a Friday (You may subscribe free on the Guido Fawkes blog) but here it is!  It really is a must watch.  Lord Pearson does say some extraordinary things!

Another, equally, interesting perspective comes from Dominic Lawson writing in the Times: Banning the burqa is simply not British.

Lawson writes: ” This is not to say that Lord Pearson, UKIP’s new leader, is a figure in the Hitler mould. Far from it. Having met Pearson on more than one occasion, I know him to be a civilised and considerate person. Yet in attempting to gain market share from the British National party in the run-up to the general election, Pearson is indulging in a lethally dangerous form of identity politics; and in his claims to be standing up for “British values”, the UKIP leader is in fact trashing them…….Pearson declared last week: “We are not Muslim-bashing, but this [the wearing of the burqa] is incompatible with Britain’s values of freedom and democracy.” First of all, he absolutely is “Muslim-bashing….”

I am not in the least interested in what people wish to wear. If women are forced to wear the burqa, that is a different issue – but as many women wish to wear the burqa, they should be free to do so, subject to the caveat that they should be subject to the same security issues as everyone else in this country.  I doubt that I would personally find it as interesting to talk to someone wearing a balaclava or a burqa as I would an open face because we tend to read faces when we listen to give sense, emotion and depth to the spoken word. I suspect others may take a similar view.

An area of law I have absolutely no interest in is Family Law. Fortunately there are many good bloggers about to deal with such matters: John Bolch, Family Lore, and Pink Tape to name but two regulars.

I do wonder why lawyers who deal with the fantastically rich are so rich themselves… I can only presume that  these lawyers charge rich people more for exactly the same advice as lawyers dealing with ‘ordinary people’. The law for rich and poor must be ‘roughly’ the same, surely?   The rich lawyers may argue that the financial affairs of the maniacally rich are ‘far more complex’… there are tax issues, off-shore laws to consider…blah blah blah… but, I would have thought that less well paid lawyers who  deal with normal people (who do not have an account at the RichBastardsBank)  still have complex issues to sort?

My only other observation, which is ironic given David Cameron’s plan to encourage everyone to get back to eating Sunday lunch, attending Church and getting married, is that getting married  is not a brilliant idea in the current climate of Britain’s divorce laws. It is quite possible that the Tories, when they came up with this wheeze, had not done any detailed research on our Family laws.  They do seem well up on kill a burglar ideas though.  If you are a rich man or rich woman…. don’t complain when you have to give away half of your fortune to your estranged spouse.  Either live together happily (this is quite possible for many) or don’t get married, don’t let the other party live with you and don’t make promises you aren’t prepared to keep.

The latest nonsense to come out of our divorce courts is covered by the Daily Telegraph: Is divorce law fair?  A multimillionaire faces Britain’s biggest divorce payout. Is Lisa Tchenguiz right to demand £100m of her husband’s wealth?

At least this case – for those of us who have no interest in this field of law –  has a human interest story….well… ‘human’ interest in the sense of greed and duplicity… The Telegraph reports: “Shortly after Miss Tchenguiz filed for divorce, her husband was locked out of his Mayfair office and 20,000 documents were downloaded from his computer…… and then asks: “Was the judge right to rule that Miss Tchenguiz could use this information? Do you think assets are shared fairly in divorce law? What about spousal maintenance? Should the wife get half?..”

Apparently the judge held that she could use the stolen information (she was clobbered for a million in costs) and remarked that on the scale of bad behaviour, nicking documents from the husband in a bit of DIY detective work was pretty severe and shoddy.  This is ‘End of the pier at Brighton’  knock about stuff… but English Law can be a bit ‘colourful’. If you are in the market  for other ‘novelty cakes’ yourself… they do some good ones here. Truly astonishing.

There is a lot of LAW about today…

Solicitors drum up childhood-abuse cases with jail ads

No Shit Sherlock award…

The Times reports… solemnly..

SOLICITORS are advertising in jails for prison inmates to make compensation claims for abuse against former carers and teachers. Some of the claims involve allegations stretching back decades. The prisoners contact the lawyers to inquire about payouts and are told to make complaints to the police about their alleged abusers, partly in order to shore up their compensation claims. They can net up to six-figure sums. In addition to genuine cases of historical abuse it is feared that some former carers and teachers could be wrongly accused — and socially stigmatised — by hardened criminals attracted by the lure of compensation money.”

CPS refuses to reveal details of Nick Griffin’s race hate trial

Guardian: Prosecutors claim releasing information about 1998 case would breach BNP leader’s data protection rights

The CPS decision here is understandable – but here we are not dealing with a private individual.  Mr Griffin is the leader of the BNP.  Mr Griffin’s party will play a part in the coming elections.  The Guardian is appealing the decision with the Information Commissioner.  I hope that the information is revealed.  The electorate and the press do have the right to know about the political views of those who seek election… or the views they may once have held.

The Guardian reports: ”  In a letter to the Guardian, which ­submitted the request almost four months ago, the CPS said: “The majority of the information contained in the case papers is personal data. “A large proportion of this personal data is sensitive personal data because it consists of information as to the commission of an offence and Mr Griffin’s political opinions.”…..On appeal, the CPS last week ­reiterated its view that Griffin’s rights are not outweighed by the public interest in the disclosure of the information.”

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Blawg Review #248 by Scotslawstudent is up…

Welcome everyone to Blawg Review #248, this week hosted at scotslawstudent.com. Today is the 251st anniversary of celebrated Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birth, which took place on this day in 1759. Burns was a prolific poet who wrote his best work in Scots, which is not the same as English, and he also recorded traditional Scottish music and spread it to a much wider audience than ever before. He’s why you probably sang Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve no matter where you live.

Read Blawg Review

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Frances Gibb, writing in the Times this morning reports...” A new law to give greater protection to householders is unnecessary and could be a licence to kill, a leading criminal barrister has warned.Paul Mendelle, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, says that a change to allow “disproportionate” force would encourage vigilantism. “The law should always encourage people to be reasonable, not unreasonable; to be proportionate, not disproportionate,” he said, adding that the present law worked perfectly well and was well understood by juries….If, as the Conservatives propose, the law is changed to allow “disproportionate force”, householders who kill burglars could be acquitted.”

Leading lawyers have long maintained that the existing law on self defence’ is more than adequate and that change is not necessary. I agree.  Interestingly, the Munir Hussain case did not turn on the application of self defence laws strictly.  Carl Gardner has written a detailed analysis of the decision which is worth a read:  The truth about Munir Hussain

Frances Gibb also followed her main story up with a comment in the Times that the judges don’t need more laws but do need more discretion, pointing out .. “David Thomas, the sentencing expert, told The Times that in the case of the Hussain brothers a prison sentence of 30 months was “as far from the guideline as [the judge] could properly go”. He added that in the Inglis case: “No one could doubt that the mother was properly convicted of murder.” He said the judge, Judge Brian Barker QC, was required to impose a life sentence. With regard to how long Mrs Inglis should serve, the judge went as far below the recommended level as he could. Judges are increasingly restricted over the sentences that they can impose, and the trend is towards greater straitjacketing: the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 will require them to follow guidelines, not just take them into account, unless contrary to the interest of justice.

The comments in both Times articles are interesting. The general public is on the side of the Chris Grayling school of thought and not the side of lawyers who practise daily before the courts.  Some of the comments are fairly extreme..

The ‘People’ speak….

Bob Evans wrote:
The courts have already proven incapable of responsible discretion. The judges are drawn from the ranks of the lawyers who were sworn to defend and win freedom for criminals. Too often, they have carried this prejudice when charged with delivering justice to *all*.

Mike Longford added to the maturity of the debate with this wonderful diatribe...”Criminal barristers have to be the lowest form of scum on this planet.”
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And then there is this nonsense… from  Johnn Schroeder who wrote: In Britain, the lawyers would rather you die then their clients, that way they get paid! Of course the question is are lawyers able to defend themselves? Judges, politicians? Britain is not a land of free people, and as such, the population has little in the way of protections like Americans have. Too bad really, since America’s right to self-protection was once an English right too!”
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Well…there we are… moving on…

The Chilcot Inquiry will hear from leading government lawyers, Lord Goldsmith and Tony Blair this week in what promises to be an interesting week. The Independent has a critical review of the performance of the Inquisitioners so far… and is worth a read.  I particularly liked this rather good line…
“Former permanent secretary at the Northern Ireland Office. Member of the Butler inquiry. The occasional anecdotes, nervous cough and oddly frantic panting of Sir John soon raised concerns that the inquiry chairman was more an old-fashioned English eccentric than an interrogator filled with iconoclastic zeal. Those fears were not eased when Sir John asked one perplexed witness: “Was there anything, any juice in the lemon to be squeezed out of trying to peer behind the curtain into the mind of the regime of Saddam?”
Part (2) will follow later in the day…

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