Archive for January 29th, 2010

The BBC reports: Tony Blair has said the Iraq war made the world a safer place and he has “no regrets” about removing Saddam Hussein.

The newspapers will be full of it – but after six hours watching it today, admittedly, while doing other things in parts,  Je suis fatigue. On the way out of the Chilcot Inquiry room Blair was heckled by 2 members of the audience.  One called him a liar and the other called him a murderer.   I make no comment on either of these accusations – but will say this, that it would not have harmed his case at all to have shown greater concern about the death toll, military and civilian.

Blair ran rings around the Chilcot Inquiry today. There were many instances today when the Inquisitioners failed to ask probing questions – some will say, and I have sympathy for this, far too many occasions. Blair gave a very good presentation, so good at times that I wondered if he was giving a presentation to a group of investors at a hedge fund meeting.While Blair was articulate, confident and assertive, I suspect that Gordon Brown, when he appears, will not be quite so smooth.

There were thousands of tweets during the day on Twitter #iraqinquiry #blair – this was one that amused me.

I may have to go back to getting my news in print or from the radio. I just  can’t take any more hyperventilating BBC reporters.


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“Wikileaks has probably produced more scoops in its short life than the Washington Post has in the past 30 years ”
—  The National, November 19. 2009

Wikileaks needs financial help.

“The Sunshine Press (WikiLeaks) is an non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public. Through your support we have exposed significant injustice around the world—successfully fighting off over 100 legal attacks in the process. Although our work produces reforms daily and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the 2008 Economist Freedom of Expression Award as well as the 2009 Amnesty International New Media Award, these accolades do not pay the bills. Nor can we accept government or corporate funding and maintain our absolute integrity. It is your strong support alone that preserves our continued independence and strength.”

Can you help?  If so – click here

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Friday’s Rive Gauche edition  has come around quite quickly after an extraordinary week for law news.   Today, Tony Blair  appears before the Iraq Inquiry.  He will, naturally, be thoroughly prepared.  it is unlikely the questioning will trouble him over much and, after his appearance with Fern Britton, where he said that WMD was not necessary for the war and he would have found other arguments to justify the war, we are unlikely to get anything sensational.

The Guardian reported at the time: “If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?” Blair was asked. He replied: “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]”.

Significantly, Blair added: “I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat.” He continued: “I can’t really think we’d be better with him and his two sons in charge, but it’s incredibly difficult. That’s why I sympathise with the people who were against it [the war] for perfectly good reasons and are against it now, but for me, in the end I had to take the decision.”

In a rather bizarre twist, Sir Martin Gilbert, a panellist on the Chilcot The Government’s Got Talent show, has been praising the prime minister Gordon Brown for his hard work.  The timing isn’t great, given Brown’s imminent appearance before the Iraq Inquiry – but this is Britain, so why should we be surprised?

The Times has the story. It is perfectly reasonable for Gilbert to make statements about prime ministers and anti-semitism in Britain  – but I would thought it would have been more sensible to wait until after the Inquiry?

So that will be a “YES” vote from Gilbert for McDoom then?

UN in secret peace talks with Taliban

The Guardian reports….“Taliban commanders held secret exploratory talks with a United Nations special envoy this month to discuss peace terms, it emerged tonight.Regional commanders on the Taliban’s leadership council, the Quetta Shura, sought a meeting with the UN special representative in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, and it took place in Dubai on 8 January. “They requested a meeting to talk about talks. They want protection, to be able to come out in public. They don’t want to vanish into places like Bagram,” the Reuters news agency quoted a UN official as saying, referring to the Bagram detention centre at a US military base outside Kabul.”

London is hosting a conference on Afghanistan and while it seems perfectly sensible to me to try to find a diplomatic solution to a nine year old war, many on BBC’s Question Time last night were none too impressed about the government giving money to the Taliban to get them to stop fighting.

President Karzai had talks with David Cameron the other day….

Scientists have discovered a sub-species of Homo Plodiens in Scotland. The BBC reported the other morning… An Ayrshire businessman says he has been fined by the police for blowing his nose while driving. Michael Mancini, from Prestwick, said he was sitting in stationary traffic with the handbrake on when he used a tissue to clean his nose. He claimed he was waved over by four police officers and given a fixed penalty for not being in proper control of his car.”

And finally….

If you haven’t already spotted this and you want a bit of light entertainment with your coffee… then get on to Twitter and watch the feed from @eyespymp

Basically… it tweets about sightings of MPs and what they are doing… Hat Tip to Guido Fawkes…who states “Guido hears that some MPs are up in arms about invasion of their privacy and that hacks are chortling away.”

Here are but a few examples of recent @eyespymp tweets…

“Vaizey spotted with a short homicidal looking chap at St. Stephens”

“Theresa May with horrific faux crocodile skin bright green handbag. Error.”

“Charles Clarke at Peter Watt’s book launch. The book slams Brown – Clarke here like a greyhound”

“Harman marching back and forth across central lobby for the benefit of a TV camera”

“Gerald Kaufman hobbling along cloisters. Thought he’d died ages ago?”

Have a good Friday.  I shall watch a bit of Chalcot and then I’m orf to London to do ‘stuff’ to organise my imminent return to the capital.

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Law Review: The judges lay down the law…

Judges throw out measures to freeze assets of terror suspects

The Supreme Court delivered yet another defeat for the government in their latest ruling.  The Times has the full story but this list from The Times article  is a useful reminder:.

Judicial defeats for terror laws

2004: House of Lords rules that the indefinite detention without trial of foreign terror suspects at Belmarsh jail is unlawful. 2007: Law lords rule that the most restrictive aspect of the control order regime — the 18-hour curfew — is a breach of human rights. 2008: Five men cleared by the Appeal Court of offences under Section 57 of the Terrorism Act; judges say that it is not illegal to possess extremist material unless it is used to inspire terrorism. 2008: Court of Appeal blocks the deportation to Jordan of extremist cleric Abu Qatada; he is later released on bail then re-arrested on the basis of intelligence that he was about to flee the country. 2008: Appeal Court blocks attempt to increase four-and-a-half year jail term for convicted terrorist Sohail Qureshi. 2009: Government forced to rescind some control orders after House of Lords ruled that suspects had to be told what some of the secret evidence against them said. 2010: Supreme Court declares that terrorist asset-freezing orders, introduced by the Treasury when Gordon Brown was Chancellor, are unlawful.

‘Criminal barristers feel that they have an economic gun to their heads’

Paul Mendelle, QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association: “We are pragmatic and accept the need for cuts. But that does not have to mean these savage and unprincipled cuts to fees that have already seen their value eroded by a decade of inflation.”

The Times reports: “As chairman of the 3,600-strong Criminal Bar Association (CBA) he is organising roadshows on the latest proposals on criminal legal aid. This battle is far from won. Two sets of options are on the table: one from the Legal Services Commission (LSC) on high-cost trials and the other from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on defence fees generally. Both mean big cuts. The MoJ paper proposes either a one-off cut of 18 per cent for all hearings or a smaller 13.5 per cent decrease over three years — but with strings attached.”

To some extent, compared with other more militant sectors, the legal profession is a soft target for a government intent on cutting. Against a background of a national need to cut back on public expenditure, lawyers are going to have to take a share of the pain and the government will judge the balance finely to ensure expenditure is pitched at a level that the system can continue without mass exodus from lawyers. Lawyers can, of course, exert a fair bit of pressure – the system simply cannot work without them, but will they wish to stir the searing heat of national publicity from the tabloids – as surely they will – by being ‘too assertive’ on the fees issue in the short term. It may be a waiting game or a long game’?

Interestingly, over at the Ministry of Justice: New pilot to increase sustainability and efficiency of law centres

The Sketch: Legality is what the best lawyer says it is

I thought the opening to Simon Carr’s Sketch in the Independent was excellent…

I’ve consulted enough QCs in my litigious life to know how to find out how good your case is. You brief them with your opponent’s case as if it were your own. The advice comes back very unfavourably to your own interest. When you explain the situation, the QC then comes to “the better view” and he gets the business.

And if you want a wonderfully ethereal view of the legality of the war from Anthony Scrivener QC read this

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