Archive for January, 2010

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Old Holborn:  Is The Lid Finally Coming Off Gordon’s Head?

( Also cross-posted in Anna Raccoon – Cross posted from Anna Raccoon – original article by John Ward of NotBornYesterday)

The health denials that emanated from Downing Street throughout Autumn 2009 are now revealed in almost every detail as a tissue of cynical lies from start to finish. Following the Mail’s extracts from Peter Watt’s new book Inside Out, Guido Fawkes last night as good as confirmed our story of 4th September 2009, which had alleged that the evidence for Mr Brown being on anti-depressant drugs and going blind was compelling. Fawkes’ new piece openly headlines ‘He’s Bonkers’…..

Definitely a should read.

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Some mornings I get up and I find that the idiots have been behaving themselves – but not so this morning. The Telegraph reports:

Businessman arrested over ‘anti-gypsy’ email he did not even write

The 45-year-old IT company manager, who does not want to be named, was arrested in front of his wife and young son, was fingerprinted and had his DNA taken.

It came after staff at Rother District Council in East Sussex declared the phrase “It’s the “do as you likey” attitude that I am against” – sent in an email to their planning department – was potentially racist because “likey” rhymes with the derogatory word “pikey”. The businessman was held in a cell for four hours until officers established he had nothing to do with the email, which had been sent by one of his then workers, Paul Osmond, from a company computer….

Sussex Police said they had arrested the businessman over “suspicion of committing a racial or religious-aggravated offence”…..

A council spokesman said: “As far as we were concerned it was an offensive comment, so we got in touch with the police.”

Why do we bother?  How do we manage to have obviously not very bright people working in public services?  Don’t Sussex Police have better things to do than arrest people for this sort of nonsense?  £12000, the investigation cost, according to the report.  Madness.

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The Law Society Gazette podcast : I talk to Jonathan Goldsmith about the role of the CCBE, the Akzo Nobel case on in-house counsel, the new Justice Commissioner and the opportunities for lawyers in Europe.

Jonathan Goldsmith is the Secretary General of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), which represents over 700,000 European lawyers through its member bars and law societies. The CCBE deals with a wide range of EU and global issues, such as anti-money-laundering legislation, an EU-wide Code of Conduct, competition matters affecting the legal profession, and human rights. He is an English solicitor. |

Listen to the podcast

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While I would not go as far as Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, in the Kill a Burglar stakes, I do think that Hertfordshire HomoPlodiens have lost a sense of proportion with this case, reported in the Independent. Police warn TV star over knife

Independent: Myleene Klass was said to be “aghast” and “bemused” today after being warned by police for waving a knife at youths who entered her garden.

The TV star and Marks & Spencer model was in the kitchen with her daughter upstairs when she spotted the teenagers peering into her window just after midnight on Friday. She grabbed a knife and banged the windows before they ran away.  Hertfordshire Police officers warned Miss Klass she should not have used a knife to scare off the youths because carrying an “offensive weapon” – even in her own home – was illegal. The Independent reports…however..”A spokeswoman for Herts Police said no reference was made on the Klass incident report about a weapon.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The Government strongly supports the right of law abiding people to defend themselves, their families and their property with reasonable force.

“That is why we introduced the self defence provisions of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

I agree with those who say that our current ‘reasonable force’ provisions are sufficient and I would have thought that a woman alone, with a child, picking up a carving knife from the kitchen drawer and waving it at people staring into her property, who cannot possibly have been in fear for their lives (but who may well have been deterred from further activity),  should be within the law. This is why I keep a Panzer tank in my drawing room – parked in the corner.  I have had no intruders. I also have a very fine Samurai sword in my drawing room from my old Kendo days. I don’t think I would have any hesitation whatsoever in unsheathing it if I discovered an intruder. There is an old maxim, once used by a president of the United States “Speak softly, but carry a big stick”. I would not use the sword, of course (unless the intruder was also armed)  – for then I might well cross the line of reasonable force… but waving it about to deter violence from an intruder? Interesting issue – perhaps a Criminal Law specialist reader could cast some light on this plan – so that I continue to act like a law abiding citizen?

Matthew Taylor writing on his blog considers the fairness of the fine meted out to Harriet Harman QC, MP in relation to her recent driving activities. Harriet Harman’s Fine, or Does this look right? The issue has been discussed, inevitably, in the political blogs (with some vigour) and in the Press but it is good to see a lawyer apply some solid research and reasoning to the issue.

And here is a wonderful story about officialdom and Health & safety gone mad… (Hat Tip to @loveandgarbage)

“Apparently it was quite a day in Lochmaben. The ice had been checked by the local council and was 7-8 inches, and solid. However, someone phoned the police to say there were lots of people on the ice and they didn’t think it was safe. Anne tells the story, “Six police officers arrived but they couldn’t go on ice to warn people because of health and safety so they passed the buck to the Nith rescue who came with a rescue boat but because of heath and safety they couldn’t go on ice either. So the Coast Guard arrived, lights flashing! But guess what? Because of health and safety he couldn’t go on the ice either! A great day was had by all.”


A right-wing think tank today called for drunk NHS patients to be fined and prescriptions for common pain killers to be scrapped. (Independent) There is an increasing tendency to penalise people for their lifestyle choices – on the grounds that those who lead impeccable lives should not be penalised by having to subsidise the health of those who actually live their lives – albeit, at times, intemperately. There have been calls to ban smokers and binge drinkers.  Then, of course, obese people… soon, it could be people who live in areas outstanding national ugliness or who watch X-Factor…who knows?  We could have a crack at people who engage in sports – broken legs and arms must tax the NHS?We must not forget those who are unfortunate enough to get old and endure the long process of bits of their bodies packing up?

The Right-Wing Think Tanks are all revving up their engines waiting for the glorious day when their leader, freshly airbrushed, rides into Downing Street with his Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse…to bring order to our land.

I certainly support action to fine people who, through excessive alcohol consumption,  are violent and abusive to medical staff in hospitals.  This, I am told, is a very serious and increasing problem.  Fortunately we have some criminal law provisions for this already.

The thaw may have started and I have lost interest in laughing at BBC autocuties droning on about the snow. There isn’t a lot of law about to report on this morning so you may as well have a laugh.  here is a wonderful pastiche about Google’s new phone…  (Hat Tip: Gideonstrumpet)

Google Nexus One: The “Fuck You iPhone” Phone

Do watch the movie.  it is rather good.

| John Flood RATs – also picks up on this!

A quick trip to the blogs

John Bolch at Family Lore has a couple of posts of interest:  Sunday Review | John Bolch also notes…The recession: it IS all doom and gloom for those in relationship breakdown

Capitalists@Work consider Politicians@Work

Meanwhile, in the City of Westminster . . .

Is David Cameron the luckiest man alive, or what ? Saved by Hoon & Hewitt in an important week when he was looking like a prize eejit. C@W has long registered misgivings about the boy Osborne, and it is surely clear now that his ability to muster (and brief his master upon) a coherent Treasury package is wholly inadequate. Not a comfortable conclusion.

Bearwatch asks:  Which books should we burn?

Welsh pensioners are buying books as fuel. Discounting differences in book size, and assuming you could gather all copies of the same title, which books would you burn? On his deathbed, the poet Virgil requested his friends to burn his “Aeneid”. Does an author have the right to do this?

White Rabbit is  Off down to London…: Here is a – very temporary – parting shot. I’m working in London tomorrow so think I’ll head down tonight to avoid travel grief tomorow morning given present conditions. Jailhouse Lawyer – the source of so many goodies – comes up with the following gem of a news item: “Man’s penis removed from pipe

The Law Society Gazette podcast : I talk to Jonathan Goldsmith about the role of the CCBE, the Akzo Nobel case on in-house counsel, the new Justice Commissioner and the opportunities for lawyers in Europe.

Jonathan Goldsmith is the Secretary General of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), which represents over 700,000 European lawyers through its member bars and law societies. The CCBE deals with a wide range of EU and global issues, such as anti-money-laundering legislation, an EU-wide Code of Conduct, competition matters affecting the legal profession, and human rights. He is an English solicitor. | Listen to the podcast

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Dr Who votes Labour?

Regular readers know that I am vaguely interested in politics. I shall not, however, transmogrify into a political blogger.  Rex Charon MP, my morally bankrupt brother from the unelectable wing of the Tory party (who crossed the floor when he saw the lie of the land), is quite capable of handling such political commentary as I wish to publish on my blog.  Indeed, he did so only last night in the weekly ‘Postcard’.

I was astonished to see that Dr Who is voting Labour. Hat TIP: Man Widdicombe has a brief post on this – and Constantly Furious is blunt and to the point. Celebrities have exactly the same rights as the rest of us untutored souls to drone on about politics  (Political bloggers, commentators tend, in the main, to know what they are on about even if we don’t always appreciate their stance) –  but I do find it rather tedious when celebs (many of whom have invaded Twitter to tell us about their wonderful lives and their next show/book/pantomime) start to believe in their own immortality and iconographic status and ‘pronounce’.   If Dr Who supports Labour is the best Labour can do by way of a poster campaign, we could be even deeper in the merde than we are already with the Watt’s revelations today that Gordon Brown behaves in a rather unusual way and the failed coup of last week. Still 5 months to go until the election.  As the old saying goes... a week is a long time in politics…. and there are, thankfully, some clever and sane people in the Labour Party who could bring things round! (All comments relating to flying pigs are subject to ‘deletion’… possibly…. OK… they won’t be.)

I am not the first to consider that David Cameron, in the very limited context of Labour’s advert, may be a most suitable Davros.  It has been a strange day… so I couldn’t resist faffing about with Photoshop again. The Daleks pictured are plastic ones.  Cameron’s head is, of course, real…. in so far as anything is real when Photoshop comes into play.

PS… is the Labour poster for real? 🙂



Tom Harris MP – who is a serious MP and a well known political blogger – happens to be a major Dr Who fan.  This is a matter of record and, who knows, may even be recorded in Hansard? If you go to Tom Harris’ twitter page… you will see what I mean on this matter.

Tom’s response:

and I just had to have this from a mate of mine…

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A matter of principle or principal?

The news last night from the Daily Mail was rather grim. I do not usually read the Daily Mail;  preferring to get my news on politics from the main newspapers, bloggers and commentators.

The Daily Mail is serialising former secretary-general of the Labour Party, Peter Watt’s book. The Mail headline…

Brown’s election shambles: Man who ran Labour Party reveals chaos at No 10 in devastating new book

I am assuming that Mr Watt is completely familiar with the law on libel.  It is unlikely – given that his charges about the prime minister’s behaviour are serious – he would be anything other than comfortable that he is not defaming the prime minister.

That said, the Mail article makes rather depressing reading for people who support Labour ideals. The Mail summarises the key claims:

In his book, Mr Watt, who resigned as Labour general secretary in 2007, claims:

  • Mr Brown’s Cabinet ally Douglas Alexander said the PM’s inner circle wanted an early Election partly because even they didn’t like him – and they feared the British public would soon form the same view.
  • The day Mr Brown called off the 2007 Election, denying he had ever intended to hold one, Labour chiefs had a fleet of limousines circling Parliament Square ready to take Ministers on the campaign trail, and had 1.5million leaflets ready to be posted.
  • No10 is ‘completely dysfunctional’ under Mr Brown, who runs the country ‘by making it up as he goes along’.
  • Sulking Mr Brown walked out of a Downing Street dinner party with US politicians because they sat down without his permission.

The story about the dinner party is rather disturbing.  Petulance and childish behaviour is not something one immediately associates with the behaviour of a prime minister in public. ” Mr Watt also highlights Mr Brown’s ‘weird’ behaviour. He recalls the moment the Prime Minister threw a tantrum at a No10 dinner party for US Democrat politicians after guests sat down without his permission…..Mr Watt said: ‘For the rest of the meal he was monosyllabic, sulking because he had lost control of the seating plan…..The plates had not even been cleared when quite suddenly, without saying anything, he just got up and left. “He’s bonkers,” Vilma [Mr Watt’s wife] whispered. She was right.’

This week, Brown managed to see off the Hoon-Hewitt coup, but there was speculation in the press and in the blogs that there is more to come.  There may still be more to come.

The Sunday Times reports this morning:

Now Geoff Hoon savages Gordon Brown over Afghanistan war

Geoff Hoon, the former defence secretary behind last week’s attempted leadership coup, is set to inflict further damage on Gordon Brown with the disclosure that the prime minister vetoed the purchase of vital military helicopters.

Leaked ministerial letters reveal how, as chancellor, Brown repeatedly prevented Hoon from ordering life-saving battlefield equipment for Afghanistan and Iraq.

With nothing left to lose, Hoon, who was dismissed as an embittered traitor by Brown’s allies for the failed email plot, has the potential to undermine Brown’s leadership in the run-up to the general election.

The bloggers have long speculated about Mr Brown’s state of mind, his lack of ’emotional intelligence’, the dysfunctional nature of his administration and while much of this may be motivated by political leanings and, in the case of Mr Watt, anger; a picture of a man,who simmered away for years in-fighting with Blair,  who is not fit to ‘get on with the job’ is emerging to those many of us who are not privy to the inner world of Westminster.

I find it all rather distasteful.  I have no enthusiasm for a Conservative government, but after the events of recent weeks, I certainly have no enthusiasm for a government led by Mr Brown.  It will be particularly interesting to hear Mr Hoon’s statement to the Iraq Inquiry… whatever his motivation(s).

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I am grateful, at this time of the ‘Great Snows’, to be offered the opportunity by my brother Charon QC to speak directly to you…the people of Britain. While my brother persists with the delusion that he is a socialist, I take a rather more pragmatic line. It is certainly true that I became an MP at the height of Mr Blair’s popularity in 1997 and I remember, with almost a wistful tear in my eye, the scenes as a young Tony Blair walked into Downing Street.  This was a happy time, a time before Blair decided to embark on selective regime change after prayers with a United States president who hailed from Texas, and started being selective with…shall we say..certain factual material.

While Quentin Davies shuffled across the floor from the Conservative Opposition benches to much fanfare; my own move over to the Conservative benches barely raised a murmur.  This, as it happens, was most useful to me and I met some very fine people like Duckhouse Viggers and Hogg ‘The Moat’,  who explained the intricacies of the expenses system to me.  Many happy hours were spent, I can tell you, poring over the John Lewis catalogue and checking the fine print in the Green Book… but there we are.

Suffice it to say that my own political future is secure. Iain Dale has, as near as dammit, told me so personally with his blog post earlier today that we can expect a 12 seat majority in the next Parliament.  As I come from an extreme right and entirely unelectable wing of the Conservative party –  had I not been fortunate  in representing  a constituency where they wear tweed coats (they do not call them jackets) and red trousers – all will be well.

The great ‘Plot’ from the Hoon-Hewitt Novelties Co (Established 2010) appears to have fizzled out and dear Matthew Paris, a former MP, must have  had hours of pleasure constructing an elaborate analysis and in coming to the conclusion that far from failing as a plot…it succeeded.

His central theme was that Hoon-Hewitt knew perfectly well that they could not succeed and with no prospect of a meaningful career in politics remaining, they decided to give the prime minister a kick in the political balls.   Political commentators and newscasters, taking a break from reporting endlessly about snow while they stood around in the stuff, had varying degrees of success in keeping up with events last week and Nick Robinson – who really is barely intelligible at times, had absolutely no success at all in terms of political prognostication.  Asked by Andrew Neil on The Daily Politics whether there was any truth in the rumour that a plot was coming, Robinson  indulged in a bit of sycophantic laughter and said that Neil was ‘right to place no credence in the idea’.  About ten minutes later the great ‘sayer of sooths’ was on BBC News solemnly reporting on the ‘Coup’.

A few of us from the entirely unelectable end of the party –  if we didn’t have the good fortune to represent constituencies in the Tory  shires – did enjoy Guido’s film over lunch at Claridges It really is worth a watch..and while you are at it.. you might care to look at the latest GuyNews: Save our Gordon edition where my brother Charon QC  is, somewhat implausibly,  making a guest appearance right at the end.

While Cameron is enjoying his place under the sun lamp – or so it would seem from his heavily photoshopped appearance on the latest poster from Tory HQ – George Osborne has been very quiet.  This, some of us suspect, is because he doesn’t have a great deal to say and does not wish to add to the impression that we have no fixed policies and fuel the  creeping realisation by voters that we may not have a clue….  after the debacle of David’s appalling performance earlier in the week.   I know that there have been murmurings that George may have been..shall we say… over promoted ……and that we would do better with Ken ‘The Bruiser’ Clarke as Chancellor.

It has just been drawn to my attention (by a fellow twitterer @johnhalton) a reasonably recent article from The Spectator: …

Osborne’s crazy admission

Montgomerie Andrew Rawsley’s column today:

“Mr Osborne raised some eyebrows at a recent private meeting in the City when he was heard to remark that ‘40% of my time is spent on economics’ – meaning that most of his hours are spent on campaigns and tactics. Mr Osborne seemed to think that 40% was an impressively large amount of his time to find to spend on economics; some of his audience thought it was a worryingly low proportion for the man who expects to be chancellor in less than a year’s time.….Of course, it’s no secret that Osborne has other responsibilities within his party.  But for him to push this “40 percent” line during an economic crisis is utterly bizarre, and will just fuel chatter that he’d be better off elsewhere in the Tory operation.”
Then some PR spinner decided that it would be a good idea to give the government a bit of ‘beasting’, toast their buttocks in front of the fire a la Flashman,  and blame them for the snow and lack of grit. I have a feeling they would have been better to leave out the snow and talk of a lack of grit on the party of Labour of a different kind – but our ‘masters’…in their wisdom, with an open goal, decided to run with this… duly picked up by The Independent

Tories blast ‘utter failure’ on grit reserves

This allowed that most subversive of Labour MPs on Twitter, Tom Harris MP, to post this tweet earlier today.

As I am on the subject of Twitter… I did enjoy this…

Cam The Man, as I believe some PR and advertising mavens are thinking of calling him to appeal to Sun readers… came up with this on Thursday.“We’ve got to have an election and a change of government,” Cameron told Radio 4’s Today programme. “Gordon Brown has only been prime minister for a couple of years and is in deep trouble.”

I resisted the impulse to tell Sir Harry Blundering-Smythe MP (We were taking breakfast together on expenses at Browns Hotel – Tory backbenchers of a ‘certain cut’  like a bit of irony) – who looks after the adjoining constituency, that should David become First Lord of The Treasury and Prime Minister he could probably manage to get into deep merde within a couple of weeks.

Anyway.. they have now come up with another wheeze… Go for an immediate election. ToryBear was certainly up for bringing it on on Sky. This is a marvellous idea.  Not only have we not got nearly enough policies worked out yet – which the electorate will swallow with the enthusiasm of a binge drinking  fellatrix on a night out in her high heels and short skirt we’ve still got Chris Grayling, Shadow Home Secretary, lurking out there in the deep,  like a latter day JAWS, giving demonstrations to all and sundry on how to kill burglars to prepare them for the happy day when we return to our rightful place as the ‘Ayatollahs of  New Britain’.

On that note, ladies and gentlemen… as they used to say on Crimewatch… don’t have nightmares… it is only politics…

You know what to do with your ballot paper

Good on you…


My brother Charon QC  has asked me to insert a drawing he has just knocked up… to give a bit of political balance to this postcard of mine.

STOP PRESS – UPDATE Saturday night 10.30

@iaindale Blogpost: Peter Watt: Gordon’s Part in My Downfall http://tinyurl.com/yzqc59v

This is beyond parody.  I have never been keen on Brown…  but this ain’t good for Labour either. I assume, of course, the Mr Watt is aware of the law of this country in relation to accuracy and libel.


My postscript of last night has been superceded by my post today: A matter of principle or principal?

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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.


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…


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.


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.”

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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The Guardian reports

Peter Mandelson likely winner as Gordon Brown moves to tighten grip

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Cameron touchy about being touched up?

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I really could not resist this photograph from The Vulcan’s / John Redwood’s own photostream on Flickr

Hat Tip to @BristolRed

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If you would like to keep up to date with reports direct from Helmand, Afghanistanthis is the place to do it: What Winning Looks Like

The Mongoleers: How would you like to drive in a 1.2 litre car from Goodwood to Mongolia?

This is fun – the idea, at any rate, if not the actuality – but Laura Over, a Paralegal in her fourth year of training to be a Legal Executive, and her childhood friend Paul Evans will be attempting The Mongol Rally 2010, and driving over 10,000 miles from England to the capital of Mongolia in an effort to raise money for three very good charities – The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, Cancer Research and the Neurofibromatosis Association. As well as the money we are hoping to raise, when in Mongolia, the car itself will benefit charity. Laura works for ASB Law, a Crawley law firm – who are supporting the idea.  The trip is likely to take five weeks and includes some serious and tough terrain and exposure to the Gobi desert.  Obviously they are looking for sponsorship – so if you fancy making a modest donation… pop over to the website and have a look.
Excellent idea.  Apparently there are 300 teams from Britain and another 200 or so driving up from Italy.  Eccentricity always interests me, especially if there are lawyers involved.  Bon voyage.

Visit The Mongoleers website

MPs’ expenses report casts doubt on reform proposals

The Telegraph reports: “The head of the new parliamentary expenses watchdog has risked reigniting the row over the allowances system by casting doubt on a number of proposed reforms.”
The consultation document is available for completion online. #


And finally… England grind out the draw. The South Africans should have declared earlier.  Good, exciting Test match.  England 1-0 up with one to play. Great series

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Gordon Brown survived the attempted mutiny by the Hoon-Hewitt axis of incompetent plots – although the political hyperventilators on TV  were able to extract just a little bit more angst by filming  David Miliband giving a lukewarm response ‘hours later’.  Baron Mandelson of Foy etc etc…went onto Newsnight to give a calm, assured and only mildly sinister re-assurance that all is under his control and that Brown will continue to lead the Labour party into the next election.  Guardian

Paxman was then able to say to Geoff Hoon…“If you are Brutus…then Caesar would be OK tonight” which rather set the tone for the rest of the interview – although Hoon gamely battled on to justify his action as settling the issue once and for all.  Well, as Carl Gardner observed yesterday in a piece for the Wardman Wire – he certainly did that.

Lord Justice Jackson has handed his review of civil justice in to the Master of The Rolls

David Allen, writing in The Times, notes:“Not all the big Jackson stories last year were about celebrities. One of the biggest stories in the legal world was that of Lord Justice Jackson and his fundamental review of the costs of civil litigation and recommendations to promote access to justice at a proportionate cost. The report has been presented to the Master of the Rolls and is due to be published next week. The legal world waits with anticipation. Rightly so given that the potential for change is enormous: recommendations could stretch far beyond amendments to the costs rules. However, there is a general election looming and even without that, questions have already been asked about whether there is real political will to effect change.”

The Law Society Gazette reveals the astonishing news this morning….

LSB research reveals public ‘don’t know what lawyers do’

The even better news is that despite few members of the ‘public’ knowing what lawyers do..“The research, which was commissioned to mark the start of the LSB’s regulatory regime on 1 January, found a high degree of satisfaction with solicitors among the public.” Wunderbar.

And…it just gets better…

Amid economic gloom there is plenty of opportunity for the bar

The Law Society Gazette produces a veritable feast of opportunity for members of the Bar, most of it, it has to be said, coming from the human misery caused by the recession  – in a very interesting piece by Lucy Trevelyan – who notes… “The recession might be maintaining its grip, but in the realms of consumer credit, fraud and insolvencies – and a host of other practice areas – barristers face a busy 2010 as serious thought is given to litigation.”

Advice for 2010? Love your clients and taking nothing for granted

Times: “Last year was traumatic for many law firms. Few avoided staff cutbacks or shorter time working. In many cases partners took home significantly less than they had earned in recent years and managing partners have had to take tough decisions to deal with the downturn. So does this week represent a turn of the page? Does a new decade mean a new chance?”

On the political blogging front, Iain Dale posted a very amusing human interest story last night: That Effing Gordon Brown

If ever there was a reason for men to learn to cook it is in Today’s Independent: Jilted woman ‘laced former lover’s curry with poison’

Iceland’s president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson announced that he would not go ahead with the October agreement to repay €4bn (£3.6bn) lost in Icelandic bank Icesave, , but would instead put the bill out to a public referendum. The Lawyer reports on  what Ashurst and Mishcon advised and noted..“As it stands at the moment the situation is seen as a political one, with no party seeking further legal advice at this stage.” Unfortunately, at this stage, no more work for lawyers on this front, then!

Paxman, on Newsnight last night, interviewed President Grimsson, describing Iceland as a country with a population the size of Wigan, castigated him for breaking an agreement which had been stitched together quite satisfactorily by the Iceland and British governments, asked him who he was to go behind that and basically put the boot in by treating Grimsson rather like a bailiff might treat a council tax debtor.  Paxman’s parting shot to Grimsson that Britain would block Iceland’s entry to the European Union did not trouble the Iceland president – but may well have given comfort to some viewers.


Blawg Watch…

John Flood has the gen on the future of global law at his RATs blog

Watch the movie

Capitalists@Work reports: Retail sales figures are looking up | Geeklawyer is up to his arse in lit­i­ga­tion but had to put draft­ing aside for a moment to com­ment on UK favouritism towards spe­cific war criminals: Yea, but they’re our sons-of-bitches

Colin Samuels, Infamy or Praise, publishes his useful Round Tuit – weekly round up from blawgs:  A Round Tuit (14) | Michael Scutt has a very comprehensive look at British law blogs. | John Bolch, Family Lore has a sardonic take on: We settled the divorce…

To crank up the legal content of his blog,White Rabbit produces a report on   the sinisterly named Minister of Justice, Jack Straw. “I’m not quite sure what he’s got there…”

Corporate Law and Governance reports: In a speech delivered yesterday at the Work Foundation,  Lord Mandelson, the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, stated that his Department was reviewing whether changes introduced by the Companies Act (2006) – including the introduction of Section 172, which sets out the duty of directors to promote the success of the company – had changed boardroom behaviour. Lord Mandelson had much more to say, including…..” Read the post


Tales from…Tory HQ?…

Tweet of the morning…

I enjoy Paul Waugh’s blog…take look?

And a bit of snow… if you need yet more pics… this is where I do my  Smokedo exercises… and weights. It is rather bracing out here at the moment.  Like the views though.. lots of gulls, cormorants, swans, yachts and even a Castle at Upnor in the distance.The basin is an old Royal Naval Dockyard basin… they built HMS Victory and many famous warships at Chatham! This part is called ‘Chatham Maritime’ now… I like the place – but soon to leave to return to London.

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The day in view: Putsch, snow and BBC News 24

I’ll come to the snow later. The ‘plot’ to ‘settle the leadership’ broke just after PMQs at lunchtime today.  Carl Gardner, author of The Head of Legal blog, has penned an interesting piece for the Wardman Wire. With customary precision, Carl takes us through the constitutional issues, discusses the prospects of Crudas, Miliband and others  and concludes..“If Hoon and Hewitt wanted, as they said, to settle the leadership issue one way or the other – well, they’ve succeeded in that.”

Guido has the real deal... It is amusing… and Guido did appear to be the first to have the famous Hoon-hewitt letter on his blog at lunchtime.

Watch the movie?

The Liberal Conspiracy takes a most unusual line on the ‘plot’: LIVE pictures fropm the Labour Plot. Cat lovers will enjoy this one. Very good.

Reclusive Tory blogger Iain Dale tweeted…

The snow

Scots and Northerners are expressing outrage that now London and the fantastically well off South-East is under siege from snow,  the nation has gone into a state of hyperventilation and PANIC BUYING.  I did point out to my Scots friends that they must understand that we have “London Snow”.  This is quite different in texture and quality from Northern or Scottish snow.   I get up most mornings shortly before 4.00 am.

Regular readers will know that many deaths occur at 4.00 am.  My plan to avoid the Grim Reaper, before he visits at 4.00 am,  appears to be working.  It also allows me to get a bit of work done before Twitter and blogs start to weave their spell. The BBC does many things well – although on Newsnight last night Paxo had to listen to a very jolly Bishop  who must spend a fair bit of time telling parables in very simple language. Unfortunately, the BBC seems to think that anyone who is conscious between the hours of 5.00 am and 9.00 needs a good kick in the ass from Jonathan Charles who shouts the business news in a very manly way (nodding his head every 5.5 seconds to punctuate his points – I timed him one morning, so obsessed did I become with his ‘nodding dog syndrome’) and then, between 6.00 and 9.00 we get the autocuties (irredeemably good looking men and women) who, lovely people they may well be, smile far too much and speak to us as if we are children who really ought to eat more vegetables. (Fortunately BBC Radio 4 still caters to those who enjoy adult news).

Today, BBC News 24 went into overdrive. I have never seen so much coverage on snow in my life.  Every conceivable angle was covered.  We had the obligatory news anchor standing outside in the stuff, wiping slabs of snow off a car roof to prove it.  There was even a bit of confusion as to whether the snow was 15 INCHES deep or 15 CENTIMETRES deep. Oh the angst. We then went to the regions and were treated to regional autocuties, all standing about in the snow,  and then we had snow analysis, endless severe weather warnings and finally… requests to send pictures of our own snow in.  I was, I have to say, tempted.

Panic buying was much in evidence at my local supermarket. Bread – none.  Milk – None.  Salt – |None.  Fortunately, as I observed on Twitter this morning – there was plenty of garlic and coriander – so being a MIDDLE CLASS PANIC BUYER… I cleared the shelves of the stuff.

Finally… see what I mean?

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Tories digging it….

I was amused when I saw this picture posted on Twitter by @ericpickles, Chairman of The Conservative Party.

“@EricPickles In the spirit of bi-partisanship we feature two Labour politicians on our next poster”

The Tory bloggers have been running amok – some with style and panache – at the attempted putsch by ‘serial plotter’ Hoon and Patricia Hewitt. I watched the news at lunchtime – I just cannot get enough news about snow and requests to send in pictures about the snow I have got – and watched John Mann MP being wheeled out to look mildly sinister and dismiss the Hoon-Hewitt letter as a load of dissembling, disloyal and self serving bollocks.

But in the spirit of just enjoying playing around with captions and pictures (both from the Conservative Party Flickr site – a rich source of excellent photographs for this sort of thing) here are two I knocked up as I opened a bottle of Rioja. OK…OK… I know… childishly simplistic…. but we will all go mad if we take everything about the election campaign too seriously. As Shami Chakrabarti said in the podcast I did with her… the country is going to be governed by the government whoever wins and it may not even be a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea but between two devils at this rate.

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Immediate ballot on future of prime minister

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt launch new Gordon Brown challenge

Times: Two former Cabinet ministers have today launched a last-ditch attempted putsch against Gordon Brown.

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt have written to all Labour MPs calling for the leadership issue to be sorted out “once and for all”.

A source close to the former Cabinet ministers, both of whom were allies of Tony Blair, said: “We can’t go on like this.”

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