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Archive for February, 2010

The Patriot needs YOU!

David Cameron has played the ‘Patriot’ card…. it is our patriotic duty to vote for him… to save the country we love.  Where the F**k did the Laurel & Hardy Institute of Policy come up with this idea?… in a crack den?

Well… all I can say in response… after cracking open the Photoshop to do a very obvious pastiche on Kitchener is quote (slightly modified) the lyrics to the Dad’s Army theme tune…

Who do you think you are kidding Mister Cameron

if you think we’re on the run?

We are the boys who will stop your little game

We are the boys who will make you think again

‘Cause who do you think you are kidding Mister Cameron

If you think Old Labour’s done?

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If you have not seen this short film yet – please do have a look.  It is an excellent film… Hat Tip to blogger Old Holborn...who writes: “I am sick to death of being told what the law is by people who have no idea of the law yet are being paid by me to uphold the law.”

Quite…

Watch the film

You may also like to look at this for a statement on your rights as a photographer!

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In a week when prime Minister Gordon Brown has been mocked and ridiculed for his ‘bully boy’ ways and parodied in the Taiwan news – the Tories face the prospect that they could actually lose the election and their change of stance to put the focus squarely on a choice between Cameron and Brown and 6 ‘principles or pledges’ may well reflect that ‘reality’.  It won’t be good breakfast reading for Cameron (or Osbore) that YouGov shows the Tory lead cut to just 2 points.  If that lead is reflected in the polls Labour will be the largest party but with no overall majority.

Gordon Brown on course to win election

Sunday Times: GORDON BROWN is on course to remain prime minister after the general election as a new Sunday Times poll reveals that Labour is now just two points behind the Tories. The YouGov survey places David Cameron’s Conservatives on 37%, as against 35% for Labour — the closest gap between the parties in more than two years. It means Labour is heading for a total of 317 seats, nine short of an overall majority, with the Tories languishing on a total of just 263 MPs. Such an outcome would mean Brown could stay in office and deny Cameron the keys to No 10. The poll result presents the Conservative leader with one of the greatest challenges of his leadership today as he makes the keynote speech to his party’s spring forum.

Perhaps rather more worrying for the Tories is that they appear to be saddled by Osbore – who is not revealing any  talent for ideas or communication. Simon Heffer, writing in The telegraph, puts the boot in with…..

The madness of Little George Osborne

Simon Heffer finds the Shadow Chancellor’s recent bout of lunatic posturing irksome. Heffer writes: “George Osborne is becoming a real problem. He gave a lecture on the economy earlier this week whose message I found incomprehensible. There will be cuts, he said. Good. But Dave Cameron, his boss, said shortly beforehand that there had better not be “swingeing” cuts. When is a cut not a cut? What makes a cut, if it be a cut, swingeing?

Heffer then places the ball in front of the posts, runs up and kicks… “What most annoyed me about Little George, though, was the despairing way in which I heard him announce on Radio 4 on Wednesday that “we” would have to “get” the salaries of bankers “down”. I concede that a couple of banks are largely owned by the taxpayer. However, most aren’t: and none totally is. So why does George feel it is his place, like some member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, to call for bankers to be paid less? Since when was the Conservative Party, should it win power, planning to Sovietise our economy in a fashion that would allow it to control bankers’ pay? And even if it were, what does it think this idiotic and unpleasantly illiberal move would achieve?

While I am no great fan of bankers getting paid vast amounts of money, the realpolitik is that unless every major economy in the world acts in concert on banker’s salaries , bonuses et al – the market will rule and the very high reward structure for banks will have to remain. Political posturing is fun for a while but then the harsh ays of reality kick in.  If Britain a banking sector, let alone one of the most effectrive in the world, we can’t control what the banks do in terms of rewards to the top people who make the money.

Heffer also suggests that Darling would do well to suspend the plan to tax at 50p.  This is a sensible proposal.  Economist will punch each other out of the way to get into a TV studio and claim that taxing at 50p will not raise a great deal of money and will simply cause those who do create wealth to find a more generous tax regime.  Lowering taxes, they say, is the way forward and is likely to raise more tax revenue in the medium term.

I do not relish five years with Gordon Brown as leader.  I do not relish five years with a Labour government which continues to erode civil liberties.  I do not relish five years of a Labour government which permits 20,000 council workers to enter homes without a warrant.

I do relish Labour choosing a new leader, getting rid of tired, dead wood, and trying to build a party to reflect a ‘future fair for all’ and which has a long hard look at geopolitics to see whether we really need to play policeman with America in the future, whether we need to continue, long term, in getting involved in long protracted and expensive military engagements overseas when policy might be better focused and directed on our own defence and relations with Europe and the Commonwealth.  Why… we may even be able to negotiate a sensible solution with Argentina on the Falklands to ensure the islanders are free and all benefit should oil be found?!  Good grief…. that sort of thinking won’t do at all… Sun readers will be coughing into their cornflakes at that idea.

It does seem that the weight of professional world opinion is with Labour in terms of the solution to the deficit and Darling does seem to be getting stronger – hopefully too strong for Brown, should he win, to parachute Ed Balls or any other acolyte into Number 11.

I don’t suppose Brown is vulnerable in his constituency?  Where is Alex Salmond when you need him?!  I suspect the Tory bloggers and twitterers will be a bit quiet this morning while they get their spinning jennies out to cast their ‘silk’ later in the day!

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Dear Reader,

I have taken up smoking Marlboro Lites – a health kick thingy to supplement my return to the noble art of Smokedo this weekend. I was rather taken with the knowledge that there are now 1440 references on Google for Smokedo which I invented for myself (and others)  last Spring. Pictured left is a drawing done by a very good artist and friend of mine – Lindsey Goldsmith.  The drawing, which took 15 minutes while the artist was pissed at 3.30 am some years back – captures the very essence of my smoking technique.  I am not usually interested in images of myself – but I treasure this one because it was done at 3.30 am while the artist was roaring. I may well have been over refreshed myself at the time.

It is pleasing to see the return of an old friend of mine to the world of law blogging.  The Fat Bigot has returned to enliven our mornings. FB has a great writing style and his insights into the events of our times are worth reading.

Another law blog ‘Law & Lawyers’ , with serious analysis, which I read each day is by Obiter J – who is a regular commenter on my own blog (pleasingly). Have a look?

And since the law blogging world is getting better why not have a look at a blog written by solicitor Matthew Taylor.  Matthew and I plan to do a number of regular podcasts on general law issues of the week.

Mercifully, there are still of a few of us old lags who continue to write nonsense and cover nonsense. I always enjoy my visits to The White Rabbit – who is  Off to London for the weekend…

When Geeklawyer returns from terrorising High Court judges with his advocacy and tweeting with his ‘harem’ on Twitter – it is quite possible that he, too, will contribute to the more surreal analysis of the legal events of our times.  To be fair, Geeklawyer did much to help our understanding of the Middle East with a post only last week… Wimmin Lawyers allowed to speak in Saudi Arabia It is, perhaps, best that I let Geeklawyer explain his thoughts, rather than extract a passage – they are not always ‘office safe’.

THE THINGS YOU SEE (OR READ ABOUT) WHEN YOU HAVEN’T GOT A GUN…

After reading about people turning up at Tesco and other supermarkets to do their shopping in their pyjamas, I did not for one moment think I would witness  such bizarre behaviour myself.  I should have known better.  I have moved to Battersea… near Battersea Square in fact.  This very morning, but a few moments ago, at 10.30 after  returning from doing some Marlboro smoking and reading of the papers at a cafe on the King’s Road, I went into my local newsagent and saw a a man in a fairly unpleasantly coloured check dressing gown, even more absurdly check coloured bedroom slippers and pyjamas with a yellow baseball cap on.  He was buying newspapers and milk and was very pleased with himself generally – judging by the patronising way he spoke to the sales assistant behind the till in a drawling Sloany accent.  I suspect that he may be  ‘something in the City’.  I resisted the impulse to laugh maniacally like those ‘shouters’ who wander about  pissed in the street do and tried to avoid looking as if I was fascinated by the absurdity of his appearance.  I was standing nearby, waiting to buy more supplies.   I haven’t worn pyjamas for forty-five years – it seems to me to be a tad effete to do so – and marvelled that this man (a) would do so and (b) that he thought he was being ‘cool’ by shopping in them. A grown man, dressed in ‘jim-jams and dressing gown more suited to an eight year old boy at prep school in the fifties’, complete with nerdy bedroom slippers, and wearing a baseball cap, is not a good look. If I was Jeremy Clarkson I’d probably want to deport him… but I am not.

Talking about Jeremy Clarkson – he is right on some things. I read The Sun most mornings before turning to more sensible newspapers.  I do this because I want to see what propaganda is being propagated to millions of potential voters by a newspaper which seems to change political allegiance at the drop of a hat.  Clarkson was moaning about the fact that for every electrical device we rely on – laptops, mobiles, camcorders, iPods etc etc there are many separate chargers which have to be carted about if one goes on holiday or even on a short business trip.  Why can’t they come up a universal charger socket and charger?

The nannies are at it again with proposals to require Cinemas to put warnings and calories on popcorn and other foods sold to fat bastards and obese  e-numbered up children. I lost the will to read more of this in The Times this morning and turned the page to read a satisfyingly pleasing story that house prices have dipped again by 1.5% – the point being that this may aid the ‘fragile recovery’.  One of the good things about the recent recession has been that pub and dinner party talk has not been marred by venal and greedy people boring me  to death with how marvellous they are in having a house that has risen in value by gazillions of pounds.  The recent rises in house property prices was beginning to encourage Justin & Annabel to come out of the cupboard again with talk of house values.

Finally… for my ‘Rant du Jour’:  also in The Sun, was a story about a father being told by a security guard at a shopping complex that he could not take a photograph of his own son who was sitting on a toy train….  because he, the father, might be a paedophile. I accept that stupid people have to have jobs – but I do think it best that if people really want to be stupid they should not be employed as security guards. The father objected, remonstrating that he was the child’s father…at which point stupid man says that the father cannot prove this and calls the police.  PC Plod turns up and he, too, it seems, is rather stupid.  PC Plod, it is reported, tells the father that he isn’t allowed to take photographs of children and says that he can require the photograph to be deleted. The father got a bit heated, at which point PC Idiot decides to threaten the father with arrest fror breach of the peace. Christ on a f*****g bicycle…. how do people like this get into the Police?

I am pretty sure there is no law on photographing one’s own child in public and I know of no law which gives the police power to delete photographs taken in this context. I could be wrong, of course… there are so many new idiotic laws in this country that it is difficult to be certain. I appreciate that society has to protect children from paedophiles – but it is getting to a pretty sorry state of affairs when a father can’t even take a pic of his own kid?  Perhaps I am off beam on this and we do need these laws.  I have a photograph of myself aged five naked in a bath.  My parents took the photograph.  I suspect many readers will have pictures from their childhood taken by loving parents.  I also have a photograph of me aged 8 – toothy, wearing short trousers, grey flannel shirt, striped school tie,  a school cap, eating an ice cream – with a parrot on my shoulder…. which appealed to an ex-lover of mine because she said I looked ‘sweet’.  I am pleased to report now… that I am (a) not sweet and (b) do not look sweet.  Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is closer to my ‘look’ these days and,  some say… with an ‘attitude’  to match!

Guido Fawkes has a good story about a Telegraph hackette writing to David Cameron’s friends – on Facebook etc – to dig for dirt about his school days. Telegraph Digging on Dave’s School-days

Frankly, I hope Cameron did have a great time at school and university.  I could not give a damn what Cameron did then. Most people have a few minor skeletons from those halcyon days.  Half the Labour Cabinet popped up some time ago with tales of drug taking at university – with appropriate statements of retrospective remorse  – but it would be most pleasing if he did have a normal childhood and got wasted at university from time to time.

There will, no doubt, be amusements to comment on in the Sunday papers tomorrow…. so I shall hit the send button on my weekly  ‘postcard’ and wander off to find a pub to enjoy a glass of Rioja at locally and think about what I plan to do next.  I think I shall return to painting soon…. My F***Art section needs a few more entries.

Best, as always

Charon

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Labour government Home Secretaries spend a great deal of time expressing disappointment with the judiciary – largely because because their department and those for whom they are responsible do not comply with the law.  The latest opportunity for a Home Secretary to express disappointment came last week when the Court of Appeal decided to reinstate a judge’s criticism of MI5 in a landmark torture ruling.

While The Lawyer focuses on:  “The Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge has rejected claims that Brick Court’s Jonathan Sumption QC had attempted to interfere with a draft judgment by requesting that a paragraph of the Binyam Mohamed torture ruling be redacted.@ The Times dealt with the rather more meaty issue of why the judges refused to bow to government pressure.

The Times reports: “Today, in the interests of “open justice”, Lord Neuberger and two other top judges decided to reinstate the paragraph, albeit subtly rewritten to make the criticism more narrowly focused on the Binyam Mohamed case. To prevent a continuing censorship row, they also decided to publish the original draft text….The decision brought calls from groups such as Amnesty International, Liberty and Reprieve for a full public inquiry into allegations that UK spy agencies colluded in torture during George W Bush’s “War on Terror”. Ministers were furious. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said that he was deeply disappointed by the court’s decision to “criticise the Security Service in this way”.

The government has every right to express disappointment with a particular judgment – although in doing so with an audience prepared to read the judgment of the Court of Appeal it cuts little ice.  It may well appeal, however, in an election year, to voters who are already whipped into a frenzy by coverage in The Sun about ‘killing burglars’ and judges who are ‘too soft’. Unfortunately, the wider public does not read law reports and may, therefore, not fully appreciate why the senior judiciary is at odds with the government on this and other civil liberty issues. The judgment of the Court of Appeal makes interesting reading.

An extract from Lord Nueberger MR judgment:

In these circumstances, the final version of paragraphs 168 to 170 in my judgment of 10th February 2010 is as follows:
“168. Fourthly, it is also germane that the Security Services had made it clear in March 2005, through a report from the Intelligence and Security Committee, that “they operated a culture that respected human rights and that coercive interrogation techniques were alien to the Services’ general ethics, methodology and training” (paragraph 9 of the first judgment), indeed they “denied that [they] knew of any ill-treatment of detainees interviewed by them whilst detained by or on behalf of the [US] Government” (paragraph 44(ii) of the fourth judgment). Yet, in this case, that does not seem to have been true: as the evidence showed, some Security Services officials appear to have a dubious record relating to actual involvement, and frankness about any such involvement, with the mistreatment of Mr Mohamed when he was held at the behest of US officials. I have in mind in particular witness B, but the evidence in this case suggests that it is likely that there were others. The good faith of the Foreign Secretary is not in question, but he prepared the certificates partly, possibly largely, on the basis of information and advice provided by Security Services personnel. Regrettably, but inevitably, this must raise the question whether any statement in the certificates on an issue concerning the mistreatment of Mr Mohamed can be relied on, especially when the issue is whether contemporaneous communications to the Security Services about such mistreatment should be revealed publicly. Not only is there some reason for distrusting such a statement, given that it is based on Security Services’ advice and information, because of previous, albeit general, assurances in 2005, but also the Security Services have an interest in the suppression of such information.
169. My concern on this point is mitigated by the fact that the certificates appear to be supported by communications from the US, most pertinently the CIA letter and what was recorded as having been said by the Secretary of State. The US Government, like any other Government, plainly has an interest in ensuring that it controls the flow of any information which it provides to the SyS on a confidential basis, and the fact that it (and other Governments) may well be motivated in this case by embarrassment is not the point: one is concerned with hard facts, not moral judgements.

170. My conclusion on this half of the balancing exercise is this. While there are strong reasons for scepticism, I accept that the Foreign Secretary genuinely believes, and has some grounds for believing, what he has stated in the three certificates, namely that the flow of information from foreign Government intelligence services to the SyS could be curtailed if the redacted paragraphs are published, because that publication would be regarded by those Governments as an unjustifiable breach of the control principle. The normal reasons for deferring to his views on such an issue are diluted by the fact that there is nothing inherently sensitive in the information in those paragraphs, the very narrow and technical nature of the breach, the fact that the US must have appreciated the risk of intelligence material being disclosed pursuant to the law, the fact that other material apparently subject to the control principle has been revealed in the first judgement without objection, and a concern which arises from the apparent involvement of at least one Security Services agent in the mistreatment of Mr Mohamed. However, it is right to weigh against these factors the fact that the Foreign Secretary’s opinion is reinforced by the CIA letter and the notes of the views of the Secretary of State.”

Government fury as judges attack security services

The Guardian reports: Ministers back MI5 after highly critical verdict on secret service involvement in Binyam Mohamed case.

That the government should react with such ‘fury’ is entirely predictable.  Perhaps this says more about the present government than it does the judiciary? Are we likely to see further clashes with government in the coming years? I suspect so.

Time to rein in the law schools?

Beth Wanonoo argues on the Junior Lawyer’s Division website:

There needs to be a set of principles in place to protect students in this marketplace. A ‘law schools’ charter’ if you will. And the SRA should enforce it…

This is what it should contain:

1. Fees must be proportionate to the amount of cost law schools accrue. If the majority of the course is online, that course must be substantially cheaper than one which is ‘off-line’.

2. Law schools should be incredibly, incredibly, incredibly clear to prospective students about the marketplace. They should encourage frank self-evaluation BEFORE the course starts. It is too much to expect every student to be interviewed, but admission to law schools needs to be looked at in great detail.

3. There should be a league table of legal education providers. The SRA should allow the Law Society to rate each law school along five criteria, with each criteria having between 1 and 5 stars. Those criteria: 1. Teaching 2. Facilities 3. Careers advice 4. Administration 5. Employment (as in percentage of grads with jobs). These should be published on the Law Society’s website annually.

Having the ’employment’ criteria will mean that law schools will be under pressure to keep their admissions strict or risk their ratios being diluted. We must also have clear statistics of how many graduates are employed as paralegals and as solicitors after one year.

4. The SRA must have a blurb in each law school prospectus or its advertising media, saying something like this “the LPC is the purely academic stage of legal qualification. It is no guarantee of admission to the roll and does not carry any rights of practice.”

If the SRA, or the Law Society, or even the JLD don’t stand up for students, nobody else will. At the moment there is little representation for students and consequently little balance between their position and that of the law schools.

I don’t agree with Ms Wanonoo on the issue of fee pricing. This is best controlled by competition and the market. Central Law Training have entered the market with a cheaper option. Whether students will be attracted by a cut-price option for a course provided through a commercial CPD provider with little direct experience of running courses themselves  (They are teaming up with the University of The West of England) remains to be seen.

I have long felt that the fees for the LPC and BVC are ‘pacy’ – with BPP Law School heading the list – but this is essentially a matter of what the market will bear and regulators may have little appetite for getting involved. Law Schools are now required to brief students about the legal market place and give clear guidance on the the prospects. Her view that law courses carry a ‘health warning’ is not unreasonable to draw attention to the realities in the profession of today.

I do agree with her idea that there should be a league table of Law School providers for the LPC (and for the BVC / BPTC).
The Bar Standards Board is now publishing inspection visit reports and demonstrated only this week they are prepared to carry out robust inspections and be blunt – even if they have little in the way of sanction to correct errant behaviour.

Nigel Savage, CEO of The College of Law has long argued that the SRA should beef up its procedures for inspecting law schools  providing instruction for the LPC.  I agree.  Students (or law firms) pay high fees for these courses and they are entitled to know (a) that regulators are regulating and (b) that information is made public.

In the ‘arse from their elbow’ department this week…

RollonFriday notes: “It’s been another poor week for law schools. First Nottingham Law School set its students an impossible question, then the College of Law forgot to hand out a multiple choice answer sheet. Not wanting to be left out, the School of Oriental and African Studies then set its law students the most bizarre exam question in living memory……

RoF provides a helpful cut out guide for law school administrators.

There is more law news… but it is early on Saturday morning… and I shall return to law later in the weekend….

Postcard from The Staterooms-on-Thames coming…soon.

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The Bar Standards Board has published a report on the ‘Triggered Visit’ to BPP Law School.

The report states, under ‘The Rationale for The Visit’: “The visit was held to discuss the over recruitment of students by BPP onto the full time and part time course for AY2009-10. An informal ‘fact finding’ meeting was held with members of BPP management on 11 September (right after notification) and a formal meeting, chaired by Nigel Cooper QC, was held on 29 September 2009. Notes of these meetings may be made available separately to relevant committees. The focus of discussion was on the reasons for over recruitment, how it had come about, the nature of infringement of the contract and what might be done to correct the situation – given that the students are of primary concern.”

BPP Law School prides itself as being one of the leading providers of vocational education.  The School is now able to award degrees following approval from the Privy Council.  With such privileges and powers comes responsibility. By oversubscribing on the Bar Vocational Course by a significant amount – the report states the accredited number and the oversubscription: “264 Full Time (318) (at time of visit) /96 Part Time (97) (at time of visit)” – BPP Law School has broken the rules.

I spoke to the Dean and CEO of BPP Law School, Peter Crisp, who told me that the over subscription was ‘inadvertent’. My response to him was that this may well be so, and suggested that he might like to focus his attention on the administration more closely so as to avoid any further inadvertent oversubscriptions in future.

The Bar Standards Board has clearly picked up on this inadvertence with a very strong Condition (Condition 1) which BPP Law School must comply with in future:

“Prior to making any offer for the courses commencing in Sept 2010, BPP must engage the services of an independent statistician or similar expert, (name and CV to be approved by the BSB) to review all available admissions data for the previous 5 years and clarify that in his/her professional opinion the number of offers that BPP wishes to make should not lead to over-recruitment. This certification is to be provided to the BSB before any offers are made, and thereafter the number of offers made by BPP shall not exceed the certified number. This procedure is to be repeated for the courses commencing in September 2011 and September 2012.”

The Bar Standards Board has no power to fine providers – which is fair enough and short of the ‘nuclear’ option of withdrawing accreditation (not merited here) there is little that can be done in terms of penalty.  Given my experience in the past (I founded BPP Law School with Charlie Prior, then CEO of BPP Holdings plc) I am well aware of the inspection process.  The Bar Standards Board is to be commended for what was clearly a rigorous inspection –  even a cursory read of the published report reveals this – and, more importantly, for being prepared to publish their findings.  The BSB plans to publish reports of all inspection visits in future, in line with The Solicitors Regulatory Authority practice  in connection with the Legal Practice Course for solicitors.

BPP earned an additional £793800 for their Bar Vocational Course  (318 enrolled – 264 accredited number of places x BVC fees £14700 (2009) = 793800.

This goes straight to the bottom line. I understand that BPP will have to pay the not insubstantial costs of the inspection visit and they will have incurred additional expenditure in terms of teaching costs, library and IT provision.

Only one other provider (Northumbria University) exceeded the accredited number of places. Other providers will have taken care not to exceed the accredited number of places for fear of being in breach. BPP Law School by breaking the rules, inadvertently or not, have enjoyed a bonus in terms of fee income.  Peter Crisp maintains that the enrolment process in terms of offers to places is not an exact science.  I would dispute this – given that when I ran BPP  Law School we did not break the accredited numbers for the GDL, the LPC or the BVC.  It is difficult to predict numbers but it is not impossible to do so accurately and stay..to coin a phrase from the world of politics… ‘within the rules”.

I am not surprised that the BSB has required BPP to appoint an independent statistician to review all available admissions data for the previous 5 years and clarify that in his/her professional opinion the number of offers that BPP wishes to make should not lead to over-recruitment. BPP made  “620 offers… and 434 acceptances were received by BPP (in April), for 264 validated places.”

This is serious inadvertence. Students are not supposed to make ‘multiple acceptances’. Given that most students who apply for the BVC will get the grades needed to progress, BPP must have been aware that a serious oversubscription problem was heading their way. Interestingly, the Bar Standards Board report states… “During an accreditation meeting in May, there was no mention of the possibility of over-recruitment occurring; in fact, BPP reported that they were ‘working to avoid over-recruitment.’

I accept Peter Crisp’s statement that the oversubscription was inadvertent and not motivated or connected in any way with the sale of BPP Holdings PLC to Apollo last year.  I have no evidence to support any other conclusion.

I take the view, not unreasonably, that BPP Law School has behaved badly on this oversubscription issue.  They have demonstrated that their administration needs to be sorted out on the admissions process and, given that there appears to have been a flurry of activity to reduce numbers by bumping students off the course by seeing if any had paid their fees late

  • Students who had payment problems were sent emails telling them they were not on the course (an action BPP admitted they would not have taken if they had not over-recruited) on the 1/2 September.

There were also reports that BPP were asking students to defer for a year because the Bar Standards Board required them to do so.  This, I am told, was not the case. … The report makes indirect mention of this:

A problem was reported, by some students, regarding the admission process. There are two groups of students who were all, one week before the course was due to start, told they had lost their place on the course due to late payment of fees. The panel was also told that the correspondence merely cited that BPP would love to be able to help, but because of BSB policy regarding numbers, they had to lose their place on the course. It later transpired that most of them had either paid by bank transfer (the money had been floating, unidentified) or were under scholarship from an Inn, so they were subsequently told that they could remain on the course. They students found this very stressful, and felt that the situation could have been dealt with in a much better manner. They were given no warning, or request for payment, but just told they no longer had a place on the course, with no chance to offer an explanation. They have subsequently felt as if the course was organised and tutors allocated without their groups in the equation. This is a cause for concern for the BSB, since the BSB is concerned with a consistent, quality assured experience for students.”

The rest of the report deals with quality assurance and health and safety issues.  BPP Law School is still a good law school. There is no doubt about that.  I had a twitter message from a fellow user of Twitter to indicate that things improved at BPP following the BSB visit and I have also heard or read first hand reports from BPP students confirming that the teaching and provision was good.

BPP Law School hasn’t been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They have, however, broken the rules.  They have not got away scot-free. It is true that the costs incurred are far less than the profit they made by the oversubscription.  BPP Law School has been given a fairly sharp slap on the wrists by the Bar Standards Board – the requirement to appoint an independent statistician is, in anyone’s money – a pretty scathing comment.

Perhaps the Law School’s new masters – Apollo – would like to start a scholarship fund with the additional profit to pay CASH and fee grants to prospective law students who wish to read for the Bar?  That would be a fair and honourable thing to do – but will BPP do it?

They are now under the gaze of the Bar Standards Board (and an independent statistician!) and they are certainly going to be looked at, rightly, by their competitors, journalists and… of course…. me as a blogger!

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Listening to Nigel Farage of UKIP being rude about the new barely visible President of Europe (Herman Von Rumpoy) – a pretty poor attempt to do a Dan Hannan and go viral –  I was struck not only by the astonishing ‘crudeness of the  rudeness’  (Rather un-British) but also by the poor quality of the oratory…  As Oscar Wilde observed… “A gentleman is never unintentionally rude”

The Press Association reports: Mr Farage declared: “We were told that when we had a president, we’d see a giant global political figure, a man who would be the political leader for 500 million people, the man that would represent all of us all of us on the world stage, the man whose job was so important that of course you’re paid more than President Obama.”

He continued: “Well, I’m afraid what we got was you… I don’t want to be rude but, really, you have the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk and the question I want to ask is: who are you? – I’d never heard of you, nobody in Europe had ever heard of you.”

Mr Farage went on: “I can speak on behalf of the majority of British people in saying that we don’t know you, we don’t want you and the sooner you are put out to grass, the better.”

I have removed Farage’s third finger with Photoshop in the picture above.  It seems he doesn’t need more than two fingers to make his political points. I can see Mr Farage shouting obscenities at opposing football fans and flicking V signs, safe in the knowledge that the Police presence will ensure that there is no ‘physical’ retaliation.  Perhaps Mr Farage could be a consultant for the British Tourist Board?

And now for a bit of Law…

Mercy killers to face the full rigour of criminal law, says DPP

Frances Gibb of The Times writes: “Mercy killers will face the full rigours of the criminal law under guidelines to be announced today by the Director of Public Prosecutions. But people who answer a loved one’s request to assist them in committing suicide are unlikely to be prosecuted, Keir Starmer says.

Writing in The Times today, he makes clear that his final revised policy on assisted suicide reflects the concerns of the 5,000 individuals and groups who responded to his proposals. And he emphasised that the policy did not cover so-called mercy killing, nor murder or manslaughter.”

I did a podcast with Keir Starmer QC late last year where he touched on this and other subjects.

Fortunately, there isn’t time for Gordon Brown to start a war in the Falklands to get his ‘Maggie Moment’ – but the heat is rising on the issue of the Falklands Islands.  The Argentine president, they say, is suffering in the polls and needs to bolster support for her ‘Eva Peron Moment’… The Argentine government, with the full support of the buffoonish Venezuelan president and most of the ‘Americas’ (Not Americas as in Canada and United States – they are excluded from South America’s grand vision of a political power block ) are taking the issue to the United Nations.  HMS York has been sent to the Falklands to stiffen the already potent militarty presence in the islands and there are reports of a submarine skulking in the waters nearby.

Argentina appeals to UN over Falklands oil drilling

The Guardian reports: Buenos Aires moves ahead with sovereignty claim following mobilising of Latin American support against Britain

“Argentina has demanded an immediate cessation of the British drilling for oil and gas that started this week, terming it “the latest illegitimate and unilateral actions by the UK”. The next step would be to table a resolution at the UN general assembly.

The UN has called for talks between Britain and Argentina but has little power to intervene without the backing of the security council, where the UK would be able to veto substantive resolutions.”

Commons accountant held over expenses scandal

The Independent reports: Senior Fees Office official suspected of false accounting in handling of claims

“An official in the House of Commons Fees Office has been arrested as part of the long-running police investigation into MPs’ expenses. Andrew Gibson, a Resources Budget Officer, was well-known to MPs as the man at the desk in the Fees Office who handled their expenses claims. Mr Gibson, along with another suspect who was not an employee of the House, was arrested on suspicion of obtaining money transferred by deception and false accounting, and bailed to appear at a police station in March. Neither has been charged.”

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‘You ruined my life’, Blair told in fit of rage

The Rawnsley story continues… The Independents reports: ” Gordon Brown told Tony Blair “you ruined my life” in a fierce showdown between the two men shortly before the former Prime Minister agreed to stand down, according to the latest allegations to emerge from a book about New Labour.

The fresh revelations from The End of the Party, by Andrew Rawnsley, document the exchange that saw the tense relationship between the pair reach its lowest ebb. It also suggests that during the confrontation in September 2006, Mr Brown demanded that Mr Blair step down and ensure he be allowed to take over unopposed but that the then Prime Minister retorted that he was unable to deliver on such a pledge.

During their final two-hour confrontation on the issue, the book states that Mr Brown asked Mr Blair: “Who do you think is better than me? Do you think there is anyone who is better than me?” John Reid was “far too rightwing”. Alan Johnson was “a lightweight”. David Miliband was too young. Was Blair saying, Brown demanded, that any of them was “better qualified to become PM?” It adds that Mr Blair later revealed that the exchanges had been “terrible”, saying: “He kept shouting at me that I’d ruined his life.”

Yesterday’s ludicrous performance by Brown at PMQs when he was showing his ‘cuddly’ side by grinning and cosying up to Alastair Darling was risible and as Kirsty Wark said on Newsnight …’Not very Scottish’.  Cameron managed to land one with his… ‘if they get any closer they’ll be kissing’ pre-prepared sound byte…

Guido Fawkes sums it up rather well in The Last Days of Hell

Gordon told GMTV this morning ”I would never engage in divisive or partisan politics.” The spinning is out of control. What would he describe his entire budgets designed to attack the opposition as? What would he describe his maneuvers over many years that finally saw Blair ousted? What would he call what McBride was up to?….Guido has long suspected Darling might be the one to emerge out of the mud and poison surrounding Brown’s government with any semblance of dignity and reputation intact. From his icy put down of McBride with the cutting “I’m still here“, to his description of the Brown/Balls/Wheelan/McBride combo as the “forces of hell”, the ill-treated Chancellor knew exactly what he was doing in keeping the story alive…..

As Guido remarked… ‘No-one believes the lies any more.”

Later today, I shall be covering the very detailed report into BPP Law School’s over subscription on the Bar Vocational Course and the conclusions of the Bar Standards Board panel following the ‘triggered visit’ by the BSB to BPP law School… it makes interesting reading.

But now… it is time for coffee, Marlboros and a read of the tabloids and the broadsheets at a cafe… a piu tarde.

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