Archive for February 12th, 2010

Happy Valentine!

I laughed when I saw this… so I  asked @Squeezeomatic if I could ‘nick it’ for the blog.  We exchange tweets regularly….

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Obama Administration Blasts British Court For Disclosing Abuses at Guantanamo Bay

Professor John Turley, a US academic, writes: “The Obama Administration has taken the rare step of criticizing a British court. Why? Because the court released a few paragraphs of a report that confirmed our abuse and torture of detainees. Spokesman Ben LaBolt denounced the release of the information and threatened to cut off access of the British to classified information in the future. Note these paragraphs do not appear to reveal any new classified technique, but rather confirm our violations of international law — evidence that the Obama Administration has been refusing to release.

Americans are already following the British investigation to learn about the decision to invade Iraq — information that remains classified or unavailable in the United States (here).

Now, we can look to the British courts to confirm abuses of detainees that our courts and Congress have effectively blocked.

LaBolt said the administration “shared this information in confidence and with certain expectations.” Those expectations were that the British would support its effort to cover up the full extent of our human rights violations.”

The decision of the Court of Appeal earlier in the week on the Binyam Mohamed torture evidence issue has created a great deal of analysis and comment.

MI5 officers told to get on with the job in face of storm

The Independent reports: “MI5 officers were being stoical “getting on with the job, concentrating on the threat to national security” amid the criticism over their supposed complicity in the torture of Binyam Mohamed. That, at least, was the official message from Whitehall sources yesterday. But what emerged yesterday was hardly comforting. The charges made by Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, were damning. The secret service did not respect human rights, deliberately misled a Commons committee of MPs and Lords, and had a “culture of suppression” in its dealings with the court.”

There is no suggestion that MI5 were involved directly in the torture of Binyam Mohamed.  Complicity is the issue. The Independent notes:“The mistreatment took part in Pakistan while the Ethiopian-born Mr Mohamed was in custody of US authorities. It is unclear whether this was done by Americans or by agents of the ISI, the Pakistani secret police, which has itself been accused of helping to organise attacks by Islamist terrorist groups in a number of countries in pursuit of its own shadowy agenda.There are no claims that MI5 took part in the abuse. But one of its agents, “Witness B” in court proceedings, “probably” knew of it in documents he read before flying out to interrogate Mr Mohamed.”

The legal issue is clear. Do we abide by international law, the European Convention on Human Rights, our own domestic human rights laws or not?  The moral issue, which causes the greatest difficulty for many is…should we when those who would do us harm disregard it?  Reading comments from members of the public on Times coverage of the issue reveals many who regard Shami Chakrabarti, Lord Bingham, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and a host of human rights lawyers as a thorn in the side of ‘good governance’ and some even go so far as to suggest that our courts are pro-Taleban and lackeys of the left-wing.

There are, whether we like it or not, many in this country who would happily allow our military and intelligence services to use ‘whatever means are necessary’ to destroy terrorism and if that includes torturing a few people to exact information which will save the majority, so be it. By the same token, there are many in this country who would like to see the return of hanging and it is instructive that many support the barely thought out proposals of the Conservative party on self defence as revealed in their recent ‘kill a burglar’ policy statement.

Judges persuaded to curtail MI5 criticism

The Times notes: “The Foreign Secretary persuaded senior judges to erase “exceptionally damning criticism” of MI5 from their ruling yesterday detailing the Security Service’s complicity in the torture of Binyam Mohamed.”

It can be argued that we are seeing a similar moral inexactitude in relation to the Iraq War where senior government ministers, including the prime minister, will happily ignore the advice of experienced international lawyers at the Foreign Office in favour of the shifting sands views of the Attorney-General.  Lord Bingham, a former Lord Chief Justice, stated the other day that in his view (a view shared by many lawyers) the Iraq War was illegal.  Never was it more clear the distinction between Doves and Hawks – but in this case, the Hawks appear to be prepared to ignore the existence of international law because the law is ‘finely balanced’ and, more important, there is no Court to determine the issue. It seems that we are also prepared to compromise our ethico-moral and legal position in relation to torture by being ‘complicit’ in the activities of American military torturers.

The head of MI5 strongly defended the work of the Security Service tonight in the face of damaging accusations that it had sought to cover up its involvement in the torture of detainees.

Director-general Jonathan Evans said claims by one of the country’s most senior judges that there was a “culture of suppression” within the service were “the precise opposite of the truth”.

On a lighter note we have strange goings on at Goldman Sachs…possibly

A Sky News blog reports: “Bill Nighy, the veteran British actor, has obviously touched a raw nerve in the City. Nighy’s endorsement of a global ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on the world’s banks attracted international media coverage earlier this week. In a short film to promote the launch, Nighy plays a banker who eventually agrees to a 0.05% tax on international bank transactions to raise up to £250bn annually to fight poverty and climate change in the UK and abroad. And on the website www.robinhoodtax.org supporters of the idea (slogan: “not complicated, just brilliant”) registered their enthusiasm in their thousands. Until, that is, 3.41 on the afternoon of the day of the launch, when the team behind the website noticed that opponents of the tax were suddenly registering votes at the rate of six every second. Within five minutes, the ‘No’ votes had soared from 1500 to 8000.”

The Robin Hood tax team traced the ‘No’ vote surge activity to an address in London.  “A Goldman Sachs spokesperson said: “We have just received this information and are investigating the matter fully.”

It would appear that the banking sector is getting back to usual best practices?  The harsh reality is that the investment bankers know full well the power they have, that Britain cannot afford to lose its  position in international and global finance.  They know that there will be no concerted action worldwide to stop their bonuses and activities – so they will continue to stick two fingers up to government, pay such tax as is necessary to make it economic to operate within a tax regime, but no more and carry on with their ‘trade’.

That may well be the harsh reality – but we don’t need to socialise with them!  I shall be asking people I meet in future to declare if they are or are not bankers.   I have seen the look of disdain on people’s faces when one mentions on meeting new people the ‘L’ for ‘Law’ word. Now it is pay back time for me to boycott all forms of social connection with anyone involved in the banking world!   This unilateral declaration of social leprosy will not affect them one iota… we don’t tend to get many investment bankers slumming at the World’s End of Chelsea or socialising in the dens of Battersea.  if they are there..they are, it seems, incognito!

And while we are on the subject of slime, sleaze and greed… I must draw your attention to an excellent filmed interview by Bruce Carlton on Law.com with ‘three very angry lawyers’: Scott Greenfield, Mark W Bennett and Brian Tannebaum – all serious lawyers, serious bloggers, and users of twitter.  The Three Angry Lawyers have had their fill of slimy lawyers using social media to promote their law practices unethically, they have had enough of snake oil, carpet bagging and SEO and other social media mavens. I agree with much of what they say.  They have even got stuck into a new phenomenon… ‘GHOST BLOGGERS’.  It appears that some lawyers in the States are too dumb to even write their own blogs.  It isn’t exactly rocket science to write a blog… but some of these enterprising souls are hiring ‘writers’ to write their blogs for them – ludicrous. The interview is worth watching – although the film took a bit of time to load last night when I watched it.

While I continue to wait for the Bar Standards Board report into the BPP law School oversubscription of students on the BVC course (The BSB had a meeting on Wednesday and, I am advised, the report will be published thereafter) – RollonFriday has a remarkable story…

BPP investigates Professional Ethics tutor

BPP Law School has launched an investigation into a tutor on its BVC course who was suspended from practicing as a barrister for behaviour likely to bring the profession into disrepute – and who taught on the school’s Professional Ethics module.

Isabel Dakyns was, until yesterday, a tutor and examiner at BPP, despite having been disciplined in February 2008 for failing to comply with a judgement ordering her to cough up nearly £50k. The Bar Standards Board decided that her behaviour was likely to bring the Bar into disrepute and suspended her for a whopping 30 months. Which failed to prevent BPP from employing her to train the barristers of tomorrow on, errr, professional ethics. At least there’s a pleasing irony to it.”


UPDATE: From a commenter Simply Wondered…(I have left the original typing style in.  SW’s style is unique.. no caps

“bpp point
she never taught me but, anecdotally, isabel dakyns was regarded by everyone i can think of that she taught on my course as about the best teacher at bpp. and a damn nice person to boot – her work was very practical and i’m told she went the extra mile for her students. people taught by her appeared to do well. she came across as pretty left-field.”

Retention rates for trainees in the City are not what they were. RollonFriday reports that Denton Wilde Sapte kept only one of its recent intake (There is a useful table of information) and Linklaters has cut back on maintenance grants because of the new ‘shortened’ LPC.

On Fridays, when I do my ‘Rive Gauche’ edition… I often like to see what position The Sun takes on news stories. I do this because there is a prospect that David Cameron will be prime minister of our country in but a few weeks and The Sun provides political analysis to the millions of potential Tory voters who read The Sun.  I couldn’t actually find much news, political comment or analysis of any kind in The Sun today – but it is Friday.  Here is the front ‘splash’ on the online version of The Sun.

Good to see that the country is well informed.

And finally… from Obnoxio The Clown this morning…

Have a good weekend… back later with more and, of course… Postcard from The Staterooms on the morrow or Sunday.

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