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Archive for February 15th, 2010

I have decided to go and have a long breakfast at World’s End tomorrow – so I have done my Law Review for tomorrow morning early…. it is below.  This is my final thought before I eat some excellent bacon & eggs tomorrow – turning the plate around so the egg is on the right, as is my practice.. (See ‘About’ section)

Have a good one tomorrow.  I shall re-appear later in the day to write… inevitably.

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Financial Times: Cameron targets non-Tory vote

The FT does, indeed, cover this rather more sensibly than I do….

The FT reports… pinkly and in a most sombre fashion… as befits such a newspaper of record..

David Cameron has rejected calls from the right to reach out to traditional Tories who last backed the party in its 1992 election victory, saying many of those voters were now dead, as he launched a campaign on Monday, targeted at people who have never voted Conservative before.

The marketing blitz – including posters at 1,500 sites in England, Scotland and Wales and a mailshot to more than 2m homes – marks an acceleration of the pre-election campaigning.

[I just loved the bit about ‘many of the voters who voted in 1992 are now dead’]

Apparently. Mr Wright MP deleted this unfortunate tweet – but it was picked up by Iain Dale…rightly… Parody is valid… this sort of nonsense is just ‘unpleasant’. Hat Tip @benjaminfgray and @ToryBear who asked if a Labour supporter/blogger was prepared to be critical… I am not a political blogger. I do vote Labour and  I am more than prepared to be critical of this sort of nonsense by a Labour MP – but does it really matter?…and who really cares?

See how they run? The Ministry of Truth theme for this edition of Law Review seems to be most appropriate.  Paul Waugh takes up the David Wright MP story on his Evening Standard blog:  Twitterstorm – bang to Wrights

TALES FROM THE MINISTRY OF TRUTH

Just as Tory, Labour and Lib-Dem political bloggers tend to stick to their party line –

sometimes ad nauseam (I am not a political blogger – quite happy to be critical of all parties) The Guardian doesn’t seem to like the truth when it doesn’t suit them either.

Dominic Lawson, writing in The Times,  has an interesting piece on Ali Dizaei, the bent Iranian copper who has been banged up for corruption. Lawson notes, with a degree of wry pleasure no doubt: “The National Black Police Association… was not the only organisation to have been made a fool of by this arch-manipulator of racial politics: the BBC had made his dishonest memoir its Radio 4 Book of the Week, and The Guardian was also a willing media partner in his campaign to become the country’s most powerful policeman. Meanwhile, this bent copper’s newspaper of choice seemed to have an exclusive post-trial interview, reporting that “Dizaei, 47, remained defiant and told The Guardian the case was ‘completely outrageous and a fit-up’. He said that he had been pursued by the authorities, who had a ‘vendetta’ against him”. Amazing, given that Dizaei had in fact been found guilty himself of fitting up an innocent man who had crossed him, that any newspaper could publish such comments without its pages turning red with embarrassment.”

Quite

Meanwhile… over at the Ministry of Getting Re-Elected… we have the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2010 – the first in a series of oxymoronic or just moronic pieces of legislation?

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Initial duties

(1) The Treasury must ensure that, for each of the financial years ending in 2011 to 2016, public sector net borrowing expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product is less than it was for the preceding financial year.

(2) The Treasury must ensure that, for the financial year ending in 2014, public sector net borrowing expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product is no more than half of what it was for the financial year ending in 2010.

(3) The Treasury must ensure that—

(a) public sector net debt as at the end of the financial year ending in 2016 expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product (centred on 31 March 2016), is less than

(b) public sector net debt as at the end of the previous financial year expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product (centred on 31 March 2015)………

And… from the law blogosphere.

From a very useful ‘new’ blog Obiter J reports

The Lord Chief Justice expresses concerns …..

The Lord Chief Justice has published his “Review of the Adminstration of Justice in the Courts.” The Review covers the legal year 1st October 2008 to 30th September 2009.

1. Concern is raised (para. 2.12) about the use of out-of-court methods of dealing with offenders – such as fixed penalty notices, cautions and conditional cautions. ”

To give a little balance to my Mock The Tory caption pics – but not written for that reason – Matthew Taylor of the MTPT blog writes: “Labour’s Twenty Nations, or How to duck the decimal

John Bolch, Family Lore, appears to have been eating Viagra for Bloggers pills – he has a very sharp piece this morning… a letter to Mrs John terry…  Dear Mrs Terry, allegedly

I am always happy to see a bit of White Rabbit on the blog. Fellow blogger and connoisseur of the bizarre, hyperbolic and hypocritical, White Rabbit has a piece about ‘Lowering the Tone’ and those ‘posters’. Have a look.

But it is not all about ‘Rippers from The Royals’ over at White Rabbit. Here he is reflecting on  Ozymandias

A useful note on Contingency Fee Agreements – final regulations unveiled from Usefully Employed, an employment law barrister.

Who Needs a Lawyer Anyway?

Pink Tape aasks and then puts forward an answer…Not social workers apparently. At least so says the British Association of Social Workers which offers representation from non-lawyers as a perk of its membership. Barristers (incorrectly referred to by BASW as solicitors) offering their services for free via FRU or the Bar Pro Bono Unit may not have the necessary expertise in social work practice and regulation to better their own service it seems from a piece in Community Care………….

Ipso Jure writes..”Ten Great Reasons to Learn about IP Law”

Another interesting piece from John Flood of RATS (Random Academic Thoughts)…

Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom

“”Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.” So said Chairman Mao in 1957, on which the misquotation above is based.

I’m not sure Mao would be happy with his phrase being used in conjunction with new forms of legal practice about to emerge from the chrysalis of the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA). (Apologies for mangling metaphors…) In the last two days I have been listening to the Legal Services Board talk about what is to happen. This is in part because they have published a new business plan, which I urge you to read.

Colin Samuels continues to do a detailed review of Law blogs – sometimes even more detailed than the official ‘Blawg Reviews’ and this week is no exception with  A Round Tuit (18)

Colin starts his Round Tuit with these words…“Was it because a legal technology conference took place in New York or a legal marketing conference took place in Seattle? Both? Neither? Whatever it was, this week seemed to have more than its share of debate about the character of new legal blogging and of legal marketing more generally. There were of course hurt feelings, accusations of bullying, and calls for civil discourse (meaning, unfortunately, an absence of criticism during periods of self-promotion).”

Whatever next? … in the legal blogosphere?

The Official ‘Blawg review’ comes this week (again) from Canada:

Blawg Review #251

This Blawg Review comes to you from the Canadian Trademark Blog, resident in Vancouver, British Columbia – ‘a blawg run by several of the talented trademark law practitioners at Clark Wilson LLP.

Jailhouse lawyer has a piece on his blog Prisoner’s Voice : Prisoners threaten to sue in voting rights row

Capitalists@Work : Always beware the Spanish Inquisition

This story today is hilarious. “Apparently the Anglo-Saxon media are in cahoots to talk Spain down for their  own benefit. This is a great example of many games Government like to play:

– Start by shooting the messenger
– When that fails; tell everybody the messenger is a horrible foreigner anyway……”

Natasha Phillips of The Divorce Manual “has teamed up with Family Lore’s John Bolch to bring you a weekly news roundup of Family Law issues in England. We hope you enjoy it!”

Jonathan Mitchell QC, a Scots advocate, has a very interesting piece: Success rate in judicial review petitions in Scotland

“This post quotes in full a recent response by the Office of the Advocate General to a freedom of information request by Alan Caskie, an advocate specialising in asylum and immigration law. This response shows that the success rate for petitions in this area is high, and rising year by year…..”

Ever mindful that UK lawyers are, slowly, taking to twitter and blogging… I found Peninsulawyer’s post on Twitter analytics of great interest

Dan Hull of WhatAboutClients? doesn’t mince his words – and he is not too keen on people who mince theirs… but in a different way.

Dan is an enthusiast for good writing and his blog, when not providing good analysis of client service, often contains ‘treasures’…

This week:Writing well, living large.

“Commenting on the body of work left by John Dryden (1631-1700), the English poet, critic and playwright, Samuel Johnson, who was born a few years after Dryden’s death, called Dryden’s compositions “the effects of a vigorous genius working upon large materials”.

AND…JUST A BIT MORE HARD LAW….

Media asks court to reinstate criticism of MI5 in Binyam Mohamed case

The Times reports: “Britain’s senior judges will rethink this week their controversial decision to excise damning criticism of MI5 from a ruling published last week.

Lawyers for leading British and American media organisations have written to the Court of Appeal asking the judges to reinstate a paragraph — which disclosed how much M15 had been told about the torture of the Guantánamo Bay detainee, Binyam Mohamed — that they removed from their draft judgment after representations from the Foreign Secretary.

The media groups include The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, BBC News, Associated Press, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Index on Censorship. The human rights organisations Justice, and Liberty have also urged the judges to reconsider.

The move comes after the disclosure last week that Jonathan Sumption, QC, for David Miliband, wrote to the three appeal judges after seeing a draft of the judgment to express concern about remarks in it by Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Master of the Rolls. Mr Sumption said that the comments were “likely to receive more public attention than any other part of the judgments” and, if cited in other cases, would “mark an unprecedented breakdown in relations between the courts and the executive in the area of public interest immunity”.”

I have published tomorrow morning’s Law Review early because: I may be ‘ite and abite’ tomorrow morning – but, be sure, there will be something for me to write about on the morrow anyway… until then.

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“Anyone who is in the UK for any reason has fundamental human rights which government and public authorities are legally obliged to respect. These became law as part of the Human Rights Act 1998.”

Directgovwebsite

The Human Rights Act 1998 gives further legal effect in the UK to the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the European Convention on Human Rights.  The wording above reflects a desire that all in the UK, whether British, EU national or not, are protected by the provisions of the Act.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)  is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. The convention entered into force on 3 September 1953. All Council of Europe member states are party to the Convention and new members are expected to ratify the convention at the earliest opportunity. It is worth noting that the Convention was drafted with substantial and significant involvement by the UK government of the day.

The Convention established the European Court of Human Rights. Any person whose rights have been violated under the Convention by a state party can take a case to the Court. The decisions of the Court are not automatically legally binding, but the Court does have the power to award damages.

Number of court cases involving Human Rights Act rises by a third

The Times reports: “Terrorism and deportation cases have fuelled the first rise for seven years in court cases using the Human Rights Act, figures published today show. Human rights challenges involving immigration, asylum and deportation cases rose by 34 per cent — and are predicted to rise again this year. The figures come days after Jonathan Evans, the head of M15, hinted that the courts were being used to undermine the fight against terrorism. The rise in such cases was an inevitable result of efforts by the Government to deal with potential terrorist threats, he added.”

Stephen Grosz, head of public law and human rights at Bindman & Partners, notes that the Home Office is the biggest ‘repeat defendant’ and states “Measures against terrorists in a democratic society have to be tempered by respect for human rights. Otherwise, what are we protecting?”

The Head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, took a slightly different stance “….accusations that MI5 colluded in torture would be used by the country’s enemies as “propaganda to undermine our will and ability to confront them”.

Members of the public, not surprisingly or unreasonably, rarely trouble to look at the detail in the law – law enacted by government, but, I accept, not always with parliamentary scrutiny. Members of the public and tabloid journalists keen to ‘rally the people’ tend to take an ’emotive’ line.

A few examples from the Times ‘comment’ section’ to illustrate the point…

Judy Walton wrote: The legal profession must be laughing all the way to the bank. Strangely enough, the lawyer appointed to the role of Law Society President is a specialist in asylum law. What a coincidence!
Rob Bryant wrote: How could the number of cases not increase? Cherie Blair only does compensation cases and the Blairs need all the money. Funny, though, them being so religious. It doesn’t go down too well at the Pearly Gates if you have more money than God. Apparently St Peter says its a big no-no.
Ben Holloway wrote: If I was a lawyer , I would probably vote Labour . They seem to be good for business.
***
The Tories want to replace the Human Rights Act.  Given their focus on designing posters for the edification and delight of the parodfy industry and their focus on statistics and figures, which they then get wrong, because they don’t appear to have anyone who can do Maths checking the public utterances of future, prospective, Cabinet and other ministers, they have not dealt with the detail behind their plans on a wholescale revision of Human Rights Law.  One assumes that it will be on broadly similar lines – for otherwise the law of unintended consequences may pop up and bite them and Britain will find itself in breach of European Union requirements!  These matters will keep  future Tory  Law Officers and Secretary of State for Justice busy if the Tories do manage to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in a few months time.
***
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: “We need an inquiry so that we can separate fact from conspiracy theories. The idea that human rights judges and lawyers are part of a campaign to destabalise the intelligence agencies is ridiculous.”

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New Tory poster SHOCK!!!

The question is…. which is the real Tory poster…. ? And does anyone know why the young girl on the left is yawning?  Dear God… piss up and brewery down at the Laurel & Hardy Advertising Agency again. [Hat Tip @filemot]

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You really could not make it up….. The Guardian reports today…

Tories get their sums wrong in attack on teen pregnancy

The Laurel & Hardy Policy Think Tank rides again.

“An errant decimal point leads to Conservatives inflating pregnancy rates among the poor by a multiple of 10”
Guardian

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Piers Morgan interviews Gordon Brown
In a remarkable piece of television Piers Morgan gave us Gordon Brown the man – a portrait of a man which I found engaging and a pleasure to watch.  I have no doubt at all that many politicians when you take them away from their public political persona are interesting and engaging – this is almost certainly true of people in all walks of life.  It was, for all that, a fascinating portrait and one which will add to the political history archive.  It does not, however, alter my perception of the measure of Brown as a prime minister – but it may well do for many. Who knows?  The proof will, as they say, be in the pudding. I claim no powers of objectivity by my last statement greater than those enjoyed by all, but I prefer to judge politicians on what they say and do as politicians which is on the record for all to see.  Of course, it is entirely possible that Gordon Brown, having revealed so much of himself to the public will feel more confident about talking with and to the electorate in a very different way and explain his ideas rather than at the electorate as he has tended to do in  his public appearances in the past.

I will admit to being impressed that Brown, should he leave office, wants to do charity work and that  flying around the world dispensing wisdom in return for large amounts of cash does not appeal to him.  If he sticks to that resolution he will almost certainly deserve respect for doing so.

Fraser Nelson in The Spectator has an interesting review of the Piers Morgan interview

Rather more interesting was the BBC Four film on the Great Offices of State. Last night viewers were taken behind the scenes at The Home Office.  Ministers and permanent secretaries painted what appeared to be a fairly candid picture of the recent history of the Home Office.  I shall look forward to the next episode on the Foreign Office.

How MI5 kept watchdog in the dark over detainees’ claims of torture

• Intelligence committee misled by MI5 evidence
• Demands for reform after appeal court revelations

The Guardian reports:

It was in the middle of 2008 that Jonathan Evans, director general of MI5, delivered a bombshell confession to the previously compliant parliamentarians of the intelligence and security committee.He told them, in strict secrecy as usual, that assurances of MI5 innocence previously accepted without demur by the politicians had in fact been false.

The committee, which was supposed to supervise MI5’s policies, had already published a reassuring report on the basis of what it had been told. That report, based on testimony from Eliza Manningham-Buller, Evans’s predecessor, informed the world that MI5 had been unaware of any ill-treatment dished out by its US allies to Binyam Mohamed.

The opposite was true. As the appeal court has now finally revealed, detailed briefings had been supplied at the time by Washington on the CIA’s “new strategy” for softening up Mohamed and others, for which it demanded British help. This new American “war on terror” involved the use of prolonged sleep deprivation, shackling and threats that Mohamed would be “disappeared”, applied to the point where his mental stability corroded and he apparently became suicidal.

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