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Archive for March 11th, 2010

I was fortunate in having an old Punch cartoon print to scan and use  as a base – when the question of the debates between the three party leaders, soon to be shown on television, popped into my fevered brain. Do I really want to watch and listen  to Brown, Cameron and Clegg talk at me for half an hour each, with no clapping, jeering, heckling or probing questioning?  No… if I want that I can listen to the Chilcott Inquiry.  I think it may be a crashing bore – far better the anarchy of Newsnight last night with Paxo trying to control Ed Balls, Michael Gove, some guy from the Lib-Dems and a host of rather unusual people –   including one of Lord SurAlanSugarpuff’s sidekicks  who has a bit part on The Apprentice in the ‘interview’ episode towards the end. Mr Clive Littman did not look entirely comfortable being on Newsnight – politics is a bit more anarchic than business! I could be wrong and he was just bored.

I will watch the debates – well, at least one of them –  before taking a view – to do otherwise, of course, would be crass.
And talking about Crass… Left wing crassness was was drawn to my attention  by Tom Harris MP on Twitter.

Tom Harris MP writes:

Another day, another boycott in the blogosphere

“SOME might say that, as the author of a blog that did rather well in the last two Total Politics Blog Awards, I have more to lose than others by indulging in a boycott of this year’s contest, as proposed by Though Cowards Flinch.

The boycott is being suggested as a response to Total Politics publisher Iain Dale agreeing to interview Nick Griffin for the latest issue, a decision which resulted in the resignation of Labour MP Denis MacShane from the TP board.

And of course I sympathise. And I admit I raised an eyebrow when Iain announced on his blog that the interview was happening. But I won’t take part in the boycott, for a number of reasons.

The first of those is that Griffin and his odious chums are now democratically-elected representatives of the British people. I wish it were not so, but it is. And ignoring the BNP now isn’t too far from ignoring the views of however many people voted for them. Not a particularly democratic principle, I think you’ll find. And I trust that all those who now want to boycott Total Politics also refuse to watch Question Time…… “

Tom goes on to give further reasons..and I agree. I do not like the BNP.  I do not find Griffin an attractive politician.  I abhor his views – but if we are to learn, reason, combat extreme right wing ideologies,  fight our corner and have a real and mature democracy we have to be prepared to listen to people who think differently.  Just listening to other like minded  people means we tend to hear like minded things.. not for me.  I am open to all viewpoints – then I can think about what is said or done and respond accordingly.

So.. I may disagree with some of Iain Dale’s viewpoints, which is hardly surprising given that he is  Tory and I vote Labour – but Dale does analyse politics well, he is measured more often than not and particularly outside election fever time, he is prepared to publish interesting books/magazines and he is prepared to argue and stand his corner.  I for one will look forward to his interview with Nick Griffin.  I suspect that Iain Dale will ask awkward questions – and he did give readers a chance to suggest questions.

Here is the link John Halton refers to in his tweet above…

J.S. Mill on Holocaust denial

Well, sort-of. Here is Mill’s summary of the reasons for allowing open discussion of contrary opinions:

In the meantime…. since it is election time…. a bit of Labour propaganda for you in the pic above… subliminal messaging!

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Old Holborn reports….. “Nick Hogan is safely back behind bars. Not the bars which the government sought to contain him behind for failing to act as an unpaid policeman and report his customers for smoking – even when he was not on the premises to witness them to doing so – but the bars, the snug, and the restaurant of his own private property, the Swan with Two Necks, in Chorley, Manchester. It was with the greatest pleasure that I was able to telephone Denise Hogan, his wife, a few minutes ago, and ask her to go and collect her husband from the Forest Bank jail in Pendlebury. The indefatigable Old Holborn had moved heaven and earth, above and beyond the call of duty, to arrive at the jail with £8,664.50p in cash, to exchange with the Custody Officer there in return for Nick Hogan’s freedom.”

An Excellent effort by the political blogosphere – and Gudio Fawkes’ extra push was noted recently by Old Holborn.  Those who donated when I gave this worthwhile campaign a bit of publicity on the blog ten days ago… I’m sure it was appreciated!  I gather that Emily Nomates and ToryBear covered this for GuyNEWS – video on Guido’s blog soon…

Manchester Evening News carried the full report, including a picture of Old Holborn turning up with the cash!

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Poll: City would prefer Clarke to Osborne

Politics Home: City workers would prefer Ken Clarke to George Osborne as Chancellor, according to new research by PoliticsHome and City AM. Vince Cable came in third place on the City’s preference list.

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Judges fear prisons will burst under new rules

The Times reports: “Britain’s leading criminal judges warn that a shake-up of sentencing guidelines could push prison overcrowding to crisis levels. They fear that the Sentencing Council, which comes into force next month with the aim of bringing more consistency to courts, will not curb judges’ use of custody, as hoped, but actually increase it.

The Council of Circuit Judges, which represents 600 judges in England and Wales, told The Times that they would be left with no freedom to fit punishments to the specific circumstances of a case. They fear that cuts to rehabilitation programmes will leave judges with no option in some cases but to jail offenders. Judge Keith Cutler, vice-president of the Council of Circuit Judges, said that the Sentencing Council requires that judges “must follow” guidelines, rather than “take account” of them.”

Criminal Law is not my specialist subject, so I would be particularly interested to have the views of Criminal Law practitioners who read my blog on this issue.  The argument is that the new guidelines will provide greater consistency.  What does this ‘consistency’ really mean?  Do criminals behave consistently across the country?  Is burglary, for example, always the same? manslaughter?  Surely not?  The tabloids are always keen to pick up on judicial leniency – often railing against the judicial system without actually attending the trial to listen to the evidence, to serve up ‘anger and outrage’ to those of their readers who wander about with flaming torches in one hand and a length of rope in the other hand.

The Tories say that this is a naked attempt to reduce pressure on prison places  because judges have to take account of the availability of prison places – but it seems that a possible ‘unintended consequence’ of the new principle will actually incease pressure on prison places as judges will not have the same discretion to leniency.

The Times notes: “A Ministry of Justice spokesman insisted that judges’ discretion would remain unfettered and would be respected. “There will not be an American-style sentencing grid or matrix,” he said. “Judges will still have the discretion and flexibility to give the sentence they think most appropriate. Judicial discretion in sentencing in individual cases is the cornerstone of our justice system. We are not going to change that.”

Ex-Cazenove partner found guilty of insider dealing

The FSA  has notched up a success with their well broadcast policy of getting tough on insider dealing.

The Times reports: Malcolm Calvert, a former partner at Cazenove, the Queen’s stockbroker, has been convicted of insider dealing and faces up to seven years in prison. A jury at Southwark Crown Court today returned a guilty verdict for Calvert, 65, on five counts of insider dealing after 18 hours of deliberation. He was acquitted of a further seven counts…..

….

Four people have been convicted of insider dealing in the past 12 months, three of whom received immediate custodial sentences and the other a suspended sentence. Calvert’s conviction is a significant victory for the Financial Services Authority, which is bringing a series of insider-dealing prosecutions as part of a wider campaign to clamp down on financial crime. Rob Moulton, a partner at law firm Nabarro, said: “This is a big victory for the FSA, as it is their first criminal success against a “city” name. At a time when FSA is fighting for its survival, this conviction is a real boost to FSA’s credible deterrence strategy.”

The good times seem to be coming to an end… this is clear when a City lawyer remarks..””Prosecuting financial crimes has often proved problematic, but the FSA is on something of a roll. It has said it wants to be seen as a ‘scary regulator’ and this case is going to help to get that message across.”

Margaret Cole, director of enforcement and financial crime at the FSA, said: “The guilty verdict is a shot across the bow for any City workers who may be tempted to trade using insider knowledge.”

It seems that the FSA may not be as clever as they think they are….. the comments section on the story is interesting… this, being an example of the criticism..

Pat Sheehan wrote:

“How on earth can you conclude that “Calvert’s conviction is a significant victory for the Financial Services Authority”?
Surely, they simply caught a sprat while the mackerel escaped: “… they could not identify who the inside source at Cazenove was …”
It would have been a significant victory only if we could all move forward in reasonable belief that from here on Cazenove (or Caz associations) would treat our affairs confidentially.”

In the meantime…

Fraud and corruption is costing Britain £30 billion a year

Jonathan Fisher QC, writing in the Times, has an interesting piece… “It is almost 25 years since the Roskill Report published its radical recommendations for improving the way complex fraud, corruption and financial market crimes are tackled. In that time the complexity of business transactions and the amount of activity in financial markets have both increased dramatically.

Yet the many institutions that investigate and prosecute these crimes, including the Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the Office of Fair Trading, the Crown Prosecution Service (Fraud Prosecution Service and Revenue & Customs Division) and the City of London Police Economic Crime Directorate, remain hamstrung by a haphazardly developed system of overlapping responsibilities, a dispersion of powers and unnecessary duplication of manpower and specialist resources. As if this weren’t enough, these agencies have to operate under differing statutory frameworks, further exacerbating the problems.

The advantages of establishing a unified agency, as initially proposed by Lord Roskill and advocated again today in Fighting Fraud and Financial Crime, my report published by Policy Exchange, are even more pertinent than they were then. Important changes to the criminal law also need to be made to enable our criminal justice system to cope with complex fraud trials and to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to account……”

And, an even more depressing case…

Litany of failures that let father rape his daughters for years

The Guardian: Authorities apologise over missed warnings of incest as report reveals culture of ‘quiet word’ rather than action

Nick Holmes of Binary Law asks… Tired of blogging? – tired of life

Nick notes that while the young are not blogging so much – this may well account for the fact thst Geeklawyer doesn’t blog as much as he used to.  On Twitter Geeklawyer regularly cites his age as being 28 or 29 depending on how pissed he is when he tweets! Nick also notes that he is p****d off with spammers and those who post comments like..”Great blog post… I’ve been looking for a site like this…I’ll come back@.

Nick – do what I do… re-direct their ‘service’ to a dodgy porn site.  I did that with a law firm, sent them an email to say that I had done this and… hey presto… I had a very apologetic email back asking me to delete their comment – most satisfying.

I have a bit of ‘fever’… so not writing as much as usual… a very tedious fever which prevents me from even drinking a ot of wine. Brighter today, though..so, hopefully, normal service will be resumed on the Rioja and writing front.

And finally…
Romanian street sign warns drivers of ‘drunk pedestrians’


The Telegraph reports:
“Street signs warning Romanian drivers to be careful of drunken pedestrians lying on roads were erected by road safety chiefs worried about the “despairing” levels of accidents.”

I am fairly sure that the bottle pictured above is not Rioja.

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