Archive for June, 2010


Zappa ‘Slowhand’ Charon: OK…Nick…. Take it away….coooooooool and easy……… go buddy…..

Clegg: We have formed a new band

More importantly than anything else, we have formed a new kind of boy band

I hope this is the start of a new kind of band I have always believed in.

Diverse, plural, where good looking young hot guys with different points of view find a way to work together to provide the good entertainment  the whole country deserves.

That was what we were asked to do by the people of Britain in the Final of Britain’s Got Talent and that is what we will deliver.

I want to thank David for the very open, constructive and workmanlike way in which we have come together to make this happen and how we can make music  together in this coalition band.

We are obviously good looking hot guys from different parties

I believe we are now united in seeking to meet the immense challenges that now face the country and to deliver a fairer, better entertainment for  Britain.

Of course there will be problems along the way; of course there will be glitches.  Simon Hughes….sorry… Simon  Cowell may desert us….. we might not get a record deal, or, indeed, anything out of any value in time for Christmas.

But I will always do my best to prove that new music isn’t just possible – it is also better than watching a dancing dog with leprosy on the make to get your votes…

I’d like to say something directly to the nearly seven million people who supported my last band The Liberal Democrats in the run up to the Final last week……  hahaha… you took it hook line and sinker… and now I am Deputy Prime Minister in the biggest Boy Band in the Britain….

I am now acutely aware that I carry your hopes and aspirations and that Beaker and Vince will always be backing singers

I am sure you have many questions, maybe many doubts.

But I can assure you I would not have joined this Boy Band unless I was genuinely convinced it was a unique opportunity to deliver the changes you and I believe that I fully deserve…


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Supreme court quashes troops’ human rights ruling

The Independent: The Supreme Court quashed a landmark ruling that British soldiers serving abroad are protected by human rights laws at all times. Six of the nine justices who heard the case in March at the Supreme Court overturned High Court and Court of Appeal judgments over the death of Private Jason Smith in Iraq while serving with the Territorial Army. The court was asked to rule on whether a British soldier on military service in Iraq is subject to UK jurisdiction and covered by human rights laws not only when on a British military base or hospital.

R (Smith) v Secretary of State for Defence & Anor [2010] UKSC 29

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal on the jurisdiction issue (Lady Hale, Lord Mance and Lord Kerr dissenting) and unanimously dismissed the appeal on the inquest issue. It held that it was not necessary in every case of a death of a serviceman abroad to carry out an investigation which examined whether there was fault on the part of the state because (a) the Human Rights Act 1998 did not apply to armed forces on foreign soil and (b) in any event, there was no such automatic right. The type of investigation would depend on the circumstances of the case.

The jurisdiction issue
Lord Phillips stated that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg had held that ‘jurisdiction’ within the meaning of article 1 was essentially territorial but extended in exceptional circumstances requiring special justification to other bases of jurisdiction. The difficulty lay in defining those exceptions [para 11].    It was unlikely that the Contracting States, when they agreed the ECHR in 1951 in the aftermath of a global conflict in which millions of troops had been deployed, regarded it as desirable or practicable to extend the protection of article 2 to troop operations abroad [para 58]. It was a novel suggestion that a state’s armed forces by reason of their personal status fell within the jurisdiction of the state when on foreign soil and the proper tribunal to resolve the issue was the Strasbourg Court itself [para 60]. Lord Mance, dissenting, considered that as an occupying power in Iraq, the UK had under international law an almost absolute power over the safety of its forces.

The inquest issue
Lord Phillips stated that where there was reason to suspect a substantive breach by the state of the article 2 right to life, it was established that the state of its own motion should carry out an investigation into the death which had certain features: a sufficient element of public scrutiny, conducted by an independent tribunal, involving the relatives of the deceased and which was prompt and effective [para 64].    There was no automatic right to such an investigation whenever a member of the armed forces died on active service [para 84]….

James Eadie QC, representing the Ministry of Defence, had told the March hearing it would never be possible to guarantee rights under the European Convention to soldiers on duty wherever they are in the world.

“Effective and faithful application of the Convention means that not only must the State have exclusive legal and physical control over persons who benefit from it but also legal and physical control over both the area of its application and over those other persons within that area

Per Lord Collins, jurisdiction could not be established simply on the basis of the UK’s authority and control, nor where there policy grounds for extending the scope of the ECHR to armed forces, which would involve the court in issues relating to the conduct of armed hostilities which were essentially non-justiciable.

The decision is bound to attract a degree of comment.  A key difficulty identified is the practical difficulty that application of the HRA to warfare situations would be the restrictive effect it may have on decisions of field commanders on the ground.

Boris Johnson wins court order to evict Parliament Square protesters

Guardian: London mayor’s move welcomed by Westminster council as end to ‘hijacking of one of London’s historic public spaces’

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, today won a high court order evicting protesters who have turned Parliament Square into a makeshift encampment.

Mr Justice Griffith Williams said the mayor had “directed himself correctly, considered all the relevant matters and reached a reasoned decision which cannot be criticised”.

Importantly, the judgment does not affect  the activist Brian Haw, who has been protesting on the pavement by the square, opposite the Houses of Parliament, for the past nine years. Haw first set up camp in June 2001 in a one-man protest against war and foreign policy – initially the sanctions against Iraq.

When I popped over to have a look a couple of weeks ago, I noted the absence of a Police presence but did see a lot of people drinking heavily, not doing a huge amount of protesting or, indeed, anything at all and could not really see much point to what those people were doing.  But there we are.   The decision may well attract negative comment from many.  I shall not be joining the negative comment – because it is clear from the decision that rights to protest are being maintained. Indeed, May Johnson has stated that it returns Parliament Square not only to people who wish to view Parliament but also to those who wish to protest. However, The Guardian noted, the Green party GLA member Jenny Jones said it was “a bad day for democracy in London”.  I’m not so sure I see this decision in quite that light.  If people wish to protest, they will do so.    We shall see what transpires.

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Cabinet to go on the road!

With the costs reputed to have been £100,000 a time when Brown took his Cabinet on the road, it was surprising to read in The Independent today that Cameron plans to do the same.  The Coalition government is always asking members of BIG SOCIETY for ideas on cost savings.  Here is one – if they are hell bent on  carrying out this nonsense – after all, how many Brummies, Mancunians and Liverpudlians are going to meet the Cabinet…or, indeed, would wish to?

My suggestion:  use a secure Prison Van – spacious, room for the entire Cabinet and secure.  We have quite a few of them already in this country so no need for further capital expenditure.  I accept that the windows will have to be changed from Black to clear glass so that we can see our Cabinet at work and wave to them.  They can also see what ordinary people look like and wave at us.

I may have to award myself another OBE for this idea.

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Baroness Hale: Human Rights Act hampered by constitutional problems

Guardian: UK’s most senior female judge laments lack of time spent applying essence of the Act

Baroness Hale has made an insightful speech criticising the time spent on constitutional wrangling rather than on the essence of the Act. The Guardian notes: “Lady Hale suggested that the tension between the Government and the courts arising from such cases is preventing judges from doing their job”

It seems a shame that an Act, which appeared to be so clearly drafted and was trying to do such an important but radical thing, has given rise to so many difficult constitutional issues on which we have had to spend so much of our time. Maybe the previous mind-set of the practitioners and the courts is more to blame than Parliament and the Parliamentary draftsmen.

Tan Tench, Olswang,  provides a very good analysis of Hale’s speech. I can thoroughly recommend the UKSC | Blog as a first port of call on matters relating o The Supreme Court and the usual high standard is applied in this summary.

Dan Tench writes: “In her conclusion, Lady Hale regrets that the Act “has given rise to so many difficult constitutional issues”, although that was perhaps inevitable.  It is pretty clear that she would like the courts to take a bolder line, being prepared where necessary to intervene more and get ahead of the Strasbourg line and simply introduce words into statutes to provide compatibility with the Convention.  These would certainly be steps in a radical direction.”

UK bill of rights plan a ‘bad idea’, warns head of European court

Guardian: Senior judge’s remarks that human rights could be hit if act repealed threatens to inflame row over power of Strasbourg.

Plans to create a British bill of rights have been strongly criticised by one of Europe’s most senior judges, in a stance which could create further conflict between the government and the European court of human rights.

Jean-Paul Costa, the president of the court, has said that repealing the current human rights act would be a “bad idea” and could jeopardise the protection given by the European convention on human rights.

“The project of returning the court to British rule is a bad idea,” he said, in an interview with the Guardian. “The human rights act has made a big difference to the protection of rights in the UK. People have started to be acquainted with the European convention on human rights.”

After the second world war there was a clear need to re-build and prevent further European conflict.  There can be no doubt that the creation of the European Union has achieved much – but it is equally clear, with the growth of the Union, the different pace of the economies, the problems of the Eurozone and Greece in particular that the road to a European super state has been stalled.  The European Convention on Human Rights was largely a creature of British design.

The President of the European court is in danger not only of venturing into areas which should be no concern of the court or the judiciary, but of committing the sin of legal hubris. Lord Hoffmann, a former law lord,  said. “It considers itself the equivalent of the supreme court of the United States, laying down a federal law of Europe.” Hoffman added that is also guilty of self aggrandisement.
It also appears that the court is astonishingly inefficient. Justice delayed is justice denied.  The Guardian notes: “A number of senior UK judges have voiced strong criticisms of the court, which currently has a backlog of around 120,000 cases – a workload which it is estimated would take at least three years to clear even if no new cases were brought.”

It might be a good idea for Judge Costa to concentrate on his own back yard before he irritates judges, practitioners and commentators in this country further. His remarks and thinking  on British plans do not seem to have been fully worked out.  Perhaps this is a result of the astonishing backlog of cases?   And what is the cause of the backlog?  I shall have to look further into that.  I assume someone at the ECHR will be prepared to tell me if I telephone and ask politely?  I suspect that Judge Costa will be a bit busy preparing his 120,000 judgments or procrastinating with further thoughts on British plans.  As the man says, the European Convention gives protection but with a backlog of 120,000 cases, taking three years to clear, it isn’t doing a particularly good job of actually delivering protection.  Perhaps I need some alka seltzer – too much acid in the system this morning.  Breakfast calls.

While I appreciate the history and the drafting of the relevant law – I am beginning to wonder why we even need a European Court of Human Rights. On the not unreasonable assumption, these days, that all European nations are civilised – why can’t national supreme courts deal with human rights issues in relation to Britain?.  If we suddenly find that our Supreme Court runs amok and starts implementing government policy and ignoring the law – which is unlikely – why can’t our Supreme Court deal with all ECHR matters for UK and the same principle for all the other signatories?

European Union Law is, of course, an entirely different basket case.

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Dear Reader,

It occurs to me, being a Scot, that Rabbie Burns’ famous poem To a Mouse would be appropriate to celebrate the panache, style, elan and passion demonstrated by the Ingerland team as they disappointed, yet again, a nation of optimists.  The English translation follows…

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle.

[Small, sleek, cowering, timorous beast,
O, what a panic is in your breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.]

The good news is that all the hyperventilation and hyperbole about ‘OUR BOYS’ will die down.  I have enjoyed the World Cup – the tweets, the hubris….. the schadenfreude  (Particularly the Schadenfreude – a rather good German word)  It’s just a pity that Ingerland aren’t very good at playing football as a team.  When the German goal keeper kicked the ball up field and a German player ran after it, unchallenged in any meaningful way by defenders,  and kicked it into the Ingerland goal, I marvelled. It just got more and more surreal after that. Someone on Twitter said that a Labour MP blamed the Coalition CUTS for the lack in the English defence.

I do feel sorry for the fans – especially those who spent a lot of money getting out to South Africa.  I think there should be a class action to sue the English FA for misrepresentation, deception, passing off and, indeed, badly and perhaps we could even chuck in a bit of nervous shock mixed with  Rylands v Fletcher.  Some of those German players who escaped were pretty dangerous.   That would be new law, but good law!

I even put my Admiral avatar on for the occasion.  I end my coverage of this lamentable World Cup with this…

Back to law tomorrow……

Not all bad though.  England Cricket Team beat Australia in the One Day International and win the series 3-0.  Perhaps The Ashes in Australia is a realistic proposition?

Best, as always


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WIN or LOSE in tomorrow’s Ingerland v Germany game… we can always look on the Bright Side of Life. I know nothing about Football but Twitter, this year, has been brilliant – with plenty of gallows humour about England – so much so that I have been watching all the England games.   It was great to see Ghana win tonight. I was born in Ghana and I have known some very amusing Ghanaians in my time. Great stuff.

I was particularly pleased when I put up a Tweet about the England v Germany match and cited the GREAT ESCAPE theme tune, modified the famous line in the film… “Give up your hopeless attempt to escape.”  (and wondered what marvellous nonsense our Tabloids would come up with for tomorrow’s front pages) .. to see that FIFA responded to my Tweet!   One would have thought they had more important matters to do than monitor Twitter – but, hey, I am NOT complaining. I’m now getting into the football

I am also delighted that Clegg and Cameron took time out of their busy schedules to make a cameo appearance at Glastonbury – GO WEST!!! which, I understand from friends on twitter, was covered by BBC Glasto.

And I had a wonderful and surreal exchange with Tom Watson MP on twitter. Saturday night nonsense… no more than that…. but amusing nevertheless.  It started when I Re-Tweeted a poll result  about the standing of the parties in the polls.  This was then Re-tweeted by a few others, including John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister  (whose own tweets are usually amusing).

And then came this wonderful exchange. I am not a fan of Nick Clegg’s recent change in principles.  Nor would it seem are many, judging by the polls.   Tom Watson MP, who is a keen user of twitter and does engage with a lot of people (not just his voters) on Twitter,  then sent out this tweet….

This prompted Labour’s ex-Twitter Czar, @KerryMP to tweet…

And… gloriously… and in my view… rightly…. this tweet!

Tom Watson MP did clarify…. and I have to say…. it made my evening….. political commentary  does not have to be serious (The polbloggers are very good at the humour) …. and it is good to see a bit of gallows humour in these dark days……

I have broken no confidences with these tweets. They were public – and, frankly, it won’t do Inspector Cleggeau any harm to know that his Party  poll rating has dropped to 16 points and not everyone is as impressed with him as he is with himself.


Link to footage

Link to Tunes….

Link 1 above

Link 2 above

Link 3 above

AND FINALLY……… THE GREAT ESCAPE THEME TUNE... you can even download it to your iPhone!  –  I have it on my iCharonphone... naturally.

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Behold… the most senior judges in the United Kingdom…The Supremes – distinguished men all, bar one, a very distinguished lady lawyer, Baroness Hale. They deal with the most pressing legal issues of the day and one would have thought, would have more on their collective minds than worrying about titles.  It would appear not. Let me say at once, that I admire our sense of nationhood, I enjoy our not always glorious history and I would prefer us to remain one nation.  I am persuaded by the sentiment behind independence and I am certainly attracted, in good time, by a Republic.  It matters not what I think – for I am going to change nothing by tilting at windmills.

I do, however, think that the establishment of The Supreme Court was a good thing.  I do like the separation of the judiciary from the executive and I do like the fact that new justices to the Supreme Court will not be made peers.  I am, therefore, a bit surprised to find that The Supremes are pressing for Sir John Dyson, newly elevated, to be given a courtesy title on the ground that Scottish judges can wander about – some quite junior judges – calling themselves Lord This and Lord That. Joshua Rozenberg writes of these matters in the Guardian. To my mind Ken Clarke, The new Lord Chancellor who, I assume, has not given himself a peerage or courtesy title, must resist this call and, thereby ensure that the judiciary is kept separate from the geegaws and baubles (and influences?) of State.  I appreciate that I am in the minority on this – but I would like to see all judges separated from their titles in time believing, as I do, that their appointment and distinction comes from their experience and not because they are given the titles of a bygone age.  I don’t suppose it really matters at the end of the day….but, that is my view… for what it is worth.

It is always good to see schadenfreude and hypocrisy in action. RollonFriday continues to give College of Law CEO, Nigel Savage, a going over...“RollOnFriday can reveal an email sent by the College of Law Chief Executive Nigel Savage to his staff to explain why they’d been awarded a 2% pay rise. Which contrasts very interestingly with the 40% bonus that he trousered himself.” I rather suspect that many of those I knew when RollonFriday first appeared in the early 2000s (I enjoyed posting  myself and, indeed, meeting many as Brigadier Grappa) are probably doing rather nicely.  Some of them WERE partners in law firms then – many now will be.  The generation now using RollonFriday, or a percentage, can look forward to very nice PEPs in future.    Law is a business like everything else.  If you don’t like the terms and conditions, and collective action cannot force change – do something else.  I don’t know the detail of lecturer salaries at the College of Law.  When I ran BPP Law School we certainly paid well above the public sector norm at universities.  That may have changed.    Hey ho!.  I suspect the owners of RollonFriday are trousering a few bob – and why not?!

And if you don’t believe me that law is a very SERIOUS business to some.. this marvellous nonsense from RollonFriday:

A tax partner at Freshfields’ Madrid office has published an article in the Spanish economic publication “Negocio” criticising her colleagues for watching football.
At 9:45 at night.Silvia Paternain gives vent to her irritation at the male lawyers in her department watching the Spain v Honduras match, while her female colleagues – who have no interest in the beautiful game – are toiling away at their desks. She argues that it doesn’t matter if it’s late in the evening – there’s still work to be done………

They talk about work / life balance at law firms… perhaps they you talk more about getting a life?

I am puzzled as to why there is so much interest in the PEP figures (profits) published by law firms. I was always brought up to believe that discussing money was impolite.  Now law firms are almost vying to get the news out on Twitter, Facebook groups and in the legal press.  I am all for open information, but need we be subjected to press releases about it?  Do lawyers really want more vilification and ridicule  from the public?

I bring you news that the Germans do not like the VUVUZELA. This may well be an opportunity to give ‘Der Kaiser’ as Beckenbauer, the ageing German soccer ace, is known in Germany, a stuffing.  He has been less than polite about ‘OUR BOYS’.

I shall be on the terraces…in Battersea… with my Vuvuzela on Sunday… count on it.

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This Week’s finest hour? Hardly!

I watched This Week (I have watched it for a long time.) – and found Andrew Neil’s treatment of Diane Abbott not to my taste. This Week was a good  programme.  It is not a ‘serious’ political programme. It is done for laughs and, to be fair, has provided many of those.  Tonight, in my ‘honest opinion’  – Andrew Neil demonstrated an ugly side to politics and political interviewing.  I have no problem with politicians being held to account on serious programmes.  I felt very uncomfortable watching Brillo tearing Diane Abbott apart.  He should not have done it on This Week – particularly as Diane Abbott has been a pundit for some time on this ‘light political parody programme’.

Andrew Neil would have been perfectly justified doing it on Daily Politics – although (Again, expressing a personal ‘honest opinion’ should Brillo and This Week producers be feeling litigious) serious analysis should be left to those who are truly good at it like Paxo, Jon Snow , Radio 4 Today presenters,  Dimbleby et al – and, to be fair,  Neil on DP. They do it fairly and with style.    A lot of people enjoyed the cruelty of Brillo ripping Diane Abbott apart – I saw the tweets on Twitter.  If you want to see cruelty watch a reality TV show.   I did not.  I don’t know anyone of any decency who  could enjoy the spectacle of what we saw on This Week tonight.

Not very British, I thought! In fact.. rather cowardly.  It was a bit like a host inviting  a guest to a dinner party to provide amusement  for the other guests.   That, of course, is a personal view.  I assume we are allowed to have personal views these days….?  I know it was touch and go in the dying days of Labour… but now that Clegg is running the country with Dave …. we should be OK on expressing personal views?

Tear politicians apart on Radio 4, Channel 4, Newsnight by all means   – Marr…..? Well… that is more Heat magazine meets Sunday GMTV sofa advertising colour supplement schtik ….. but don’t do it on a lightweight late Thursday night political parody programme.  It was ugly.  I hope Diane Abbot’s votes go up after that. I believe she increased her majority in the last election.  Quite unusual for a Labour MP, I would have thought?

Perhaps someone else could present This Week?

Tilting at windmills? Yes… what is the point?  🙂

[None.. that is the point about Titling at Windmills  (as they would say on  BBC Springwatch to keep up  a fine tradition of innuendo and sex on BBC) – I shall continue to do so until I am worked to death by the present government as they raise the pension age to 98]

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Watching  Question Time tonight I saw a man who used to have principles try to justify why he no longer seems to have any. At least the Tories – whether you like them or not – are consistent.  I am disappointed by Clegg and Cable. I suspect they may burn in the fires of a future election hell!

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Budget 2010

I’m sorry that you have to read them, if you care to, in reverse order…….  That’s Twitter for you and screen grabs!

I am sure… when I wake up… I shall take everything a lot more seriously…. anything, after all, is possible with the new government. Who would have thought that two world class and senior Lib-Dems would be nodding away like Churchill the Dog during a budget saying… *Oh Yes!*.

Two months ago I would have gone to see a doctor if I imagined that…….

And on that note… to bring a flavour of the World Cup into this analysis…

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I had a bit of fun growing another absurd tache to confuse visiting tourists – who did stare at me.  I was even photographed while reading my newspapers by a couple of elderly Canadians who asked me directions and told me that I had a ‘cute accent’…whatever that is. Perhaps I shouldn’t have told them that I was descended from Vercingetorix (I’m not) and the tache was a family trait.  I enjoy talking to people who come and talk to me – even if I cannot always guarantee that I will talk sense.  Anyway – tacheless until Winter comes upon us again when I may go for a Scott of The Antarctic look.  Now… a bit of Law…

Results of Cherie Blair inquiry ‘were covered up’

The Independent reports: The body which investigates complaints against judges has been accused of covering up the full extent of an investigation into Cherie Blair over her decision to hand down a lenient sentence to a convicted man because he was “a religious person”. An investigation into Mrs Blair, who is a devout Roman Catholic, was launched earlier this year by the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) following a request from the National Secular Society (NSS), which argued that a person’s religious conviction should not be used as a mitigating factor during sentencing.

….Mrs Blair explained that she was giving Mr Miah a two-year suspended sentence, instead of a six-month jail term, because he was “a religious person” who had not been in trouble before.

Following the NSS’s complaint, the OJC released a two-paragraph statement on 10 June stating that an investigation by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice had concluded that Mrs Blair’s “observations did not constitute judicial misconduct” and that “no disciplinary action” was necessary.

But in a separate letter to the NSS, obtained by The Independent, a caseworker from the OJC admitted that the complaint had in fact been “partially substantiated” and that, while no disciplinary action was needed, Mrs Blair would receive “informal advice from a senior judge.”

Others have noted on blogs and in online newspaper comments that Cherie Booth QC acted within sentencing guidelines in terms of the specifics of the case, it being argued that it is unlikely the defendant’s religious views would have made any difference.  That may well be the case. I make no comment on that.  I have not read all the evidence.  The issue as I see it is straightforward and I would simply make two points:

(a) The OJC should have given clear reasons for their findings when they announced the result.  This lack of transparency is part of the ‘secrecy’ malaise which blights much of the executive in this country and we do not need it in the judiciary or, rather The Office for Judicial Complaints. As the old saying goes… ‘Justice must not only be done, but needs to be seen to be done.’

(b) I can see absolutely no reason why a person’s religion or faith, whatever form that should take, should impact on sentencing.

The Independent notes: Mr Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said the OJC should still have released a more detailed statement which would have informed the public that two senior judges had shown concern over Mrs Blair’s sentencing decision and that she had been spoken to as a result. “It should be noted that the facts we alleged in our complaint are not disputed and that the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice have shared our concerns over this case,” he said. “We welcome them stating their concern that remarks should not be made in court that could be thought to imply that defendants should be treated differently because of their religion or belief. This is a timely reiteration of the fundamental of justice that everyone should be treated equally by the courts, whatever their religion, or lack of it.”

I’m with the NSS on this and not simply because I share the secular state views.

Neuberger report: more solicitor judges wanted

Not, unfortunately Lord Neuberger MR but another distinguished Neuberger – Baroness Neuberger.

The Lawyer reports: The Law Society has long stated its belief that the judiciary should better reflect the diversity of the society it serves rather than being the preserve of the white, heterosexual, Oxbridge-­educated, male barrister.  Last week (15 June) it held a reception to coincide with its response to Baroness Neuberger’s recent report on judicial diversity and to highlight the contribution of solicitor judges, who remain in the minority among the higher echelons of the judiciary. The report proposes 53 recommendations to attract underrepresented groups, including engaging with schools and colleges and promoting part-time ­positions, in acknowledgement that, despite the best efforts of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), women, ethnic minorities and those from working class backgrounds remain underrepresented.

One is almost tempted to say Yada Yada Yada… but I won’t. It is a serious issue – but the last thing people are going to say at a public reception is that we don’t want diversity in the judiciary because we could end up with a  judiciary which, frankly, is not very good at the job because of lack of experience.

The Bar may have  its problems.. There may still be a few walking cliches of the classic ‘white, heterosexual, Oxbridge-­educated, male barrister’ type harrumphing in Chambers and talking about suiting, shooting and solicitor-inadequates.  Frankly, I have not met that many of prejudiced disposition and puffing their innate superiority in 30 years of meeting barristers. Such people are buffoons and deserve to be ridiculed and parodied  when they pop their tailored haircuts above the parapet.   Oxbridge produces good young law students, but so do many other universities and students from diverse backgrounds are rising in the profession.     I am tired of lazy thinking and cliches. Professor Griffith’s book ‘The Politics of The Judiciary’ was written many many years ago – a fun read when I was a mildly radical law student, with much sense in it – but things have changed in 40 years. We’re not there yet – but I do think it fair to say that the profession is trying to move in the right direction and attract a more diverse social group into the the law.

The way to get diversity into our legal profession and judiciary is to promote good quality education to a wider social group and invest in it.  The sad fact is that it is easier for the children of the middle classes to get into law and many of these have been white.  Things are changing slowly – and diversity will come.  I can’t imagine there are tens of  thousands of lawyers saying we don’t want diversity in the profession or the judiciary.

The last thing we need is positive discrimination and a pile of useless inexperienced judges – of whatever colour, creed or social background.  We must resist the temptation to be seduced by the social benefits of positive discrimination or, as I prefer to put it tonight – because I am feeling sardonic – positive patronisation.

As I used to say when I set examination questions – Discuss.

An American cartoonist (and lawyer and artist) friend,  Charles Fincher,  does excellent cartoons.

Always worth looking at both Scribble-in-Law and Bitcher & Prickman

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It being a Sunday, I don’t feel any sense of angst or the need to wring hands about not writing seriously about law. That can wait until Monday, when I shall do so.  I am pleased to be able to report that my mate Tim Kevan, author of Babybarista,  and I came up with an idea unfuelled by copious amounts of Rioja.  We plan to involve my entirely fictional law firm Muttley Dastardly LLP with Babybarista from time to time.  I have penned the first such guest post on his blog.  “Instructions to Counsel” from Matt Mattley, CEO and managing partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP.  Although the idea to do this was unfuelled by Rioja… I cannot lie.  I was serendipitously overrefreshed  when I wrote the instructions to counsel.


Red Rag reports: Red Rag – Clegg begs Sheffield for forgiveness…..Sheffield starts a petition against Clegg

Oh Dear.  First Laws, then the wonderfully surreal appointment of Beaker as Treasury Secretary. Today, Huhne and his marital difficulties – which, frankly, as I don’t believe Huhne made ‘family’ a central plank of his campaign (although he  did say it was important, as Guido reports)  – is none of our business.

Government spends £17,500 on wine

The BBC reports: “More than £17,500 has been spent topping up the government wine cellar since the election, it has emerged.

It brings the total value of fine wine stored for VIP functions to £864,000, a Commons answer by Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham revealed.

Labour’s Tom Watson said the Tory-Lib Dem coalition should sell the wine to boost the public finances, quoting Tory slogan “we’re all in this together”.

The government says it buys wine young to ensure the best value for taxpayers.

Tom Watson MP is a bit of a whizz on the IT, Information and FOI side – so I was delighted to read of his story aboput government wine expenditure.  I am a patriot.  I try to do what I can for my country as the tweets below reveal.  At least Tom has a sense of humour in these dark days of opposition.

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I am not a football fan – I rarely watch football, but I am a fan of the human condition.  So last night, a bottle of Rioja and Marlboros to hand, a Panama hat on my head and a Saltire draped over my shoulders, I settled down to watch a command performance from England’s Best! The tweets I read ranged from irate to hilarious.  I contributed a few thoughts of my own on Twitter – becoming progressively more surreal, it has to be said, as the wine was consumed.


Important Notice: BEFORE you go any further please click here – a new window will open (which you can then close… you will probably wish to do so!)

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F**kArt: Assertive Banana

I was a bit irritated this morning after phoning five accounts departments to see why they hadn’t dealt with my invoices as requested.  Two didn’t even have the invoice.  One said that the department had my invoice but had forgotten to deal with it and two of the departments were in India.  Dealing with accounts departments in India – outsourcing they call it – is wonderful for the organisation’s cashflow.  For the supplier who expects to be paid it is sheer hell dealing with them.  I gave up and reached into my fruit bowl for a banana.

It was at this point, as I peeled the banana, that I thought to myself…“If this banana could speak… what would it have said to the accounts departments?”  It was but a short leap to get my clay and paints out and make a talking banana.

What would the talking banana have said?   I can tell you… it would have said this….

“Get your farkin ass in gear and pay the man…. or the other bananas get it….Capische?!!”

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Clegg seems to be unveiling a lot of plans these days – or perhaps it is just the latest cliche from the mainstream media?  Anyway – here is a totally preposterous plan unveiled by the Beloved Dear Deputy Leader Clegg Il Sung… as reported in The Guardian…..

Nick Clegg unveils plan to give Lib Dems independence from government

Guardian: Proposals include committees to scrutinise departments, allowing chairs to ask questions autonomous from coalition

I thought the Lib-Dems were in the government?  How can they be both in it and out of it.?

Frankly… I’d like to see Clegg and iCam, Britain’s favourite App,  do a Sand Dance… I’d pay money to see that.  It can only be a matter of time…. and I have time on my side!

Here is some rare footage of Dave & Cam auditioning.  Captured on an iPad 2.0 they tell me.

I probably spend too much time on Twitter… but Obama is beginning to get on my nerves.

And George Osborne gave his speech at the Mansion House… and abolished the FSA, gave power to Merv, who is probably now the most powerful central banker in Europe…and he saw that it was good.  I always enjoy chatting to mates on twitter and @ENomates always has something interesting  to say!

As with all tweet grabs… you have to start at the bottom and work up… a bit like life, really.

Emily NoMates asks… has the market found its ‘W’ Bottom?

The FSA will cease to exist in its current form

Selected highlights from Chancellor’s Mansion House speech:

Mansion House speech: Supping with bankers

Guardian: The Tories were always ahead of Labour when it came to reform, but George Osborne has still not gone far enough

I’m like a dog with a bone, sometimes…..

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Dr Wolfgang Becker,  Rechtsanwalt, solicitor and a partner in Muttley Dastardly LLP, was originally admitted to The Partnership to leverage the value of marriage failure among the seriously rich business and celebrity sectors. In but two months he  has billed ‘comfortably into seven figures’.  For reasons of taste, discretion and taxation, The Partners of Muttley Dastardly LPP never reveal financial information to the Press.

Today, I met with Dr Wolffgang Becker in his well appointed office on the fifth floor. I was surprised by the design of the office which  comprises of two staircases leading down to a central hall.  Two high backed Chippendale chairs were placed opposite each other by the wall facing a vase of flowers.  There was no sign of any office paraphernalia, no computers, nothing to give the impression that I was in a leading family lawyer’s office.

Dr Becker appeared from the left hand staircase, dressed in a black linen Nehru suit and a pair of  tassled black suede loafers.  He wore yellow socks.  Clipped and precise, he shook my hand, asked for my Amex card and then remembered that I was not a client, but was visiting for the purpose of an interview to gain an insight into the mind of a man who was at the very forefront of the world of family law in the new era of the Legal Services Act.

“Old habits die hard” he said laconically as he invited me to take the chair opposite.  “Would you like some champagne or coffee?  Tea perhaps?  We have many types of tea here.  It is not a drink I care for myself, but many of our clients are English and they often find  solace in taking tea while they brief me on their ideas for divorce and, more importantly for them and ourselves, the financial arrangements.”

I accepted his offer of a glass of champagne. Within ten seconds a butler arrived with two glasses of champagne. He seemed to appear from nowhere, but in fact entered through the door at the end of the central hall beyond the flowers.

“I’m impressed” I said. “You didn’t appear to give any instructions.”

Dr Becker smiled and waved his hand dismissively. “Everything is recorded here.  My staff are listening in.  It is so much easier to have a precise record on digital file, wouldn’t you agree?

“Your record with high value clients is impressive Dr Becker”  I said, rising to the occasion by not referring to any of the notes I had made earlier. “But tell me, why is Muttley Dastardly LLP entering the mass divorce market at a time when family lawyers are feeling the pinch, when legal aid is being cut, when family law barristers say they can no longer afford to take on cases?”

“You have answered your own question Herr Professor Doctor Charon.” Dr Becker replied, clearly mistaking me for my rather tedious brother, Professor RD Charon PHD, FRSA “It is precisely because the general practitioner in this country is abandoning this sector that we feel we can …. shall we say….. hoover it all up and by using the internet, call centres in India and cheap but highly effective lawyers in India,  who are becoming more and more expert in English Law….maximise the profit.”

“Do you have a brand name for this new divorce service?” I asked, draining my glass.  Within seconds the butler appeared with a second glass of champagne on a silver tray.  I took it without demurring and thanked the butler for his attentiveness.

“Ja!  Of course. Megaladon is the vehicle we use for all our mass market law operations, personal injury, negligence, conveyancing….  I wanted to call it  Megaladon with your wife or husband?, but Matt Muttley, our CEO, thought the humour was just too black even for us.  He was probably right.”

I managed to suppress the hysteria rising from the very core of my being, drained the second glass in one and asked “And how do you make your money?”

“We accept a range of credit cards Herr Professor.  Do you have any other questions?”
Before I could reply, the butler appeared with a bill for £52 + 12.5% service.  He handed me the portable credit card machine and smiled.  There is no need to leave a gratuity, Sir.  Service is included.”

Dr Becker smiled “Good champagne, Ja….? I’m sure you will be able to get it back on expenses.   There are no free lunches in life, Herr Professor Dr Charon,  and certainly there aren’t at Muttley Dastardly LLP. As there is not an opportunity to bill for your time with me today, we have to cover the costs.  £52 for three and a half minutes is well below what I would ordinarily charge, of course – but it has been a pleasure to meet you.  Give my regards to your brother Charon QC… Tell him that I was so fascinated with his new iCharonphone and the iDNA app which I saw on his blog only this afternoon that I have downloaded Cellmark’s application.  Most useful.  It will be most useful for our work here and, quite possibly for personal use also.  It has been a pleasure to meet you.”

With that, Dr Becker was gone.  He seemed to glide, rather than walk.  I smiled as he went up the staircase on the right and thought to myself… “How marvellously  Germanic… one staircase for down, one for up.”  The £52 I paid for the champagne was worth every penny.  I should be able to recover this ‘disbursement’  from Matt Muttley when we meet as Ascot later this week.  I, too, have one of those portable credit card reading devices. I shall be taking it with me to Ascot.  One must, after all, be prepared.


Cellmark supports the Insite Law free student resource, so I am more than happy to punt their new iDNA app!  If you are a family lawyer – it could be most useful! I’m going to download one myself and see what happens!


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My paternity has, on occasion, been called into question during my increasingly (pleasingly) long life – but now, should I be minded to, or have to, prove it there is information to hand with iDNA. DNA by Cellmark. iDNA “is designed to provide you with the information you need before you decide to undergo DNA relationship testing”, and includes a facility that “offers existing customers the opportunity to check the progress of their DNA testing case”, whether they be lawyers, doctors or private individuals. It also includes “details of the wide range of different types of DNA relationship testing that Cellmark offers”.

Cellmark Marketing Manager Paul West says: “The key thing for the legal community is that it provides an aide memoire about DNA testing – offering advice on the effectiveness of each type of testing and also provides videos about the key issues and for existing customers of Cellmark they can quickly and simply check on the progress of a case.”

iDNA is available from the iTunes Store for NOTHING!  This means you will be able to buy a Vuvuzela after all! =========<0 BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ


Some time ago I wrote about The Mongoliers… two intrepid souls.  Here is an update on the story so far!
With The Two Mongoleers (Laura Over and her friend Paul Evans) due to set off in only six weeks we thought it an apt time to bring you another update on their rally shenanigans. The pair will be taking part in The Mongol Rally 2010, and spending five weeks driving over 10,000 miles from Brighton to Mongolia in an effort to raise money for charity.
Amongst many difficult obstacles, they’ll be attempting to cross 14 countries and the fourth largest desert in the world (The Gobi).  Not an easy task in a 1 litre Polo (donated by Jefferies Farm, Crawley)!  The two have poured their heart and soul into the adventure for the last year – fundraising, researching, sourcing a vehicle, getting injections and arranging visas and equipment. They even rolled up their sleeves and completed a two day intensive mechanics course so they have a hope of fixing their car (and getting themselves out of a whole heap of trouble!) if and when they break down in the middle of absolutely no-where.  Laura (who is in her fourth year of training as a legal executive and works for asb law LLP in Crawley) says “With no back or support team to assist us, completing the rally will be no easy task, but we’re up for the challenge! We’ve worked hard and can’t wait.”

The pair have so far raised over £1,100 for their three charities – The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, Cancer Research and The Neurofibromatosis Association.  Whilst they offer a big thank you to all those who have shown their support so far by providing equipment and charitable donations they still need some help getting to their target of £2,000. For any of my readers who would  like to lend a much needed hand, do check out their website www.thetwomongoleers.co.uk

The teams are due to set off on 24th July from Goodwood – The Festival of Slow! It will be a great day out with food stalls, performers and musicians. Plus, it will be a good chance to wish The Two Mongoleers a safe journey as they (and the other 299 teams) set off on this quite daunting adventure.  It’s a free event and all are welcome.  Bon Voyage!


Follow an action from the initial stages, right through to a High Court decision with Pending Actions – new on Lawtel.

Pending Actions tracks key documents submitted to the High Court before a hearing date is fixed. Enabling you to follow proceedings from start to finish, and make decisions based on actions submitted to the court. For example, you can flag up important cases at the earliest stage, or, see if an action has been settled out of court.

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Please make sure you’ve got your volume turned on.

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On the third floor of the Muttley Dastardly LLP building in the City is a suite where five highly paid specialists, two men and three women, are paid to think.  Sometimes they think the unthinkable conceptually.  Sometimes they think about doing the unthinkable to get an edge on the competition. For the remainder of the time they  think carefully about the politico-economic drivers which affect our national interest, for this is the interest of The Partners. The Head of the *Unit*, Massimo Charles Lutyens Rutland, graduated with First Class honours in Economics  from Cambridge, went on to INSEAD,  and after a spell at Lehman Brothers – he was fortunate enough to get out intact before the crash – went in for his own interest and joined Muttley Dastardly LLP.

Rutland was admitted to The Partnership, following successful completion of the GDL, which he completed in two months of detailed study while commuting from his Surrey home to the City;  going on then to qualify as a solicitor via the New York Bar examination, the latter taking him but a month to memorise sufficient data to satisfy the examiners. Rutland has the grace, at least, to say to those who ask about his legal background that ‘It is fortunate indeed, that I do not wish to practise as a lawyer in England… the truth is I know very little about English Law… or for that matter…any law…. mind you…they say that this is true of some who actually hold themselves out as practising lawyers.”

His associates, (they are not lawyers)  are never identified by name, not even within the firm.  Their identity is known only to Rutland and the CEO and managing partner, Matt Muttley. The *Unit* works closely with partner and director of education, Dr Strangelove, on psyops – on a project of ‘limited visibility’ with the filename DOH!  This stands for Dissimulation, Obfuscation and Hegemony;  a subtle joke, if of questionable taste, thought up by Dr Strangelove.


Below is a transcript of a brief iPhone conversation between Rutland and Matt Muttley

Muttley: Massimo – your thoughts on Osborne’s problem?  Fraser Nelson is saying in relation to the economy ‘things are going disastrously right’.

Rutland: Sure, but that was fairly predictable. Darling is no fool.  He hid £6Bn from Brown’s eyes during the election period to stop Brown spending it. Legacy, however limited, is a powerful driver for all politicians. Even a miserable scrap like that can be worth basing an entire book around.  Osborne has set up the OBR.  This could be a cuckoo that flew over Osborne’s nest and takes a dump on him en route to Tuscany before too long.  Osborne has no room to say that some things are worse than we thought, because the OBR says the economy is doing rather better than Darling predicted.  Sure, there are spending atrocities which The Sun will push out to their readership, but these are not structural.  They make good copy.  The problem is growth.  The OBR says that growth forecasts are lower than Labour forecast.  Osborne will therefore be able to use that to justify cuts.  There is every prospect, reading the press, that Osborne will make cuts to keep the cavalry twill wearers of Surrey and backbenchers who have been released back into the community happy, but it is unlikely that he will be daft enough to do a Roosevelt and drop us into double dip.  Osborne, and Labour, or whatever they are calling themselves these days,whether they like it or not,  is far from stupid.  In fact, he must be rubbing his hands that Laws has gone and Beaker is his Chief Treasury.  Alexander is expendable and it is a blessing that he is a Lib-Dem.  Yes… the Coalition agreement requires that ‘One out, one in’ but the Lib-Dems only have 50 odd MPs and they are running out of people who can count, let alone run the Treasury.

Muttley: So things are looking good?  I watched the five Labour candidates on Newsnight tonight.  I can’t say that there is much there to discuss?

Rutland: Nothing.  Irrelevant for the moment. Christ… the election runs until the Autumn.  This is good for the government, because there isn’t an opposition now that the Lib-Dems are part of government, and won’t be until the Self Aggrandisement conference season is over in September.

Muttley: Budget next week?

Rutland: Unfortunately, the new government is unlikely to leave it on the back seat of a taxi.  I’m thinking.  I’ll get back to you

Muttley: Anything to trouble us?

Rutland: No.  All looking good.  There is a developing shambles.  Parliament Square being cleared will cause even more confusion.  House prices dropped today by 5%.  BP looks as if it won’t pay the dividend.  That means less money for the pension funds.  This will irritate the cavalry twill wearers and dawn on many others as a ‘bad thing’. Yes… I think we can safely say that there will be plenty of work for us.  Dr Strangelove has started buying BP shares again in a modest way.  I think we should get out of wind farm stock.

Muttley: Ok. Thanks Massimo…. we’ll talk at 6.30 tomorrow morning.  Helpful.

Rutland: Ok…what time will you be getting to The Groucho?

Muttley: I’ve just pulled up outside.  See you in thirty.  Strength and profits.

Rutland: Strength and profits, Brother Matt!

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