Archive for June 14th, 2010

Dear Reader,

I had not considered Danny Alexander a deadringer for “Beaker” until I saw the reference and pic on Guido Fawkes – so Hat Tip to Guido. This was largely because I didn’t even know, much less care about, who Danny Alexander was until the Tree Huggers found themselves lining up with fully paid up members of The Genghis Khan Fanciers Society after the election.  I can now see the resemblance all too clearly  I have to say, his public appearances on television have not been impressive.

Lord Phillips defends Human Rights Act

Reading the Law Society Gazette online I was interested in the report of Lord Phillips’ speech where he asserted that The Human Rights Act 1998 is ‘a vital part of the foundation of our fight against terrorism’.

The Gazette went on to report:

In a speech last week, the former lord chief justice said that senior judges were criticised by Charles Clarke when he was home secretary because, in Clarke’s words, ‘the judiciary bear not the slightest responsibility for protecting the public and sometimes seem utterly unaware of the implications of their decisions for our society’.

Defending the judges, Phillips told an audience at Gresham College last week that ‘Charles Clarke failed to appreciate that it is the duty of the judiciary to apply the laws that have been enacted by parliament. It was parliament that decreed that judges should apply the Human Rights Convention and, when doing so, to take account of the judgments of the Strasbourg Court’.

He added: ‘In my opinion, the enactment of the Human Rights Act by the previous administration was an outstanding contribution to the upholding of the rule of law in this country and one for which it deserves great credit.’

Discussing the cause of terrorism in Britain, Lord Phillips remarked that the so-called ‘war on terrorism’ was ‘not so much a military as an ideological battle’. He said: ‘Respect for human rights is a key weapon in that ideological battle.

I think Lord Phillips is right. We are in the midst of war which at best can, some experts say, only produce a temporary command and control over the Taleban and Al Qaeda.  The Taleban have often been quoted as saying that time is on their side.  Are we to wage a permanent war in Afghanistan at present rates of death and injury to our armed forces and those of our allies? – or should we press for more emphasis on talking, more emphasis on listening to why those who wage war against us wage such war?  One thing is for certain – a country without the human rights our law seeks to promote and protect is not a country that I would wish to live in.  Nor would I wish our country to engage in atrocity, to engage in torture, and if we do, I would expect our government not to sanction or condone it and bring those who engage in it to justice.  But there again, our  country would never do such things…would it?

I’m beginning to wonder if a preferred course of action would be to withdraw our troops, deploy our forces along the lines of a defence force , contain the problem here and start what will a long process, with others, to find a peaceful solution that is not reliant on the killing of so many… on all sides.   Hey… I’m talking rubbish.  The gung ho brigade would rather torture the bastards, electrocute their genitals and waterboard them until we get the truth, carpet bomb the fuckers back into the stone age and show them who is boss and sing Jerusalem… oh.. what a lovely war… oh what wonderful irony in the title of our so called ‘national’ song.  Utopia will never happen…. Rule Dystopia…Dystopia rules the f**cking waves.

I don’t really want to write more tonight.

best as ever


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Bar must step up competition with solicitors, chairman warns

The Law Society Gazette reports: “The bar must embrace direct access to the public to compete in a system that has been ‘calibrated and designed to hand the entire legal aid pot to solicitors’, the Bar Council chairman said last week. Speaking at a symposium last week to discuss the paper The Future of the Bar, Nick Green QC also suggested that it should be open to solicitor-advocates to join the bar. Green said the bar, and particularly the publicly funded bar, needs to modernise and adopt new business structures to cope with the rapidly evolving market, and challenging economic environment.”

Pundits have been predicting the demise of the bar since 1189, or time immemorial as academics like to call it in the history books. Looking at the trend, speaking to younger members of the Bar, it is clear that legal aid budgets being cut is affecting the work flow and the living of some young barristers is by no means lavish – with many waiting disgraceful amounts of time for solicitors to pay their fees.  With the Chief Justice calling for all advocates appearing before the higher courts to be governed by the same professional standards it must be only a matter of time before solicitor-advocates are invited to join the Bar.  Things are, indeed, changing in the legal landscape.

College of Law Inside Track Podcast: Nicholas Green QC – Chairman of the Bar on the future of the legal profession
Nicholas Green QC outlines his vision for the future of the Bar, his optimism that it will continue to develop and grow and his belief in the need for it to become more commercial, while holding on to the highest professional standards. He discusses the impact of the Legal Services Act, including the ability of barristers to go into partnership with solicitors, the issue of direct access to the Bar plus the increasing flexibility of career routes into the profession.

Bar Council Chairman Sets Out ‘Radical and Progressive Vision’ for the Future of the Bar

Publishing a new blueprint for the profession – The future of the Bar – the Chairman called, amongst other things, for the Bar to:

  • Embrace new business structures that enable it to capitalise upon the opportunities presented by the Legal Services Act 2007
  • Work constructively with the Government on ways and means to save money which do not harm the administration of justice
  • See the Inns play a more prominent role in training for advocacy across the entire profession

Ken Clarke signals ‘more sensible’ prison sentencing policy

Guardian: Prison reformers welcome justice secretary’s claim that short prison sentences are ineffective in cutting reoffending rates

Prison reformers today welcomed what appeared to be a major shift in the approach to penal policy outlined by the new justice secretary, Ken Clarke, over the weekend. The lord chancellor questioned why the prison population – at 85,000 – was nearly double what it was when he was home secretary in the early 1990s. Clarke confirmed that he is looking for cuts in the £2.2bn prison budget and seemed to indicate that he did not regard short prison sentences as effective in cutting reoffending rates. He acknowledged that members of the public were still “very, very worried about lawlessness” but said that their “fear of crime” is probably out of proportion to what they actually face.

It is quite remarkable that the prison population has doubled in a matter of just under twenty years.  Are we, perhaps, putting people into prisons who shouldn’t really be there?  Do we have 85,000 people who are so dangerous they have to be ‘banged up’?  Would not some other method of penalty be more appropriate… perhaps very substantial property confiscation or fines which would have the merit of bringing in revenue rather than  costing us the £40,000 pa sum current estimates say it costs the taxpayer? By way of example:  Lord Archer was sent to prison some time ago for perjury.  What a complete waste of taxpayer money.  A substantial fine would have penalised him and brought substantial revenue in.  He did his time, wrote three excellent books about the system, and because he did his time a lot more people respected him when he came out  than did before he went down.  I count myself among that number. Vindictiveness and retribution  should not be part of our criminal process in all cases – although understandable in cases of serious offences of violence, child molestation, rape et al.

Prisoner rights to vote – time for the government to implement the decision ofd the European Court.

While it may well stick in the craw of many (particularly readers of tabloids and mania newsprint)  that prisoners should have the right to vote, the fact of the matter is that we are in breach of a European Court decision which declares the right to vote a basic human right.

I do not agree with Jailhouse Lawyer on many issues – and I would doubt that refusing to give prisoners access to the internet be regarded as a human right (a privilege to be earned, possibly?) – but he has argued consistently on the theme of prisoner voting rights and has taken our government to court and won.  Worth a read

The Sun wades in bringing Lord Pannick QC along for credibility and the ride…

TAXPAYERS could face a £60million bill as prisoners appeal against Britain’s refusal to let them vote.

Sixty cons are currently battling to force the Government to give them a say at the ballot box. But experts warn thousands of others could follow suit and file claims for compensation. One barrister estimated each claimant could receive as much as £750 – and there are 85,000 people in UK prisons. Lord David Pannick, QC, an expert in European law, forecast: “The bill, which taxpayers will be meeting, may be a large one.”
The Sun gives a bit of spin on this designed, no doubt, to make people throughout the land splutter onto their ‘Full English’ breakfasts…
“But a lag in one of the UK’s biggest jails told The Sun: “You can’t get hold of an Argos catalogue in here because everyone’s already choosing how to spend their cash.”

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