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Archive for July, 2010

Lib Dems fear guilt by association with Osborne

Independent:

Liberal Democrat ministers have warned that the Conservatives will inflict lasting political damage to Nick Clegg’s party if voters think the coalition Government is relishing the task of cutting public spending.

Although the Cabinet has agreed to try to blame the cuts on its inheritance from Labour, senior Lib Dems are worried that some Tory politicians – including George Osborne, the Chancellor – give the impression they are on a Thatcherite mission to shrink the state.

One Liberal Democrat minister warned yesterday: “If we look as though we are enjoying it, we’re dead. We have to take people with us.”

Hahaha!  Lib-Dem support may well be below 10% soon….

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Well… after the decision today of a ‘strong’ Court of Appeal (LCJ, MR & P of QBD) it would appear that the MPs and a peer being prosecuted for expenses have run out of options to claim that Parliament should deal with them.

The Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Lord Neuberger, Master of The Rolls and Sir Anthony May, President of The Queen’s Bench Division, rejected argument by David Chaytor, Elliot Morley, Jim Devine and Lord Hanningfield, that they are protected from prosecution by parliamentary privilege. It is open to the four, who deny theft by false accounting, to seek to take their cases to the Supreme Court. The essence of the appeal was a submission that any investigation into their expenses claims and the imposition of any sanctions “should lie within the hands of Parliament”.

The judgment is essential reading for those interested in Constitutional Law and ‘Parliamentary Privilege’.  I had rather a good lunch reading the judgment.  I thought a light Italian red would be a fine accompaniment.  It was. A fascinating judgment with many cases examined – a pleasure to read from a lawyer’s point of view – and, no doubt, for those who wish to see MPs prosecuted.

Guido Fawkes reported:

+ + + Lord Chief Justices Rules + + +
+ + + MPs To Be Treated As Common Criminals + + +

That would be a fair assessment in the light of the judgment.  I quote the Conclusion…

    Conclusion

  1. If we may respectfully say so, we are not in the least surprised that no attempt has been made by the Speaker or Lord Speaker to seek to intervene in these proceedings, nor even to draw the attention of the court to any potential difficulty in the context of parliamentary privilege, nor even to ask the court to reflect on the possibility that parliamentary privilege may be engaged.
  2. It can confidently be stated that parliamentary privilege or immunity from criminal prosecution has never ever attached to ordinary criminal activities by members of Parliament. With the necessary exception in relation to the exercise of freedom of speech, it is difficult to envisage circumstances in which the performance of the core responsibilities of a member of Parliament might require or permit him or her to commit crime, or in which the commission of crime could form part of the proceedings in the House for the purposes of article 9 of the Bill of Rights. Equally we cannot discern from principle or authority that privilege or immunity in relation to such conduct may arise merely because the allegations are based on activities which have taken place “within the walls” of Parliament.
  3. The stark reality is that the defendants are alleged to have taken advantage of the allowances scheme designed to enable them to perform their important public duties as members of Parliament to commit crimes of dishonesty to which parliamentary immunity or privilege does not, has never, and, we believe, never would attach. If the allegations are proved, and we emphasise, if they are proved, then those against whom they are proved will have committed ordinary crimes. Even stretching language to its limits we are unable to envisage how dishonest claims by members of Parliament for their expenses or allowances begin to involve the legislative or core functions of the relevant House, or the proper performance of their important public duties. In our judgment no question of privilege arises, and the ordinary process of the criminal justice system should take its normal course, unaffected by any groundless anxiety that they might constitute an infringement of the principles of parliamentary privilege.
  4. The decision of Saunders J was correct. The appeals will be dismissed.

It being Friday and “Rive Gauche” Day for me…. I just have to share this remarkable story with you…

Naked trampoline man avoids jail sentence

A man caught jumping up and down naked on a trampoline has avoided a jail sentence.

James Burden, 55, was spotted by a neighbour in the garden of his Falkirk home at 0500 GMT on 25 March. Falkirk Sheriff Court heard Burden had his “manhood” in one hand and a cigarette in the other when the neighbour saw him.

Mike McMahon, prosecuting, said: “He told police he had gone out to the trampoline and had masturbated himself there.”

Asked why he did it, Burden told officers: “Just for the thrill of it.”

Well… there you are… life in Britain goes on and now the courts and parliament are in recess and the long vacation.  What will I be able to write about?  Have no fear… I shall, I am sure, as I holiday in Battersea Square, find something each day to explore.

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I do love the smell of hubris and schadenfreude in the morning….

Yahoo.. reports.

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I felt like a bit of Shakespeare tonight….

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The right to arrest war crime suspects

Guardian Letter 29th July 2010

[I have reproduced the Guardian Letter in full]

We are horrified at the proposals by justice secretary Kenneth Clarke to give the director of public prosecutions a veto over arrest warrants in private prosecutions for international crimes (Report, 22 July). The justice secretary’s statement appeared to question the ability of magistrates themselves to weed out flimsy cases. To imply that any previous arrest warrants were issued without judges being satisfied of the existence of serious evidence against the person concerned is an insult to the British legal system and the senior magistrates that preside over such cases. Involving the DPP risks adding a political dimension to a legal decision and introduces a source of delay when urgent action may be required to stop a suspect escaping justice.

Since we call on other countries to uphold human rights and international law, our legal system also has to abide by those principles, in particular bringing to justice those responsible for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and hostage-taking. It’s no secret that this move is the result of pressure from the Israeli government to try to ensure that ex-ministers and military staff will not have to face warrants for their arrest on entering this country.

Rather than bending to pressure to change the existing law, our government should be issuing a statement of intent that all those responsible for serious international crimes, whatever their nationality, will be brought to justice if and when the evidence supports criminal prosecution. The proposed changes will apply to everyone, making it more difficult to prosecute all suspects, whether from Israel or any other country involved in systematic human rights violations. Britain must not be seen as a safe haven for anyone suspected of committing such grave international crimes.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC

Daniel Machover

Louise Christian

Alexei Sayle

Miriam Margoyles

Keith Sonnet Deputy general secretary, Unison

Hugh Lanning Deputy general secretary, PCS

Sally Hunt General secretary, UCU

Kevin Courtney Deputy general Secretary, NUT

Andy Dark Assistant general secretar, FBU

Tony Woodley Joint general secretary, Unite

Simon Dubbins International director, Unite

Betty Hunter General secretary, Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Rev Canon Garth Hewitt

Benjamin Zephaniah

Lindsey German Chair, Stop the War

Daud Abdullah Director, Middle East Monitor

Chris Doyle Director Council for Arab-British Understanding

Mohammed Sawalha British Muslim Initiative

Farooq Murad Secretary general, Muslim Council of Britain

Diana Neslen Jews for Justice for Palestinians

Diane Abbott MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Emily Thornberry MP

Bruce Kent

Karma Nabulsi

Ahdaf Soueif

Caryl Churchill

John Austin

Eleanor Kilroy

Karen Mitchell

Victoria Brittain

Sarah McSherry

Katherine Craig

Ian McDonald

Penny Maddrell

Jackie Alsaid

Andrew Sanger

David Halpin

Bill Benfield

Yvonne Ridley

Andy Newman

Mohammed Asif

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Cameron and co tread carefully over Kashmir

Guardian: It is clear that every minister accompanying David Cameron on his trip to India has been told not to talk about Kashmir

LATEST…. Hague clarifies….! Not that I know anything about it… but I’d say that British foreign policy is  quite extraordinary at the moment….  Turkey, Gaza, Israel….. what next…. a fact finding mission to North Korea to see #BigSociety ?

UK PM cautions Pakistan over ‘terror exports’

BBC: Leaked documents accuse Pakistani intelligence of helping Afghan militants

British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned Pakistan not to have any relationship with groups that “promote the export of terror”.

Found pic on net… but cd not find owner… great pic!  Sorry if it is yours!

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