Archive for August 15th, 2010

Dear Reader,

It has been another quiet week.  August  is always a bit quiet with the courts shut and lawyers away on holiday.  Clegg returned from holiday in Spain, eager to take over the reins of power and even indicated on the Number 10 website, apparently, that “he would be making a high-profile appearance on Monday when he “takes over from David Cameron while the PM is on holiday”.


Nick Clegg humiliated after Downing Street remove website claims he will be in charge while David Cameron is away

But by 4pm they had removed all reference of Mr Clegg “taking over”.

Experts call for David Kelly inquest

I am not normally prone to the conspiracy theory of life.  I rather suspect, given that we are British, that ‘cock-up’ is more likely than not for some of the strange things we do in our country.  On the issue of the death of Dr Kelly I have more than an open mind.  I am in favour of a rather more full inquest and investigation than the ‘whitewash’ conducted by Lord Hutton was able to provide.

Channel 4 reports: “The original inquest was subsumed into Lord Hutton’s inquiry into the circumstance surrounding Dr Kelly’s death – it concluded that he had died from cuts to his wrist and an overdose of painkillers. Now nine experts, including the former coroner and QC Michael Powers, and Sir Barry Jackson, who is the former president of the British Academy of Forensic Science, have written an open letter to ministers casting doubt on that conclusion. They claim the official cause of death, a haemorrhage from a severed artery, was “extremely unlikely”. They insisted that insufficient blood would have been lost from such an injury – calling the verdict “unsafe”….. “

If it proves to be the case that Dr Kelly did, indeed, kill himself in those woods then so be it.  I’d just like to see clear evidence to support such a conclusion. Senior lawyers and forensic scientists are not prone to writing open letters without good reason.

Terror laws overused by police, research suggests

The Law Society Gazette had an interesting story yesterday: “Less than 4% of people arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 were convicted of terrorism-related offences in 2009, new research has found. Just eight people were convicted out of 207 arrests made under the act in 2009, according to Home Office statistics analysed by legal information provider Sweet & Maxwell. In the 10 years since the act was introduced, of the 1,817 people arrested under it, 235 have been convicted for terrorist-related offences – less than 13%, the research found. The Terrorism Act 2000 gave police new powers to arrest and detain suspects without charge.”

I find this statistic, particularly the 4% statistic for 2009, rather worrying. Coming on top of abuses of RIPA  and other terror legislation, by Police, Councils and other bodies – and plans to give shopping mall security staff power to hand out on the spot fines – it would seem that it is not so much the law that is a problem (and these laws are a problem) but the people who misuse them.

Law chief urges Scots courts: consult the Bible in judgments

I met Lord Mackay briefly when he came to talk to my law students  – a very charming man – and while I respect the right of those who wish to believe, to believe, I am not at all keen on any form of religion continuing to be tied in with The Rule of law.  TheHeraldScotland reports:

One of the most prestigious figures in Scots law is calling on the country’s courts to take biblical teachings into account when administering justice.

Former Conservative Cabinet member Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who served as Lord Chancellor under Margaret Thatcher and John Major as well as holding the post of Scotland’s Lord Advocate, is fronting a campaign which will see bibles sent to every court in the land.  Just because God rested on the seventh day does not mean that we should have to. As the report indicates – Scots judges are aware of The Enlightenment and will, hopefully, continue to dispense justice according to recorded “Law”.

It is fortunate that the writ of Scots Law does not run in England & Wales.  I seem to recall from the BBC programme The Normans one of the Marcher Lords making a Royal emissary from England who tried to deliver a Royal Wit being made to eat it…and the wax seal as well.

If you fancy a diversion from all this law – unusual in my weekly Postcard – have a look at Iain Fale’s Diary  – a most enjoyable read

Then they came for Jackie Milburn

WikiLeaks: We Won’t Be Threatened By Pentagon

The Huffington Post reports:

STOCKHOLM — WikiLeaks will publish its remaining 15,000 Afghan war documents within a month, despite warnings from the U.S. government, the organization’s founder said Saturday.The Pentagon has said that secret information will be even more damaging to security and risk more lives than WikiLeaks’ initial release of some 76,000 war documents.

“This organization will not be threatened by the Pentagon or any other group,” Julian Assange told reporters in Stockholm. “We proceed cautiously and safely with this material.”

While I am all for the principle that we should be given access to information and government should be transparent – I do have concerns that the actions of Wikileaks could put more lives in danger; not just the lives of troops, but also Afghan civilian lives.  Wikileaks say they are going to be responsible about this by removing the names of “innocent people”. Well, we shall just have to see.  If they don’t, it could destroy the respect, trust and credibility Wikileaks has enjoyed in the past.

And finally… here is a Postcard from the Prime Minister…who is on his patriotic holiday in Cornwall….Dave cares….. about us all in Big Society… even on holiday.  I find that touching.

Have a good week

Best, as always



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