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Archive for October, 2010

Dear Reader,

I live in an apartment on The Thames at Battersea.  Within a 100 yards is Battersea Square – a tree strewn, cobble stoned ‘triangle’ with cafes, a hairdresser, The Battersea Rickshaw (A fine Indian restaurant), Barrio (a bar), a dry cleaning shop and an estate agents.   Being a creature of habit, I have breakfast, invariably falling in the door at 8.00 am (9.00 am on Sundays), at Mazar, a Lebanese cafe bar run by Marlon and his extremely friendly team.  ( I always eat the same breakfast – see my *About* section and smoke Marlboros, drink coffee, read papers and watch the world go by)

I’ve only been living in Battersea since February – but I have met some very amusing people in The Square.  With their blessing, I thought I would write about a few of the people I have met.

First – Alyson Jackson, a designer, who has a shop packed with unusual furniture, lights, rugs, and general ‘curiosities’. Alyson is running a campaign to *Say NO to the new road changes being proposed to Battersea Church Road*.  If you live in the  Battersea Square area – please contact Alyson for further details, if you want further details.  I am always interested in art and anything to do with art.  Alyson was even kind enough to buy one of my absurd F**kART drawings!  I was flattered! I won’t, however, be taking up her habit of jogging past looking athletic and fit.  I do admire those who jog.  I find it easier to get on a bus these days.

I like her shop Mish-Mash – and, if you are looking for unusual furniture, paintings, gift items – why not have a look at her website, or even better – drop in to her shop.  You never know… I may be drinking Lebanese Red in The Square and I would be delighted to meet you should you find yourself down here!   I do not, however, have *opening hours* – so I may or may not be in The Square!

And so… to cricket… and The Lashings World XI.

I enjoy cricket.  I watch it – Test and One Day Internationals. I no longer play it and even when I did, I did so badly as befits a hack player.   I am looking forward to The Ashes.  Long time resident of Battersea Square – he appears to run his business empire from a table outside  at Mazar with his iphone and iPad and a mad dog called Buddy who barks at postmen – is David Folb, who owns Lashings World XI and a nightclub bearing the same name in Kent.

I am talking with David about the possibility of lawyers playing against some of the great legends of cricket – many of whom meet with David regularly at his table outside  at Mazar; including Henry Blofeld, the great cricket commentator, who I had the pleasure of meeting yesterday. I’ll say no more at present on this….but the Lashings World XI website will give you a hint at what I am planning in this direction.  It may or may not come off – but if you are a lawyer and are interested in cricket and interested in talking to me about *A Plan*….  please contact me by email and I will call you back.   Have a look around the Lashings website if you are *into cricket*

 

And… you just have to love that logo – which I first saw on the side of a black Range Rover which parked up in The Square when I first arrived.  Wonderful!

 

More on this when I know more – but I am keen to see lawyers take on some serious cricketers.  Who wouldn’t want to bowl out Richie Richardson or knock a legend for SIX?

You may like to scroll down and read up on some law? This being a law blog n that! Or click on link…

Law Review: Troop abuses – Counter terror – Torture – Civil liberties review

So… my life is not just unremitting legal analysis and tilting at windmills….

@SARYAPPLES UPDATE

@Saryapples said she would abseil and she has…. here is the original post… if you wish to support the charity she did it for.

BRAVO!

Have a good week

Best, as ever

Charon

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UK troops face 90 new claims of abuse in Iraq

The Observer: A special unit of military investigators and former detectives is to look into complaints of ill-treatment

A specialist team appointed by the government to investigate claims of abuse by British troops in Iraq has received 90 complaints involving 128 Iraqi civilians. The files, relating to allegations between March 2003 and July 2009, have been sent to Geoff White, a former head of Staffordshire CID, who heads the Iraq historic allegations team.

Unpalatable though it may be for some, at a time when men and women are serving in Afghanistan and losing their lives so that we may enjoy security and our freedoms, the investigation into abuse and possible breaches of the Geneva Convention et al  by our troops is essential if we are to operate by the values and mores which we have signed up to and the laws our country operates by.  It may well be that some claims are ill founded or may even be fraudulent – but the investigation must be open and transparent so we can be sure that armed conflict is conducted according to international law.

To those who say that the Human Rights Act is inhibiting our country – please permit me to paraphrase the thoughts of Lord Bingham, a former senior law lord, who asked in response to this issue – which human rights would you like not to have?

MI6 chief: we have nothing to do with torture

Guardian: Sir John Sawers talks of dilemma between protecting Britain and using intelligence drawn from tortured terrorist suspects

“If we know or believe action by us will lead to torture taking place, we’re required by UK and international law to avoid that action, and we do, even though that allows that terrorist activity to go ahead.”

Sir John Sawer, ‘C’, MI6

There are some who say that evidence gained through torture is, in any event, suspect.  I cannot comment on that, but given that these comments are made by men and women who have experience in counter-terror and government, they indicate the dilemma.  Sir John Sawers did admit that it would be wrong not to investigate or use information obtained from other sources where torture may have been deployed.  His concern that the judges are putting secret information at risk in their quest to ensure our country’s compliance with human rights and international law is, however, more questionable.  I cannot imagine that the senior judiciary would wish to see secret operations compromised. Citing the Binyam Mohammed case – where evidence of torture was disclosed –  is  not a fair criticism of the judiciary.  This was information, if I recall correctly, which had already been disclosed in the United States?

The fierce battle behind the scenes for the coalition’s soul

Observer: A raging argument over counterterror laws is putting their commitment to human rights to a crucial test

Andrew Rawnsley, writing in The Observer today, raises a number of important issues.  The article is worth reading in full if you have not had time to do so.

Rawnsley writes: “In the headlines, the thwarting of a transatlantic terror plot. Playing out behind the scenes in Whitehall, a story that the government doesn’t want you to read. An intense internal battle is being waged over how to respond to terrorism without compromising fundamental principles of justice and civil liberties. It is dividing the intelligence services, splitting the cabinet and has left David Cameron and Nick Clegg in a state of alarmed semi-paralysis. It is a big test of the unity of their partnership, their leadership mettle and their willingness to honour the promises they made in opposition.”

The Tories and Lib-Dems in coalition are committed, in theory at least, to repealing some of the more oppressive laws and roll back the undoubted erosion of civil liberties which happened under 13 years of Labour government.  Control orders is one issue.  Detention without trial is another issue.  Jonathan Evans, the Head of MI5,  wants to keep the present 28 day period and control orders.  Interestingly, his predecessor, Dame Eliza Manngham-Buller, was sceptical of control orders and ‘downright hostile to extended detention without charge’

Lord McDonald QC, a former DPP, was asked to review the laws on these and other issues. The review has gone to ministers with the recommendation that control orders should be retained. It proposes that detention without charge should be reduced to 14 days, but with an option for suspects to be put on a further 14 days of “very restricted bail”, which would introduce the control order concept into another part of the law.

Rawnsley notes “The review’s conclusions were supposed to have been made public at the end of September. Then publication was kicked back to the end of October. That is because weeks of fierce internal argument have resulted in deadlock. Lord Macdonald has not changed his views. He recently warned the home secretary that he will write a dissenting report.”

Theresa May, home secretary,  with ‘no history of engaging in the delicate judgments the role demands’ has sided with MI5.

She knows it will be hugely embarrassing for the government if it publishes their recommendations only for Lord Macdonald then to denounce them. Ms May went to Number 10 a fortnight ago for a difficult meeting with David Cameron and Nick Clegg. When she revealed that they had hit this impasse, both men were horrified. David Cameron told the meeting: “We are heading for a fucking car crash.”

Will the Coalition be brave enough to roll back the oppressive laws?  It is a difficult call. Interestingly, the 28 day period has only been activated three times and Rawnsley observes…“In one case, the charges were dropped; in a second, the accused was acquitted on the direction of the judge; in the third, the accused was acquitted by the jury. It is another draconian provision which corrodes Britain’s reputation for justice while offering no palpable advantage in the struggle against terrorism. Even some of the architects of this legislation are repenting. Tony McNulty, security minister in the last government, now says that control orders and 28-day detention should be scrapped.”

***

UPDATE….

Theresa May rebukes Lord Macdonald over control orders intervention

Observer / Guardian: Row comes as Chris Huhne says keeping orders for terror suspects would undermine key British values

The home secretary, Theresa May, today rebuked the man she appointed as the external supervisor of the review of counter-terrorism laws amid reports that David Cameron fears it is heading for a “car crash”.May made it clear that the role of Lord Macdonald, a former director of public prosecutions and now a Liberal Democrat peer, in overseeing the internal Home Office review was restricted to ensuring that it was being done properly, saying decisions on the outcome were for ministers alone.

Possibly not the most sensible statement Theresa May could have made?  We shall see what is in her mind when she makes her opinion known later in the week.

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Harriet Harman rebuked for calling minister ‘a ginger rodent’

Harriet Harman has been rebuked for calling a senior member of the government “a ginger rodent”.

Telegraph

With elections in Scotland coming up fairly soon… it is good to see Harriet Harman QC at her best…. supporting the bullying of *Gingers* and, at the same time, ridiculing Scotland  (Some Scots have Red hair – and the classic pastiche *Jock* hat & wig is modelled above – I am dark brown with a bit of grey at temples!)  by calling Scots Lib-Dem MP Danny Alexander  a *Ginger Rodent*… What is more baffling… she made this speech, I am advised, in SCOTLAND! Oh Dear!

I wonder how the Scots Labour MPs will react to this – let alone Big Eck.  Not her finest hour…. ridiculous!

Leave the humour to the political cartoonist, Luv… political comedian you may be, Harriet… professional comedian … you ain’t!

There is, of course, a degree or irony ….or even extreme ironing… about the possibility that Harriet Harman QC MP *possibly* is not really acting in the spirit of  the very legislation she pushed through Parliament… anyone offended by her *joke* in the workplace?

Equalities Act

In the interest of political balance – given my post on Chancellor Osbore below…. I should really draw your attention to this from The Mail today.  Obviously… I had to modify the screen grab.   I just can’t help myself sometimes.

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Tomorrow night… a dark eve, as the clocks go back and we enter a new *Dark Ages*,  will bring a period of darkness to our sceptred isle…. possibly…. unless, of course, we have The Great Fire of London on 5th November because there are no fire engines to put the usual 200 fires we have in London on Bonfire Night…. OUT!

If you fancy reading a good  analysis of the planned Fire Brigade strike on Guy Fawkes night by Jack of Kent (Lawyer, David Allen Green) … then… have a look… it is incendiary… if you forgive the metaphor.

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An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Winston Churchill

 

 

Martin Schulz, the German leader of Europe’s Social Democrat MEPs, the parliament’s second biggest bloc, said Mr Cameron’s promise was “nonsense” and the Prime Minister was “setting himself up for a fall”.

He said: “The negotiations have barely begun – it is not for Mr Cameron to announce their conclusion.”

He added: “The figures he is talking about bear little relation to reality. He is setting himself up for a fall.”

A diplomat from one of EU countries that signed Mr Cameron’s letter predicted that the final deal would be larger than promised. “It will be very difficult to keep at 2.9 per cent with what the parliament is saying,” said the diplomat.

And a European Commission official stressed that Mr Cameron’s guarantee “doesn’t change anything” because legally binding “conciliation” talks continue until Nov 11.

 

Read?

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Guest Post: A post from @lesleyalmost

I am a fan of twitter and I like people who try and raise money for charitable causes. We can’t support everything by donating but I am delighted to support this idea!  And @lesleyalmost is fun on twitter.

A *Guest* post from @lesleyalmost

I feel both privilege and pressure to be doing a guest post for Charon QC. I read his blog faithfully and occasionally add a daft comment as is my wont. I then try not to feel inadequate when I see other comments showing fine legal debate on points of law. Charon has an outlook on life that is similar to mine I think. I know I like to listen to the opinions of others, it is always interesting to understand how people form their viewpoints, what has influenced them. I am open to hearing what people say even when I may not agree. Charon does all this with kindness and humour and, I am glad to say, good manners. Manners do make the man…….

So, to the purpose of this guest post. I blog to get people to donate to kid’s charities. I don’t want money, I want everyone to donate direct to a children’s charity then write to me by commenting on my blog, http://wheniwas8.wordpress.com/

Why do I do this? I do it because I love children. I have three grown-ups of my own and am proud that they are considerate and compassionate individuals. They are my inspiration for the blog. They are not perfect by any means; they are probably the untidiest bunch I have ever seen but I love them. I know my children are lucky to have a comfortable home, easily-fooled parents and access to education. So many children have difficult lives and this is wrong.

I decided last year that I should do my bit; if I have opinions then I should act on them. I had an idea a few years back., just the one……. It started as an idea for a ‘celeb’ type book; celebs would tell me what they wanted to be when they were 8, a book would be compiled and all author profits would go to children’s charities. This was rather a palaver to organise and there are tales of many meetings. I won’t go on, it makes me yawn to think of it but suffice to say this idea, although still there, is on the back-burner After some lateral thinking I came up with the idea of a blog and started mine in April 2010.

I like blogs. I have found many interesting and amusing ones from my roamings on Twitter. I have been educated, amused and sometimes horrified at some of the reporting, musings and rantings that I have stumbled upon. People are warm, laugh-out-loud hilarious and aren’t afraid to show it! My blog is normally light-hearted, sometimes serious. Like everyone else I write from a very personal viewpoint. I have written about my children, the dog, my ‘rules for life’, blood diamonds and my love of Manchester United. I have asked my fellow tweeters for themes to blog on as I like a challenge. One of these ended up being a children’s story about Star Wars, Unicorn and Platypus. I have enjoyed writing every one and hope that this will pique your interest enough to venture over to the blog and take a look?

I understand that my blog needs readers to survive and hopefully prosper. For this to happen I need to post to generate interest and readers for the blog. A blog is a vacuum that depends on visitors to survive; I am conscious that I must put in the effort to achieve my aim. It is probably a good thing that I can type as much as I talk People are very kind and have so far written to me about their donations of over £3000!

The other crucial part to my blog is what everyone tells me about their childhood ambitions. This is the bit that has probably entertained me the most and I am more convinced than ever that we normal peeps are much more exciting than the ‘celebs’ of this world.  I have a few favourite tales of childhood ambition but the one that me made smile the most is from a friend of mine, Joy. Joy wanted to work in the greengrocer shop so that she could do the ‘twirly’ thing with the brown paper bags!!!

So, my plea to you today?

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice. It is easy to do – online, collection boxes, Give as You Earn. Any amount is important and I am delighted for one pound, dollar, euro, yen to reach a charity.
  • Visit http://wheniwas8.wordpress.com/ and comment anywhere with the charity, amount including currency and please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8.

I will then:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • All comments will be stored on the comments page so that you can see what charities people are interested in and also what a variety of 8-year-old ambitions we have already. I am looking forward to way more surprises from you all.

My thanks to Charon, you lovely man

Take care of you and yours.

Lesley

PS – Is it only me who starts humming My Sharona by the Knack when they think of CharonQC? Oops!

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Child Benefit Cut ‘Unenforceable,’ Treasury in a Flap

It seems there is a bit of a ‘flap’ on…..  tax law is difficult…. and so, it would appear, is government!  The devil is in the detail…. but have no fear… Beaker will ride to the rescue and make a “Renouncement” ?

The Wall Street Journal reports… “The government is struggling to find a way of making George Osborne’s plans to remove child benefit from those paying 40% tax work.

A Treasury source says the policy is “unenforceable” and likely to be ditched before its scheduled introduction in 2013. Another source at the heart of government says the expectation is that it will eventually not happen. Elsewhere I hear that it is “panic stations in the Treasury.”

At root is a problem that should have been apparent to those designing the policy, if detailed advice had been sought from civil servants before it was announced at Conservative party conference.

Child benefit is generally paid to the mother. She is under no legal obligation to tell the father that she receives it. The Treasury confirms this. It is her benefit. The father’s tax status is irrelevant. If a mother claims it there is nothing forcing her to flag up to the taxman that her husband earns above the level that Osborne stipulates should mean no child benefit.

Indeed, the child benefit was designed with the express purpose of keeping the cash away from men.

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