Archive for October 4th, 2010

I watched the Channel 4 Dispatches programme with interest. I have followed the Coulson #Metgate issue for some time and my position has been consistent, as it is tonight – where is the*Evidence*?

Evidence which can stand up in court is, of course, what is important.

Are we getting closer?  Will this come out?  Serious allegations have been made.  MPs seem to be terrified of News International.  Proud to be British if these allegations are proven?  Proud of of our MPs?  Proud of NOTW?  Proud that democracy can be controverted in this way if the allegations can be proved?  – or should we all just ignore it?

Interested in your thoughts, as always.

You may be interested in the fact that Coulson will / may/ possibly  have to testify on oath – see:

You Coulsn’t make it up – and he won’t be allowed to… when he gives evidence under cross-examination.

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Some time ago Lord Prescott, Tom Watson MP and others whipped themselves into a lather about Andy Coulson, late of The News of The World and now Downing Street ‘Malcom Tucker’ for The Tory / Lib-Dem axis of…[ Please feel free to add your own word here to suit your tastes].

It all went a bit quiet – but I am pleased to report that Scots Law bloggers LoveandGarbage and Lallands Peat Worrier have been on the case with this and reveal that Coulson will (possibly – added) now have to give evidence, under cross examination…

I’ll let Lallands Peat Worrier take up the story with this intropduction to LoveandGarbage’s post…

With his usual quick-witted legal instincts, gallimaufrous legal blogger Love and Garbage outpaced the clopping metropolitan press, recognising the combined implications of Sheridan’s perjury trial – starting today – and the New York Times investigation into the invasive and illegal journalistic practices of the News of the World. At that time, the paper was edited by one Andy Coulson, now director of communications for David Cameron. As Love and Garbage recognised, the practices of the News of the World – and what its editor might or might not have known about those practices – may be of  distinct interest in the case of HM Advocate v. Sheridan & Sheridan. On the 26th of September, the Sunday Herald ran with this piece, indicating that Coulson had indeed given a precognition to the Sheridan defence, headlined “Downing Street spindoctor dragged into Sheridan case”. Would he testify before a Scottish court we all wondered, subject to the formidable cross-examination skills of old-hand advocates, Maggie Scott QC and wur ain Paul McBride QC?  On the 4th of September, Love and Garbage wrote………

Do have a read…. and do Lord Prezza and Tom Watson MP a favour and let them know!

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The amateur tradition is alive and well in Britain and old ‘rickety edifices’ are being swept away with the appointment of Adam Sampson, a former CEO of Shelter, who has no legal qualifications (but is married to a criminal barrister) as Legal Ombudsman.

Got a legal complaint? Now you can take it to the new legal ombudsman

The Guardian reports: A new legal ombudsman service is being launched on Wednesday with powers to investigate clients’ complaints

I particularly liked the fact that the new Legal Ombudsman will not be able to investigate complaints from “No Win No fee” operations if the work was carried out by non legally qualified personnel.  Oh… the irony.

Adam Sampson provides some ‘homely’ examples of his experience with lawyers in The Guardian article –

“a barrister slamming down photos on the table in front of a paedophile client while shouting “look what you’ve done … you’ve got to plead guilty”….

“Along with seeing some indifferent and occasionally shoddy legal practice, I have seen countless examples of really committed and skilled lawyers going the extra mile for their clients. That was certainly true at Shelter.”It was also true, for example, of the solicitor my brother used in his divorce, who truly sought to understand and deliver on my brother’s desire … not to do any further damage to his relationship with his wife and protect his relationship with his kids…..I saw how hard she worked and the result of all her efforts. There are shoddy lawyers out there but we mustn’t give the impression that we think that they represent the majority.”

Astonishing…..I wonder if we will need a SuperLegal Ombudsman to oversee the work of The Legal Ombudsman…. perhaps we could get  a plumber in to do that one?

As with all these things, we shall have to wait and see what happens.  I suspect it will muddle along in the finest of British tradition and will be a complete shambles… but we shall see.  I’ve always thought the old maximum “It takes a thief to catch a thief” worked well… and with the legal profession a lawyer would, I suspect, do a better job.


LSC hit by £300,000 legal bill over tender

The Law Society Gazette: The Legal Services Commission faces a £300,000 bill for the Law Society’s legal costs, after losing a High Court battle over its family tender process.

The LSC said it could not disclose how much it had spent on its own legal fees in defending the action, as the figure had ‘not been finalised’.

The court ruled on Thursday that the LSC’s tender process for family legal aid contracts was unlawful, and effectively quashed the outcome, which would have reduced the number of family providers from 2,400 to 1,300. It ordered the LSC to pay the Law Society’s costs, which amount to £300,000.

The LSC will also have to pay its own costs. It said this figure has not been finalised, but it is likely to be ‘substantially less’ than the Law Society’s costs.

It isn’t possible to give LSC  chair Sir Bill Callaghan (who is ‘disappointed’ by the result) a knighthood…because he already has one – but I am sure that there must be some other deserving soul at the LSC?

New defence to murder charge comes into force

The Independent reports: Men and women facing domestic violence could argue they were forced to kill their tormentor under a new murder law which comes into force today. Killers can escape a murder conviction by proving they were motivated by “words and conduct” which left them “seriously wronged”. Under the changes, the defence of provocation is replaced with a new defence of “loss of control” caused by “a fear of serious violence” or in response to “words or conduct which caused the defendant to have a justifiable sense of being seriously wronged”.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Changes to the law on murder contained in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 come into effect today. The new law also replaces the partial defence of diminished responsibility with a new defence based on “recognised medical conditions”.

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