Archive for February 20th, 2011

My quote of the week….without question... has to be from Ken Clarke, Secretary of State for Justice and  Lord Chancellor (unless Michael Howard replaces him).  The Guardian has the the story…

It would be startling if we had a British government which said we aren’t going to comply with legal judgments…..

“I used to be a practising lawyer myself, and trying to give legal advice to a litigant who doesn’t want to be told what the law is and wishes it was something else is always difficult..”

Ken Clarke was telling  fearless interviewer Andrew Marr this morning that he plans to look to reform the European Court of Human Rights when Britain takes the chair of The Council of Europe this year.  I read with horror in the Mail on Sunday (not a paper I ever read in the ‘flesh’ so to speak, but one I dip into occasionally online to see what the ravening horde are thinking, or being told what to think, in the early hours of Sunday morning) that there is talk of the former great reforming Home Secretary Michael Howard, now Lord Howard of Panopticon, taking over from Clarke as Lord Chancellor.

I thought one of the benefits of having a House of Lords is that we take dangerous politicians out of society, without having to tag them electronically, and keep them occupied with tom foolery in the unelected second chamber, the House of Lords?  The last thing we want, surely, having pensioned these buggers orf, is to see them rising from the grave when darkness descends to walk among us once again?

If such an appointment is made, I might be tempted to occupy Battersea Square single handed and call for the overthrow of ….well….something… I’ll think about it..and come back to you later on my thinking.  I would certainly be tempted to leave the country and meet some interesting bankers; which would be infinitely preferable to staying here to watch Lord Howard of Panopticon visiting old naval ship breaking yards to rescue aircraft carriers for use as prison hulks.

Boycott the UK census over links to Lockheed Martin, protesters say

Guardian: We’re ready to face £1,000 fine, declare anti-war protesters in row over role of US arms firm Lockheed Martin in data gathering

It may be old news, but I am genuinely astonished that the British government has handed a contract to a US arms manufacturer to carry out the Census.  Apart from the fact that we should, in these dark days, be giving our own tech companies these contracts, I do understand the concerns of those who may wish to boycott the census on conscientious grounds and also raise my eyebrows that the Office of National Statistics can so glibly state that the information collected will be safe and not fall into the hands of the US State Department which may, under the US Patriot Act,  compel all american companies to hand over ‘useful information’.

Does the government have a credible explanation for this?  Can the government be absolutely certain the information will be safe – after the fiasco of the loss of 25 million records by HM Revenue & Customs..and, indeed, other information going AWOL at the DVLA and the odd military laptop left in the back of a minicab?

RollonFriday.com notes…“The Legal Services Board has announced a proposal to quiz lawyers on whether their parents went to university in an attempt to monitor the level of social mobility across the profession.”

While I applaud all initiatives to promote wider access to the profession for those who wish to be lawyers, I can’t help but feel that this latest initiative from the Legal Services Board is not only intrusive, it is almost patronising.  I am quite sure they do not intend these effects, however.

In my well spent youth – the days when students were able to combine hard living with hard study fitted in around more important commitments and still be fully paid up members of the awkward squad – I was asked where my father went to school at an interview at a well known investment bank (when I was misguided enough to think soon after graduating that I might actually find  the idea of working in The City interesting).  The interviewer had been a huge fromage at the Monopolies Commission.  I told him, politely,  that it was none of his business; which, of course, it wasn’t.   He seemed a bit put out by this reply and asked if my ‘family had any connections in banking’. I was really irritated by this question. Two advantages of having had the good fortune to go to a good school and having enjoyed the social satire The Ruling Class with Peter O’Toole, was that I was not ‘awed’ even at that young age by anyone (The only advice I would ever pass on to a law student is – don’t ever be ‘awed’ by anyone!) and I had a reasonable command of language.  I told him that my father did not, as far as I was aware,  keep his money in a tin box or stash it under the mattress and that it was quite probable that he had connections in the banking world. The interview did not go well. I did then, and to this day do, have manners.  I thanked the panel for their time, said that I was withdrawing my application, and left.   Unfortunately, I still meet people of this attitude and type to this day…. but, equally fortunately, they are a dying breed.

I lost my taste for (and being part of) the ‘traditional establishment’,  instilled and drilled in at school,  while in Africa before I went to university.  University compounded this and I decided to plough a different furrow…but at least is was my own furrow. Now I am like one of those ranters in the street;  except I don’t do it in the street…  I have my  ‘blawg’.

AND FINALLY… on the theme of the dangers of privilege and ‘background’….

I am delighted to see – via The Mail on Sunday….

“David Cameron is to ban internships with top City firms being sold for thousands of pounds to wealthy Conservative supporters for their children after the practice was exposed by The Mail on Sunday.

This newspaper’s report last week about the ‘cash for internships’ auction at the Tories’ glittering Black and White Party attended by the Prime Minister and his wife Samantha left the Conservatives deeply embarrassed.

A senior Tory aide said: ‘You can rest assured that this kind of auction will not be part of next year’s event. It was badly misjudged.

The worrying thing, of course, is that ‘they’ thought it was a good enough idea to hold the party and auction in the first place and that Prime Minister Camerondirect saw this, presumably, as ‘Big Society’ in action and attended the event?!

Have a good week.

Best, as always


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Welcome to Without Prejudice – the fortnightly law podcast which examines the law issues of our times.  Solicitor, New Statesman columnist, author of the Jack of Kent blog, David Allen Green and Carl Gardner, barrister,  ex government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog, are at the table. We will have guests… news, topical analysis and discussion…and wine…and I get to ask the questions.  We will record at 7.30 pm each alternate Thursday and publish late on Thursday evening ready for Friday and the weekend.  We start this coming week on the 24th.

This week..the Assange judgment is out on Thursday and will, inevitably, be one of our topics for discussion…


There will be an RSS feed for these podcasts and we’ll get it into iTunes.

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