Archive for July, 2011

#Hackgate continues with coverage of possible computer hacking in the papers this morning Yesterday Christopher Jefferies, the man ‘monstered’ in some tabloids as the suspect in the Yates murder, has won substantial damages from eight newspapers and The Lord Chief Justice has handed down a very critical judgment holding The Mirror and The Sun in contempt of court

The Guardian reports:

Earlier on Friday, Jefferies accepted substantial libel damages from eight newspapers – including the Daily Mirror and the Sun – over stories relating to his arrest.

In the contempt ruling handed down at the high court on Friday, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Owen described the Daily Mirror articles as “extreme” and “substantial risks to the course of justice”.

The judges said the Sun’s coverage of Jefferies created a “very serious risk” that any future court defence would be damaged.

“These articles [in the Sun] would have certainly justified an abuse of process argument, and although their effect is not as grave as that of two series of articles contained in the Mirror, the vilification of Mr Jefferies created a very serious risk that the preparation of his defence would be damaged,” the judges said. “At the time when this edition of the Sun was published it created substantial risks to the course of justice. It therefore constituted a contempt under the strict liability rule.”

Attorney-General Dominic Grieve led the prosecution himself, unusually, and appears, rightly, to be taking a very hard line on the issue of contempt of court in relation to press and media reporting.

And then, this morning, the political blogger Guido Fawkes has started a petition to bring back the death penalty in the United Kingdom Apart from the irony of a blogger using the name  Guido Fawkes as a nom de plume to suggest such a petition, many have observed that this will do his blog stats no end of good, given the desire of many to bring back the death penalty.  I suspect that PM Camcorderdirect, relaxing in his Tuscan lair, having spent some time de-toxifying the Tory party, will be groaning as various (and sundry) Tory MPs have come out in favour.  The Sun has taken up the story.  Is Guido re-toxifying the Tory party for his own ends to bait them, to trap Tory and other MPs into declaring their position for subsequent vilification in media and social media?

I am against the death penalty on three grounds: (a) It is a barbaric penalty, suitable only for countries living under medieval concepts of justice (b) judges and juries are not infallible and (c) it goes against the foundations of  modern humanitarian and moral precepts of justice.  Quite apart from the fact that Britain would have difficulties remaining a member of the European Union if we bring back the death penalty (Members are required to sign up to the European Convention. Protocol 6  – restriction of death penalty. Requires parties to restrict the application of the death penalty to times of war or “imminent threat of war” –  Edit: and Protocol 13 – Complete abolition of death penalty in Council of Europe states) one just needs to remember the reason why the death penalty was abolished in Britain in  1965the case of Timothy Evans being but one important reason.

They say that 70% of the population in Britain would welcome a return of the death penalty – the argument of the ‘executioneers’ is that Parliament must impose the will of the majority.  To that, I have to repeat a statement I have used before – “5 million flies eat shit, but it does not follow that shit is good for us to eat” .

I suspect (I have no empirical evidence) that few High Court judges would seek return of the death penalty and, I suspect, that few barristers, defence barristers in particular, would welcome the return.

To use a ‘populist’ argument – as a fair few twitter users did this morning… “You don’t trust MPs on taxation, expenses, governance…so why do you want to hand power to them to hang people?” Res Ipsa Loquitur?

Well… there we are.  We shall see what happens with this latest ‘wheeze’ on the part of the right wing to bring our ‘green and pleasant land’ into their vision of control.   If the death penalty does come back… I suspect that Norway with  their mature, humane and inspiring  way of handling serious issues would be a good place to live in?

I did like this sensible tweet from a labour MP… he has a point!

And this is the level of debate that those who want to hang people rely on?  Absurd…. (Me, elitist?  I think not!)

Mr Gaunt is, apparently, a columnist…

I look forward to more ‘gems of reason’ from ‘Gaunty’…. I may have a long wait?

A human rights nazi?  Now that is a concept that may give Mr Gaunt something to chew on?

My fellow blogger, friend and podcaster – David Allen Green – takes up the theme, sensibly,  in a very well reasoned blog post…… I quote his ending…“The devil may well have the best tunes; but the liberals will usually turn out to have the better arguments.”  Well worth reading.

UPDATE Sunday 31 July 2011

Unfortunately… with public opinion… law gets in the way. Guido suggested that Article 2 permitted executions.  As @ObiterJ pointed out in the comments…. Protocol 13 ECHR makes a rather important legal point which public opinion should consider

Yes.. this is right…

PLEASE READ THIS…  excellent… beautifully written with some wonderful imagery… 

Hanging’s Too Good For ‘Em

Jerry Hayes is not a fan of the new e-Petitions. Not at all.


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Listen to the podcast

Useful links

Joshua Rozenberg: Who will be the two new supreme court judges?

Leveson Inquiry | Lord Justice Leveson statement


I’d like to thank Lawtel, WestlawCassons For Counsel, City University Law School David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Inksters SolicitorsIken, LBC Wise Counsel, Carrs Solicitors,  JMW Solicitors – Manchester, Pannone and Cellmark for sponsoring the podcast  – and the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

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It has been a while since I wrote a ‘Postcard’… so this evening, sitting at my post overlooking The Thames at Battersea, I thought a non-structured and, possibly random, review of law, oddities and musings would be appropriate as the silly season begins.

Keep marches away from the Ritz, says QC  (The Independent i newspaper)

“Left-wing” marches should be banned from taking place in parts of central London which contain upmarket buildings, a leading barrister has said.  John Beveridge QC was criticised after it emerged that he had written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, demanding that such a ban should be introduced…… according to West End Extra, he said the marches attracted ‘ragtag’ protesters who “become violent and urinate all over the place.”

It seems that Mr Beveridge was happy for these ‘ragtags’ to go and urinate all over the place attacking Safeway and Costcutter  but observed…“There’s no fun for them in attacking Safeway or Costcutter, but they love beating up the Ritz” He is reported as adding.. “(I) couldn’t care less if such a ban infringed rights”

Given that Mr Beveridge is a trustee of the St James Conservation Trust, one is not entirely surprised by his rather trenchant views about ‘ragtags’. The St James Conservation Trust website reports that he is a retired QC.

But… it isn’t just the Bar side of our profession giving us a good name…. The Lawyer reports….

SJ Berwin was ‘wrong’ to ask summer student to do an all-nighter

SJ Berwin has admitted that the firm “got it wrong” when a summer vacation scheme student was asked to work until the early hours of the morning. A female student is understood to have worked until five in the morning after being asked to help another female colleague on a document for an international arbitration.

Worthy of Dr Erasmus Strangelove – the new Senior partner and CEO of Muttley Dastardly LLP

And… if you are a student… it is not all doom and gloom.  RollonFriday.com reports:  “Nabarro has come top of this week’s announcements of trainee retention figures, with 19 of its 20 trainees set to qualify with the firm in September. But other firms have not done so well. In fact Nabarro made offers to all 20, with one trainee choosing to escape under the barbed wire for pastures new. BLP is at the top of the list as well, also retaining all but one of its 20 trainees. A super result for the firm which just goes to show that giving your future joiners a good bollocking when they’re on the LPC can work wonders.”

Tonight, I shall be ‘prepping’ for our Without Prejudice podcast tomorrow evening.  Sadly, Carl Gardner is away in Holland, but David Allen Green will be at the table, together with our guest Joshua Rozenberg, a leading legal commentator and presenter of the BBC’s Law in Action series, and Amanda Bancroft, a former practising barrister and author of the Beneath The Wig blog.

We plan to look at the possible controversy about the appointment of Leveson LJ to head the #Hackgate Inquiry – given his recently disclosed links to the Murdochs, The Supreme Court ‘Star Wars’ judgment, Legal journalism and blogging, Clare’s law, Secret evidence, Press contempt of court, and, if we have time, the continuing saga of the Solicitors from hell website. I am looking forward to asking Joshua Rozenberg questions.  It may be a novel experience for him to be on the receiving end of questions?   Lucy Reed, barrister and author of The Pink Tape blog, has a thoughtful piece on Clare’s law in the Guardian this week: Why Clare’s Law won’t prevent domestic violence

Making law accessible to the public

Adam Wagner, I Crown Office Row and editor of the excellent UK Human Rights blog has a good piece in The Guardian this week: As legal aid reforms threaten access to lawyers, there are three relatively inexpensive ways to improve public access to law.  

On the theme of legal aid cuts, Professor Richard Moorhead points out: Lawyers are their own worst advocates

The government’s legal aid reforms will shortly become law, even though they are premised on a number of un- and half-truths.

We are not, for instance, a country gripped by a litigation culture, yet this is a problem that the Ministry of Justice is perpetually trying to solve. Litigants in person will cause the courts significant problems, even if the secretary of state is right that many will also give up on their cases rather than litigate them (apparently seeing this as a good thing).

It occured to me on twitter last night, as I marvelled at the usual stream of information and surreality with a glass of Montepulciano, that Michael Gove’s many reported meetings with News International (He used to work for NI, apparently) were almost certainly not about BSkyB, but were more likely to be about education.  This was confirmed by Gove this morning.  Given that it has been reported that UK Murdoch’s ‘loss making’ flagship newspapers,  The Times and Sunday Times, were subsidised by The News of The Screws (Now defunct) and The Sun, and the fact that education is VERY big business in the USA, Murdoch may well be thinking about getting into the soon to be ‘de-regulated’ UK education market.

Apollo, a large US company owns BPP University College (BPP Law School) and The Washington Post owns, inter alia, Kaplan – a keen entrant to the highly profitable GDL, LPC and BPTC market.   On that premise – it would make sense for News Corporation to muscle their way in to the education market in the UK generally.

During the CMS Select Committee hearings a week ago, sitting behind Murdoch, was a man who  sat impassively throughout.  “That man’s name is Joel Klein, the chancellor of New York city’s public schools, the same man who is now heading the internal News International investigation in the UK, he is Executive Vice President overseeing investments in digital learning companies with a News Corp education division and a $2 million salary.”

I am, obviously, not alone in having these thoughts and I draw your attention to an excellent piece of blogging by @Colmmu: Murdoch – The Last Frontier or The Next Frontier? where Jon Harman, director of The College of Law Multi-media division analyses the position in some detail. I intend to speak to Jon and follow up.

Given that there are doubts about News Corporation’s ‘ fitness and properness’ to even hold onto their current BSKYB holding, it may be that David “Two Brains” Willetts MP, Minister for Universities, will not be too keen to have any meetings with News Corporation on the matter of a Murdoch onslaught into education in the UK – at least for the present and medium term future?

Well… there we are… still a lot happening in the legal world….

Best, as ever


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I read Jack of Kent’s blog post….

1. Hari is not young.  He knew what he was doing and the score. Plagiarism is wrong.

2.  I personally give little thought to the reputation of the journalists I read – with a few exceptions.  I am more interested in the content. Most / Many journalists have little specialist expertise in the field they write about – compared to the expert practitioner, academic or researcher.  Many journalists have to cover a wide brief within a field. The expertise valued in the journalist lies in finding the story and laying it out clearly with interest.  Where the journalist writes as expert, as some do  – then his or her words may be weighed in that context and compared to other experts – and a judgment formed by the reader.

3. It was mildly amusing (the Hari hashtag on twitter) at first – but as often happens on twitter and in blogs, it turned nasty and vindictive.

4.  I do hope for the sake of those who hounded – forensically or otherwise – that Hari has come to no personal harm.  Losing a pretty valueless prize (The Orwell Prize) – all prizes have little value – is not the end of the world.

5. Is journalism a profession? I do not think it is.  Rather as law has become – it is a business.

6.  Hari plagiarised and added colour to what may have otherwise been rather dull interviews.  In the grand scheme of things, while wrong, hardly a hanging offence or going to the very ‘root of evil’.

7.  Was it so necessary for the pack to get precious about it and engage in forensic evisceration and destruction of a reputation?   Would it not have been kinder – and just as effective – to have used humour to ‘call him out’ and persuade him not to engage in such matters?

8.  The pursuit of Hari reminded me of Lord of The Flies.  Kindness and humanity is better before the event – rather than an after the event absolution (For the hounders).

9.  A plagiarism on all your houses.

(PS.. for the avoidance of doubt – the work done by Jack of Kent was balanced and fair  and he had the courage to flag the issue up.)

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Two stories have caught my eye overnight…both from The Telegraph…

George Osborne had dinner with Rupert Murdoch two weeks before BSkyB bid decision

The Telegraph: The Chancellor, George Osborne, flew to New York and had dinner with Rupert Murdoch two weeks before the media regulator was due to decide on whether to approve his takeover of BSkyB.

AND… this.. rather more important one…

Phone hacking inquiry judge attended parties at home of Rupert Murdoch’s son-in-law

The Telegraph: The judge in charge of the phone hacking inquiry has attended parties at the home of Rupert Murdoch’s son-in-law.

Lord Leveson’s office insisted that David Cameron had been informed of the judge’s attendance at the parties and had not raised any objections.

Lord Leveson’s office continued: “Lord Justice Leveson was not involved in that meeting and he has neither met nor spoken to anyone from Freud Communications since January 2011.

“There is, in any event, no continuing relationship. Prior to his appointment to the inquiry, Lord Justice Leveson ensured that these matters were brought to the attention of the Prime Minister.”

Twenty years ago I was involved in a contract dispute.  I won.  The first High Court judge to try the issue had to recuse himself (stand down).  The plaintiffs objected on the grounds that I had had a drink with the judge when he was a QC.  The judge had no problem with this.  Nor did I.

In the present climate – I am surprised that the Prime Minister, aware of the minor connection between Lord Justice Leveson and the Murdochs as reported in The Telegraph – thought it fitting that Leveson LJ should head the inquiry.  I am sure that Leveson LJ would be impartial.  He is highly regarded.  But on this very complex and emotive issue of #Hackgate – it is surprising (a) that this story was not announced at the time Leveson LJ was appointed and, frankly, (b) that Leveson LJ was appointed, and (c) accepted the appointment.

My view on this may not find favour in some circles…. but I do feel, strongly, that Leveson LJ – assuming The Telegraph story is accurate in all respects – should stand down.  There must be other judges with no connections to the Murdochs or their empire, who could do just as good a job?

Chris Bryant MP has objected. I think we should also object...strongly.

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The Independent reports today…. “A claim that James Murdoch gave misleading evidence to a Commons committee is to be referred to Scotland Yard, a Labour MP said today. Tom Watson said he would be contacting Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers – who is leading the phone-hacking investigation – about the claim made by former News of the World editor Colin Myler and former legal manager Tom Crone.”

Today I am talking to solicitor David Allen Green about the legal implications of this and the legal position of News Corp solicitors Harbottle & Lewis and the extent to which they are now able to put their views on the Murdoch testimony of last Tuesday….

Listen to the podcast

(The sound quality is ‘patchy’ in parts – although only one minor cut out.  I had to call David Allen Green on a mobile while he was in a taxi.)

Useful links

Other Without Prejudice podcasts on #Hackgate:  in the last week

David Allen Green in The New Statesman: Allowing the lawyers to speak

Samira Shackle in the New Statesman: Tom Watson asks police to investigate James Murdoch


I’d like to thank Lawtel, WestlawCassons For Counsel, City University Law School David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Inksters SolicitorsIken, LBC Wise Counsel, Carrs Solicitors,  JMW Solicitors – Manchester, Pannone and Cellmark for sponsoring the podcast  – and the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

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I have read Shakespeare’s  King Lear several times. On a desert island it might not be my first choice of a ripping read – but many will have seen surreal and serendipitous resemblances to the performance of Murdoch Snr and Murdoch Jnr at yesterday’s ‘tour de force’ before the Culture Select Committee.  It is amazing how broadly educated PR advisers are these days?  Who can say – but it was a remarkable performance.

Wikipedia notes… King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, considered to be one of his greatest dramatic masterpieces. The title character descends into madness after foolishly disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all.”

Two quotations come to mind…

  • “Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! Spout, rain!
    Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:
    I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
    I never gave you kingdom, called you children,
    You owe me no subscription: then, let fall
    Your horrible pleasure; here I stand, your slave,
    A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man.”
    – William Shakespeare, King Lear, 3.2.14
  • “No, I will be the pattern of all patience; I will say nothing.”
    – William Shakespeare, King Lear, 3.2.37

(Pic:  John Gielgud doing the biz as King Lear many years ago)

I continue on my quest to write about matters other than law… for a few more days….. a holiday is a rare thing for me these days.  Today I shall holiday.  I may even have a few glasses of vino rosso as I holiday.

The real coverage is extensive…. and needs no input from me…on my holiday.

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“At least we have statements on the record” says John Whittingdale MP, Chair of The Culture Committee, today... and the rest will be in the press… so I have nothing to add.

Due process will now proceed.

Now… time for a few days away… doing art and not covering law or matters related to law in my blog…. high time.

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Today I am talking to Tom Harris MP, Glasgow South’s Labour member at Westminster,  to shed some light on the workings of Select Committees and the extraordinary resignations and arrests in relation to the News International scandal.

* The work and powers of Select Committees

*The need for care to avoid prejudicing the inquiry and any future possible criminal trials

* The questioning of the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks at the CMS Committee  on Tuesday 19th July 2011

* The resignations of Stephenson and Yates and the position of Prime Minister Cameron re Coulson

* The political landscape pre and post #Hackgate

Listen to the podcast

Other Without Prejudice podcasts on #Hackgate

#WithoutPrejudice 9: Hacking / NoTW – Criminal offences in #Hackedoff – Powers of Select Committees – Assange Case

#WithoutPrejudice Special:  the US position under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act  with US lawyer Peter Friedman

#WithoutPrejudice Special podcast: News of The World – Judicial Inquiry – The law and the commercial ‘real politik’


I’d like to thank Lawtel, WestlawCassons For Counsel, City University Law School David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Inksters SolicitorsIken, LBC Wise Counsel, Carrs Solicitors,  JMW Solicitors – Manchester, Pannone and Cellmark for sponsoring the podcast  – and the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

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BY The Custody Sgt – a fellow blogger
If we are to believe in stereotypes then the average customer stood at a custody charge desk is a miscreant of disreputable character, possibly wearing a black and white hooped top and carrying a swag bag? Events this weekend both nationally and locally for me indicate the opposite. On Sunday Rebecca Brooks was arrested and she is not your usual sort of customer. But despite the media sensation she and the News of the World have become over the last few weeks she is not on her own.

On Friday night the buzzer activated and the officers walked in with a young lady. She was well presented, nice clean clothes, tidy hair and spoke with and exuded intelligence. She was anything but the ordinary type of customer. If not for the wholesale sobbing and mascara all down her cheeks she would have slotted in for afternoon tea at The Savoy quite adequately. So why was she here? In between her sobbing and wailing the officer was able to relay to my colleague that she had been arrested for drink driving. She had blown over 2 times the legal limit at the roadside. It’s always very difficult to deal with people like this. Our frequent flyer’s (so to speak) take custody with a degree of equanimity. They know the score, they’ve been before and despite some initial protestations they will soon settle into the regime. Our first timers, such as this young lady, find it very scary. “Why are you searching and taking all my property?” “Will you have to put me in a cell?” “What happens to me now?” All are common questions.

I’m a compassionate sort. I don’t like to see somebody distressed and I am not unsympathetic to the situation they find themselves in. However, as far as this offence is concerned I have zero sympathy. Their demeanour, attitude and manners have no sway at all. There are no two ways about it. Drink drivers kill people. Sadly it is often somebody else… not themselves. We are lucky when we catch these people. We have potentially saved lives… a core function of every police officer. But what makes people do this?

I have over the years come to realise that we have evolved into a blame culture. We have little to no personal responsibility and always look to place the blame for our own inadequacies on somebody else. I believe this is underpinned by a belief in many that the bad things in life that can be thrown at us will hit someone else. An “It won’t happen to me” mentality is engendered that then makes some of us take unacceptable risks. I live in a small village. There are many who travel a long distance to the local school. But there are also those who drive a very short distance too. 1/4 of a mile down a quiet rural lane in the village is hardly the A41 at Swiss Cottage or the Magic Roundabout in Swindon is it? What are the chances of something happening on such a short journey. I remember the advert by Jimmy Saville many years ago.. “Clunk, click on every trip.” This stands so true. Anything can happen and does. Yet people put their kids in cars without seat belts and drive them to school as in their head nothing is likely to happen. WRONG!! It can and will happen and whats more obtuse is that the adult often has their own seat belt on. There is a great advert by the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership.


Almost 14 million views! Maybe the message is getting through?

So back to our young lady. Why would she drive drunk? People take risks. In their head, the logical argument is telling them to get a bus or taxi. Anything but drive. But circumstances, finances or sheer laziness overtake common sense. “But anyway the police won’t stop me. I’m in a nice car and fully insured. They are out looking for criminals… not me.” This driver is in a total state of denial. She knows it’s wrong. She knows it will carry a penalty. She knows it’s dangerous. But she does it because she’s never done it before and won’t again…(apparently) but just this once she’ll be alright. WRONG! This offender will go to court. She will hang her head, she may be published in the local paper in a gallery of shame and she will quietly accept her punishment.

So what a contrast and a great example of how we look to blame others or minimise our responsibility we have in Mr Charlie Gilmour. As a topic it is a whole new discussion but one part of this case illustrates my point quite well. This yob, as he was nothing less that on the day, swung from the Cenotaph and then stood in court and told the Judge he didn’t “realise the significance” of the Cenotaph. He was in denial just as much as our drink driver was.

Ignorance of the law is no defence. I sometimes feel for those who have come unstuck on a very rare and quiet piece of legislation. But no matter how much we try to kid ourselves and in the case of Gilmour the Judge too, there are some matters that are well advertised and well understood. Seat belts, drink driving, theft, burglary, murder, swinging from Cenotaph’s and throwing bins at Royal convoys are just common sense. They are part of a national psyche if you like and known by all notwithstanding class, gender, race or any other group. They are prohibited, outlawed and unacceptable and in the case of Gilmour, when the the book is thrown it hits you full in the face. He can only now stand up and take it like a man. Time will tell.

It’s high time people started to take on responsibility for their own actions.

“My child is dead because you ran a red traffic light, hit us and he/she was thrown through the windscreen.”
No Madam. Your child is dead because you didn’t ensure he/she was wearing a seat belt.

(I am fully aware that each incident is individual and no desire to undermine the grief of any family is implied or intended)

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By the way… if you didn’t know… this might be of interest…


“Eddie Saunders caught a shark in 1989 and displayed it in his J.D. Electrical Supplies shop in Shoreditch, London (i.e. two years before Damien Hirst’s shark, a.k.a. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living), but Eddie’s shark received no wider attention, until it was borrowed for A Dead Shark Isn’t Art exhibit in the window of the Stuckism International Gallery, 17 April – 18 July 2003. This exhibit opened the same day as the new Saatchi Gallery at County Hall, a centrepiece of which was the display of Hirst’s shark yet again.…”

It is unlikely that News Corpse will be buying this piece….

Met Boss Faces Questions Over Wallis Links

‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello what’s this then?

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It is with deep regret, see above, that I announce the death of Matt Muttley.  I have known Matt for many years  Together, we built profits, capital reserves and tax efficient schemes only dreamed of in some law firms.  Matt Muttley, inspired by a report in Wikipedia some years ago

The building made headlines around the world in 1993 when Garry Hoy, a 39-year-old lawyer, fell 24 floors to his death while demonstrating the strength of the windows to a group of visiting law students by charging into the glass.

had developed this as a ‘party trick’ when advising visiting bankers. Yesterday, unfortunately, it was a charge too far – as one banker described it, sardonically – and Matt Muttley crashed through the plate glass, falling ten floors onto the spiked railings below.

We will be making a further announcement.  Matt Muttley left no family but he did express in his will that there be a memorial service.  No flowers.  Cash, Paypal, Visa or Amex donations will be accepted by The Partners’ Benevolent Fund.  If you would like to sponsor a  Partner to attend the service (Three hours, including disbursements and travel time) the fee will be £4500 + VAT)


Note for Editors

1.  Dr Strangelove is pronounced Dr Strangle Ove


With thanks to the following for sponsoring the free materials for students on Insite Law magazine: Inksters Solicitors, Cellmark, OnlineWill.co.uk, BPP University College, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Wildy & Sons, Camps Solicitors accident claims

Just Go Direct

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Following the news today… Murdoch holding his head in his hands while apologising to the Dowler family and the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, I thought it might be time to return to look at what is happening in other law stories. (It was, of course, Shakespeare who coined the Parting and nunnery quotes!)

RollonFriday has an extraordinary story… BREAKING: Senior Allen & Overy partner in court over child pornography – A senior capital markets lawyer in Allen & Overy’s New York office was arrested yesterday and charged with downloading and distributing child pornography. Edward De Sear appeared in wrist and ankle shackles in a Newark court yesterday following the execution of an arrest warrant at his home. De Sear has been released on $250,000 bail and will have to wear an electronic tag.

Lord Justice Leveson: profile of phone-hacking inquiry chairman

The Guardian: Examination of News of the World scandal and media regulation will be led by Rose West prosecutor, now a senior judge

Become-a-barrister.com hints at bars to the bar

Alex Aldridge writes in the Guardian: Working-class students get all kinds of mixed messages when they investigate their chances of becoming a barrister – well worth a look.  I am delighted to see that Alex has started a blog. 

Given the criticism of the judiciary in recent months on privacy, human rights and sundry other matters by the press, politicians pushing their agenda and others it was interesting to see The lord chief justice, Lord Judge respond in a speech at the Mansion House, reported by the Butterworth and Bowcott blog in The Guardian

A problem we have had to confront this year has been the increased number of critical attacks on individual judges and the judiciary as a whole,” he declared. He might have mentioned European judges and prisoners’ voting rights or David Cameron’s reference to judges making up the law on privacy but he did not.

“This year there has been a steady flow [of attacks], sometimes by those who should know better and sometimes by those who choose to ignore what they know …

“We do not act or give judgment according to our personal whims and wishes. When we apply the laws as we find them to be, we are independent judges.

A special shout out to law professor Richard Moorhead of Cardiff University for his  excellent blogging at the Lawyer Watch…. “Those of us who have worked in legal aid for any length of time are familiar with the chimes of doom that from time to time sound around us….” Worth adding to your reading if you don’t already follow him.

Many of us have been pre-occupied with the Murdoch news… but there are other important legal stories about – a selection from the blogs…

UK Human Rights blog:  “Two most important courts for UK human rights – the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights – both releasing pairs of landmark judgments in Al Rawi / Tariq, on the use of secret evidence in civil proceedings, and Al-Skeini / Al-Jedda, on where in the world the European Convention applies.”

David Allen Green, at his Jack of Kent blog, considers the issue Who is David Rose? a fascinating story  in relation to the Johann Hari ‘issue’ of plagiarism et al.

I am pleased to note…from John Bolch at Family Lore:  Edgar Venal wins the Venal & Grabbit Family Lawyer of the Year Award!

And… Obiter J helps us catch up with this excellent round up: What has happened apart from the “phone-hacking” debacle?

And.. if you fancy a bit of hard legal analysis on the #hackedoff NoTW / News International issues…. the Without Prejudice podcast below will give you a view… and a US lawyer’s view also…. of potential problems ahead with the FBI investigation into News Corporation.

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Listen to the podcast

I talk to US lawyer, Peter Friedman, Of Counsel at Hull McGuire PC,  about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the potential civil and criminal liability for News Corporation if the FBI investigation reveals any wrongdoing.

Listen to the podcast


I’d like to thank Lawtel, WestlawCassons For Counsel, City University Law School David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Inksters SolicitorsIken, LBC Wise Counsel, Carrs Solicitors,  JMW Solicitors – Manchester, Pannone and Cellmark for sponsoring the podcast  – and the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

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A truly extraordinary performance by Andy Hayman – who was, before nipping off to work for News International two months after leaving the Metropolitan Police,  responsible for the safety of our realm and counter-terrorism. he did not say… “You slaaaag..” but he certainly gave a good impression of his suitability to appear in a re-make of The Sweeney… 

His response to being asked if he had taken bribes from News International is a classic. 

Simon Hoggart summed it up rather well..

Andy Hayman stars at phone-hacking committee session

The then top copper in charge of the first inquiry must be given his own sitcom

Coming up tomorrow…

#WithoutPrejudice podcast tomorrow night with @John_Cooper_QC @cashjoanne @davidallengreen @carlgardner #NoTW – The Leveson Inquiry et al… and the possible criminal law implications for hackers, corrupt police and liability, if any, under s. 79 RIPA et al for News International and employees.

I also hope to do a Without Prejudice special with a US lawyer and professor to discuss the legal implications in the US for News Corporation  – if any.

On Friday – I will be doing a Without Prejudice special with a well known MP to get a parliamentarian view on the extraordinary events of this week.

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It would appear that the latest (of many more to come?) revelation involves Royal Protection Squad offciers flogging info to #NoTW

Pesto has the story: Police officer ‘sold royal family contact details’

Meanwhile…. despite DPM Clegg’s desire for Murdoch to ‘be a good chap’ and ‘do the decent’ thing by withdrawing his bid for BSkYB…

But… all is well… PM Camcorderdirect… in a master stroke of timing…. is re-launching BIG SOCIETY… 

I may as well go back to the caff and eat cheese and tomato sandwiches (toasted) and have a decent glass of wine… laters…. I do hope that nothing awful is happening in the the economy, Europe, Italian collapse and other important matters while the meedja gorge themselves on Rebekah and the desire of many tweeters (RT’s many times)  … to set up a Rebekah’s Law…


BREAKING…  The Evening Standard has THIS>>>>

Hacking exclusive: Queen’s police sold her details to News of the World


With thanks to Latimer Lee LLP Solicitors Manchester solicitors for sponsoring the Insite Law free student materials

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1. There is little in the way of hard law on the ‘fit and proper person’ test in relation to OfCom’s duties under  the Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996

section 3(3) Ofcom:
(a) “shall not grant a licence to any person unless satisfied that the person is “a fit and proper person to hold it”; and
(b) “shall do all that they can to secure that, if they cease to be so satisfied in the case of any person holding a licence, that person does not remain the holder of the licence”.

2.  Eleanor Steyn, a media lawyer with London solicitors Michael Simkins LLP (who formerly worked for the media regulator Ofcom) makes an important legal point: “In my view, if Ofcom did try and revoke licences for the Sky channels then BSkyB would have relatively strong grounds for challenging it. It’s difficult to impute the behaviour of a small number of individuals to a whole company, and, to repeat, there are two separate companies here. The licences are not held by News International but BSkyB.  (My emphasis)

3. Eleanor Steyn notes (ibid): The way it has been interpreted so far has been in relation to compliance with other licence conditions.”  In other words in relation to the conduct of the licence holder while operating the licence.

4. Simon Hughes MP wrote to Ofcom – reported on 8th July 2011:


James Murdoch is the chairman of BSkyB and News International. Rebekah Brooks is currently the chief executive of News International which owns 40% of BSkyB. James Murdoch was, on Wednesday 6 July, accused on the floor of the House of Commons of seeking to pervert the course of justice. Tom Watson MP, speaking in the debate on phone hacking said ‘It is clear now that he personally [James Murdoch], without board approval, authorised money to be paid by his company to silence people who had been hacked, and to cover up criminal behaviour within his organisation. That is nothing short of an attempt to pervert the course of justice’. On Thursday 7 July James Murdoch confirmed in a statement that he had approved out of court settlements with hacking victims which prevented the public disclosure of documents which have now led to the arrest of senior journalists at the News of the World on criminal charges.

News International

As James Murdoch is the chairman of News International, and Rebekah Brooks is the Chief Executive of News International, the activities of News International are also relevant to the ‘fit and proper’ test in relation to BSkyB.

It is now clear that in order to cover up the allegations of criminal behaviour News International has been untruthful in its dealings with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). It was reported in the Financial Times on July 7 2011 that Baroness Buscombe, the chair of the Press Complaints Commission, had said that the PCC had been lied to by News International. She also said that ‘The corporate culture was clearly there to mislead us’.

5. At present the licence holder is BSkyB only 39% owned by NI / Newscorp.  News International / News Corp  are seeking to acquire the remaining 61% interest which is held diversely with no major large holders at the scale of the News International holding. Would the conduct of an individual – James Murdoch is Chairman of BSkyB – be sufficient to trigger a finding by Ofcom that BSkyB in its present ownership structure, where News International is a minority, albeit a significant shareholder, to find that  a ‘person’ (which may include a corporate entity) is unfit to hold the licence? It will be intersting to see what company lawyers make of this.  I rather suspect that BSkyB could not be stripped of the licence in this situation.  It would be for BSkyB to question whether Mr James Murdoch is a ‘fit and proper’ person to be Chairman – an entirely different issue.

Eleanor Styen:  “Secondly, the licence holder is BSkyB, not News International. Basic principles of corporate liability mean that it is difficult to pin what is done by executives of a company on the company itself, let alone pinning it on another group company. You would need to look at, among other things, the extent of crossover in terms of board membership between BSkyB and News International.”

6. The position would be different if and when BSkyB is wholly owned by News International?  What if nothing can be pinned on Rupert Murdoch or other News International director – on the hypothetical construct  that past admissions by James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks render them ‘unfit’  (See Simon Hughes MP extract above)?  A rather different matter, for then BSkyB – the holder of the licence – would be owned by a company untainted by the activities of anyone employed (a) by the company and (b) On the board of directors of the company.

I put these points forward for discussion – and not as an opinion.  I am interested in what those in academe, specialist in this era, and in practice think.  I may well be off beam. Are we likely to see, as others have suggested,  a cleansing of the internal Augean stables at News International to allow this takeover of BSkyB to proceed; a rather more lucrative prize for Rupert Murdoch than the News of The World, which he has ‘thrown under the bus’?

Finally – the Americans are more interested in succession issues for News Corp than they are in the ethics and morality of the News of The World.

* John Whittingdale stated on The Politics Show that it is News Corp seeking to take over BSkyB – a bit of confusion in the media generally on this issue


This is interesting… from TWO YEARS ago…. (Via appleblossombea )

Ex-Murdoch editor Andrew Neil: News of the World revelations one of most significant media stories of our time

Former Sunday Times editor says tabloid did not have a public interest defence and Andy Coulson has questions to answer

Well worth a read…. about what Andrew Neil thought about who knew what!

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Rather more sensible analysis of Mr Murdoch’s difficulties in the #WithoutPrejudice podcast below……

It seems only appropriate…. in the light of the closure of The News of The Screws for Pete n Dud to say goodbye…

Dudley Moore and Peter Cook Sing “Goodbye”

Although.. this… from Pete n Dud... may be more appropriate.. : (Derek and Clive – You Stupid C**t)

BUT… this is even better…  (HT to @ceee_j)

Derek & Clive – Jump you fucker jump!


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Today I talk to Carl Gardner and David Allen Green about the extraordinary events surrounding the hacking of mobile phones which led yesterday to the closure of The News of The World, a debate in parliament and the setting up of two inquiries – one judge led.  We look at why Jeremy Hunt and the government may well be constrained by law on blocking the BSkyB merger, the judicial inquiries, the Coulson arrest, systemic abuse throughout the media, and the extraordinary statement attributed to Mark Stephens by Reuters last night…” If News of the World is to be liquidated, Stephens told Reuters, it “is a stroke of genius—perhaps evil genius.” which I covered in a blog post.

Listen to the podcast


Useful Links

David Allen Green: Closing the News of the World makes no legal difference

Carl Gardner: Can the NewsCorp-BSkyB deal be stopped?

Charon QC: Time to respect Murdoch’s need for privacy in Coulson’s hour of need ? (Dealing with the Reuters / Mark Stephens points referred to in the podcast)

Politics HomeStatement by James Murdoch announcing closure of the News of the World.

Wall Street Journal:  Tabloid to Close Amid Scandal


David Allen Green, solicitor,  is the author of the Jack of Kent blog and is the legal correspondent  at The New Statesman.  Carl Gardner is an ex-government lawyer and is the author of the Head of Legal blog


I’d like to thank Lawtel, WestlawCassons For Counsel, City University Law School David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Inksters SolicitorsIken, LBC Wise Counsel, Carrs Solicitors,  JMW Solicitors – Manchester, Pannone and Cellmark for sponsoring the podcast  – and the free student materials on Insite Law – appreciated.

AND… finally…

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