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Archive for July, 2011

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’

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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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-8PBx7isoM

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…

STUCKISM

“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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STATEMENT FROM THE DESK OF DR ERASMUS STRANGELOVE,

CEO AND SENIOR PARTNER

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

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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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