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It may give The Twitterati some transient pleasure to mock one of the finest gentlemen to have ever graced the House of Commons benches by referring to him as a ‘Crime Scene in Progress’  – I talk of no other than Lord Chancellor Grayling, a man of vision who made his long walk to freedom  from obscurity to hold one of the highest offices of state in the land: Lord Chancellor –  the first non-lawyer to serve as Lord Chancellor since the Earl of Shaftesbury in 1672-3.  It did not end well for The Earl of Shaftesbury, it has to be said – although charges of High Treason were dropped and Shaftesbury fled to Amsterdam,  fell ill, and soon died.  But, be that as it may.

And as for those of you with a predilection for trawling through Wikipedia for amusing nonsense on Chris Grayling and other fellow Conservative MPs to find this sort of thing…..shame on you!

Between 2001 and 2009,[8] Grayling claimed expenses for his flat in Pimlico, close to the Houses of Parliament, despite having a constituency home no further than 17 miles away[9] and owning two buy to let properties in Wimbledon.[10] Grayling says he uses the flat when “working very late” because he needs to “work very erratic and late hours most days when the House of Commons is sitting.”[11]

During the Parliamentary expenses scandalThe Daily Telegraph reported that Grayling refitted and redecorated the flat in 2005 costing over £5,000.[9] Grayling said that both the water and electrical systems failed “leaving the place needing a major overhaul”.[10]

Grayling’s expenses issue was seen as embarrassing for the Conservative Party as he had previously criticised Labour ministers for being implicated in sleaze scandals.[12]

There is more to heaven and earth Horatio than was dreamt of in Wikipedia…. and on that note, I bid you good day. Although I am partial to the Australian greeting…”Gooday mate, how’s it hanging?” when unable to avoid socialists in the house.

Israel’s Entry To US Visa Waiver Programme Under Threat

Recent reports from the Arab American Institute have claimed that the bill which would have seen Israel become part of the Visa Waiver Programme has been abandoned. The non-profit organisation has alleged that the bill, also known as the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, is ‘dead in the water’.

Despite strong opposition by the Arab American Institute, the bill was supported by many pro-Israel groups, such as AIPAC. If enacted, the bill would have allowed Israelis to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme, thus making it easier for Israelis to travel to the country. Supporters of the bill also claimed that it would boost Israeli tourism in the US and, therefore, have a beneficial effect on the country.

However, since the bill was proposed in March 2013 it has faced strong criticism. Whilst the bill would have ensured that all Israelis could travel under the Visa Waiver Programme, subject to the general exceptions and limitations of the programme itself, some critics alleged that the bill allowed Israelis to ‘maintain discriminatory practices against the US.’

The Arab American Institute alleged that the wording of the bill would have allowed Israelis to refuse entry to some Americans, which would result in American Arabs, Muslims or pro-Palestinian activists being turned away at the border.

Yousef Munayyer of the Palestine Center also opposed the bill and highlighted the cases of Nour Joudah and Sandra Tamari. Mr Munayyer argues that the fact that both Palestinian-American women were denied entry to Israel in 2012 is indicative of the discriminatory practices which would be allowed under the new bill.

Whilst acceptance into the Visa Waiver Programme would undoubtedly make it easier for Israelis wanting to travel to the United States, it appears that the current bill will not be enacted and Israelis will, therefore, still be required to obtain a visa before entering the country.

However, much of the criticism levelled at the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act is concerned with the wording of the bill and the implication it has on discriminatory practices in Israel, rather than the acceptance of Israel into the Visa Waiver Programme itself.

It’s possible, therefore, that a new bill will be put forward in early 2014. Providing a new bill could overcome the criticism levelled at the current US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, it’s possible that Israel could become part of the Visa Waiver Programme and Israeli citizens could find it far easier to enter the US. However, unless legislators ensure that the wording of the bill does not allow for the discrimination of American citizens, it is likely that Israel will not be able to participate in the Visa Waiver Programme due to the on-going criticism and opposition from a variety of groups.

Disruption in criminal courts as barristers and solicitors stage mass walkout: live updates

The Guardian

A Guide to Appearing at Court for a Driving Offence
By Ava Watkins

If you’ve never been to court before, you’re unlikely to know what to expect. Being accused of a driving offence can lead to serious ramifications for your social and business life, so it’s important that you get to grips with the legal process. An informed defendant is likelier to emerge with a more positive outcome than someone who didn’t do their homework. Remember that legal cases can be far-reaching and expensive.

How Long Will It Take My Case To Get To Court?

Usually, the police have up to six months (from the date of the incident) to summon you to court. That doesn’t mean that you have to be informed within this period; it just means that the police need to get the case to court within this timeframe. As a rule of thumb, if the authorities are slow off the mark, you may be going to court as late as 7-8 months after the incident.

Do You Have To Attend?

Depending on the offence, you may not have to be physically present. Most cases can be closed through correspondence. However, any serious offences will require your presence. If you could potentially have your licence disqualified, you will have to defend yourself. A legal representative can sometimes go in your stead, so ask before you travel.

How Long Will The Hearing Last For?

You have to come prepared. If you don’t, you will unnecessarily draw out the whole process. Guilty pleas can take as long as 30 minutes. Not guilty cases are usually considerably longer.

Will It All Be Over And Done With Then?

When the defendant pleads guilty, the Court will try to settle the matter in one sitting. It’s not necessarily guaranteed, so be prepared to adjourn. Not guilty hearings usually take at least two court hearings to finalise.

Will You Receive Help?

Once you’ve been issued a summons to court, you will be expected to take the necessary steps for your case, such as hiring a lawyer and gathering evidence. A legal representative and a carefully constructed case won’t be waiting for you when you arrive, unless you organise it yourself.

Can You Represent Yourself At Court?

You are within your rights to represent yourself in court, but it isn’t advisable; especially if the case is serious. Where possible, it’s best to hire a qualified solicitor that specialises in motor law. If you plan to represent yourself, at least seek legal advice before you do so.

What Are The Advantages Of Hiring A  Solicitor?

With a specialist motor solicitor, you can relax and let them take care of the complicated legal process, knowing that your chances of success are significantly increased. You’ll benefit from their previous experience of similar offences. If your licence is threatened, it’s best to put together the most watertight case possible. This is even more crucial, if you rely on your licence to do your job.

Composed by Ava Watkins on behalf of Driving Offence drink driving solicitors. Visit their drink driving solicitor page here http://www.drivingoffence.com/   for more information on these types of matters.

The Ins and Outs of Felony Fraud

The Ins and Outs of Felony Fraud
Ava Watkins

The law of England and Wales no longer distinguishes misdemeanours from felonies, which are now simply regarded as indictable offences. What may be described as a felony in other countries (most notably the United States) is merely a criminal act in the UK, albeit one that is invariably serious in nature or consequence.

What is Fraud?

Fraud is one of the most serious crimes in the UK. Covering aspects of bribery and corruption, fraud can be defined as any deceptive act whose motivation is personal gain or another party’s loss. Most instances of fraud involve a person’s failure to disclose important or accurate information, false representation or abuse of position, as described in the Fraud Act 2006.

The rate of fraud tends to increase during times of economic difficulty. Serious fraud typically involves huge sums of cash or valuable assets; for example, when stockbrokers operate Ponzi schemes to defraud investors.

Of course, there are many different types of fraud, many of which involve the unlawful transfer of money. One example is cheque fraud. This often involves someone forging another person’s signature or creating a fake cheque in order to gain access to money. The penalty for this type of fraud may depend on the amount of money in question, the severity of the deception or whether the crime was a one-off or frequent act. Any person convicted of fraud will need the services of a specialist solicitor.

The Fraud Act 2006 outlines two penalties for any person who is found guilty of fraud: summary conviction can lead to a term of imprisonment lasting no longer than twelve months; conviction on indictment can result in a maximum prison term of ten years. Either punishment may be replaced or supplemented by a fine.

Insurance Fraud

Insurance fraud is also common, especially in the motoring and property sectors. Criminals have been known to forge death certificates to access money from insurance policies. Again, the severity of the crime and the damage or loss it has caused will be considered by the court. Insurance fraud is often carried out by professional criminals who work in gangs. Often, there is a nominated person who, depending on his expertise, takes responsibility for different stages of the crime. For example, a staged car accident may involve a number of gang members: one person to target the victim on the road, another person to drive the ‘attacking’ vehicle and a third person to fake injury and put in the claim to the insurance company.

Home to some of the UK’s leading serious fraud solicitors, Manchester also happens to be a hotspot for so-called crash-for-cash accidents, but lawyers in the city should be able to deal with all types of fraud.

Other Offences

The Fraud Act 2006 lists separate offences of making, supplying or having possession of “articles for use in frauds”, obtaining services through dishonesty and participating in fraudulent business activities. These offences are subject to different penalties. In the UK, fraud is heavily linked to bribery and corruption, which may take the form of extortion, corporate espionage, illegal gratuity and other related offences.

Written by Ava Watkins.

If we are to continue to provide justice in this country – despite the difficulties we all face – it is important to ensure that we have the lawyers to represent those who need help.

The mark of a civilised country, surely, is that it treats those who face the legal system fairly? How will we be able to do that if we don’t provide legal aid?

The United States and The United Kingdom – Peoples divided by a common language? 

“Well…I spliced the main brace last night and ended up three sheets to the wind. I can tell you that Mrs C was taken aback. Thought I was for the high jump. Mind you, it was cold enough outside to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. I was at a loose end, you see, and our work is, after all, money for old rope. Hadn’t had a square meal for hours which is probably why I was over refreshed. Normally, of course, I accept all drinks invitations at the drop of a hat and I am sure Mrs C took my excuse on the phone earlier with a pinch of salt. But hook or by crook, I was determined to join you at this wonderful bar for a spot of grog. Needed a hair of the dog anyway, but at the risk of flogging a dead horse and not wishing to be a fly in the ointment, I made my way over the water to get here. After all,  I don’t have feet of clay and these days one has to stand up and be counted, throw one’s hat into the ring…you understand, I am sure. Anyway…I would not be worth my salt if I had chickened out. Anyway…as you can see, I grasped the nettle, knowing that we would not have to pay through the nose here and it is not as if I had drunk a Mickey Finn…By the way…why are those Germans looking at me so strangely…. speaking the Queen’s English, which they understand, I am sure….so what is the problem? I am a good European. I back the EU…why are they staring at me that way?

Anyway..where was I ? Ah yes…It is a moot point as to whether I was left in the lurch when Johnny pegged out after having too many irons in the fire, which put the dampers on my plans to hold the fort and bag a table …..

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Of course…we all understand the above phrases..but how many of us know where they come from? An excellent book “Red Herrings and White Elephants” by Albert Jack will make all clear. Available at Waterstones and all our other favourite legal bookshops…hopefully, still available.

 

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#SAVEUKJUSTICE – A few observations…some sardonic