Editorials are also on the blog, should you wish to comment
16th May 2008
||The Fourth Estate v Cherie Booth QC, a recorder.
Charon comments on the extraordinary story splashed across the lunchtime (15th May) edition of The Evening Standard : "Judge Cherie must resign over diaries'
Charon also has a caption competition at the foot of the same post. The prize - a book from Wildy's.
Have a read | Have a go at the caption competition.
||Pressing on for more public embarrassment?
Gordon Brown seems hell bent on pressing on with the extension of the detention without charge 28 to 42 days increase despite informed opinion. Adding to the weight of informed opinion (Sundry currrent and former law officers et al) we now have the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), reported in The Independent as stating, "the Government had failed to provide proof that the threat from terrorism had increased over the last year." The JCHR also described the plan as 'fundamentally flawed".
It is baffling why Brown wants to press ahead with this as he faces almost certain defeat in The Commons. Perhaps he has a 'cunning' plan?
On the blogs today...
Binary Law explains why he is "Tweeting". Capitalists@work has an interesting post "Inflation, all the way. (Thanks a bunch, Darling)". Family Law Week, thefamily law coverage blog edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, looks at: Domestic Violence Practice Direction: Out of step with case law? Political blogger Guido Fawkes has a competition: Prize Competition Closing 5pm : Explain the Labour Party's Position on a Scottish Referendum.
Naked Law, the blog from lawyers at Mills & Reeve has an interesting post: Blog Mgog: It has been reported that a Welsh blogger has been fined £150 (plus costs) for posting 'menacing messages' on his blog about a police officer who originally interviewed him.
In the Press today...
The Independent reports that Gordon Brown's efforts to persuade Labour MPs to back the 42-day detention of terrorist suspects without charge suffered a fresh blow after the plan was condemned as "fundamentally flawed" by a parliamentary committee.
The Telegraph: "Brown: I'm staying until next election."
14th May 2008
New judicial robes
The Daily Mail reports that 300 years of tradition are about to be thrown away as the Judges of England & Wales bring themselves up to date with new robes designed by Betty Jackson.
Charon continues to report on West London man - text and audio.
Leading the legal news today
The Times reports that jobs for junior lawyers dry up as boom ends. The Guardian notes that Poole Council has been using terror laws to spy on Fisherman and The Independent in concerned about "Stagflation".
Leading in the blawgs today.... Binary Law has advice for blawgers with a report: "Something no one else has." Family Lore talks of a positive parenting network and victims of the house price crisis. IMPACT, the blog from Freeth Cartwright: looks at Skype with a report: "Another GPL enforcement success as Skype accepts German Court ruling." PJHLaw continues to provide useful analysis of Employment Law: "Most Agency Workers Would Not Benefit From Equal Treatment Proposal." Nearly Legal also continues to provide excellent analysis on Housing Law: "Possession and human rights - blimey!" Bystander JP, on The Magistrate's Blog, provides insight into stress in the executive.
13th May 2008
||Et tu Cherie?...
Ed Balls MP, the secretary of state for children, schools and families, also said Cherie Blair was talking nonsense in claiming that Brown may have played a role in leaking the details of her pregnancy, a claim she made in her autobiography. Guardian story
The knives are being sharpened, the shadowy figures are emerging - and Cherie Booth QC 'qua' Cherie Blair, is adding to the pressure on Brown with her newly rushed out memoirs.
You could not make it up...
No need to go to the tabloids today… the broadsheets have a story combining Macbeth, King Lear, Richard III and Julius Caesar all in one riveting story… The Telegraph reports that Gordon Brown has been accused by an influential Labour backbencher of showing "tempers of an indescribable nature" and not being "happy" in the job. So, we have Cherie, Lord Cashpoint and Frank in a concerted assassination of Brown's character. Will Brown survive the summer of discontent ahead...
12th May 2008
The Telegraph reports that Lord Levy told the Telegraph he was "stunned" at Labour's sharp fall in popularity and said Mr Brown should reflect on whether he was now an electoral liability to the party.
||The first hot weekend of the summer - and West London Man gets out his barbecue. Charon reports. Also, in Weekend Review - what the judges are up to from the perspective of The News of The World and how our MEPs are serving our interests in Brussels.
8th May 2008
Law Reports and What's on the blogs?: Updated as at 8th May (infra)
Quite a few more UK bloggers blogging this week.
||YOU LOT ARE A BUNCH OF OVER-THE-HILL SLAPPERS
A judge branded three women robbers "over-the-hill slappers" in an amazing courtroom attack. Judge Timothy Nash's outburst came as he jailed the trio for drunkenly mugging a man. Renowned for his controversial rants, the judge once declared the Home Office "totally incompetent". The Mail
The government appears not to be doing a lot of listening, despite Gordon Brown's recent statement that he would be doing so. Cannabis is about to be reclassified - against the advice of the government's own advisers. The Terror detention without charge extension from 28 to 42 days is being pressed ahead with against the views of the DPP, the law officers and other experienced lawyers. Charon has a view on this.
Independence for Scotland?
The Guardian reports that Gordon Brown was struggling last night to contain a row over Scotland's future position in the United Kingdom after Labour's Scottish leader unilaterally declared her support for a referendum on independence, tearing up the party's agreed policy. Another illustration of a breakdown in listening. This is an extraordinary story - a rather important issue and it seems to be being handled particularly badly.
7th May 2008
Well known blogger Geeklawyer opens the batting on the controversy over the government's decision on fees to barristers in criminal cases: "The government lost a case because it wouldn’t pay barristers a proper rate. No barrister would accept the defendants brief so he had to defend himself while the state had an army of lawyers. The judge said this was an abuse of process. No ..... s**t Sherlock : reverse the burden of proof deprive the accused of the means of defending himself. The governments robbery scheme seems to have been undermined by the own parsimony. Idiots."
None so deaf as those who will not listen?...
||The present government appears to have embarked on a process of ignoring advice from its own advisers. Today, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will press ahead with plans to re-classify cannabis from Group c to Group B - despite recommendations to be published today by the government's scientific experts, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, that cannabis should remain class C.
In a few weeks time, the government will press ahead, Charge of The Light Brigade style, with plans to extend the terror detention without charge laws from 28-42 days - again, despite advice from law officers past and present, the DPP and others with expertise who see no need for an extension to the present law. The government may well lose.
6th May 2008
||Legal news is a bit thin on the ground after the May Bank Holiday - but Mayor Boris has now taken over London. The Times reports: “In his first speech as mayor on Saturday, Mr Johnson signalled that he would not tolerate unsupportive officials. “If there are any dogs in the manger, then I will have those dogs humanely euthanased,” he said.”
The newswire is being updated during the course of the day - with law reports, latest on the blogs and a round up from government and other websites.
The Telegraph reports: Criminal keeps £4.5m as barristers refuse to take case. A convicted drugs criminal has escaped an order to have up to £4.5 million of his assets confiscated because no legal aid barrister would take on the case. More than 30 barristers from London, Leeds and Sheffield were approached to represent the offender, but refused because they felt the new fixed-rate legal aid fees of £175.25 per day does not justify the complex workload that would be involved.
2nd May 2008
||Telegraph: Arrests of binge-drinking women rise by 50pc
Over the course of this weekend I will be developing the newswire and will be updating all the sections on the page.
||Discussion Board and interaction: We have a new discussion board - functional and quick loading. It will take some time to build up - but if you would like to join, please register. You may upload an 'avatar' at 48 x 48 pixels. Instructions on the discussion board console when you register. Discussion Board
Free Weekly Newswire by email
I am introducing a short weekly newswire by email summarising all the developments of the week. It is likely to go out over the weekend, covering the previous week's developments.
Please register to receive the email if you would like this free summary.
Geeklawyer visits the bottom end of the profession & nearly destroys a large criminal trial
Lillian Edwards: Pangloss - .or beware! that Facebook app you just downloaded might be stealing your data and all of your friends! BBC Story
30th April 2008
Editorial will follow later in the day, together with an update on what has been happening on the blogs. In the meantime, you may wish to read Charon's review of The Three Bridges Restaurant in Battersea after his dinner there last Wednesday evening.
Bar Chairman Warns of Threats to the Independence of the Legal Profession
Bar Chairman Tim Dutton QC has warned of threats to the independence of the legal profession. Addressing the Criminal Bar Association conference in York, he said a shift in mind sets and attitudes was affecting the Bar’s ability as an independent profession to discharge its duties vigorously and independently, and he pointed to three factors driving this:
- politics becoming a career
- attacks on the professions
- spending cuts
29th April 2008
||I got up at 3.00 this morning, as I usually do, to look at blogs and newspapers for my vaguely sensible coverage of the events of the day here.
This morning, I read, in The Independent, that Brown, having solved all the problems of his increasingly inadequate and unelected ‘premiership’, is focused on re-classifying cannabis from C to B, arseing around with the extension on detention from 28-42 days and, no doubt, if political pundits are to be believed, dithering about whether he will serve up porridge or porridge to us today. I do not tend to drink at 3.00 in the morning, save, on occasion, on a Friday night when I stay up late, so I can’t even plead mild intoxication…. (and I’ve voted Labour for 28 years) for what follows…. (or the graphic)
Gordon Brown, skulking away in the bowels of The Treasury, may well be shown by history to be one of the great Chancellors. As a Prime Minister he is shaping up to be a disaster - with no peer or rival in the last 200 years. Retreat after retreat. First he bottled the election last Summer. Now he retreats on the 10p tax issue. Soon he may well be defeated on the extension of terror detention from 28 to 42 days because people who know what they are talking about oppose it and MPs are beginning to listen. Now Gordon Brown, despite evidence and opposition, again from people who know what they are talking about, wants to re-classify Cannabis from Group C to Group B.
There are rather more important matters, one would have thought, for Brown to address - credit-crunch, house prices, Iraq, Afghanistan, employment, not being a fun guy… to name but a few. Police may well want the drug re-classified (but have they produced any sensible, compelling, evidence for this - or is this yet another bit of plod opportunism to go back to the good old days?) - but it can’t possibly be the case that cannabis is contributing, markedly or at all, to the crime wave?
Ironically, crime is actually falling according to recent reports. (Here | Here | And in Liverpool? ) Cheap booze may well be a cause of juvenile delinquency, but, again, is hardly likely to be the only cause of mainstream crime. It cannot be easy to commit serious crimes or robbery, rape, fraud, etc when spliffed up or pissed. But what would I know? I’m only a voter. I’ve never been partial to porridge, despite my Scots ancestry, and the present lumpy stuff being dished up by a tired and, frankly, rather dull and inconsistent government is not appetising. And they wonder why Boris may (possibly), despite all of his antics, be elected as Mayor on Thursday.
(*) Brown refutes Lord Levy story about being gay.
28th April 2008
||Hat Tip to The Magistrate's Blog for drawing our attention to the risks the Metropolitan Police have to take in protecting our City. The BBC reports:
"A police force has carried out a risk assessment in case a syndicate of its workers wins the lottery and leaves.Thames Valley Police said many different risks that could affect the force had been assessed, including terror-related matters and power cuts.The assessments were presented as part of a report to the Thames Valley Police Authority on Friday. Unfortunately for the syndicate, a police spokesman said the chances of a win had been assessed as "very low"."
Absurd, unfair and a breach of fundamental rights
Times Law reports that Anti-terrorism legislation was condemned as poorly thought-out by a senior High Court judge yesterday as he declared that the Treasury’s powers to freeze suspects’ bank accounts were unlawful.
In a scathing attack, Collins J, describing the financial orders as ' were absurd,unfair and a breach of fundamental rights, is reported as saying: "It was, frankly, another example of an immediate reaction without it being thought through properly — which is rather the pattern with the anti-terrorism measures.”
25th April 2008
The insitelaw newswire operates Monday - Friday. But in the meantime, you may wish to have a look at Charon QC's Weekend review
||Law Actually picks up on the new Office for Government Commerce (OGC) logo - left. Fine when horizontal. Not so good when turned 90 degrees. The Times states that the OGC are pressing ahead with the logo.
A spokesman for the OGC said: "We concluded that the effect was generic to the particular combination of the letters 'OGC' - and is not inappropriate to an organisation that's looking to have a firm grip on government spend."
Asp bites picks up on a BBC story about a district judge. Said in issuing an arrest warrant for a man who attacked a Star Wars fan whilst dressed up as Darth Vader (from BBC News): "I hope the force will soon be with him."
Usefully Employed has a rather good rant about the future of the legal profession
House of Lords decision in Ashley v Chief Constable of Sussex Police - Tort / Battery. See Law Reports (Below)
The process for appointing the next Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales has been announced. The current Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, has been appointed as the Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, and takes up the position on 1 October 2008. Ministry of Justice
24 April 2008
||The UK's biggest banks have lost a test case about overdraft charges.
The BBC reports: "A judge has decided that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) can rule on the fairness of the charges, which many customers have been trying to reclaim. Mr Justice Andrew Smith said his judgement did not necessarily mean the charges were unfair."
||Head of Legal writes...
Lords judgment: Ashley v Chief Constable of Sussex
This case is about a civil action against the police, who shot dead an unarmed man when raiding his home to arrest him. Read the full blog post...
In the early hours of this morning as I visited every blog on my blogroll for the "on the blog" section - I came across a blogger who has stopped blogging. I quote: " .... [A friend at a different Inn] ... He had been to a talk at his Inn and one of the speakers (according to him a very senior and influential member of a set of chambers) had said during their speech on 'advice to pupils' that they should not keep a blog."
I can understand that one should be circumspect and careful not to misrepresent... but it is a pity that Chambers should exert pressure on pupils not to keep a blog. But... when the tenancy comes... is a blogger employed? Could a set of chambers then exert pressure on a tenant not to keep a blog?
I dined well last night in my guise as "Charon the restaurant reviewer" at a very good restaurant. The restaurant was out of my manor. It is rare, these days, for me to make 'house calls' - but I was reviewing a restaurant for LawandMore. The food was superb. The wine excellent. I shall be writing my review tonight...
Infamy or Praise
Random Thought (10)
"I blog under my real name because I don't want people to know my pseudonym."
23rd April 2008
||DPP says that 42 day detention is not necessary
The Independent reports that plans to detain terrorist suspects for up to 42 days without charge suffered a fresh setback after the controversial measure was described as unnecessary by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Perhaps this will give MPs the backbone to defeat the proposal?
Law Actually picks up on an interesting story: "China, already the world leader in cellphone use, has surpassed the USA as the No. 1 nation in Internet users."
Great Firewall of China: Unfortunately, China has seen fit to block my Charon QC blog - perhaps my musings infringe the human rights of China's people? The Great Firewall of China test website seems to be offline! As Hitler said " The Olympic torch is a beacon of world peace." (Have I got News for You 18 April)
China arms ship left with no port of call as Britain and US apply pressure
The Guardian reports that Britain and the US have put concerted pressure on southern African states and China to stop a Chinese ship carrying weapons for the Zimbabwean government docking in the region. After years of passive appeasement, the British government appears to be going into high gear on the issue of Zimbabwe. Yesterday we had Foreign Secretary David Milliband warning Mugabe in the strongest terms that the British government would be vocal if Mugabe 'steals' the elections - as appears increasingly probable. The results for the election held three weeks ago are still not available. It does, however, take some time to stuff ballot boxes with fake votes and take election officials into custody.
22nd April 2008
League tables to irritate the legal profession
"It has been done in the health service, the media and the City. Professionals — lawyers included — are increasingly victims of league tables. So braving the ire of that most litigious of groups, today The Times Law section offers its own list: Law 100: the UK's most powerful lawyers"
With a legal profession of over 120,000 and even if some members of the profession are modest enough (or young enough) not to worry about their place in the firmament - this list is going to irritate a fair number of lawyers. Maybe this is a good thing!
A new section on The Judiciary
I have added a new section below to cover announcements, speeches and news of the Judiciary.
The Magistrate's Blog
I can do no better than quote this excellent post verbatim:
Not Too Effing Bad Then
Last year I quoted Sir Richard Mottram, the senior civil servant who came out with this memorable opinion:- We're all fucked. I'm fucked. You're fucked. The whole department's fucked. It's been the biggest cock-up ever and we're all completely fucked.
According to yesterday's paper, Sir Richard is about to retire, with a pension pot worth 2.66 million quid. So he's not entirely f*cked then.
21 April 2008
'Da Vinci' judge escapes with reprimand
The Times, reports that The “Da Vinci Code” judge who found himself the subject of a disciplinary inquiry after being accused of bias and “intemperate” behaviour has escaped with a reprimand for misconduct. The Geeklawyer blog covers this in a diffferent way.
Solicitor General to help Royal Family integrate into the human race.
Vera Baird, the Solicitor-General, is steering legislation through Parliament to amend the 1701 Act of Settlement to give women equal rights to succeed to the throne. Baird is reported as saying that present laws are "unfair" and "a load of rubbish" She added: "I have always thought that what we have to do with the Royal Family is integrate them as far as possible into the human race." Telegraph Report
Two strikes and you're out
The Times Transport correspondent reports that Drink drivers would no longer automatically lose their licences under government plans to lower the alcohol limit for motorists to the equivalent of less than a pint of beer or glass of wine.
The plan is to lower the limit from 80mg to 50mg (consistent with much of Europe) and award six penalty points if a driver is over the new lower limit and a ban if a second offence is recorded within five years. Presumably people who drive while completely roaring will continue to be banned?
18th April 2008
Crisis? What crisis?
The Guardian reports that Richard Alderman, new head of the SFO, handled his first media conference yesterday by effectively saying "Crisis? What crisis?" Given the fairly criticial judgment of the Court of Appeal and the 'terse' judgment of Moses LJ in the Divisional Court - this may, at first blush, be a surprising reaction.
Bid rigging is alive and well
Times Law reports that The Office of Fair Trading has today formally accused 112 construction firms in England of participating in "bid rigging", in its biggest investigation of cartel activity to date
RollonFriday reports: "The rise of the crackberry culture has finally been challenged after one US law firm banned the evil gadgets from all meetings. Lawyers at Meltzer, Lippe, Golstein & Breitstone have sweating and shaking in meetings after being forced to go cold turkey from their Blackberrys and mobiles."