Nigel Pascoe’s Guide For Young Advocates: Essential reading for all aspiring advocates

Nigel Pascoe QC – whom I have been proud to call a colleague for more years than I care to remember, which is still only a fraction of the time that he has been at the height of his profession – adopts Norman Birkett’s definition of advocacy:

Harnessing your personality in support of a cause.”

Pascoe: “be yourself or risk being a phoney.”

His advice to young advocates is the not uncommon advice given to nervous interview candidates: “be yourself.”

If you try to be someone else,” says Pascoe, “it will sound phoney. It is phoney.” Continue reading “Nigel Pascoe’s Guide For Young Advocates: Essential reading for all aspiring advocates”

Tommy Robinson’s appeal: will his world class legal team get him out of prison?

According to Tommy Robinson’s family’s “authorised spokesman,” Ezra Levant, the gaoled activist has appealed against his 13 month sentence for contempt of court.

We will have a look at what is actually likely to happen when his case gets to court in a moment, but there may be some readers who have not been following the story closely.

Why is Tommy Robinson in prison?

Since 25th May Mr Robinson, real name Steven Yaxley-Lennon, has been serving a sentence of 13 months imprisonment for contempt of court. The sentence is made up of a 3 month sentence passed for contempt of the Canterbury Crown Court in 2017, originally suspended but now activated, and a 10 month consecutive sentence imposed for a separate contempt of the Leeds Crown Court on 25th May 2018. The Judge who sent him to prison, Geoffery Marson QC, was at the time presiding over a trial involving allegations against a number of defendants.  Unfortunately we do not know many more details because reporting restrictions are in place, probably to prevent jurors in another case hearing inadmissible evidence.

Reporting restrictions? What’s that about? If something is said in court surely it can be reported? Continue reading “Tommy Robinson’s appeal: will his world class legal team get him out of prison?”

I’m a Remainer but I’m not campaigning for a second referendum

Last Saturday something like 100,000 people marched through Westminster demanding a second referndum on any final Brexit deal. The “People’s Vote” petition has gathered what, at present, seems a fairly modest number of 145,000 signatures at the time of writing, asking for the same thing. According to the Petition:

The future of this country and young people is too important to be decided by politicians alone, who cannot unite around the national interest.”

It is a mirror image of the argument that “politicians alone” should not have decided on our continued membership of the EU; a populist, anti-representative-democracy, argument that led directly to the 2016 referendum. Continue reading “I’m a Remainer but I’m not campaigning for a second referendum”

Rumpole, 17, and the Codes of Practice

We learnt yesterday from a paralegal called Rob (known on twitter as @RobEdward90) that a 17 year old boy has been told by the Legal Aid Agency that he will not be given legal aid to contest his trial on charges of driving whilst disqualified. The first reason for the decision is that “there is no reason why the applicant would be unable to cross-examine police officers in person.” The youth in question is, as the cliché goes, no stranger to the criminal courts and indeed is currently the subject of a Youth Rehabilitation Order.

We don’t know his name, but given his familiarity with the criminal courts and his evident skill in advocacy we can call him Rumpole.

*** *** ***

Rumpole!”

I turned over and pulled the duvet further over my head. Continue reading “Rumpole, 17, and the Codes of Practice”

Rape juries: Jolyon Maugham hits the wrong target

Last month Britain’s favourite tax barrister, Jolyon Maugham QC, suggested in an article in the New Statesman that juries ought to be abolished for rape trials. I had meant to reply to him much earlier, but did not have the time to do so until now.

As he is in some ways a stickler for accuracy I should quote him:

These few hundred words are not the place to remake the system by which rape is deterred. But we might start by asking, as Julie Bindel has urged, whether trial by jury serves the public interest in rape cases.”

I don’t think he is quite advocating the abolition of juries for rape cases, but he is certainly suggesting that it is something that should be discussed. Indeed, trial by jury, he says, is the place to start.

He was immediately criticised by some criminal lawyers for stepping outside his area of expertise. Not by me though; not least because my limited expertise as a criminal lawyer has never stopped me offering my thoughts on any number of other subjects, some of which are only vaguely related to the law (I can’t help you with tax avoidance though). Mr Maugham’s insights into what is undoubtedly a thorny area should be entirely welcome. Continue reading “Rape juries: Jolyon Maugham hits the wrong target”

No, we don’t need an Alfie’s law.

I thought I’d experiment with an audio post.

This is closely based on an article that appeared in Quillette yesterday.  Be warned: there are no pictures, there is no music (unless you count dogs barking in the background), no gimmicks and no technical wizadry. It’s just me talking for nearly half an hour.

I hope you’ll find it interesting if you haven’t read the article, or at least a cure for insomnia if you have.

Let me know if you think this is a good or a bad idea.

It seems to work on mobile phones, but I’m having some technical difficultites making it play on an ordinary laptop, especially using Firefox

For anyone who would prefer to read, or who is unable to listen, the piece is set out below.  I’m doing my best to make the audio work but I think at the moment it’s about 50:50!
Continue reading “No, we don’t need an Alfie’s law.”

The barber of Bedford should not have gone to prison

A 21 year old barber from Bedford, Abdulrahim Omar, was yesterday given an 8 month prison sentence for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. His crime was to have shaved the head of a ten year old boy as a punishment for playing with a razor. He gave him what is termed a “number 1” cut.

Continue reading “The barber of Bedford should not have gone to prison”

So you want to be the next DPP?

The Attorney-General has begun the recruitment procedure for the next Director of Public Prosecutions who will take up the position in October when Alison Saunders, the present incumbent leaves her post to go and work for the City law firm, Linklaters.

Mr Attorney is looking for an “extraordinary candidate” to replace her.

The prize, for the lucky man or woman is a £206,000 salary, a stonking great Civil Service solid gold pension, the “Sir Humphrey” status conferred by holding a post “at Permanent Secretary” level and best of all, perhaps, a highly civilised 42 hour week. Many Barristerblogger readers can have a crack at the job. Under the heading “qualifications” the Government website gives but a single word: “legal,” although closer inspection of the website of Odgers Berndtson, the company running the selection on the Attorney General’s behalf, makes it clear that you must have been a qualified barrister or solicitor for at least 10 years. As well as the Bar and Solicitors’ profession Odgers Berndston are actively inviting applications from the judiciary. It would certainly be a first if the next DPP was a former judge. Continue reading “So you want to be the next DPP?”

Secret Barrister Set To Become Special Tribunal Judge

The leaked news that the Secret Barrister, who recently published the critically acclaimed The law and how it’s broken, has been appointed as a Special Tribunal Judge has come as a surprise to his or her many fans.

The Special Tribunal is a little-publicised court that sits in private at undisclosed locations, including, according to some unconfirmed rumours, the Cold War nuclear bunker inside Box railway tunnel in Wiltshire.

Box Bunker

Created by the anodyne sounding Court Publicity (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2015 under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, a Special Tribunal can be convened, according to Paragraph 1 of Schedule 4, whenever the Minister of Justice certifies that a secret court hearing is necessary:

in the interests of national security, maintaining public confidence in the justice system or when for any other reason the Minister believes a closed hearing would be expedient in the interests of justice.” Continue reading “Secret Barrister Set To Become Special Tribunal Judge”