Chris Grayling, the Justice Minister has not let the dissolution of Parliament or the appalled objections of lawyers stand in the way of ever more absurd ruses to squeeze money out of Court users.
Last week he announced plans to charge defendants a flat rate, non-negotiable charge merely for being convicted, irrespective of the seriousness of the charge or their ability to pay. This will be as high as £1200.00 for any Crown Court trial.
Justice Minister Chris Grayling
Last night, in a bold attempt to take the war to critics who have attacked his plans, Mr Grayling announced the introduction of what he describes as “further much needed efficiency savings” in the criminal justice system.
Top of the list is a new “Catering Charge” which, Mr Grayling said, was a natural development arising out of the closure of all court catering contracts which took place in January. Continue reading
Lovers of paedophile and Satanist conspiracies have been having a wonderful time recently with their claims that a Satanist paedophile ring has been operating from Christ Church Church of England Primary School in Hampstead, a beautiful part of North London not far from where I used to live.
Such scares blow up from time to time and they always turn out to be nonsense, or at least, if they contain a grain of truth, to be hugely exaggerated. However on this occasion I have paid more than passing attention because the school in question happens to be where two of my children learnt to read and write and where they spent seven exceptionally happy years.
I have had no involvement with the school since 2008, but the Head Teacher and many of the other teachers and staff, as well as the Parish priest, are the same now as they had been then. Continue reading
You might think that the most important part of a judge’s job is to sit on the bench and listen to the evidence, and that the least important part is sitting in chambers waiting to be called into court. The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, on the other hand, appears to think that how a judge behaves in the privacy of his chambers is more important than how he does his job in court.
Three judges have been sacked for watching pornography. District Judge Timothy Bowles, Immigration Judge Warren Grant and, Deputy District Judge and Recorder Peter Bullock. In the great scheme of things there have been greater injustices, but I think they have been treated rather harshly. Bullock has perhaps got off the lightest of the three as he was not a full-time judge. No doubt he can return to private practice without too many problems. Bowles and Grant were full-time judges and they have lost their livelihoods. Possibly they will be able to return to practice as lawyers but failed and disgraced ex-judges don’t command a high premium in the competitive world of legal recruitment. Continue reading
Has Jimmy Savile driven The Guardian mad? The tabloids, unsurprisingly, seek out the most sensational stories about the now disgraced disc jockey, as though to atone for their devotion to the man when he was alive. One would like to have thought that more serious newspapers would adopt a more sober tone.
The Guardian sometimes prints drivel. One expects nothing else from some of its star columnists, such as Seamus Milne who likes to write approvingly of Vladimir Putin and wistfully of the Soviet Union.
Its editorial columns are usually rather more sensible.
Last Thursday was an exception. Under the headline “Oblivion’s Too Good For Him,” the newspaper that remains required reading for the British left published an editorial that was so hysterical and so bizarre that it suggested the writer (who is sadly unnamed) might require a few weeks leave to calm himself down.
Its subject was Jimmy Savile. Bemoaning the fact that no Hell exists in which Mr Savile could be condemned to “eternal torment,” the editorial went on to make an extraordinary comparison:
“If there is one thing to make the most benign agnostics wish that there were a God to punish sinners with eternal torment, it is the contemplation of history’s monsters. Oblivion is too good for the likes of Pol Pot, and for Jimmy Savile, too.”
Unless a miracle occurs around about 2 a.m. UK time tomorrow morning, 22 year old Saman Naseem will be hanged.
Saman Naseem: Due to be hanged tomorrow
The usual Iranian method of hanging is unusually cruel and gruesome. The condemned prisoner is simply suspended from a rope by his neck. There is no drop; no attempt to break his neck. He is slowly strangled to death as he kicks and struggles. Death takes minutes. Sometimes the executions are public, though more commonly they take place inside a prison. Continue reading
The covert film by Animal Aid of slaughter at the Bowood halal abattoir near Thirsk shows revolting animal cruelty.
Slaughtermen are seen hacking and sawing at the necks of fully conscious sheep, throwing them around, kicking and punching them prior to slaughter; and all this while surrounded by the smell and sight of death in the form of dead sheep and chickens hanging from nearby meat-hooks.
Animal Aid deserves enormous credit for making these disgusting scenes public. Any civilised person, of whatever religion or none, will be horrified to see the film.
It raises the explosive question of whether halal or kosher slaughter should be banned by law. UKIP, in an apparent reversal of its previous policy, has already announced that it will support a ban on all slaughter in which the animal is not first stunned. It is a policy that may well prove popular. Like most UKIP policies I rather doubt that it has been carefully thought out. Continue reading
We have abolished the gallows, the gibbets and the pillories that once adorned every rutted turnpike cross-road.
It’s now time to turn our attention to another eighteenth century legal relic. No, not the harmless wig, but the pernicious practice of forcing defendants to stand trial while caged inside the wooden and glass cages known as “docks.”
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, seems to think so too.
In a speech last week to Birkbeck College’s Institute for Criminal Policy Research Lord Thomas suggested that docks could be abolished:
“Do you really need the dock? Are they really necessary? I do think these sort of radical ideas need considering …. They are terribly expensive. Particularly in magistrates’ courts.” Continue reading
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised but I am. I really am.
Liberal Democrats have often seemed lacking in principle, not really knowing whether they are free-market Gladstonians like Jeremy Browne the thoughtful and intelligent MP for Taunton who is standing down at the next election; or smug, incompetent social democratic meddlers like Vince Cable who, sadly, isn’t.
As a result the archetypical LibDem has a backbone of wet cardboard and no discernible principles at all, like Simon Hughes the monumentally pointless Justice Minister.
The MP for Wells is called Tessa Munt. Unlike other LibDems she does have principles. She doesn’t like pylons, for example.
She is a bit more flexible on windfarms, which she approves of in principle, although preferably not in her constituency.
She bravely stood up for sweeter mincemeat when the Government proposed to cut the minimum sugar content required under the Jam and Similar Products (England) Regulations 2003 from 60% to 50%. Continue reading
In August last year Fathers For Justice campaigner Martin Matthews climbed onto the roof of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s house and unveiled banners in a protest against the family justice system.
He had with him a screwdriver and some screws which he used to screw fixings for his banners into Mr Grayling’s bitumen.
The police were called and Mr Matthews was arrested.
There was, however, a problem. What crime, if any, had been committed? Continue reading
The appalling attack on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices is, as almost everyone has noted, an attack on free speech and an attack on those of us who think that free speech is the most important of all our freedoms.
It is intended to intimidate people who take it for granted.
If we ever allow what we write or say to be affected by a mob, or by the threat of violence or murder we might as well stop writing and stop thinking. We will have been defeated.
It is quite absurd that even now, after ten of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo have been murdered and others critically wounded, most newspapers, including it seems The Guardian, are still not publishing the cartoons that led to their murder. The only explanation would seem to be cowardice.
All websites, from the largest to the smallest should now publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons.