We shouldn’t eat our goldfish but the RSPCA was wrong to prosecute Gavin Hope for doing so

Not content with prosecuting lonely old cat lovers, the mentally ill and innocent huntsmen the RSPCA has now turned its attention to young drinkers participating in the craze of “Neknomination.” Its first target was 22 year old salesman Gavin Hope who was prosecuted for drinking a pint of lager mixed with chilli, tequilla, egg and (this is meant to be the the funny bit) fish food, followed by his live pet goldfish. Mr Hope, whose talents perhaps lie more in sales than in public relations, unwisely posted his hilarious escapade on Facebook, whence it was brought to the attention of the RSPCA.

Although some of those prosecuted by the RSPCA deserve our sympathy it is hard to feel a great deal for Mr Hope. As a joke his stunt falls rather flat, and as performance art it is not quite as edgy as the German artist Milo Moiré who has achieved critical acclaim for publicly ejecting paint-filled eggs from her vagina onto a canvas. Continue reading “We shouldn’t eat our goldfish but the RSPCA was wrong to prosecute Gavin Hope for doing so”

Starmer’s idea that Judge should cross-examine witnesses in sex cases is alarming

Sir Keir Starmer, the leading light in the Labour Party’s “Victims Taskforce” has suggested that in sexual and violent cases trial judges, instead of defence advocates, should question “young and vulnerable witnesses.” It is a revolutionary proposal and like most revolutionary proposals, profoundly dangerous.

In this country, as in all common law jurisdictions, the prosecution presents evidence to a jury, the defence tests it and an impartial judge oversees the process trying to ensure fairness to both sides.

Starmer’s proposal would shatter that system, hobbling the ability of the defence to defend and turning the judge from an impartial umpire into something approaching a continental juge d’instruction. Continue reading “Starmer’s idea that Judge should cross-examine witnesses in sex cases is alarming”

How to face cross-examination as a defendant

Over the last few weeks we have seen a more than usually large number of celebrities being cross-examined in the criminal courts.

Barristers, and increasingly solicitors, are taught how to cross-examine. On the other hand tips on how to deal with being cross-examined – whether or not you are a celebrity – are not so easily found.

It is, of course, completely forbidden for a lawyer to “coach” a defendant. He cannot suggest answers that his client should give. Nevertheless before going into the witness box most barristers will offer a few words of advice.

What is said usually boils down to this:

Look the jury in the eye, keep your voice up and your answers short and simple; oh, and remember that once you’re in the witness box you can’t talk to anyone about the case, and especially not to your own lawyers, until your evidence is completed. Best of luck.”

All sound advice as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far. Continue reading “How to face cross-examination as a defendant”

Barristers outraged at BSB plan to force them to take Maths tests

 

Barristers on the Western Circuit, already annoyed at being made guinea pigs for the Bar Standards Board’s “Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates” are alarmed that they have been singled out to participate in the first tranche of the BSB’s flagship “Numeracy and Statistics Initiative Scheme”.

Under the scheme, which will apply initially to criminal barristers called after 1995, barristers who wish to remain in practice will have to register with the BSB by 1st January 2015 specifying the level of accreditation that they wish to obtain.

Under the scheme – already and inevitably dubbed “Nasti” by its detractors – the level of accreditation required will depend upon the type of law that the barrister wishes to practise. Continue reading “Barristers outraged at BSB plan to force them to take Maths tests”