Pre-trial cross-examination: why can’t Mr Grayling get his facts right?

Mr Grayling has announced that he is to introduce pre-trial cross-examination for complainants in sexual cases. Instead of having to attend court on the day of the trial, complainants will be able to record their cross-examination in advance.

The power to introduce the procedure has been on the statute book for many years but Mr Grayling, a Minister of Justice who likes making sweeping changes by secondary legislation (which he can do without engaging in parliamentary debate), has now decided to activate it. Wisely, the plans are to be piloted in just three areas, Leeds, Liverpool and Kingston upon Thames, before they are introduced across the country. Continue reading “Pre-trial cross-examination: why can’t Mr Grayling get his facts right?”

Roger Scruton: With Common Law the Remedy Comes Before The Principle

Roger Scruton 16 150dpi photographer by Pete HelmeThis week, exclusively for barristerblogger I am delighted to bring you the  controversial philosopher, composer, novelist, samizdat distributor, oenophile, polemicist and barrister of the Inner Temple.Professor Roger Scruton.  The famous polymath is best known for his philosophical and political writing but he is also a weighty legal thinker.

A tireless champion of the English Common Law Scruton explains exclusively  here for barristerblogger how English judges should develop the law by finding remedies to real disputes rather than by the application of abstract legal theories. Continue reading “Roger Scruton: With Common Law the Remedy Comes Before The Principle”

A letter from Istanbul – Mr Erdogan the world is watching you

It’s not really to do with law in the usual sense, but Turkey is a country whose legal system has had a great deal of criticism over the years.  I make no comment as to whether all of it was fair or unfair but I would like  to invite readers of Barristerblogger to visit Istanbul in these stirring, and rather worrying,  days.  Have a look at this blog (alright the writer is my daughter) and you can feel the tear gas at the back of your throat. Continue reading “A letter from Istanbul – Mr Erdogan the world is watching you”

Debating Legal Aid Proposals. Why are ministers frit?

Anyone listening to Lord Justice Hooper debating the Government’s legal aid proposals with Bob Neill MP on the Today programme this morning will have wondered two things: who is Bob Neill, and where is Chris Grayling?

As far as the first question is concerned, Bob Neill is an ex-criminal barrister who briefly held a minor ministerial post until he was sacked last September. Known to his admirers as “Little Bob” he is apparently naturally charming and shrewd but on the radio this morning he displayed a rather off-putting combination of rudeness and insincere chumminess. Continue reading “Debating Legal Aid Proposals. Why are ministers frit?”

Ministry of Justice to treat dogs better than lawyers

It is not often that Inside Time, the newspaper run by and for prisoners, gets a scoop but it has cleverly managed to publicise information that the Ministry of Justice would probably rather have kept quiet about. The crafty cons at Inside Time somehow managed to obtain details of the Ministry’s 2012 expenditure figures. They make for fascinating reading. Continue reading “Ministry of Justice to treat dogs better than lawyers”

Is Mr Grayling’s legal aid consultation genuine or a sham? Ask an interpreter.

The Ministry of Justice consultation on plans to cut the cost of criminal legal aid ends on June 4th. Some may believe that it is not really a consultation at all, but a sham in which the responses will be swiftly binned because its outcome has already been decided. Their fears were heightened yesterday when the Justice Minister, Chris Grayling, declared that “unless someone’s got a stunning alternative it’s going ahead in some form.” Continue reading “Is Mr Grayling’s legal aid consultation genuine or a sham? Ask an interpreter.”

Whole life tariffs for police murderers – a serious suggestion or political posturing?

Theresa May proposes a mandatory whole life tariff for anyone who murders a police officer.

It made a good headline, and enabled her to get through her annual speech to the Police Federation without the ritual debagging normally given to Home Secretaries at these rather boisterous occasions. One does wonder why, if her idea is actually going to be introduced, the proposal was announced at the Federation conference instead of being included in a notably thin Queen’s speech last week. Continue reading “Whole life tariffs for police murderers – a serious suggestion or political posturing?”

Barbara Hewson is wrong. She must be defended.

One of the most important qualities a barrister needs is courage, and nobody can accuse Barbara Hewson of lacking it, although it is not obvious that she has the same amount of wisdom.

Her characterisation of Operation Yewtree as “an inquisition,” her likening of it to Soviet style justice, her description of Stuart Hall’s crimes as “low level misdemeanours,” her call for a statute of limitations, and most of all her call for the age of consent to be lowered to 13 have attracted fire from all sides, including even her own chambers which has described itself as “shocked” by her article in Spiked. Continue reading “Barbara Hewson is wrong. She must be defended.”

Bring the RSPCA to heel

The RSPCA is behaving like a delinquent corgi. Her Majesty should be advised to obtain a spiked choke chain and tug it sharply to heel. Yesterday we learnt that the organisation which proudly proclaims its Royal seal of approval has yet again racked up eye-watering costs, this time in bringing an unsuccessful prosecution against blameless members of the Avon Vale Hunt.

£50,000 of these costs are said to have been incurred by the RSPCA itself, with the defence costs (which the judge ordered should be met out of public funds) estimated to be about the same. Continue reading “Bring the RSPCA to heel”

Should there be anonymity for rape defendants?

Today it is announced that Stuart Hall has pleaded guilty.  Last week Rolf Harris was arrested, yesterday Bill Roache,  and soon  other famous old men will be feeling Knacker’s hand on their collars to the evident delight of the press and sleb websites.

And at the weekend we learnt that Operation Yew Tree investigators have charged the Svengali of spin himself,  Max Clifford, with historic offences of indecent assault against teenage girls. The country’s most famous PR consultant was quick to stand outside his front gates to protest his innocence to the cameras, and some may see it as grimly appropriate that the once feared maestro of the media – the nemesis of various “sex fiends” over the years – is now exposing himself to trial by media as well as trial by jury. Continue reading “Should there be anonymity for rape defendants?”