Abu Qatada & Derrick Kinsasi: The Conservative Case for supporting the European Convention on Human Rights

Both Theresa May and the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling have called for Britain to consider repealing the Human Rights Act and withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights. It is a populist call that they probably calculate will win them votes.

 But there is in fact a strong Conservative case for supporting the Act and the Convention, which was drafted very largely by David Maxwell-Fyfe, later a Conservative Home Secretary and Lord Chancellor. Continue reading “Abu Qatada & Derrick Kinsasi: The Conservative Case for supporting the European Convention on Human Rights”

Edward Snowden, Putin and the crawling bots: I prefer GCHQ

My first email this morning revealed that I had been nominated by a “professional colleague” for inclusion in International Who’s Who. At last, recognition that I am no longer just a criminal hack, I have become a somebody. Who needs a puff from Chambers and Partners Legal 500? I was now an international celebrity. Not quite Tom Cruise or Barack Obama but bigger than, say, Jack Dee – who has heard of him internationally? Should I wish to get married again, or at least to renew my vows, I would be able to sell the picture rights to Heat.  Continue reading “Edward Snowden, Putin and the crawling bots: I prefer GCHQ”

Criminal Legal Aid – Is Grayling Hitler, Zhukov, Caesar or The Bastard?

I would love to be able to make some constructive comment on developments in the Criminal Legal Aid saga, but I am as confused as most others about what has happened.

Have criminal practitioners won a great victory? Has Chris Grayling been routed? Or has he merely staged a tactical retreat or a “small u-turn”. Or did he always intend to give way on the proposals to withdraw choice of solicitor so that he could say he was listening? Is he in fact on the verge of a great victory?

Legal aid lawyers would be wise to bear in mind the words of Virgil writing of the Trojan war: “Equo ne credite, Teucri. quidquid id est, timeo danaos et dona ferentes”, generally translated as “Do not trust the horse, Trojans, whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.” Continue reading “Criminal Legal Aid – Is Grayling Hitler, Zhukov, Caesar or The Bastard?”

Can Mr Grayling’s vestigial organ protect judicial independence?

The independence of the judiciary is a cornerstone of liberty.  Fundamental to that independence is an appointments process in which promotion does not depend upon the wishes of the government.  The more senior the appointment the more important that principle is.

Any day now we shall know the identity of the next Lord Chief Justice.

 My guess is that it will be the erudite and delightful Lady Justice Hallet. She once decided one of my bail applications in a most courteous manner, displaying in the process many of the qualities now required of a Lord Chief Justice such as “clear vision” (she rejected it) and “decisiveness” (she did so quickly).

 Whoever is chosen to replace Lord Justice Judge will have been chosen by the most modern of selection procedures.

 The new criteria for selection leave much to be desired, managing as they do to combine the bleedin’ obvious – “ability to write high quality judgements” – with the creepily political – “ability to modernise the judicial system … ability to lead change in encouraging a more diverse judiciary”. Continue reading “Can Mr Grayling’s vestigial organ protect judicial independence?”

Let the Naked Rambler go naked into court

The gaoling yesterday of the Naked Rambler, Stephen Gough, for 11 months for breaching an ASBO forbidding him from appearing naked in public raises many questions. One of those questions is whether the trial judge was right to refuse him permission to conduct his defence in the nude.

One sympathises with judges who have to try whoever is prosecuted in their courts. They do not have much official guidance or training on how to try naked men. Continue reading “Let the Naked Rambler go naked into court”

Enoch Powell was right

It was fell just short of an admission of official involvement, but the recent announcement by the Foreign Secretary William Hague acknowledges that there is at least strong evidence that British officials, police officers and possibly soldiers were complicit in a system in Kenya in the 1950s in which torture, sexual abuse and murder were pursued as Government policy. Continue reading “Enoch Powell was right”

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?”