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Showing posts from April, 2009

Flights into BHX from Mexico

I have spoken to Birmingham Airport about the flight in from Mexico on Tuesday next. They are guided by the Health Protection Agency about how to handle this flight and ensure that if there is anyone infected that they don't infect other people. I am also concerned that the best possible efforts are made on the flight to ensure that no cross infection occurs on the flight. Those points will be made to the authorities.

Demolition of Meadway Blocks Kicks Off etc

There have been a number of local development projects that I have been concerned about. It is always a challenge keeping things on track as politicians do not have the authority to instruct people to develop sites. We do seem to have a local group of "rent an arsonist" who attack closed pubs. They hit the Yew Tree and Wagon and Horses some time ago. Then the Manor House (which is now demolished) and now the Ring O Bells is looking rather sad. It is sad to see these buildings disappearing, but as things change it becomes difficult to maintain traditional structures. Government policy has caused problems for pubs for many years and there does not seem to be any shift in direction. The Wagon and Horses is now Aldi. The original proposal here was a non-starter, but we could not leave the site in the state it was. This is the outcome. Which looks better than the Ring O Bells now looks (this remains an issue to be resolved) After many years nudging the project back onto th

Suicide over 3K legal bill

The link is to a story about someone committing suicide as a result of a 3K bill from Treasury Solicitors. I agree with the European COurt of Human Rights that Judicial Review with its costs is not an adequate remedy for the misbehaviour of the state.

Election Results 23rd April 2009

Aberdeenshire UA, Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside Con 1144 (31.5; -18.3) LD Rosemary Bruce 969 (26.7; +0.6) Ind 842 (23.2; +23.2) SNP 617 (17.0; -3.1) BNP 44 (1.2; +1.2) Ind 19 (0.5; +0.5) Turnout 43.7% LD Rosemary Bruce won on the 5th count LD gain from Con Percentage change is since May 2007 Highland UA, Inverness West LD Alasdair Christie 1503 (59.6; +34.5) SNP 556 (22.0; -6.8) Lab 210 (8.3; -7.7) Christian People's Alliance 115 (4.6; +4.6) Con 111 (4.4; -2.5) Solidarity 27 (1.1; +1.1) [Ind (0.0; -23.2)] Turnout 38.3% LD gain from Ind Percentage change is since May 2007 Redbridge LBC, Wanstead Con 1300 (37.3; -5.6) LD Kate Garrett 1030 (29.6; +17.9) Lab 694 (19.9; -7.7) Green 256 (7.3; -10.5) BNP 171 (4.9; +4.9) UKIP 33 (0.9; +0.9) Majority 270 Turnout 40.7% Con hold Percentage change is since May 2006 Waverley BC, Alfold, Cranleigh Rural and Ellen’s Green Con 429 (64.3; -5.9) LD Richard Ernest Cole 238 (35.7; +13.5) [Ind (0.0; -7.6)] Majority 191 Turnout 45.1% Con hold Percen

Budget 2009

The budget looks like an attempt to hold things together until the General Election in the vain hope that something will turn up. A few years ago I got a copy of the Treasury Economic Model programmes. However, without the data that the Treasury put into the model the model cannot be properly scrutinised. The treasury refused to provide the figures. I would presume that the government have "kitchen sinked" the 2009-10 figures so they can point to improvements from their forecast for what I expect to be a general election in 2010. However, it is still not clear that their forecasts beyond that are at all reliable. Superficially it appears some progress has been made on bingo taxation, however. The real challenge is one of how we move towards providing public services in a more cost-effective manner. We haven't really managed to do that in the past. My own personal view is that we need to look at the bureaucratic overhead in running services and try to move away from

Lenny Harper's affidavit about corruption in Jersey Police

The link is to the Mail on Sunday's report of Lenny's affidavit for the court hearing in the RCJ. The Court's reasoning for rejecting the application was that proceedings needed to be initiated in Jersey. There is no system of private prosecution in Jersey and the AG has said that he does not think he is subject to judicial review. What is needed, however, is an attempt to do this.

My phone number is now a state secret (in Jersey)

The linked story is a bit odd. The Jersey police on returning Senator Stuart Syvret his mobile phone had erased my phone number. It is all a bit weird. There will be an emergency meeting of the Jersey Parliament on Tuesday. I wonder, however, what the police had to benefit from by deleting my phone number. It is worth listening to the interview on the link about this.

Really Dreadful Adoption story from Russia

I don't think this happens here. What happens here is that children in care are experimented on by doctors. This has been documented in the past (Kendal House and other projects). I am not sure what happens today in relation to children in care being part of research projects. The old rules on court secrecy kept this secret, the new rules make things easier to find out.

US Family Law refugee in Netherlands (2008)

This case has just been pointed out to me. It is quite a complex case including allegations of MSbP. It does demonstrate, however, that there are quite a few family law refugee cases over time. The challenge in private law cases (which is what this essentially was) is to find a way forward that does not have this dreadfully adversarial approach where the state acts as a steamroller. One concern I have about this case is that it should have been possible to avoid the children losing contact with one of their parents without using the state hammer.

Hoffman on the European Court

Lord Hoffman has criticised the decisions and processes of the Strasbourg Court. Where I am positive about the Strasbourg Court is that it is independent of the cosy consensus that exists in the legal establishment in the UK. Someone who expresses the views that I express in public would be unable to make a living as a barrister in England simply because the judges would take against him (or her). This has been confirmed to me by barristers who support (some of) those things I say, but are unwilling to say them in public. Lord Hoffman's detailed speech I hope to upload onto the JFF website as the only available copy is in Word which is not that good. I would like to look at the three issues that he raises. These are the Sanders Case and self-incrimination. A case involving Hearsay and a third case about flights in Heathrow and Judicial Review. Dealing with them in reverse order. Judicial review is a very difficult procedure to succeed with in England and involves major risks b

Family Proceedings Amendment (No 2) Rules 2009

Both of the Statutory Instruments for the family courts are now available. I have loaded them on the JFF website and they are available by the link. This is not the expected opening of the family courts as journalists are potentially allowed to attend proceedings, but cannot report on them. Nor do these rules allow second opinions - probably the main cause of the miscarriages of justice in the family courts. However, they are an improvement. In particular there is a section in the rules: Communication of information for purposes connected with the proceedings 11.4.—(1) A party or the legal representative of a party, on behalf of and upon the instructions of that party, may communicate information relating to the proceedings to any person where necessary to enable that party— (a) by confidential discussion, to obtain support, advice or assistance in the conduct of the proceedings; (b) to engage in mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution; (c) to make and pursu

Tom Watson and Barbershop Tags

Tom Watson recently posted an excellent youtube rendition of a walk in the black forest. That is a tune I need to get the form for some time. I normally do chords substantially in the left hand, however. My preferred source of youtube unusual music is mainly barbershop tags. I suppose it fits into an age in which things don't require a lot of concentration. Some of the more interesting tags involve people individually doing a multitrack recording with video. A creative video novelty is This one This is quite a good example of a multitrack, but although it has a lot of hits the harmony is not as good as others with a relatively traditional cadence at the end. This again is relatively traditional If I get some time I will try to highlight some really good ones (musically), but it is worth rummaging the search engines for barbershop tags multitrack or not.

Parliamentary Expenses - the international situation

The BBC have done some useful research on how other countries deal with parliamentary expenses. It is interesting that it was in Sweden where a cabinet minster lost her job temporarily for buying nappies using the parliamentary credit card. Sweden, which is a country with a high level of transparency, seems to give a good solution for how to deal with the "second home" issue. My view as to the principles of the expenses system are as follows. It is obvious that the current system is indefensible on a number of bases. It was established to give a tax free bung to members of parliament rather than a salary increase. I am not saying that it should be replaced by a salary increase, however. Firstly, any scheme should be determined by an independent body. That is because of the mess that we are in at the moment. Secondly, the rules that apply to MPs expenses should be the same principles as apply to anyone else's expenses. A situation which allows a tax free bung for MPs

Stuart Syvret Arrested

At 9am this morning Senator Stuart Syvret was arrested for an "information crime". He has told people about corrupt practises in Jersey. This is something for which the regime wishes to arrest him. No need to say more really.

Transparency and Recession

The link is to the government's acceptance that they got their forecasts wrong. A few years ago I tried to get details of how they did their forecasts so I could check them. It is important to have reliable forecasts. They refused to provide the information. I tried getting it through the Information Commissioner and that failed as well.

Hoffman attacks ECtHR

The link is to a law lord attacking the European Court. The problem is that on many things like Hearsay evidence and Mental Capacity the European Court is plainly right. Our judges may be happy to have an unreliable system of justice that is a machine for miscarriages of justice, but if the courts were not secret this would not be tolerated by the nation. Hence the battles to keep secret how bad the Family Courts really are.

Election Results 2nd April 2009

Huntingdonshire DC, Ramsey Con 626 (38.1; -8.1) UKIP 520 (31.6; +9.8) LD Robert Mumford 432 (26.3; -0.9) Lab 67 (4.1; -0.8) Majority 106 Turnout 25.8% Con hold Percentage change is since May 2008 Redcar and Cleveland BC, Dormanstown LD 809 (42.4; +17.3) Lab 667 (35.0; -17.1) BNP 305 (16.6; +16.6) Con 125 (6.6; -16.2) Majority 142 Turnout 36.8% LD gain from Lab Percentage change is since May 2007 Leeds City, Temple Newsam Con 1785 (28.0; -5.9) BNP 1502 (23.6; +1.4) Lab 1476 (23.2; -6.4) LD Ian Dowling 1468 (23.1; +15.6) Green 137 (2.2; +2.2) [Ind (0.0; -6.9)] Majority 283 Turnout not known Con gain from Lab Percentage change is since May 2008 Camden LBC, Belsize LD Tom Simon 1136 (46.0; +5.4) Con 952 (38.6; +1.7) Lab 270 (10.9; -3.2) Green 109 (4.4; -3.9) Majority 184 Turnout 29.8% LD hold Percentage change is since May 2006 Huntingdon TC, East Con 751/716 (51.2) LD Patricia Shrapnell 567 / Jacqueline Buck 562 (38.6) Lab 150/103 (10.2) Majorities 184/149 Turnout 21.1% Con hold x 2 B

The politics of the 1600s

This CNN report is interesting it is another symptom of a reverting to the politics of the early 1600s (prior to Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights). An interesting theme is the throwing of a shoe. It is sad that people take it out on the police. However, the strategy of the police including imprisoning an MP (Tom Brake) - who was not guilty of any offence - is something that needs reviewing. The danger of the strengthening of the executive (the King) against the people is a generalised striking out against "the system" which does not try to analyse its failings, but is merely a randomised retaliation. We do need to reemphasise democracy. However, arguing for that is a challenge in the environment where MPs are seen as spending more time on filling in expense returns rather than protecting the people of the UK.

Angela Eagle - One Year Ago

The link is to what Angela Eagle said exactly one year ago today viz: The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Angela Eagle): The Liberal Democrat motion has been much commented on, possibly because it reads like the storyboard for “Apocalypse Now”, or perhaps even “Bleak House”. According to the motion, we are facing an “extreme bubble in the housing market” and the “risk of recession”, and we must “act to prevent mass home repossessions”. Presumably that is why the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Browne) got through his entire speech without mentioning any of those things until the last minute—they obviously keep him up late at night. Fortunately for all of us, however, that colourful and lurid fiction has no real bearing on the macro-economic reality. In difficult economic times—here I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban)— [ Interruption. ] —at least in part; I do not want to get him into trouble. In difficult economic times, it generally pays to remain