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Acid attacks - MPs plans aren't as daft as some claim

In the past few days there was a spate of attacks committed in a small area of east London, presumably by the same people, over a period of around 90 minutes in which acid was thrown in the faces of moped riders who were then robbed of their vehicles.
The use of acid seems to have become more common recently, although whether that is because there are more acid attacks or because they are more widely reported I don’t know. What I do know is that 10 years ago my old firm dealt with a case in which a teenage girl was gang raped over a number of days then disfigured by having caustic soda poured over her face and body. While I think it is more strictly an alkaline, lime was used centuries ago to blind attackers by pouring it on them from the battlements above.

Whether acid attacks are truly new or not, the recent London attacks has led to calls for a ban of the sale of acids to the public and regulation as to who may possess them. MP Stephen Timms tweeted that carrying acid should be an of…
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Arming prison officers

I heard on the radio this morning that prison officers are calling for better protection against violent prisoners.


Currently, I understand there are 19 attacks on prison staff every single day in British prisons. Understandably, those on the receiving end of it want to be able to protect themselves from such attacks.


The suggestion is that prison officers be armed with taser guns and CS spray in addition to the batons they already carry, which many seem to feel is inadequate. In addition, they want stab vests and body worn cameras. The last is presumably to deter violence against them and capture evidence of it when it does occur.


You can understand why they would want such protection when you hear stories of prisoners attacking each other over the most minor provocation and prison officers having to step in to break up the ensuing mess. As one anonymous prison officer says, "I've seen it first hand where a prisoner has attacked another prisoner with a razor blade over a packet…

Charging decisions: cyclist mown down by driver

As a specialist motoring solicitor I spend a lot of time talking to the Crown Prosecution Service about charging decision - usually trying to get them to reduce or drop the charge against my client. But, in this case, I think they got the charge badly wrong. Earlier today Justine Henshaw-Bryan was imprisoned for three-years (she won’t serve anywhere near that long) after she chased cyclist Damien Doughty in her car before deliberately running him over as he attempted to escape her by getting out of the road.
You can view the footage here but be warned it isn’t nice:
Ms Henshaw-Bryan pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and was banned from driving for four and a half years. But the big question for me is why she was charged with that offence at all. Her driving was certainly dangerous and she did cause serious injury, Mr Doughty spent three days in intensive care, but her actions were also very deliberate.
The maximum sentence for causing serious i…

The limits of sexual freedoms: polygamy

There is a trial ongoing in the Canadian province of British Columbia that raises some interesting questions about sexual freedoms in our liberal 21st century society. It’s the trial of Messrs Blackmore and Oler who between them have 28 wives; Mr Blackmore has the lions share having amassed 24 of the wives and having sired an impressive 145 children – I bet he can’t remember all their names.
Both men have been members of the Bountiful community, which is a religious sect that has been on the Mounties list of people to prosecute for a quarter of a century now. Both men have previously been tried on charges of bringing young teenage girls across the border to marry sect leader Warren Jeffs. Blackmore and one of his wives were convicted while Oler was acquitted.
While the previous trial involved child brides there is no suggestion in the current trial that the women to whom Blackmore and Oler are married are anything other than consenting adults. The Canadian state has previous tried to pr…

UKIP’s integration agenda

I don’t normally spend my time blogging about political party manifestoes mainly because a. we don’t have elections that often; and b. because they are usually pretty vague and unexciting. But UKIP have today published their integration agenda as part of their 2017 General Election manifesto. To say it is extreme and ill-thought out is understatement even for a party whose policies usually lack both subtlety and common sense. In fact, it’s so extreme that I didn’t believe it was real until I saw it being reported by several reliable news organisations with quotes from party leaders. First, they plan to ban “face coverings in public places”. An interesting idea and one I’ve never understood because it will require exemptions for bee-keepers, police on riot/terrorist duties, people who live in really cold places like the north, motorcyclists, the list goes on and on. It’s also really difficult to ban “face coverings” – what does it mean? If it rains and I put my hood up it dips over my fa…

No-win, no-fee and business rates

Very quick blog for the benefit of David Gauke, MP who happens to be chief secretary to the Treasury.
He is introducing business rate changes that will see rates rise for just over half a million businesses from April. He is facing a barrage of criticism from various directions. I instinctively feel that business is quite heavily taxed at the moment and increasing the tax burden on small businesses at such an uncertain time is a terrible idea. But, I also recognise that I don’t really know much beyond what happens in my own business so I won’t try to argue whether the rate changes are a good or bad thing What I do want to discuss is his comments about steps being taken to clamp down on people bringing challenges to the rates they are asked to pay in the hope of reducing the cost to their business.
Mr Gauke seems to place the blame for too many challenges at the door of the surveyors and lawyers (aren’t we always to blame… well until you need us) encouraging businesses to proceed on a no-…

Has Paul Nuttall of UKIP broken election law?

Over the past few days, UKIP leader and Swindon by-election candidate, Paul Nuttall has faced criticism for giving his home address, on the Home Address form that is part of the nomination pack for prospective political candidate, as one where he does not live. Mr Nuttall answers these criticisms by saying that he gave the address because he has rented the house and intends to move into it for the duration of the election campaign.


Journalists, most notably Michael Crick, have been forthright in their claims that Mr Nuttall broke the law and could face prison for making a false declaration. So, what is the truth?
Prospective candidates must register their nomination with the returning officer by providing certain information. The required information is set out in paragraph 6 of schedule 1 to the Representation of the People Act 1983. All of the required information can be easily provided by downloading and completing a nomination pack from the Electoral Commission website. For our purp…