Posts

Showing posts from 2015

Votes for kids

Image
Parliament today voted against giving 16 and 17 year olds a vote in the EU referendum.
Those in favour of reducing the voting age can often be heard saying “it’s their future” and “16 year olds can get married, join the army and have kids so why shouldn’t they be able to vote?”
Neither of these arguments is particularly strong.  First, well it is their future… but it’s also my son’s future – he’s five, should he have a vote?  Clearly not since he just about understands that he was born in London let alone that London is the capital of a country called the UK, which is a member of an international organisation called the EU.
So, what does my five year old son teach us?  He teaches us that there has to be a cut off.  There will be some children his age who understand that the UK is a country and London is its capital just as there are some 16 year olds who understand what the EU is and are capable of making a mature decision about the UK’s future.  But, we all know that there are 16 ye…

Harry Roberts – what sentence would he receive today?

Image
For those who do not know, the Harry Roberts we are talking about today is a man who murdered three police officers in 1966 – not the doctor who dedicated his career to helping the sick of Stepney. Ironically, it is the doctor who is more worthy of our memories but it is the murderer who dominates out thoughts.
In Shepherd’s Bush, Roberts shot DC Con Wombwell, 25, in the face then shot DS Christopher Head, 30, killing both officers instantly.  His accomplice shot PC Geoffrey Fox, 41, killing him too.  Roberts had been sitting in a van with John Duddy and John Witney after the three committed an armed robbery.  The three police officers approached the van to ask some questions when the gang opened fire on the unarmed officers, killing all three.
Following the doctrine of joint enterprise, Roberts was convicted of all three murders even though he actually killed two of the officers himself.
After his trial, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum sentence of 30 years.  He …

Serco hire stretch Hummer limo to transport asylum seekers

Image
Serco, one of the Government's favourite outsourcing companies and, it seems still a suspect in an ongoing fraud investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, caused controversy recently by hiring a stretched limousine to transport a group of asylum seekers from London to Manchester.

The Government says that Serco are required to use "appropriate" transport and that Serco pay the cost of whatever vehicle they buy/hire for the purpose.  What does the Government mean by "appropriate"?  I'd assume it means things like, "able to carry the number of people required", "safe", "able to complete the journey in a reasonable time" and so on.  Why then has the use of a limo caused any controversy at all when a) it costs the taxpayer no more or less than using a coach, 10 taxis, a bus or any other mode of transport; and b) it seems to have got the job done, on time and without any problems.

What then is the problem?

Voters elected a Conserva…

“Fantasist” convicted of terror offence

Image
Background News emerged from the Old Bailey this morning that Mark Colborne, a 37-year-old white man, has been convicted of an offence under the Terrorism Act 2006.
The prosecution said that Colborne had planned to shoot Princes Charles and William so that Prince Harry would accede to the throne (apparently he is unaware of Prince George’s claim).  The reason he wanted to Harry to become king is that he felt marginalised by society following bullying as a child for having ginger hair.
The prosecution alleged that he had written down plans for the assassinations – although owned no weapons capable of fulfilling his plans – and had been stockpiling chemicals that could be used to produce cyanide.  I assume that he also made plans for a cyanide attack; however, the newspaper reports I’ve seen do not make that clear.  In addition to the notes and chemicals there was evidence that Colborne had been searching the internet and buying books containing information on the manufacture and use o…

Can Corbyn renationalise the railways?

Image
New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has suggested he would consider re-nationalising the railways.  In response, UKIP leader Nigel Farage stated that this was impossible due to EU Directive 2012/34/EU, which he says requires railways in member states to be in private ownership.

EU law is not my area of expertise; however, I have done my best to research this topic and from what I have found I must disagree with Mr Farage.

First, Directive 2012/34/EU does say in the preamble:
"In order to render railway transport efficient and competitive with other modes of transport, Member States should ensure that railway undertakings have the status of independent operators behaving in a commercial manner and adapting to market needs."
However, when you read through the directive (which is very long and very tediously drafted) it does not actually appear to require the railway to be in private ownership.  At most, the directive requires the track to be owned independently of the trains and fo…

Asian girls suffer more as a result of sexual abuse than white girls

Image
On the 17th September 2015, the Daily Mail published a story entitled, “Judge rules it is right that child molester who abused ethnic minority girls got longer sentence because Asian sex crime victims suffer more than whites”.  Many people have commented on this story in the past few days including one barrister who said on Twitter, “HHJ Cahill and CA said Asian Children suffer more than white children of [sic] sexually abused.  Let that sink in for a second and then scream”
Now, if any court said that it would be an outrage but neither HHJ Cahill in the Crown Court nor their Lordships in the Court of Appeal said anything of the sort.  Giving judgment of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Walker said,
“The remaining point taken by Mr Shafi [advocate for the appellant] is that the judge had, he submitted, regarded the offending as aggravated because of the victims’ ethnic and religious origin. This point is, with great respect to Mr Shafi, a misconception.”
The Court of Appeal went on to …

The ban it brigade ride again

Image
One of the things that annoys me the most is politicians who think that the criminal law is a way to solve all of society’s ills.  Quite often I’m annoyed that politicians are claiming that the thing they are discussing is one of society’s ills but that’s a different story.
The thing that is annoying me today is the French and Caroline Noakes MP, she heads the All Parliamentary Group on Body Image, which sounds at once both a very specific topic and yet one with a very wide reach.  The French have created a criminal offence of using a thin model in a fashion show and Ms Noakes wants to introduce the same crime here.
In France those caught breaking the law face up to six-months imprisonment – the reports I’ve read are unclear whether that means prison for the organiser, the model booker or the model herself.  Who knows, maybe if we’re going to be really tough on crimes like this we should be imprisoning anybody caught looking at underweight models too?
As I understand it, the law in F…

Judges get it wrong too

Image
Motoring law is a niche area of criminal law that not every criminal solicitor or barrister properly understands.  It’s no great surprise.  I wouldn’t want to get involved in a serious fraud case because, although I’m an experienced criminal solicitor who has conducted minor fraud trials in the distant past, I do not have the expertise to properly represent somebody facing trial in a major fraud case.
Motoring law, and the drink driving offences I mostly handle, is every bit as complex as any other area of law and can be a minefield for the solicitor who doesn’t fully understand it.  That applies every bit as much to courts as it does to defence or prosecution solicitors.
Recently, I was representing a client who I knew had a previous conviction for failing to provide a specimen of breath at the roadside.  So, I wasn’t surprised to see that on his list of previous convictions, what did surprise me is that he had been disqualified from driving for 18-months.  I told the court that sim…

Should the drink driving limit be lowered? A personal view

Image
I am regularly asked… well often… sometimes?  Okay, okay… I’ve been asked two or three times whether I think that they drink driving limit should be lowered to match the Scottish limit or even dropped to zero.
Obviously as I am a solicitor who represents an awful lot of drink drivers through London Drink Driving Solicitor and Oxford DrinkDriving Solicitor, everybody assumes that I have a vested interest in keeping the limit where it is and making sentences less onerous on drink drivers – presumably because they see me as the drink driver’s friend.  I am sure that this is the reason they ask me: everybody knows drink drivers are evil (link to blog) so when they meet me they assume they can start a debate (or maybe have an excuse to shout at me).  Let’s get one thing out of the way: I don’t feel like I have a vested interest in where the drink driving limit is set!  Murder, rape and drugs are illegal and people are in court for all three every day of the week.  I seriously doubt that r…

Everyone's a solicitor these days

Image
Last December, I wrote about a case where a lady had come to me for a second opinion having instructed a solicitor's firm who immediately passed her case to an unqualified paralegal to handle. The paralegal then instructed a wholly inappropriate "expert" who produced a report based entirely on his own guesswork. They wasted about a £1,000 of the lady's money and proved that going for the cheapest quote isn't a great plan any more when instructing a solicitor than when hiring a builder.

Today, I spoke to a lady who is looking for a solicitor. She asked me a lot of questions about my qualifications (that's a good idea, know who you're dealing with before you instruct them). She also told me about another solicitor she had spoken to and had been impressed by, she gave me the other solicitor's name and made clear that she is a qualified solicitor - I admit I always ask who else a potential client has spoken to - but couldn't remember the name of her fi…

I'm not a banker but...

Image