+ + + Libel Reform Blocked + + +

tom_wDetails are a little sketchy tonight, but Guido understands that there has been a last minute ambush of Jack Straw’s libel reform bill in the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments.

The ambush was apparently galvanised by Tom Watson, with the support of Chris Mullins, Peter Kilfoyle, Jim Sheridan and Julie Kirkbride.

It seems inexplicable, the reform carries widespread support across all parties. Cynics note that some of last minute opponents had in the past benefitted from Conditional Fee Arrangements (CFAs). Others point to the closeness to former speaker Michael Martin, who opposes the reforms in the Lords. Others note that some of the oppents have themselves been beneficiaries of CFAs . Solicitors Carter-Ruck are lobbying intensely against to keep the no-win-no-fee system. Carter-Ruck won £50,000 for Tom Watson on that basis. Coincidentally.

+ + + Developing + + +

Guido Fact : Carter-Ruck solicitors had a table at the Index on Censorship Awards.

UPDATE : Index on Censorship has more:

LIBEL COSTS REFORM STALLED BY LABOUR MPS’ REVOLT

30 Mar 2010

A Statutory Instrument that would have reformed costs in English libel cases was stalled at committee stage tonight after several Labour MPs voted against their party whip to bock a reduction of lawyers’ success fees from a 100 per cent mark-up to 10 per cent. Chris Mullin, Peter Kilfoyle, Tom Watson and Jim Sheridan and Julie Kirkbride voted against the move. Watson and Kilfoyle have both taken advantage of Conditional Fee Agreements in past court cases. Conservative MPs abstained from the vote.

The proposal will now go to a full parliamentary vote.

Exclusive : Guardian Editor’s Internal Rant at Murdoch

Guardian’s Imaginer-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger has sent out an email to anxious hacks responding to articles about Carolyn McCall’s unexpected departure from GMG, laying into all and sundry (well, except the BBC) in a thousand words of defensive ranting.

The Times‘ one-line comment calling the Guardian a paper “in turmoil” clearly struck a nerve. In response to that one word, Rusbridger manages 128. Not content with Murdoch-bashing, he then devotes another three paragraphs to gloating over the Indy, calling it loser of the “format wars“, before gushing over his financial overlords and accusing competitors of just being jealous. “Outsiders look at all this and they don’t quite understand it.”

“Let’s be honest. Some of it is envy: the Scott Trust has been, and continues to be, a remarkable illustration of how a company can support serious journalism and how a news organization can place editorial at the heart of everything it does. So it comes under attack – just like the BBC – by people who dislike or envy the subsidy model and our journalistic freedoms.”

Then it’s back to Murdoch-bashing, and something even vaguely close to a threat: “We can equally certainly make the most of the opportunity presented to us. It’s no more than Mr Murdoch would do to us.” And then there’s profoundest wisdom of all: “Insecurity often breeds anger, denial and a search for someone to blame.”

A solution to the newspaper’s woes? “Mutually imagining”

Wipe the Smile Off Their Face

When Guido first heard “political” and “loo-roll” in the same sentence he immediately thought of Andrew Slaughter MP. On the 21st Feb 2008 Slaughter charged one pack of twenty-four Double Velvet rolls at £11.89 (+VAT) to the taxpayer. On the 14th April 2008 Slaughter charged another five packs of nine Triple Velvet rolls at £28.45 (+ VAT) to the people. In total that’s seventy-nine loo rolls in fifty-three days, or almost exactly one and half rolls a day.

But that aside Guido has been most amused with a batch of Dave and Gordon loo rolls:

You can treat yourself to the satisfaction of using a mental looking Gordon or a spliff smoking, tail-coated Dave here.

A Future Blair For All

The British public clearly have a longer memory than the Labour Party would like, even their own most loyal apparatchiks have mixed feelings about the return of Blair. Despite the billing that this was to be a swinging attack at Cameron, old Tony refused to personally attack his political heir: Dave. Instead he chose to meekly go after wonky Oliver Letwin about market forces in the public services – something New Labour was built on.

He also suggested that Labour had never used the “vacuous” slogan “time for a change“, Guido begs to differ and wonders what Tony’s good chum Obama would have to say about that. Looking more orange than even Peter Hain, Guido suspects we won’t be seeing much more of Blair in the run up to polling day – not with the 50% tax rate and everything. He’ll resist the temptation to upstage Brown, it would in any event tarnish his reputation as a thrice-proven election winner to be associated with Brown…

Quote of the Day

Andrew Neil asked Charles Kennedy on the Daily Politics…

…bringing back washed up leaders  is surely a mistake?”

Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Labservatives

A cracking attack on the status quo from the LibDems. No really…

Meanwhile Over at Southwark Crown Court…

The three Labour MPs facing criminal charges went in the back of the Southwark Crown Court to avoid oinking protestors staging a mock execution of a pig-like MP under a banner proclaiming “Hang ‘Em All”.

Can’t think why they were so cowardly…

UPDATE : ITN reports the judge excused David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Jim Devine from attending in person and just their lawyers attended. Guido understands that they are all represented at the taxpayers expense. Even their lawyers are at our expense…

The ‘Pin-Striped Scargill’ Who Stole Millions for Lib-Dems

During the chancellor’s debate last night Vince Cable attacked the “pin-striped Scargills” of banking, adding for good measure that the LibDems didn’t rely on friends in the City for funding. No, not any more.

The biggest donor in the history of the Liberal Democrat Party was one pin-striped Michael Brown, a financial trader who gave them £2.4 million for a front-row seat sipping champagne next to Charlie Kennedy.  He turned out to be a pin-striped thief and was charged with money laundering, fraud and theft before he went on the run.  Remember that next time the LibDems get on their high horse about the financial probity of political donors…

Bercow Spends £15,640 on Private Detectives

A little piece of  intrigue was raised in committee last week when Stewart Jackson MP was attempting to ascertain exactly why the Speaker had sanctioned spending nearly £16,000 on private investigators with public money.

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the

[…]

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