Soldiers’ Deaths to Be Kept Secret

The law pages of The Times carry a story about a clause in the latest Counter-Terrorism Bill which will give the Home Secretary the power to order Court hearings to be held in secret.

The Home Secretary could order a jury not to be summoned, replace the coroner with a government appointee and bar the public from inquests if it is deemed to be in the “public interest”.

It could be applied to inquests similar to those into the deaths of the weapons inspector David Kelly, “friendly-fire” military casualties or Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed. In future, inquests similar to that into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, which is due to start next month with 44 police officers giving evidence anonymously, could also be subject to the secrecy clause.

This is not about national security, it is about covering-up embarrassments for the government. The families of soldiers who die because of penny pinching would not be able to discover the truth. Anything embarrassing would be deemed a “national security issue”. The government is already doing this to protect itself from embarrassment.

For example: Guido, and other journalists have made Freedom of Information requests in an attempt to discover if Ed Balls still had a pass giving him access to the Treasury when he was supposedly a fellow of the Smith Institute. We believe he was actually continuing to act as Gordon’s bag carrier and political confidante, that he was in and out of the Treasury seeing Gordon regularly. The Treasury refuses to answer the question claiming it is a national security issue. It isn’t, it is a cover-up. This clause is about covering up politically damaging information.

‘Ello ‘Ello ‘Ello

A co-conspirator emails:

Seen today in Portcullis House: Assistant Commissioner John Yates. Wonder what he’s doing here…?

Like a Vampire, “Destroy Parliament” Clause Returns

UPDATE 14.45 : Lots of claims that the article below incorrectly interprets the Act. No definitive legalistic answer on this point as yet. So proceed with caution.

UPDATE 16.25 : Head of Legal says stand down from the barricades.

The victorious Save Parliament Campaign needs to come out of mothballs again. SpyBlog has spotted that hidden in the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill is a little clause to legally permit a Ministerial dictatorship:

Part 6
43 Power to make consequential provision

(1) A Minister of the Crown, or two or more Ministers of the Crown acting jointly, may by order make such provision as the Minister or Ministers consider appropriate in consequence of this Act.

(2) An order under subsection (1) may —

    (a) amend, repeal or revoke any provision made by or an Act;

    (b) include transitional or saving provision.

(3) An order under subsection (1) is to be made by statutory instrument.

(4) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1) which amends or repeals a provision of an Act may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(5) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1) which does not amend or repeal a provision of an Act is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

Full details on the excellent SpyBlog.

Support the Gypsies!

So they buy a piece of land, fence it off, install a septic tank and connect the utilities. It is their property. So what if they haven’t got authorisation from the planning commissars, it has no immediate neighbouring residential property. This is not a case of illegal squatting. They have just done a bit of green belt development, something the government says we will increasingly have to accept. Good luck to ’em.

As for Tessa Jowell’s husband David Mills complaining that the gypsies broke the planning rules – he is one to talk about law breaking…

Does Yvette Know Her Granite from Her Elbow?

The Granite securitisation vehicle is causing the government a lot of confusion, it may even cause the LibDems to back out of supporting the government’s nationalisation of the Crock. Yvette Cooper stated in the Commons debate definitively that Granite is not covered by government guarantees. “It is not being taken into public ownership and it is not, in fact, owned by Northern Rock, so it is not part of the taxpayer’s exposure and has never been so.”

Compare and contrast that with the Treasury statement of 18 December, 2007: HM Treasury today confirms that the guarantee arrangements for Northern Rock plc described in HM Treasury’s announcements dated 20 and 21 September 2007 and 9 October 2007 are being extended, at the request of Northern Rock plc, to the following unsubordinated wholesale obligations, whether now existing or arising in the future... all obligations of Northern Rock plc to make payments on the repurchase of mortgages under the documentation for the “Granite” securitisation programme.

That seems pretty clear. Looks like the lawyers are going to get rich out of this…

UPDATE : Something of a stewards inquiry in the comments as to the nature of the obligation – though no one has argued that there is no obligation – except Yvette when she said “it is not part of the taxpayer’s exposure”. Like Guido said, the lawyers could have some fees out of the argument.

UPDATE II : Northern Rock’s Annual Report 2006, Note 22, Page 86 states that the Granite group of companies “are regarded as legal subsidiaries under UK companies legislation”. Odd because they aren’t really structured that way.

The Labour Party is in the Dock

The list of Labour Party figures who look likely to find themselves in the courts this year is getting longer; David Abrahams (or whatever he is calling himself today), Peter Watt, Peter Hain, Wendy Alexander and Harriet Harman, plus a potential supporting cast of intermediaries, advisers and party apparatchiks as defendants.
Some 28,800 people were prosecuted last year by Hain’s former department, the DWP, for failing to declare income. Many were prosecuted for small amounts of money. Poor people.

They were unable to use the defence that they were too busy, that it was an innocent mistake, or that they forgot. Peter Watt conspired to break the law, David Abrahams concocted a scheme to circumvent the law, Wendy Alexander broke the law as did Harriet Harman. If they are not prosecuted it will mean that we are not all equal before the law, the rich and powerful can treat it with contempt. Should it be acceptable that a single mother on benefits who does a bit of hairdressing for cash gets prosecuted, whereas a former Minister of the Crown gets the benefit of the doubt? No ifs, no buts, lawmakers can’t be allowed to be law breakers.

Schillings Really are Clowns

Schillings, the lawyers specialising in reputation protection from online threats, are making a complete arse of themselves. See their correspondence with Wikileaks over the Northern Rock summary. Schillings look very foolish, realising that the writ of an English High Court Judge does not extend beyond England, they tried to claim breach of copyright.

Guido thinks it important to face down the clowns at Schillings. They are easily defeated in the age of cross border information distribution. They boast to clients that they can even suppress the truth. Not if Guido knows it they can’t…

Who is Leaking Now?

At the last stormy meeting of Tony Wright’s Public Administration Select Committee, Yates of the Yard was blamed for leaking during the inquiry into Loans for Lordships. He pointed the finger at the politicians on the committee. They in turn accused the police.

So who told the Sunday papers about Levy trying to block publication (later today) of Gulam Noon’s letter to the committee? Yates hasn’t even seen the letter.

Here are a selection of the stories from the Sunday papers:

Who do you now believe was really responsible for the leaks and speculation, the police or the politicians?

Parliamentary Panto

Panto season is upon us:

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what value of assets the Bank of England has accepted as collateral for loans to Northern Rock; (2) what proportion of the Bank of England’s total assets are represented by claims on Northern Rock and its assets.


Police Confirm Investigation

Peter Watt could face up to 12 months for breaching the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 alone. There are various potential offences to consider. More here.

Roy Kennedy was the Director of Finance and Compliance when the illegal funding operation was under way.



What Laws Have Been Broken?

There seems to be a smorgasbord of potential offences committed in this illegal funding operation for the Labour party. Money laundering, fraudulent misrepresentation, numerous offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the list goes on.

So all you loafing lawyers and amateur barrister wannabees, lets see if we can compile a list of potential charges to be faced in the comments.



FT Drops Northern Rock Memo Fight With Schillings

“We were looking at funding a principled legal case about news that was looking increasingly historic by the day,” says Paul Murphy, the editor of the Alphaville blog. The FT reckons the revelations about the government’s support for the bank are now common knowledge and events had superseded information contained in the memorandum.[…]


Gordon’s Favourite Banker Resigns

Adam Applegarth, chief executive of Northern Rock has finally resigned as has non-executive director, Derek Wanless (pictured), Gordon Brown’s favoured and most trusted banker.

It turns out that the chief-exec sold over £2.6m of shares at peak prices while still urging thousands of employees and investors to buy shares when the company was facing trouble.



No M’Lord

The FT may have lost a High Court battle to print the Northern Rock investment memo, Gordon somewhat pathetically at PMQs claimed it was “commercially sensitive” information to get him off the hook discussing it. Vince Cable lashed into him when he made that “absolutely bogus” claim.[…]


Geek Note : Service Interruption Possible

Guido is doing a full dress-rehearsal of his host mirroring system today. There should be no noticeable interruption to the blog. The Californian server’s 70 megabytes of contents were mirrored on a back-up server in an entirely different legal jurisdiction yesterday.[…]


How to Tell If Tony Wright Has Been Nobbled

Today is the first hearing of the Public Administration Select Committee into Propriety and Honours: Lessons Learned. At 3.00 pm oral evidence will be taken from: AC John Yates, Metropolitan Police, Carmen Dowd, Head of Special Crime Division, CPS and David Perry QC.[…]


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Quote of the Day

Philip Hammond at Treasury questions:

“I’m sorry to be boring.”

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