Andrew Mitchell Loses Libel Costs Battle

mitchellsherborneAndrew Mitchell’s solicitors and his celebrity barrister David Sherborne have had a bad start to their case.  Due to a cock-up Mitchell’s solicitors failed to file for their costs and Master McCloud has ruled against Mitchell again today – so he and his lawyers will have to pay all their own estimated £500,000 of costs even if he wins the libel case (in which damages are capped at £150,000). Ironically Mitchell is facing a five-figure cost bill for the argument over costs itself. He can however appeal the ruling to a higher level.

If Mitchell does appeal the costs ruling his libel case is suspended until the whole costs issue is resolved. This would probably push back the main Plebgate case to the spring. Meaning it will be too late for him to return to a reshuffled Cabinet and probably too late to be appointed as a European negotiator. Neither will Downing Street be pleased to see a high profile Tory in a “posh versus plebs” public court battle in the run up to the general election…

Mitchell’s Half-a-Million Libel Legal Debacle

sherborne

Tomorrow we will get the judgement in a bizarre legal mess up between Andrew Mitchell’s solicitors and his celebrity barrister David Sherborne.  Due to a cock-up Mitchell’s solicitors failed to file their costs and so under the tightened rules will be punished. In front of Master McCloud there was a lot of legal buck passing last Thursday. As a result even if he wins the Plebgate libel case it is likely Mitchell will not be able to claim for his costs which are running at some £500,000.

sun-plebgate

Damages in his Plebgate libel case are capped at £150,000, so if Mitchell loses his case he could have to pay The Sun’s costs of some £600,000 and his costs of £500,000 – a whopping total of £1.1 million will be divided between him and his solicitors who were acting under a Conditional Fee Arrangement (CFA). Ouch!

M’learned friends speculate that Mitchell and his solicitors could end up falling out and suing each other. If the judgement tomorrow goes against Mitchell, his solicitors are likely to appeal meaning the underlying case will be delayed for months.

With the delay Mitchell’s hopes of returning to government in the next reshuffle will come to naught while the case is ongoing…

UPDATE: Mitchell’s lawyers Atkins Thomson, who screwed up the costs claim, have got in touch to say they and Sherborne share the risk of their own costs if Mitchell’s case fails. They also point out the obvious fact that The Sun’s costs are only payable if they lose and they are insured – though m’learned friends tell me the insurance probably won’t cover the whole amount. They also say they won’t fall out with their client…

Judge: You Elect Politicians For This Crap
High Court Rules “Bedroom Tax” is Not a Tax

The High Court judgment on housing benefit is pretty sound stuff. Leaving aside that the bit where the judge claims the case “looks very like a list objections to the policy under the guise of a litany of matters”, Lord Justice Laws’ most important paragraph will be used again and again:

“…it is not generally for the courts to resolve the controversies which this insistence involves. That is for elected government. The cause of constitutional rights is not best served by an ambitious expansion of judicial territory, for the courts are not the proper arbiters of political controversy.”

He’s right. The only thing more dangerous than the rabble in SW1 are unelected and unaccountable judges siding with an angry mob. Taxpayers money is wasted on such spurious legal challenges.

Meanwhile, guess which phrase does not appear once in the entire ruling? Nowhere will you find the ridiculous term “Bedroom Tax”. Quite the opposite in fact.

Lord Justice Laws has ruled that these are changes to “a means-tested benefit”.

Amusingly he points out that this “is well known”.

Try telling that to the BBC…

POLL RESULT: 86% of Readers Say Sue Claire Perry
Guido Has Instructed Lawyers to Commence Proceedings

The people have spoken. Nearly three thousand of you voted in Guido’s consultation on whether he should sue Claire Perry for defamation after she accused him of “sponsoring” hackers to post porno pictures on her website. 2,404 co-conspirators said Guido should sue Claire Perry…

It is not as if Guido did not politely ask her to withdraw her false accusations:

Reluctantly, Guido has instructed m’learned friends who will be writing to her today…

Should Guido Sue Claire Perry?

Last night after Guido reported the legitimate news that anti-porn campaigner Claire Perry had been targeted by internet hackers who hosted porn on her website, the Tory MP went proper shouty crackers on Twitter.

  • She then bizarrely claimed that Guido had sponsored the hacking of her website.
  • When smears did not work, Perry then tried vague threats about calling the editor of  The Sun, despite the story appearing on the blog, for which the editor of The Sun doesn’t have any responsibility.

You can read her collected tweets here. They are without any foundation, merit or a shred of evidence to back them up. Guido suspects it is based on Perry’s dislike of the blog bringing the pushy MP back down to earth occasionally. Perry does not have a leg to stand on here, so if she does not retract the bonkers allegations, should Guido unleash his lawyers? You won’t like them when they’re angry.

So in the now fashionable manner popularised by the government the blog has decided to put the decision out to consultation to the readers. Poll closes at midday. Vote below…

Labour Plan to Make Benefits a “Human Right”
Secret Recording Reveals Plans for Lib-Lab Deal

fabian-wolf-in-sheeps-clothingThis covert recording obtained by Guido – made at the Fabian Society’s recent £100-a-ticket gala – reveals that Labour are planning to enshrine welfare payments as a human right, with plans to extend the Human Rights Act to include ‘economic and social rights’. Essentially enshrining socialism in law. No wonder the symbol of the Fabian Society is a socialist wolf in sheep’s clothing…

The Sun reported the plan which Labour’s Shadow Minister for Scotland, Willie Bain, himself describes as a “scrounger’s charter”. In response Labour put out a statement claiming “The discussion at a Fabian Society event was about methods used abroad, not something the Labour Party is considering as a policy.”  If you listen to the actual recording you will realise that is complete spin:

After admitting it will be a lot easier for Labour to do a deal with Vince Cable he says a Lib-Lab coalition would make welfare benefits a “human right”:

willie-bain“Sadiq asked me to do this and Jon Cruddas is keen on this as well is to look at whether economic and social rights can be put into law. At the moment the human rights act just deals with civil political rights. It needs really careful handling because I think the politics of this would be the Tories would say it’s a scroungers charter, helping skivers….we might just talk about having a commission on it. It might need a commission after the election…that’s something again where there’d be a communality with the Libs.”

Lawyers will love this, welfare reform would be impossible because it would be a “human right”…

Tory Wars: Bow Group V Iain Dale

A classic ding-dong between Iain Dale and the Bow Group’s pompous chairman Ben Harris-Quinney. It all kicked off when legal letter-loving Harris-Quinney took exception a mildly bitchy ConservativeHome diary piece, in which Dale, not unfairly, said the Bow Group had “disappeared up its own backside… under the control of a self-publicist who goes by the name of Ben Harris-Quinney”. Cue an utterly cringeworthy letter from lawyers Speechly Bircham, who asked for a retraction on the grounds that the Bow Group is actually doing jolly well as it has “greatly expanded its followers on Facebook and Twitter”. Guido offered Iain some friendly advice:

Which he took:

“Yes, to say that the Bow Group is “disappearing up its own backside” is indeed offensive. It was meant to be. Furthermore, it is true, as evidenced by your clients hiring you to send me your ridiculous and totally unnecessary letter. What further evidence do I need to supply to back up this assertion? Any normal person or responsible organisation would have contacted me directly or picked up the phone. Instead your clients resorted to cowardice.”

It is worth reading the exchange in full here. This is not the first time that Harris-Quinney has been spanked after hollow legal threats…

Labour Council’s Stafford Hospital Campaign Legal Threats

When it comes to Stafford Hospital, you would have thought that Labour would tread very, very carefully. Campaigners have been tying blue ribbons around trees in the area to show their support, despite recent events, for keeping the hospital open. More militant protesters from the Support Stafford Hospital campaign even advertised a candlelit vigil. How did Cannock Chase District Council respond? Not by joining the peaceful protest, but instead threatening to prosecute the campaigners. Emails leaked to Guido show the local Labour-run council coming down like a ton of bricks on these radical, subversive candle wavers:

The local Labour candidate Janos Toth was happy to pose with the same campaigners for his leaflets, yet until the end of last month he was the deputy leader of the council putting on the legal heavies.

Maybe he could personally serve a letter before action or the writ?

Clegg Could Be Called to Give Evidence in Handycock Case

As Sky News’ Amber Elliott points out, the LibDems’ own rules say that “during the course of the Disciplinary Procedure, the person being complained against may be suspended from membership of the Party”. This is expected to happen […]

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Hacked Off’s Sherborne Takes on the Plebs

sherborneDavid Sherborne has a new client. The Hacked Off ladies man specialises in representing the poor and downtrodden such as; Diana, the late Princess of Wales; Benazhir Bhutto; Cherie and Tony Blair; Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones; Ewan McGregor; Sienna […]

+ READ MORE +

Judgement Day for Sally Bercow

COURT 14

Before MR JUSTICE TUGENDHAT

Friday, 24th May 2013

At half past 10

Jury List

ROBED
FOR JUDGMENT

TLJ/13/0509 The Lord McAlpine of West Green v Bercow

[…]

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Court of Appeal Clanger

This paragraph from an online case report contains a striking miss by the person whose job it was to anonymise the Court of Appeal’s recent judgement regarding the paternity of a child born out of wedlock to someone “in high […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Charles Clarke says Cameron is the most successful PM for over a century…

“Under Margaret Thatcher the Conservatives gained 99 seats. They lost 211 under John Major, gained one under William Hague, quickly and wisely got rid of Ian Duncan-Smith, gained 32 under Michael Howard and have so far gained 133 under David Cameron who, to the great surprise of many (including senior Conservatives), has turned out to be the most electorally successful Tory leader since 1900.”

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