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 later today. Fresh from the Rennard scandal, Clegg cannot be seen to dither on this one, though it’s too late for that. These allegations have been circulating for years and Clegg’s office were notified about them directly, as Guido revealed in February.

So why so keen to act all of a sudden?

Well a source familiar with the High Court action against the MP suggests that “LibDem leaders, past and present, could well be called to give evidence” in the upcoming civil case. Why Clegg ignored this dossier, and why the Leader of Portsmouth Council dismissed the allegations as “political” might well be of interest to the judge. Would give a new meaning to Call Clegg…

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 Miller; Nicole Kidman; Jennifer Aniston; Mick Jagger; Liam and Noel Gallagher; the Spice Girls; Claudia Schiffer; Kate Moss; Mike Tyson; Ricky Hatton; Don King; Lewis Hamilton; Rio Ferdinand; Kieron Dyer; David Beckham; Ashley Cole; Craig Bellamy; Ledley King and Sven Goren Eriksson.

He has a new celebrity client, Andrew Mitchell, who has retained him in his fight against The Sun over plebgate…

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

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 public office”:

54. The “fade factor” relied on by Mr Price carries little weight in this case. First, much that has been published by the media in relation to the claimant’s paternity remains available online. It is also included in Just Boris, a book written by Sonia Purnell. 

Ooops.

Hacked Off's Blackmail Letter to Miliband

hughThe papers are reporting this morning that Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameorn were on the verge of agreement until Hugh Grant’s Hacked Off campaign lobbied Labour aggressively. This is the draft press release brandished by Hacked Off to put the wind up Ed Miliband if he went ahead with the deal:

hacked-off-blackmail-letter-x480Click to Enlarge

hughThe language is ridiculous, Hugh Grant is a victim of his own making, calling on the Queen not to carry out her constitutional duty because he doesn’t want his picture in the papers any more is frankly comical. Hacked Off is a bunch of celebs who have been caught with their pants down hiding behind the genuine suffering of the McCanns and the Dowlers who were victims of real crimes which the police are already pursuing. Hacked Off won’t say who funds them, they are self-appointed and they are secretive with a sinister agenda to protect the rich and powerful from the prying eyes of the public.

Guido is opposed to all the proposals to control the press including the government’s misguided plan to enforce extra-territorial control of publications. We won’t be cooperating with any legislation that tries to control a foreign publication like this blog because it is, in the words of the Charter, “targeted primarily at an audience in the United Kingdom”. Imagine if the Soviets had tried to do the same to Radio Free Europe during the Cold War, or the Iranian regime demanded today to regulate the BBC’s Persian Service on the grounds that it is “targeted primarily at an audience in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

Guido reminded Brian Leveson when he was giving his evidence that under the obligations of Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights as agreed by Britain in 1948

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

That is more important than preventing the paparazzi taking pictures of Hugh Grant on a bad hair day…

Constance Briscoe Arrest Connected to Huhne Case

Back in October Guido noted that barrister, judge and Huhne prosecution witness Constance Briscoe had been arrested. It can now be reported for the first time that her arrest is in connection with the Huhne-Pryce case. The jury have been told that Briscoe could not be relied upon as a “witness of truth”, and that she “may have lied about her involvement with the press”. Developing…

UPDATE: Briscoe negotiated with newspapers on behalf of Pryce then denied contact with the press to police, the jury is told.

Leaked Documents Behind Scots Court Silencing Student Paper

Ever mindful of the little guy, Guido read with some interest a report recently of a university student union going to court to silence its own student newspaper. The Guardian reported two weeks ago:

“Edinburgh University Students’ Association, a charity independent of the University, has been granted an interim interdict (the Scots version of an injunction) preventing publication of an edition of the weekly paper carrying a story based on those confidential documents. 

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Press Royal Charter: Maria Miller's "Get Guido" Clause

big-sister-maria-millerYesterday Guardian journalists gleefully drew Guido’s attention to a clause in Maria Miller’s proposed legislation that attempts to bring this blog into the regulated, un-free press sector that is being created post-Leveson. Guido has highlighted the ambitious clause in red below…

SCHEDULE 4

INTERPRETATION

Key definitions

1.[…] Read the rest

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Today In Court: Huhne 'Badgered' Pryce to Take Points

All the evidence has now been heard in Vicky Pryce’s trial, closing speeches will be presented to the jury tomorrow. Today Pryce’s eldest daughter Georgia Beesley took to the stand, alleging that Chris Huhne coerced his ex-wife into taking his points:

“I remember speaking to my mother and she told me that Chris had been caught speeding and was asking her to take speeding points. 

[…] Read the rest

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Today In Court: Huhne/Pryce Phone Calls Played to Jury

Some great top lines from the opening day of Vicky Pryce’s trial, not least her description of her husband’s former bisexual lover as “that man of yours”. The jury of eight women and four men today heard the not so jaw-dropping admission that Vicky’s main motivation was revenge.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Peter Huhne's Texts to Lying Father

The court restrictions have been lifted. Rejecting Huhne’s application to have the case thrown out last week, Mr Justice Sweeney said the jury would “be free to draw adverse inference” from these texts between Chris Huhne and his son, Peter:

CH: Peter, just to say, I’m thinking of you and I love you very much.

[…] Read the rest

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Blogging May Be Light This Morning

The entire Guy Newsroom team is in Court 3, Southwark Crown Court. Hopefully we will have won the right to live tweet from Court…[…] Read the rest

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Exclusive: Huhne Trial Reporting Restrictions Will Be Lifted

Guido’s counsel has just got back to us following our application to lift reporting restrictions in the Chris Huhne case – currently we are unable to report anything other than the bare bones of the case – the “not guilty” plea from Huhne and that the trial proper starts Monday.[…] Read the rest

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UPDATE: Huhne in Court – Trial Will Go Ahead

Chris Huhne was back in court this morning.

His trial will go ahead.

The former Energy Secretary has pleaded not guilty to one count of doing an act tending or intending to pervert the course of justice.

Roll on Monday.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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