Man Who Wrote Watson’s Legal Advice Gave Interview to Sputnik Praising “Brilliant” Work of Assange Lawyers

The man who wrote Tom Watson’s legal advice on Syria gave an interview earlier this year to the Kremlin mouthpiece Sputnik praising the “brilliant” work of Julian Assange’s lawyers. Watson commissioned Oxford University professor Dr Dapo Akande to provide him with advice on the legality of the British strikes in Syria over the weekend. The advice, published this morning, suggested the strikes were against international law. Akande has been offering his view that humanitarian intervention in Syria is illegal since 2013. Guido is more interested in his interview with Sputnik earlier this year, in which Akande outlined how Ecuador could take the UK to the International Court of Justice over Assange and how they could give him diplomatic status. Akande gave Sputnik this effusive praise for Assange’s legal team:

“This latest move is actually an excellent move. I think it was a brilliant idea by the team to try and find a way. I don’t know whether it will be successful but it is about the best way of trying to advance his case and cause.”

Sputnik certainly enjoy Dr Akande’s work…

Cummings Filing Formal Complaint to Bar Standards Board About Jolyon

Popcorn alert: Dominic Cummings is filing a formal complaint to the Bar Standards Board about Jolyon Maugham, the mad Remainer QC who he brands “a disgrace to the bar”. He writes:

It’s been suggested to me that I should put in a formal complaint about the lawyer @JolyonMaugham to the Bar Standards Board. His twitter feed alone is a disgrace to the bar. He has been guilty of at least reckless falsehood. Strikes me this would be a good public service so feel free to send evidence about him to my public email and I’ll send in a formal document with help from some barristers. Public debate is badly undermined when QCs spread bullshit on the internet.

And on this subject, it was noticeable that in the hearing over a judicial review on the Electoral Commission recently all three teams were criticised by the Court: Jolyon’s, the EC’s, and VL’s. The JR won’t effect Brexit at all but it will affect future conduct in elections and the debate about reform. As I wrote in my long piece on the referendum a year ago the rules about our elections are a joke and regulators are in an impossible position (e.g the latest flap over what counts as ‘coordination’). It would be in the public interest if all three teams upgrade their lawyers for the JR in the summer so these arguments are properly made and contribute to serious reform of the whole system. (I have zero role with VL and have not been a director since early 2016 so these decisions have nothing to do with me.) 

NB. I respect @JolyonMaugham’s right to free speech and to express his political views on Twitter. Please only send examples of things that can genuinely and reasonably be seen as misconduct for a barrister such as misleading people or deliberately mistating the law. I have no interest in his politics, just his integrity and professionalism. There will be a very strict test applied by my team about what we say. Just the facts please…

Let’s see if the Board share the view of his fellow silks that Jolyon is “the biggest c*** at the English bar”…

Complaints are also being filed to the Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner’s Office about the Remain campaign. Guido also understands legal letters are going in to Bindmans, the ‘campaigning’ lawyers who held that parody press conference yesterday, and the three lawyers Clare Montgomery, Helen Mountfield and Ben Silverstone threatening them with action for defamation and libel. The understanding is that the press conference wasn’t legally privileged and they aren’t covered by the barristers’ mutual fund because it was outside of court. The day the lies caught up with the lawyers…

Jolyon’s Failed Vanity Cases Cost Crowdfunders £350,000

Britain’s most insufferable lawyer Jolyon Maugham is taking a break from Twitter today and going to court in his latest attempt to stop Brexit. Maugham will petition for a judicial review against the Electoral Commission, arguing the regulator failed to investigate Vote Leave-BeLeave campaign donations. The Electoral Commission has already investigated the donations twice…

Speaking of donations, rather than putting his stupendous QC’s income where his mouth is – and, indeed, despite being a lawyer himself – Jolyon is using other people’s cash to fund the legal bid. He’s crowdfunded nearly £50,000. What can his donors expect for their cash?

Not much, if his form is anything to go by. In May 2017, Maugham went to the High Court of Ireland in an attempt to reverse the Brexit vote after Article 50 was triggered. The case was opposed by the Irish government and was struck out by Mr Justice Peter Kelly. More than £70,000 was crowdfunded…

Then, in February 2018, Maugham was involved in a similar case in the Scottish courts. Lord Doherty of the Scottish Court of Session ruled:

“I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome. However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect…” 

A gentle judical admonishing of Jolyon’s grasp on reality. Crowdfunding for this failed case raised over £60,000…

As Guido reported, Maugham also tried to judical review David Davis over the Brexit sector analysis papers. Mr Justice Supperstone rejected permission, finding a simple (and free) FoI request was a suitable alternative. That failed judicial review was also crowdfunded: £59,275. When he loses, do people get their money back? “Any surplus funds will be held for the costs of other litigation”…

Jolyon, a specialist tax barrister, sued Uber to demand a 56p VAT receipt. When Guido says he sued we mean he suckered £107,650 from crowdfunders and cabbies to back this case. Vaingloriously making the claim in his own name he suspended the action when he realised that if he lost the case – a very real possibility given his less than stunning record – Uber would seek to recover their costs from him personally. Unwilling to put his own money where his suckers crowdfunders did, he pathetically said he was looking for an alternative claimant who didn’t have any material assets to take the risk. Not exactly brave leadership…Hapless Jolyon Maugham has therefore spent over a third of a million pounds (£350,000) of other people’s money vainly pursuing his agenda, entirely without success. All he has got for the money is gout. The crowd that backs him can afford to take the pain…

High Court Throws Out Maugham’s Case Against DD

Jolyon Maugham QC has failed in his attempt to secure a judicial review against David Davis to get him to publish full versions of the government’s Brexit sectoral analysis. The claim by Maugham and his Good Law Project was dismissed because versions of the analysis have already been published and the information can be sought in a less attention-seeking fashion via a Freedom of Information request. Mr Justice Supperstone concluded: “In my judgment, there is a suitable alternative remedy in this case”. Remember this is the same Jolyon Maugham who crowdfunded £100,000 to launch a High Court claim against Uber demanding a 56p VAT receipt. He’s great at wasting other people’s money…

High Court Orders UKIP to Pay Share of Labour Libel Costs

UKIP has been ordered to pay a share of the £670,000 costs of the Jane Collins libel case after their MEP accused Labour MPs of involvement in the Rotherham abuse scandal:

“The Court therefore makes an order that UKIP should pay the claimants’ costs from 20 March 2015 to 23 June 2015 and their costs of the assessment hearing.”

Only a share of the total cost, but still going to be tricky for the cash-strapped party to pay…

UPDATE: Labour source says UKIP share of legal costs is estimated at £200,000. Potentially fatal for the party if so…

UPDATE II: UKIP lawyers say they think it will be closer to £20,000. Labour still adamant the party owes £200,000.

Truss: We Can’t Undo Worboys Decision

Lord Pannick Backs Worboys Judicial Review

A judicial review of the decision to release black cab rapist John Worboys has been backed by Lord Pannick QC, one of the country’s leading JR experts. Pannick tells the Times that he endorses Justice Secretary David Gauke’s attempts to JR the Parole Board, and says the challenge should focus on whether the board followed a fair process: “The process issue appears to turn on whether the victims have been properly consulted, as fairness requires”. This is the key point: it has now emerged that there were multiple clear breaches of the proper procedure – victims were not consulted on either his release or the conditions, as was their right. Which means the original process is now likely to be declared unsound. With Pannick’s expert backing, Gauke has no excuse not to proceed…

Sam Armstrong Cleared of Rape

A jury at Southwark Crown Court has cleared Sam Armstrong of raping a woman in Craig Mackinlay’s office.

Starmer Forced to Turn Down Mishcon Second Job

Sir Keir Starmer has bowed to pressure and been forced to reject a lucrative second job at anti-Brexit law firm Mishcon de Reya. A win for Tory MP James Cleverly who wrote to Starmer last night pointing out the conflicts of interest the job would entail. Corbyn voted against second jobs and had a veto on the appointment, did Jez stop Sir Keir from taking the gig?

Sir Keir Joining Mishcon: Paid £18,000 For 24 Hours Work

The Lawyer reports Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer is joining Mishcon de Reya as a legal adviser. Mishcon are ultra Remainers – they were behind a big business legal challenge to Brexit and they of course represent Gina Miller. Will be slightly awkward in the office given the Shadow Cabinet’s position on the single market and customs union. In truth this is Sir Keir making his relationship with Mishcon official: last year they paid him £18,000 for 24 hours work. Kerching…

Mrs Milne Lawyers Up

Seumas Milne’s wife Cristina Montanari has taken legal advice – Guido’s betting she didn’t ask hubby if he knew anyone who could help. The Milnes are threatening the press with legal action if they attempt to contact them:

We have been contacted by Howe & Co on behalf of Cristina Montanari & Family.

They say their client will not be making any comments or statements in relation to matters that are currently circulating about her and her family in the press and media. No other member of her family will be making any comments or statements. They ask that press desist from asking questions and refrain from entering onto their client’s property.

They ask that media refrain from calling to the door of the family home (including knocking at the family’s door or ringing the doorbell), as all licences to enter onto the property have been revoked. Any distress caused to their client will result in legal proceedings being issued for damages against those individuals and press or media outlets involved.

They say the attempts by members of the press and media, including repeated attempts, to contact their client and/or members of her family are unwanted. Their client considers the media’s presence outside her family home, despite requests to leave is intimidating and harassing. Media must cease all attempts to contact Cristina Montanari and/or member of her family and must leave the vicinity of her family home.

Notable that Seumas isn’t actually mentioned in the legal threat. A situation where the press aren’t allowed to phone up a Director of Communications would be somewhat unorthodox…

Assange Lawyer Named as Milne’s Mystery Blonde

Seumas Milne’s mystery blonde is Julian Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson, according to The Times. 36 year-old Australian Robinson has represented the Wikileaks founder since 2010. A source told The Times Seumas has visited Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in the last 16 months. Jen’s tweets show her public support for Seumas and Corbyn:

Robinson didn’t respond to requests for comment. The identity of the lady canoodling with Milne at the plush Courthouse Hotel was the subject of fevered speculation yesterday, with Labour colleagues pointing the finger of suspicion at each other. From Twitter it looks like Jen has been a fan of Seumas’ column for years…

Gary Lineker Tax Scheme Loses Court Bid

Gary Lineker is among a group of celebrities who have lost a court bid to overturn a £700 million tax bill. The achingly right-on footballer turned self-appointed current affairs expert claimed the press were pursuing a “vendetta” against him over his involvement in the Ingenious film investment scheme, where tax reliefs were claimed on artificial movie losses. It was all media lies, Gary insisted…

Seems the courts do not agree. HMRC argued that the scheme was an aggressive kind of tax avoidance and yesterday a tax tribunal judge ruled the tax relief claims were not “allowable deductions”. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

Brexit Challenge Struck Out in Irish High Court

Jolyon Maugham’s Quixotic challenge to the progress of Brexit in the High Court in Dublin has been struck out. Jolyon’s plan was hard to comprehend, he was seeking a ruling from an Irish High Court Judge to refer issues in the case for determination by the Court of Justice of the EU. Why in Ireland? Because he knew he had not a hope in the English Courts.

He was seeking a reference on the grounds that his rights under the Anglo-Irish Common Travel Area Agreement and the Belfast Agreement were being compromised.*  In addition the “Irish people, and, in particular, in so much as the provisions of the Belfast Agreement and Common Travel Area will be affected and does so without seeking the views of the Irish citizens by way of referendum.” He was arguing that Irish voters somehow had a veto on the sovereign right of the British people expressed by the referendum. There was more of this nonsense line of argument in his claim

Guido understands from his sources in Dublin legal circles that the consensus view was that he was “p***ing in the wind”. This did not stop Jolyon crowdfunding £70,000 in fees, then dropping the fight as soon the Irish Attorney General indicated she would challenge the case on the grounds of jurisdiction. Jolyon folded claiming it would be too expensive to fight the matter. So the £70,000 of donor’s funds will be wasted without even a proper fight…

*The only people who claim there will be a hard border are remainiacs. No Irish party wants a hard border, not Sinn Fein not the Ulster Unionists. Nobody in the Dublin or Westminster governments wants or expects a hard border. There will not be a hard border. It is a figment of extreme remainers’ imaginations.

Nadhim Zahawi Wins £338,000 Libel Payout From Press TV

Guido can reveal Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi has been awarded a stunning £338,000 payout after winning a libel case against Iranian state television channel Press TV. The channel had falsely accused Zahawi, who is of Kurdish background and was born in Iraq, of facilitating the trade of oil between ISIS and Israel. Press TV has been ordered to pay Zahawi £200,000 in damages and over £138,000 in costs after the judge described the defamatory allegations as “exceptionally grave”. The fake news story was shared by Tommy Robinson, who tweeted “Another bent Muslim politician??”, and Labour parliamentary candidate John Clarke.

Zahawi says in a statement:

“The ludicrous allegation that I, while a Member of Parliament, had firstly betrayed all of my deepest held moral principles, and secondly had somehow managed to avoid international security services, and the law, to personally trade oil with Daesh was of course completely untrue…

In my role as a member the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have often spoken out against the malign influence Iran has so often chosen to exercise in international affairs. It was of particular note that the libellous article was published on the exact same day that I had publicly criticised Iran in Parliament.

I hope that this libel judgment can draw a line under this episode and deter outlets such as Press TV, and by extension states such as Iran, from attempting this sort of attack on anyone again.”

Jeremy Corbyn no longer the MP who will have received the most cash from the Iranian state. Slightly different circumstances though. 

Buzzfeed Go to Court to Demand Journalist Reveals Communications With Sources

Buzzfeed has gone to court in the US to attempt to force the editor of British media trade website Press Gazette to reveal his journalistic sources. A motion filed by Buzzfeed in a New York court seeks to compel Press Gazette’s editor, Dominic Ponsford, to provide material in relation to this article he published in April 2015, a report about a Buzzfeed investigation doing in one of its rivals. Buzzfeed’s court application seeks to force Ponsford to reveal:

  • The research and production of the the 24 April Press Gazette report
  • Communications prior and post publication of the article between Press Gazette and the alleged source

Ponsford says:

“Why is Buzzfeed interested in my emails and any other documents I may hold? As a journalistic organisation does it not understand the dangerous ethical territory it is entering here?”

Remarkable behaviour for a news organisation employing journalists. What are Buzzfeed thinking?

Jolyon Maugham v Danny Finkelstein

Twitter’s most irritating lawyer Jolyon Maugham outdid himself on pomposity this morning during a spat with the Times‘ genial Danny Finkelstein. Jolyon began by sending Fink a link to his blog claiming the UK can still revoke Article 50 and Remain in the EU. When Danny pointed out the weakness of his argument, Jolyon responded with a level of arrogant sneering impressive even by his standards of hubris.

Non or very junior lawyers think as you do. That the law is an intellectual creature existing only in the abstract… you are not a lawyer.” 

Eeesh.

The even-tempered Fink calmly won the day, tweeting:

“He argues in an intolerable way and I can’t stick it for long. I end up thinking life is too short to be talked to like that. So  I go away but always come back later because he has arguments you need to grasp and consider. Only then he does it again and off I go. It’s quite dispiriting because it is so unnecessary.”

Even by the stuffed-shirt standards of the English Bar Jolyon is an über-arse. Danny speaks for everyone – including judges and fellow barristers – who has had the misfortune of engaging with Jolyon on Twitter or in court…

Taxpayer Billed £100 Million After Government Breached EU Procurement Rules

The taxpayer has been hit with a £100 million bill after the government breached EU procurement rules over a contract to decommission nuclear power plants. Business Secretary Greg Clark today confirmed the compensation will be paid to American companies Energy Solutions and Bechtel after the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority awarded the £6 billion contract to Cavendish Fluor Group. Energy Solutions argued the decision breached the EU’s public procurement rules as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority did not “award the contract to the most economically advantageous tenderer”. This went against the EU’s Public Sector Directive, and therefore Energy Solutions were qualified for a remedy under the Remedies Directive. A giant cock-up by the government, but it’s EU law that has cost the taxpayer the equivalent of the salaries of 4,500 NHS nurses…

Arron Banks Sues Over Russia Claims

Arron Banks is suing Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council, which accused him of serving as a “key pro-Russian actor in the UK”. He’s unhappy with their report “The Kremlin’s Trojans”, which describes Banks and Leave.EU / Grassroots Out as having links with “pro-Russian figures”, namely UKIP and George Galloway. Banks says the report accuses him of being a “Russian agent” who is “clandestinely working for Russia”. Guido has had a quick read – the bit specifically about Banks doesn’t seem to make those claims, though the introduction does talk about “Trojan horses” working for the Kremlin. Banks is also suing 3 British MPs though his spinner says he cannot name them for legal reasons. Remember Banks himself wound the rumours up by claiming a “KGB man” took him to the Russian Embassy. Expect they will settle quickly…

Vaz Sets Carter Ruck on Andrew Pierce

Keith Vaz is very unhappy with the Daily Mail’s Andrew Pierce over an article published last week in which Pierce reported Vaz had paid rent boys for their services. Vaz has instructed £500-an-hour Carter Ruck to insist he has “never had ‘sex’ with any ‘rent boys'”.[…] Read the rest

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