Johnson Family Lawyers Play Down “Pre-Existing Vulnerabilities”

elliott

Lawyers for the parents of Elliott Johnson have argued that their son’s previous mental health issues and suicide attempts were “pre-existing vulnerabilities” which did not contribute to him taking his own life. In their submission to the coroner today, the Johnson lawyers said:

In so far as it may be said that there is evidence of other pressures or reasons for the actions that Elliott took… The vast majority of the features identified by him in that letter are directly referable to [bullying and losing his job]…

his family believe that up to this time Elliott had been in a good state of mind, happy and excited about his new job with CWF. There is nothing to suggest he had experienced any medical problems in the months or even several years before this time. (References in his medical records to emotional disturbance are from 2011, when Elliott was still at school)

Further, in so far as Elliott had any pre-existing vulnerabilities in 2015, this made the treatment he experienced in the weeks before his death all the more serious (and all the mores so if those involved were aware of it). As Elliott said in the letter he left his parents: “It’s very lonely sometimes. Politics, depression, anxiety are not good for individuals.

The British Transport Police report leaked to the press revealed Elliott’s three previous suicide attempts and battle with depression. The police report suggested Elliott, who was gay, had rowed with his parents about his sexuality – a claim they deny. The Johnson’s lawyers tell the coroner that this was all in the distant past…

Highest-Earning MP Didn’t Notice £400,000 Income

Tory MP Geoffrey Cox, the highest earning member of the Commons who rakes in hundreds of thousands of pounds a year as a QC, has been rebuked by the Standards Commissioner for failing to declare £400,000 of income.

Wait for it, his defence is just outstanding:

In his evidence to the Commissioner, Mr Cox explained how the late registration came about. He had previously relied on the head clerk of his Chambers to draw the receipt of payments to his attention, thereby prompting the registration of such payments. The illness and subsequent retirement of the head clerk had led to the breakdown of this system. 

So Cox didn’t notice the £400,000 enter his account because his clerk was ill and didn’t tell him. Great excuses of our time…

Thornberry Paid Thousands By Firm Behind Claims Against Our Boys

EMILY

The new Shadow Defence Secretary is going to have difficulty explaining why she accepted thousands of pounds in donations from a law firm which was condemned over false legal claims made against British soldiers. In December 2014, Thornberry took a £14,500 donation-in-kind from Leigh Day & Co. The firm was blasted by the inquiry into allegations of torture against UK troops, which found the claims were “wholly and entirely without merit” and based on “deliberate and calculated lies”. Last night it emerged Leigh Day is now facing a disciplinary inquiry and the prospect of its lawyers being struck off. How will it go down with soldiers to know that the Shadow Defence Secretary took donations from the law firm behind false claims against our boys… 

The top-brass at the Ministry of Defence will not be impressed either with the CND supporter who voted against Trident in 2007. Which should encourage the Tories in 2020 to re-issue this nostalgic campaign poster:

They’ve never seen a minister like it… 

Hat-tip: @wallaceme

Tim Yeo: Guido’s Part in His Downfall (Part 94)

yeo+judgementThis part of the judgement amused Guido:

    1. One strand in the concerns that had been publicly expressed was whether Parliamentarians’ performance of their public duties might be influenced by their private outside interests. Mr Yeo’s name featured in some publications on this topic.

      (1) On 10 and 11 December 2012 the political blog “Guido Fawkes” carried items headed “Yeo’s Lump for Dump” and “Why is Tim Yeo Backing Fracking?”, suggesting that Mr Yeo had conflicts between his private business interests and his role as ECCSC Chair.(2) 23 December 2012 an article by Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph questioned whether it was right for Mr Yeo to chair both the ECCSC and TMO. Mr Booker implied a conflict of interest, given that the ECCSC saw one of its chief roles as encouraging spending on renewables, and Mr Yeo had “financial interests in several firms that might be among the beneficiaries of such spending”.

      (3) On 30 December 2013 Guido Fawkes carried an item headed “Review of 2012: Taxi for Tim Yeo”, identifying him as “a serious contender for villain of the year”. The item suggested conflicts between his Committee chairmanship and his role with Eco City Vehicles, and that he had actively lobbied for policies favourable to TMO.

      (4) On 13 January 2013 the Mail on Sunday ran a report alleging that “A former Cabinet Minister [Lord Deben] who plays a key role in deciding the future size of energy bills is chairman of a company that stands to benefit directly from his Government work”. The article attributed to Graham Stringer MP the observation that “the whole field of energy and environmental policy seemed to be dominated by individuals who had commercial interests – for example, Tim Yeo, the Select Committee Chairman, is a director of several renewable energy firms”. Declaring interests was not enough, suggested Mr Stringer.

      The origins of the articles

      1. On 10 February 2013 Jonathan Leake of The Sunday Times sent Mr Calvert and Ms Blake an email headed “Tim Yeo is looking quite villainous” incorporating “cuttings” of the Guido Fawkes reports, and other online media reports relating to Mr Yeo, including the Sunday Telegraph and Mail On Sunday articles, that I have quoted above. Mr Leake was passing this information on to the Insight team by way of a suggestion for a possible investigation.

It seems he would have got away with it if it wasn’t for those pesky bloggers…

Cox Quits Sleaze Committee

geoffery cox

Geoffrey Cox, the highest-earning MP in the Commons who earns hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for his work as a QC, has resigned from parliament’s sleaze watchdog for doing something if not sleazy exactly, definitely slack. Cox has on at least one occasion failed to register his outside earnings within the 28 days required, compelling him to resign from the Commons Committee on Standards and refer himself to the Standards Commissioner.

The Standards Committee polices the conduct of MPs and oversees the maintenance and accessibility of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The very same Register of Members’ Financial Interests that Mr Cox forgot to register the £325,000 he earned for 500 hours work. What a cox up…

Parliament’s Lawyer Shreds Tory Purdah Spin

Europe minister David Lidington has set out the government’s compromise on ‘purdah’ ahead of tonight’s vote – only to have his spin shredded by parliament’s top lawyer. In a damning email leaked to Guido, Speaker’s Counsel Michael Carpenter says Lidington’s arguments against letting the purdah rules apply in full are “unsound“.

One of Lidington’s main arguments against purdah is that “the legal advice we have received suggests that this could extend to individual elected representatives” – i.e. it would gag all MPs in the run up to the referendum. Carpenter dismisses this as “too literal a reading“. MPs would not face restrictions.

Another of Lidington’s key claims is that purdah would stop ministers from conducting European Union business. Carpenter says “I do not share the view“. Lidington suggests that the “full rigour” of purdah would prevent ministers communicating what is going on in Brussels. But Carpenter says the rules “expressly allow the issue of press notices without any restriction as to their content“.

He concludes of the Europe minister: “Mr Lidington seems simply to repeat the unsound arguments advanced before“. That’s two of the government’s main arguments on purdah torn apart by parliament’s top laywer ahead of tonight’s crunch vote…

Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister Struggles With the Law

It seems Labour’s slippery Andy Slaughter is struggling with even the most basic of instructions:

1.1 During the period when Parliament is dissolved before a General Election there are no Members of Parliament. Consequently you may not use that title during this period.

Here is what he is distributing today in Hammersmith:

Awkward for any MP, let alone a Shadow Justice Minister…

Via Peter Graham

 

UKIP Tell Atkinson to Lawyer Up

IMG_2157

Guido hears that suspended MEP Janice Atkinson was told by UKIP’s legal team this morning that there was nothing they could do for her and that she had better get criminal representation very quickly. Apparently Section 6 of the 2006 Fraud Act was the topic of breakfast discussion this morning…

Tory Case Against Reckless Thrown Out

Before Christmas the Tories took Mark Reckless to court in a sour grapes attempt to claw back thousands of pounds spent on campaign literature before he defected to UKIP. Today, the judge has thrown the case out. A doubly expensive defeat…

UPDATE:

Stanley Fink to Ed Miliband: Bring It On

Stanley Fink is very angry with Miliband using him as a tax dodging tool to try beat up the PM earlier. He has a pretty good explanation for his Swiss bank account too:

“I challenge you to repeat your allegation outside of the House of Commons – or to withdraw it publically [sic].” 

UPDATE:

Mitchell Down Half a Million After Refusing Sun Settlement

plebgate-mitchell-sun

Andrew Mitchell’s lawyers are back in court again arguing over how much the former chief whip has to cough up after losing his libel case last year. It has emerged News Group made offer to Mitchell before the libel hearing, but Mitchell turned it down, costing him “at least £500,000” in costs.

Mr Justice Mitling says that because he failed to accept News Group’s offer he should be liable for their costs and those of PC Toby Rowland.

Ouch. 

Rotherham Labour MPs Sue UKIP’s Jane Collins For Libel

The loudest cheer at UKIP conference was for the party’s candidate in Rotherham, Jane Collins, who made a series of explosive allegations about several Labour MPs’ alleged involvement in the town’s child abuse scandal. Now Labour’s Rotherham MPs Sarah Champion, John Healey and Kevin Barron are suing her for libel and slander. Her speech had the journalists in the room choking on their coffees…

Reckless Crowdfunds Defence Against Tory Legal Action

“It is almost Christmas: a time for caring, reflection, and forgiveness,” Mark Reckless tells UKIP supporters in a mass email this afternoon, before asking for festive donations to fund his defence against the Tories’ “sour grapes” legal action against him:

“The fact that the Tories are bickering over £3,000 when we all know they may have a £78m election war chest put together by their secretive clubs, and dodgy donors shows that this is just another cynical attack on democracy, on UKIP, and on the British people. It’s time for us to stand up and fight back, don’t you think?”

Judging by UKIP’s recent online fundraising success, E-kippers will cover his costs in no time…

UPDATE: A local Tory association source points out: “Given Mark is a trained barrister and this is a small claims case, we rather assumed that, like us, he would be representing himself. We’re surprised he’s lawyering up.”

Torture ‘Lie’ Lawyers Unrepentant

The best course of action for Public Interest Lawyers, the firm condemned by the government for pursuing false claims that British troops tortured Iraqi detainees, would probably have been a swift apology. Instead, the last post on their Facebook page is a series of articles still insisting the torture claims were true, including an Indy article from October which promoted the now disproven case. Followers of the Public Interest Lawyers Facebook page then accused the firm of “deleting adverse comments” under the post. One asked last night “Any comment on today’s report??” while another replied “You are a disgrace and should hang your heads in shame”. For some reason there is nothing on the page about yesterday’s findings that the claims pursued by Public Interest Lawyers were “lies”. Funny that…

Tories to Sue Mark Reckless

The Tories aren’t letting this one go:

“The Rochester and Strood Constituency Conservative Association have lodged a claim against its former MP Mark Reckless to claw back thousands of pounds it spent on 2015 General Election campaigning literature before he defected to Ukip. Members of the association say Mr Reckless and his agent, Cllr Chris Irvine, who are both now Ukip members, were approving expenditure for campaign literature for next year’s general election, up to two days before Mr Reckless defected to Ukip Saturday, September 27. They say they had no alternative but to throw away the campaign leaflets.”

“Lawyer up, baldy.”

UPDATE:

WATCH: Peter Cook’s Jeremy Thorpe Acquittal Sketch

The night Jeremy Thorpe was acquitted of conspiracy to murder his alleged male lover in 1979, satirist Peter Cook delivered this sketch of Mr Justice Cantley’s summing up at the Secret Policeman’s Ball. Almost as if he thought there was an establishment cover up…

Labour Bury Crap Mini-Reshuffle on Big News Day

It’s taken almost two weeks for Labour to manage to appoint a new Attorney General:

It seems Labour were a little short of high-profiled learned Members in the Commons. Who eh? 

“William “Willy” Stephen Goulden Bach, Baron Bach (born 25 December 1946), is a British Labour member of the House of Lords and was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice from 2008 to 2010. Bach was educated at Westminster before going up to New College, Oxford (MA), after which, in 1972, he was called to the Bar. He worked as a barrister, was a local Councillor for Leicester, and became Head of Chambers at King Street Chambers in Leicester on the Midland Circuit in 1996. In 1998, Bach was raised to the peerage, as Baron Bach, of Lutterworth in the County of Leicestershire, where he lives.”

Tomorrow’s front page news, today…

Today in Court: Tory MPs Question Mitchell’s Account

plebgate-mitchell-sun

Andrew Mitchell’s former colleagues in the whips’ office do not believe his account of Plebgate, describing it as “extraordinary”, a court heard today. Tory MP John Randall claims “Mr Mitchell told me he could not recall what he said to the officer” in a whips meeting at the time. Michael Fabricant told the court of his reaction to seeing the former Chief Whip’s verbatim account of the incident at the gates of Downing Street in the Sunday Times“I found Mr Mitchell’s account surprising and somewhat amusing”. The court also heard evidence from protection officer Duncan Johnston, who recalled Mitchell refused to shake his hand the first time they met, instead telling him “you must be the hired muscle”. Johnston alleges Mitchell was “prone to temper tantrums” and was “verging on out of control”. Judgements are expected on Thursday. The case continues…

Today in Court: Plebgate Cops Describe “Mexican Stand Off”

plebgate-mitchell-sun

An “agitated” Andrew Mitchell called policemen “f**king plebs” in a “Mexican stand off” at the gates of Downing Street, it was claimed in court today. PC Toby Rowland claimed he threatened Mitchell with arrest because passers by could have been caused “distress” by his abusive language. Told by James Price QC that the allegations were an “invention” to justify the threat of arrest, PC Rowland insisted “all the evidence I’ve given is the truth…I have not written anything to cover my arse”.

Former No.10 officer PC Ian Richardson testified that he heard PC Rowland tell Mitchell “please don’t swear at me sir”, but did not take detailed notes because “I was eating my sandwiches and couldn’t be arsed to write too much more”. PC Richardson concluded: “At the time, it was just a quirky incident of a gentleman on a bicycle who had the hump”. The case continues…

Today in Court: “I Was Ill-Tempered” Says Mitchell But Top Tory Denies “Just F**king Plebs” Jibe

Andrew Mitchell told policemen at the Downing Street gates they were “just f**king plebs” who should “best know your f**king place”, a court heard today. Giving evidence against Mitchell, PC Toby Rowland claimed he did not know what the word “pleb” meant when the then Chief Whip allegedly called him one in September 2012.[…] Read the rest

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