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…
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…
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…
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…
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. Rowland also told the court: “I didn’t have a clue who the Chief Whip was. I knew he’d changed recently. I needed to confirm who he was”. Describing Mitchell’s behaviour as “completely inappropriate and offensive”, Rowland insisted: “All my evidence has been the truth”.
Earlier, Mitchell concluded his evidence by admitting “I was ill-tempered” but “didn’t lose my temper”. He described as “completely wrong” suggestions he had changed his story, also insisting “I’ve always told the truth about this incident”. After leaving the gates that night, Mitchell phoned Bob Geldof and told him he had had a “row”. The following day Mitchell had two meetings with Craig Oliver, telling the court “He still is… [Downing Street Director of Communications]… I think”. He then had a telephone conversation with No. 10 Chief of Staff Ed Llewellyn, who informed him “Houston, we have a problem”. The case continues…
Andrew Mitchell “could not recall” what he said to police officers at the gates of Downing Street, courtroom 13 at the Royal Courts of Justice heard today. That is what former Deputy Chief Whip John Randall and former whip Michael Fabricant will testify at the Plebgate libel trial, despite Mitchell providing a verbatim account of the incident to the Sunday Times and telling the court “I would never call a policeman a pleb let alone a f**king pleb”. Presented with their testimony, Mitchell responded: “They were not on my side. Mr Fabricant has campaigned against me through out this period”.
Desmond Browne QC, representing PC Toby Rowland, alleged that on another occasion Mitchell told a security officer he was “a little s**t”, and that he told a further officer “that’s a bit above your pay grade Mr Plod”. On the second allegation, Mitchell replied “it’s possible”. Asked if he sneered at officers that they had been “sunning themselves by the pool for four days”, again Mitchell admitted: “it’s possible”. In a witness statement, Bob Geldof said Mitchell is “no slouch” when it comes to swearing.
Gavin Millar QC, for News Group Newspapers, told the court “when The Sun published the story it was because it truly believed the account..to be true”. James Price QC, representing Mitchell, insisted he is an “innocent man”, “not a snob”, “a good man” who is victim of “a web of lies, deceit and indiscipline”. The case continues…
Another day, another bonkers politically correct ruling from a taxpayer-funded quango. The Equality Commission, which is a public body paid for out of the public purse, is using its state-sponsored power to take legal action against a small, independent patisserie in Belfast because its Christian owners didn’t want to bake a cake. ‘Queerspace’ gay rights activist Gareth Lee asked the shop to make him the above cake, but was politely told by its religious owners the message was contrary to their beliefs. Rather than simply go to a different shop he called the equality police, who are now taking the Christian bakers to court.
What this comes down to is the state using taxpayers’ money to force a free citizen into forced labour against their will: that is a form of slavery. The shop owners did no harm to the gay rights activist – who could easily have taken his custom elsewhere – they merely expressed their right not to produce a message contrary to their religious beliefs. Gordon Ramsay kicked a customer out of his restaurant for asking for ketchup, will the Equality Commission be taking him to court for infringing the human rights of ketchup lovers? When the government passed gay marriage they vowed religious beliefs would be respected, instead the state is persecuting anyone who does not conform to their ‘progressive’ views…
The recall debate is bringing forth the most self-serving blatantly anti-democratic arguments. Liberal Democrat David Heath being one of those arguing that voters should not be able to sack MPs. Sitting next to him (still on the LibDem benches) is Mike Hancock, thrown out of his party as an embarrassment after admitting sexual impropriety with a vulnerable constituent who has mental health issues. Yet the voters can’t throw him out even if his party can expel him. He just shamelessly sits there counting the money until election day…
Mike Hancock opposes real recall for MPs. Of course he does…
Over at the Royal Courts of Justice the judge – Mr Justice Warby – ruled that 9 of Mitchell’s 16 previous incidents with police officers were admissible as evidence. A blow to Mitchell who tried to block the evidence being put before the Court. It got worse for Mitchell, he also banned the former Chief Whip from discussing “reputational damage, hurt feelings and the effect generally on Mr Mitchell of the Plebgate affair” at the upcoming trial.
Mr Justice Warby said evidence from Mitchell’s chums; Lord Coe, Sir Richard Ottaway MP and others expressing doubt Mr Mitchell would ever use the word ’pleb’, would be permitted. Submissions about Metropolitan Police officers creating fake witnesses were refused.
Mitchell will give evidence first, and the trial of the preliminary issues in the case is set for 17 November. Having switched lawyers word has it that Mitchell is directing his new lawyers closely…
Before MR JUSTICE MITTING
Thursday, 16th October 2014
At half past 10 Jury List
TLJ/14/0554 Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd
TLJ/14/0554 Rowland v Mitchell
Another round in the £1 million Plebgate legal skirmishes which are making the lawyers rich.
The latter application is a damages claim by Police Federation backed police officer Toby Rowland against former chief whip Andrew Mitchell…
“Banker admits rate rigging – but you can’t know where he works” reports MailOnline this morning, explaining that the identity of a top City employee facing ten years behind bars “is protected by a court order”. The story is accompanied by a blurred photo of the banker in question. Right click on the image and look at its properties, however, and the world’s most read newspaper website has inadvertently named the Libor rigger. Guido has blurred the name out:
Judge Leonard QC will not be amused…
Andrew Mitchell is no longer employing the services of his celebrity barrister David Sherborne. Sherborne, who hit the headlines over his romantic Greek holiday with a fellow Leveson lawyer, had previously been punished by High Court judge Master Victoria McCloud for a bizarre legal screw up in which he failed to submit paperwork for the Mitchell case on time. Now his services are no longer required…
The Operation Alice report revealed that The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn refused to co-operate with officers, even though he was himself threatened with arrest for aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office. Journalists are protected under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights from having to reveal their sources and Tom Newton Dunn knew his rights. So the Met legally hacked his phones. The Met report into Plebgate states:
“On Thursday, 31 January 2013, PC James Glanville was arrested on suspicion of committing the offences of misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice. His arrest came about as the result of the initial analysis of the mobile telephone records from the Sun political editor, Mr Tom Newton Dunn, which showed a series of contacts by text and voice calls between the two over several days.”
Welcome to Britain in 2014, where the coppers access journalists phones to sniff out leaks from within their own ranks.
According to the Guardian:
“If police are seeking journalistic material, including information about confidential sources, they should use the procedures laid down by Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) which provide article 10 compliant safeguards to ensure that sources are properly protected. It is alarming that in this case the police appear to have used other powers which do not have those safeguards and are not intended for use in these circumstances,” said Keith Mathieson, partner at law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain. Under PACE, police are required to go to court to ask a judge’s permission to get records belonging to a journalist. Journalists are then notified to enable them to attend court to formally resist disclosure to a third party. On this occasion this did not happen.”
Guido’s learned lunch partner spots a hole: By making Tom Newton Dunn a suspect, which the Met’s report into Operation Alice admits they did, the coppers could bypass having to alert him. Sun sources tell the Guardian they are consulting lawyers. A fight between Murdoch and the Met over accessing phones? Play it again, Sam.
MR JUSTICE WARBY
Wednesday, 20th August 2014
At 2 o’clock
TLJ14/0733 Tim Yeo MP v Times Newspapers Ltd
If Guido understands the ruling correctly, Tim Yeo has won the right to not have his libel claim held before a jury. Has Magna Carta not suffered enough?
The Equalities and Human Right’s Commission has ruled that All Women Shortlists are illegal. To very little attention, the EHRC today published guidance on the equalities legislation around which appointments to boards must be made. It says very clearly on page 10:
“We do not believe that it is lawful to address under-representation by longlisting or shortlisting only female candidates to the detriment of male candidates”
Though the context was the private sector, it could not be clearer about the legality of the issue.
One rule for us, another for…
UPDATE: People who seem to know what they are talking about say there are special provisions for political parties (until 2030) which permit the use of all-women shortlists by registered political parties in relation to elections to government (see sections 104 and 105 of the Equality Act 2010).
The former CPS Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer – said to be the inspiration for Bridget Jones’ lover Mark Darcy – has been glued to Miliband’s side of late. Not only is he undertaking a legal review for the party for free, he was on the leader’s table at Labour’s recent gala fundraiser. He’s been a loyal voice on the airwaves for a few months now.
As revealed in yesterday’s Sun on Sunday, Keir is the front runner for a very safe London seat. Tomorrow, veteran Labour MP Frank Dobson will officially announce he is standing down and Starmer is Labour insiders’ favourite to be the next MP for Holborn – home to lawyers and the High Courts. It seems Starmer’s brown nosing could be about to pay off.
“Wait a minute… nice boys don’t kiss ass like that.”
“Oh, yes, they f**king do…”
From tomorrow Babar Ahmad can add convicted terrorist to his CV, along with Guardian contributor. At the district court in Connecticut the extradited Brit will plead guilty to running websites that allegedly sought to raise money, recruit fighters and seek equipment for terrorists in Afghanistan and Chechnya. This is despite years of demanding to be freed and fighting his extradition to the States. He had one very vocal supporter in this campaign: Sadiq Khan. The Shadow Justice Secretary said it was ‘truly shocking’ Ahmad had been held and was involved in the Free Babar Ahmad campaign.
Guido has written at length about the differing accounts from Khan about his relationship with Ahmad, but it is certainly clear that they knew each other as teenagers. Even if we leave this completely aside, the Shadow Justice Secretary is on shaky ground for his vocal support for Ahmad.
As Robin Simcox of the Henry Jackson Society wrote in October:
“Ahmad and Ahsan could have hopped on a plane and proved their innocence. Instead, as is their right, they chose to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the court system created by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The defendants argued that extradition to the U.S. would breach the ECHR. After years of appeals and delays, their case was dismissed by the ECtHR in September 2012.
Khan says that the decade long legal process for Ahmad and Ahsan overseen by both British and European judges saw due process ‘jettisoned’. I have no idea what he could possibly mean by this, but it would be interesting to know what about the courts’ verdict he felt was flawed.
Khan admits to a ‘fear’ that Ahmad and Ahsan will plead guilty in the U.S. Why a British MP is frightened of suspected terrorists admitting their guilt in our closest ally’s courts is anyone’s guess. Presumably he thinks the U.S. judicial system is crooked: if so, he should at least have the courage to say it.”
Despite his portfolio, Khan has said nothing about this development. Must have slipped his mind with all that campaigning for Mayor of London…
The Court of Appeal has ruled that even if Mitchell wins any legal action against the Sun, the former Chief Whip will not be able to recover any of his costs.
As Guido reported at the time, High Court judge Master Victoria McCloud punished Mitchell’s lawyers, including celeb barrister David Sherborne, for failing to submit paperwork on time and his appeal failed this morning.
Which might explain the somewhat budget nature of his press conference yesterday.
The Old Bailey have been hearing from Dom Loehnis, a former Telegraph journo turned head-hunter and close old friend of the Prime Minister. Called by the prosecution, Loehnis has told the court that he sat next to Rebekah Brooks at David Cameron’s fortieth Birthday party hosted at the PM’s grace and favour country pad Chequers in 2010. The conversation was rather fruity:
As early as 2010, Brooks did not believe Coulson could survive in N0.10:
Yet he didn’t jump until 2011?
Loehnis came onto the police radar when a latter he wrote to Brooks after she resigned from News International was discovered. Sharp intakes of breath in Downing Street this afternoon….