Today in Court: Former Tory Whips Will Testify Against Mitchell

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…

#GayCakeGate Breaks Promise to Protect Religious Freedoms

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…

MPs Debate Recall

recall

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… 

Judge Bins Much Mitchell Evidence

plebgate-mitchell-sun

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…

Meanwhile Over in High Court 24

plebgate-mitchell-sun

COURT 24

Before MR JUSTICE MITTING

Thursday, 16th October 2014

At half past 10 Jury List

APPLICATION NOTICE

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…

MailOnline Breaks Judge’s Libor Gagging Order

“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…

Loverson Lawyer Sherborne Off Mitchell Case

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…

Met Hack Phone of Sun Journalist

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.

Meanwhile Over at the High Court

COURT 12

MR JUSTICE WARBY

Wednesday, 20th August 2014

At 2 o’clock

FOR JUDGMENT

TLJ14/0733 Tim Yeo MP v Times Newspapers Ltd

UPDATE:

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?

EHRC: All Women Shortlists Are Unlawful

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).

Starmer to Miliband: I Like You, Just As You AreFormer CPS Boss Favourite for Holborn Safe Seat

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…”

Their Friendship Aside, Sadiq Khan Still Has Ahmad Questions

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…

More Bad News for Mitchell

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.

Brooks 'Discussed Phone Hacking' at Chequers

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….

The Laws an Ass

https://twitter.com/TomHarrisMP/status/402446611244384256

Whatever could he mean. That’s the £40,000 question…

Top Hacking Lawyer Relocating to LA

Mark Lewis, the phone hacking lawyer leading the fight against the Mirror, is off to sunny LA:

Dear All

In perhaps one of the worst kept secrets, I will be leaving the UK on Friday to take up permanent residence in Los Angeles.

I will still be pursuing those cases in the UK and will undoubtedly be back in London on a regular basis re NGN and MGN. I do have cases that will be pursued in the USA.

I will still be available on this email address and my English mobile number. I will forward my US cell phone details next week.

Thank you all for your contacts over the years.

Best regards

Mark Lewis
Partner
Taylor Hampton Solicitors Limited

Can anyone think of any New York/LA based former tabloid editors who might not appreciate the new arrival on their home-ground?

Quote of the Day

Remember Piers Morgan once lied

“I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.”

Briscoe and Clifford Plead Not Guilty

A busy morning in court today for defendants that regular Guido readers will be familiar with. The barrister and part-time judge Constance Briscoe has pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice over the Huhne case and Max Clifford has denied 11 sex related charges dating from 1965-85. Denis MacShame will have to plead next month too…

Exclusive to All Papers: Murdoch Huhne Affair Conspiracy

Huhne is trying to paint himself as the victim of the Murdoch press because he called for a hacking inquiry from the frontbench, blaming everyone but himself for his own misdemeanours once again this morning. Huhne has used his time inside to work out who caused the end of the marriage (Rupert Murdoch) and who led to him being sent down (Rupert Murdoch):

“The News of the World sparked the end of my marriage, but another Murdoch title, the Sunday Times, then groomed my ex-wife until she told them about the speeding points. The political editor bought dinners, sent flowers, offered breaks at smart hotels, and reassured her that she would not face any unpleasant consequences (such as prison).

Four successive weeks as the splash in the Sunday Times ensured our joint prosecution. The Crown Prosecution Service loves a celebrity trial. It was the end of my political career, and it locked up my ex-wife too. She was just another “burned contact” for the Murdoch press.”

Bear in mind that the original Carina-affair story had a public interest angle because he put pictures of his family on his election leaflets (above). Murdoch cunningly got the affair story and the picture into the News of the World’s bitter rival the Sunday People, then got the Sunday Times’ rival Mail on Sunday to first make the running on the speeding points story after forcing Huhne to pervert the course of justice. He is delusional if he thinks this was a Murdoch-press conspiracy. The Sunday Times’ editor John Witherow really was not convinced the story would lead anywhere, the political editor Isabel Oakeshott had a hard time convincing Witherow the story had legs, most journalists believed that there would never be enough evidence to get Huhne charged. Only when the police raided the family home and got the evidence of the text messages did many in Fleet Street finally believe there was a chance he could be convicted. The CPS were very wary of charging a cabinet minister, they asked the police to get more evidence when they first came back with a dossier saying they had a case. Huhne’s enemies in the media – like this blog – detested him for personal and ideological reasons… 

Claire Perry Concedes Guido Didn’t “Sponsor” Hacking

Guido can now happily report that Tory MP Claire Perry has backed down after her bizarre claim that Guido ‘sponsored’ hacking pranksters who uploaded hardcore images onto the anti-porn campaigner’s website. Perry has conceded:

“For the purpose of clarity, I have never stated or indeed believe that you organised the hacking and am quite happy to make that view public.”

The government internet adviser’s offending tweets claiming that Guido sponsored the hacking have now been deleted after Guido’s lawyers demanded that she remove them and withdraw the crazy and technologically illiterate claims which she had made.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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