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Irish Supreme Court judgment on Hague Convention and adoption in England.

The link is to the judgment of the Irish Supreme Court on matters relating to the Hague Convention and adoption.

A number of parents have won legal cases in Ireland which prevented their children being returned to England and placed in care on the basis that this would lead to adoption.

This case was an interesting one because the children were not actually in care or even subject to a care order, but that care proceedings were "pending". (Viz an application had been made to court.)

The first test in international public family law is one as to which country has jurisdiction. This is based on "habitual residence". It is now clearly the case that if court proceedings have started in England then the habitual residence is accepted as being in England even if the family have moved to Ireland.

The case has also looked at the question as to whether non-Irish citizens have Irish Constitutional Rights, but without resolving the issue in any way.

The judgment is a long and …

Florence wins Radio Prize

See the link for the website dealing with Florence Bellone's winning of the reporting prize for reporting on the English Family Courts scandal.

Quoting from the website:
Title of the article
Great Britain: The Stolen Children
Name of media
RTBF
The Grand Jury distinguished the report for its investigative merit in highlighting a human rights issue occurring in a highly-developed European Member State. The piece was characterised as ‘a technically impressive, investigative report into shocking and relatively unknown human rights violations’.

Vicky Haigh - imprisoned for 3 years for saying hello

The link is to a story behind the paywall of the Sunday Times relating to Friday's jailing at around 4pm of Vicky Haigh for 3 years.

On the way to the meeting in London (at which she asked a question of Anthony Douglas which was one of the reasons for which Doncaster MDC tried to have her imprisoned) she saw her daughter and went to say hello.

At a time at which the press would not ordinarily be there on Friday she was given 3 years.

Doesn't seem right to me.

It remains that she has not yet managed to appeal the original family court decisions mainly because the solicitors are holding onto the file.

It is also the case that the promised publication of various documents by the authories promised earlier this year has not happened.

I suppose keeping her in jail will make it even harder for her to challenge the original decision.

Films of Birmingham in the past

There is a youtube channel Idowish12 which includes a lot of films of Birmingham's past.

For example:


and

CTB and Imogen Thomas

The CTB v Imogen Thomas case raises a number of constitutional concerns about the accountability and reliability of secret justice. On 20th May 2011 the Neuberger Committee reported on secret justice clarifying what should happen. These procedures were not followed (in this case) on a number of occasions. On 2nd November 2011 there was a hearing which was not even listed. On 11th November 2011 the press were excluded without explanation. On 25th November 2011 there was a hearing with a decision for which no judgment was given until yesterday. The court should have clearly discharged the original injunction some months ago.

The key issue, however, is that Secret Justice leads to miscarriages of justice. Secret Justice often means No Justice. In this case it is still unclear whether Imogen Thomas would have been able to prove her case had CTB not been named in parliament. What is clear is that the original injunction would have prevented Imogen Thomas’s lawyers from doing nec…

Hollande commits to renegotiate new european treaty

I noticed in Le Monde over breakfast this morning that the Socialist candidate for France's presidential elections has said he will renegotiate the treaty.

I have found the story in the online version of the newspaper and that is the link.

When I told the Minister for Europe of this I was informed that it was on Radio 4 this morning.

Updated express story

The express story has been updated to include more than was in the printed story.

It now includes the following comments from the British Association of Social Workers:
Nishra Mansuri, of the British Association of Social Workers, recognised the whistleblower’s comments and said: “It’s a major concern. The cuts are creating so much pressure for social workers that the right decisions are not being taken.

“We’re storing up so many problems, but the odds are against us.”

Whistleblower reveals truth about Childrens Service management

The link is to a story in today's Sunday Express about how misleading reports and psychobabble are used to destroy families.

This is an extract:

The whistleblower, a father who works for a large authority in the south of England, said: “We’re being pressured to go against what we think is right for families.
“Personally, I’ve written reports and been told ‘You are too positive with this family. We’ll never get it to court unless you make it more negative’.
“Although it goes against what you feel is right, you feel under an obligation.”
He went on: “In order to get a child through to a child protection conference, we’re told to make the situation look bad, and worse than it actually is.
“We don’t necessarily make things up but we can change the emphasis.”

He said these reports were used to take children out of a family home and in many cases placed for adoption. “It destroys families, but the newer, younger social workers see this as the norm, they just want to toe the line with their bos…

Europe and the Media - Cameron's Veto

A number of journalists have phoned me to ask my view as to the use of the veto. I think Cameron was right to use the veto on changes to the treaties. It is entirely right that the 17 Eurozone countries resolve how to get greater fiscal unity which is essential for the success of the Euro and consequential success of the UK. However, that does not mean that we have to sign up to that. We should not try to stand in their way and prevent them resolving their difficulties. However, it is not surprising that unanimity amongst the 27 EU states is difficult to achieve.

When I tell the media this strangely enough they are not interested in interviewing me. The story they are looking for is "coalition in trouble over veto". I am not surprised at the editorial approach, however.

The party is saying that he did not use a "veto". I suppose a "veto" is technically different to not agreeing something that needs unanimity. However, the effect is the same.

A difficult hand played well

The Autumn Statement was today. There are some innovative proposals in it (such as using QE for smaller businesses). I was concerned that we continued to protect the poorest in society. The cost of living has gone up substantially. I was concerned to ensure that the full inflation increase of 5.2% occurred for the poorest who find it hardest to make ends meet.

Life is getting harder for many people across the world. However, we need to always remember the effect on the least well off who find it hardest to protect themselves against economic shifts.

To that extent the government has been dealt a difficult hand, but is managing to play to well.

The best test of the economy is to compare it to other similar countries. We are now doing better than countries which suffered from a similar deficit (according to OECD predictions - Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain) and the Eurozone average.

There will always be international pressures on the country. Those are the major cause of our current …

Another radio programme in Belgium

This is another radio programme which looks at the wrongful abduction of children in England done by the state.

It is, however, mainly in French. (including one of my interviews talking about constitutional procedures). It does include a recording of an arrest with french translation.

Referendum campaign on issue of elected mayor

Last night's meeting on the issue of whether or not we have a directly elected mayor was an interesting experience.

In the week beforehand I had expressed concern that there were too many speakers and it was unbalanced. I thought that having equal numbers of speakers from each side of the argument was good practice.

The initial proposal was 7 speakers in favour (plus the chair also being a supporter) and 2 speakers against. I asked James Hutchings to come along, but initially the organisers didn't want him to speak.

Finally they agreed to allow him to speak although Miles Weaver's tweet about it was " I spent far too much time sorting out John Hemming MP tonight & his whims. He is so out of touch, I accommodated his needs but planet, diff?"

Personally I don't think it is a "whim" to ask for each side to have equal opportunities to speak. A balance of 7 (plus chair) against 2 is really nothing even close to equal. Even 7 (plus chair) against 3 is…

Two E-petitions Jersey and the Family Justice Review

People campaigning for the release of Stuart Syvret were having a problem getting an e-petition tabled in support of my Early Day Motion. I, therefore, tried to get a motion tabled. It has taken about 2 weeks (and being raised at two select committees), but we now have the e-petition.

That is here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22394

There is also one in support of my EDM calling for the scrapping of the family justice review report here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22695

The failure of Article 8

The failure of the UK's judiciary in interpreting Article 8 of ECHR can be expressed as:
"Joking about a footballer becomes a criminal offence, but the state is allowed to steal children from poor people at a whim."

Not good.

Secrecy, injunctions and the rule of law

Court secrecy and injunctions act to undermine the rule of law.

What is interesting in the courts at the moment is the revelation that many of the injunctions that were granted should not, in fact, been granted. A number of these were granted on the basis of allegations that were untrue and have not been substantiated.

One of the problems with secret hearings (and we have still been having some unlisted hearings - something that is not supposed to happen) is that the judge cannot him or herself have confidence that the judge has heard all the evidence that is relevant to the case.

One sided hearings (ex parte hearings) which are held in secret are perhaps the most unreliable forum in which decisions are made. One side puts their case. No-one else (other than the judge and the one side to the case) knows that it is happening. The judge then makes a decision.

It was the case for many interim injunctions that a one sided secret hearing was all that happened and things then stopped.

The o…

Fuel Prices

The link is to yesterday's debate on fuel prices. I raised my concern that we need to look at the issue of all energy prices in a scarce environment.

I think the idea of having a quota of cheap fossil hydrocarbon would be a sensible way forward as part of an international plan to manage demand and keep down capital transfers.

The Greek non-referendum

The cancellation of the Greek referendum is not surprising. It is, however, a good example of an issue where a government really has no choice.

The problem is that if the alternative route had been taken then at a point people would not have been paid and the problem would be much bigger. Many people would then regret having taken the action that they took (or moreso inaction).

This is the real problem with Labour's proposals for the UK. It is clear to me that they would be disastrous for the economy and would cause greater cuts. However, luckily, they are not being tried out.

Family Justice Review

Unsurprisingly, for a panel dominated by people who run the family justice system and without representation from those who go through it, the Family Justice Review has essentially defended the status quo with a few cost saving tweaks.

Cash is King - and Greece

The Greek referendum will be an interesting exercise. At some point the Greek government runs out of cash. After that point no-one gets paid. I suppose they can start by holding back on big payments, but after a point salaries are not paid, pensions are not paid, suppliers are not paid.

Cash becomes "king" because no-one will give the government any credit unless they are forced to.

The government could print a "new drachma", but I am not sure what that would be exchangeable into.

They cannot simply refuse to pay the outstanding debt because the other countries would not accept that and they cannot isolate themselves.

If they are going to hold a referendum they will need to do this quickly.

Press release on trauma centres

This is worth repeating for information:


High quality emergency trauma care moves one step closer
The introduction of a regional trauma care system that will see people who suffer major trauma injuries get access to the best possible emergency trauma care moved one step closer today, following the decision to approve the introduction of three designated major trauma centres for the West Midlands, by the West Midlands Strategic Commissioning Group (WMSCG).

The WMSCG, on behalf of the 17 West Midlands Primary Care Trusts, approved the recommendation for a new regional trauma care system to be introduced from March 2012, at its board meeting on Monday 31/10/11.

A regional trauma care system will see people who suffer major trauma get access to specialist medical teams, with all the necessary specialist services available on one hospital site. Patients will have access to high quality emergency trauma care 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Major trauma is the name given to severe injuries w…

The Robin Hood Tax (aka Stamp Duty)

Using the name "Robin Hood Tax" is misleading because it implies that it is a new tax.

The UK has had a Financial Transaction Tax for many years. It is called Stamp Duty. The logic is quite simple. For transactions in shares to have any merit then there has to be a legal system. People should pay on an ad valorem basis for this.

This happens in England and in Ireland. England charges 0.5% and Ireland 1%.

My view is a simple one which is that the tax havens piggyback on top of the global systems which are substantially maintained by the higher tax countries. It is, therefore, quite reasonable that such a transactional tax should be paid more widely.

Hence I am supporting the extension of this to a global system. I have, however, been quite clear that it cannot be done unilaterally. This would simply move trading around to locations without the transaction tax and actually would be likely to reduce the UK's Stamp Duty revenue.

The Tobin tax is a proposal to also tax cur…

The European Union and Project Creep

There was a good example of Project Creep at one of the European Scrutiny Committees this week.

There is a proposal for the EU to develop its own criminal law and prosecutory apparatus.

This, which we can opt out of anyway, is a good example of project creep.

Matters relating to the various European Bodies are matters of detail. There is, however, a general point. The general point is that of who decides at which level something should be handled. Everyone can agree that subsidiarity means that decisions should be taken at the lowest sensible level. The problem is that if that decision (the decision as to which level to decide something at) is taken at the EU wide level it will tend to want decisions at a higher level.

The prosecutory apparatus issue is a good example of this. There is no substantial reason for developing a formal body of criminal law or prosecutory apparatus at a Europe wide level. There happens to be a common law backstop of a private prosecution in any event.

Comment following Sentencing

Obviously no-one would wish to be here. It would have been possible for Christine to have had a prison sentence following the assault in April 2010 (for which she received a caution). Hence a suspended sentence is not surprising.

Had she pleaded Guilty she would have most likely had a conditional discharge. Hence we have to look at the issues that encouraged her to plead not guilty. One aspect is that her story was bought up by a national newspaper in 2010. In theory the PCC rules are such that given that she has been convicted she should not be paid. She was aware of this. It would, in fact, be wrong for her to make a profit out of the process by being paid more by a newspaper than she has to pay in costs and legal fees.

Clearly the financial inducement to be found not guilty was there. I am not saying that this was intentional. It can not be certain that this was the issue that drove her to plead not guilty. However, I do not think defendants in criminal trials should have t…

Magna Carta 1297 - Article 29

The link is to the currently in force version of Magna Carta article 29 which says:
NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor [X1condemn him,] but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.


We should not "sell ... justice"

This is relevant to the Clarkson injunction.

Referendum on Europe

I have posted before about the European Questions. It is sad that the public debate never really gets into any of the details of this issue. There will be a debate on Monday which has a motion proposing a referendum which has as one of it's options a renegotiation.

I would like to make my underlying view clear.

I do not support an "ever closer union". I do see that there is a role for a pan-european organisation dealing with trade and co-operation, but I do not want to see the centralisation of political power into a supranational body.

There has been a tendency for people to either believe that they should be part of the EU and accept everything or not. In fact now it is becoming much clearer that there will be different structures in europe particularly around the Eurozone. That could quite readily result in the non-Euro EU membership being more like the EEA.

Since the introduction of qualified majority voting there has been an ability for decisions to be made withou…

Occupy Wall Street and Technology

There are quite a few demonstrations going on about economic exclusion. It is not surprising as a society where the numbers of people who participate in society is continue reducing is not a good society to have.

The error is, however, to believe that it arises from capitalism per se. There is a real problem, but it arises from the economic changes that result from technology.

Whereas in the past large numbers of people used to get reasonably good rates from pay from metal bashing, now machines do a lot more of the work. The people who use the machines make a good living, those who own the machines make a much better living and there are a lot of people not working on the same projects.

If we are going to have greater economic participation we need to respond to that and aim to share out the participation. There are difficulties in doing this in an interconnected world, but it must be recognised.

Firstly, that there is a real problem. There is.
Secondly, that communism is not the ans…

Yesterday's speech on the economy

The link is to the debate yesterday on the economy. I did not mention unemployment in that speech because time was limited and the debate was about the macro economic picture.

Obviously the government does need to work to reduce unemployment. However, that has to fit within the spending envelope which is why I have previously made proposals that reduce unemployment without unsustainable demand from public spending.

Available on Video here


The Opposition are complaining that the forecasts show that the Government will have to borrow £46 billion more than was previously forecast. Their solution is to borrow more money. They are proposing to borrow an additional £31 billion in any one year—I think that that is the precise figure. I asked the shadow Chancellor what he thought the limit on borrowing should be, but he did not answer the question. One presumes therefore that he has no idea what the limit is. Well, the limit on borrowing is called the International Monetary Fund, when it has…

Where is the Official Solicitor?

I link to the judgment released today where Wall P recognised that he erred in law in imposing a suspended sentence on Elizabeth Watson when he released her.

It has recently been drawn to my attention that the Official Solicitor is supposed to act to protect people convicted of contempt of court. I wonder what they have been doing.

Obviously they may have been involved in this particular decision, but it is not clear who drew Wall P's attention to his mistake on this case.

Referendum on Europe - the Spanish Question

I have previously posted this diagram of European Bodies:


It shows the complexity of the different bodies in Europe. There is a debate going about whether or not to have a "referendum on Europe".

The first question of course is what the referendum is about. There are those people who would like to leave all of the European bodies in the diagram (except perhaps the Common Travel Area - which isn't in the diagram).

If, then, we are to have that that brings in the question as to what happens to those UK citizens who would be required to return to the UK if the referendum passed.

Do they get a vote?

I would call this the Spanish Question. That is because there are a lot of UK citizens in Spain. Many would have to return if we left the EEA. This applies throughout Europe.

I think they should have a vote on this very significant issue. They are entitled to vote in General Elections so this is not an unreasonable suggestion. Many have paid many years of taxes in the UK then…

Adoption figures reports

I have linked to the BBC report on the numbers of babies adopted from care. There have always been very few of these as they are basically the babies that are abandoned at birth.

I am not sure myself that the Government are right to regret that fewer babies are abandoned at birth. I would think that it would be better if they were not abandoned. However, that is the government's view.

Similarly it is not enough to just look at the figures for adoptions. We need to look at what happens with the children. There has been a movement away from children returning to their parents, perhaps this is being reversed. We don't know.

Hence really there is not a lot that anyone who fully understands the care system should say. That, of course, does not stop Martin Narey from saying:
"The numbers are disappointing, but the tide is turning."

Tuition Fees and Labour

The news that Labour support the increase in tuition fees to 6K at the lower end, but not the higher end to 9k is an odd piece of news.

Basically under the coalition scheme the graduates in the bottom half of earnings are not affected by this proposal. Those who would benefit are those who earn in their life time more than the 52nd percentile.

In fact many of these would hardly be affected (those at the bottom end) and it is the higher earners that really benefit, but not the top earners.

This is an interesting political placing. We are trying to benefit lower earning households. Labour are trying to benefit the upper middle earning households.

John Hemming and the Sisters of Jazz at the Lib Dem Conference

For those interested in Jazz here are three of the numbers the band played at the Lib Dem Glee Club on Tuesday evening.



A good still:

Photo Jas Sansi

Band Website

l
l

Contradictions in Judgment in re: Watson

[2011] EWHC 2376 (Fam)Doncaster v Watson has been published in which Wall P says: "The first myth I wish to explode is that a person can be sent to prison "in secret". Nobody in this country is sent to prison for contempt of court "in secret"."

He also makes reference to:
[2007] EWCA Civ 248 Hammerton v Hammerton in which it is clear that someone was sent to prison "in secret". Hence he is wrong in that someone 'can be sent to prison "in secret"' and he has given an example of it. The contradiction is referred to in his own judgment.

I know of other more recent cases where people have been sent to prison in secret. Obviously I cannot name them here.

It is quite clear that secret trials are less reliable than those subject to public scrutiny. The key accountability of the judicial system (as a whole) is transparency and public accountability.

Prosecutions for Contempt are for all intents and purposes criminal prosecutions. Peo…

The First Amendment at the Lib Dem Conference

I spoke at a number of Fringes at the Conference. This was with the Freedom Assocation about the first amendment.

Greece and the Euro

The situation in Greece does seem to be coming to a head. If they don't sort their problems out then they won't have money to pay their liabilities.

I would argue that any country that has had to have a rescue of any form has gone through a form of bankruptcy. However, it is only at the point at which they really don't have any way of paying for things that they have the effects of insolvency in that people don't actually get paid.

In terms of international law they will still owe the debts that they have. Hence there is no rational route through which they would not comply with the proposals from the Eurozone.

It really does not matter how much the unions in Greece protest. They need to find a way of paying for their liabilities. They won't get an improved deal if they don't stick by the deals they have done to date. Creating a "New Drachma" still does not solve the issue of the liabilities they already have.

the NHS and Social Care bill amendments

Publicwhip (under new management) have now published the divisions. It is worth explaining the meaning of the amendment divisions pushed by Labour (as what they saw as the key issues).

Delay the abolition of Strategic Health Authorities I cannot understand the argument for delaying the abolition. Either they are worth keeping or should go. I also don't know why Labour really pushed this one. It shows quite a bureaucratic mentality.

replace "secure" with "provide or secure". This was one of the debates floating around driven in part by 38 degrees who have not helped their credibility. Basically the proposal is that if a new hospital is needed that the Secretary of State sets up a new NHS trust which provides the services. The amendment argued that potentially the Secretary of State should directly provide the services. I don't quite get the idea of that given that commissioning has been the approach for the NHS for decades. Hence it was really an unne…

Norman Scarth Freed

The Court of Appeal have reduced his sentence so he is now free. However, there really is a question asked when recording a court hearing is thought to be worse than looting.

Indeed if courts are now to be televised should we not compromise and keep out the cameras, but allow recording (even if the recordings are not broadcast).

Vicky Haigh - judgments published

The recent judgments have now been published in the Vicky Haigh case Doncaster v Haigh and Doncaster v Watson

I am not going to comment specifically on the Watson case.

I have always had and remain to have three concerns about the issues relating to Vicky Haigh. The first two were public.

Firstly, I was concerned that there was an attempt made to jail her for talking at a meeting in parliament. The meeting was one at which Anthony Douglas was answering questions and I was chairing. She asked a question of Anthony Douglas. When she asked this question she did not name herself, her daughter or her ex-husband. However, this was used by Doncaster as a reason why she should be imprisoned. She did name Doncaster.

I have some great difficulty with this from a constitutional perspective. The First Amendment to the US Constitution is specific about people's right to petition government. In the US that has been considered to involve all three estates of the constitution. In asking a …

Abortion and advice

There is quite a debate going on about an amendment that Nadine Dorries is promoting to the Health and Social Care Bill.

The first problem I have is that I have looked on the parliamentary website to find out precisely what the amendment is. I cannot find it. Hence it is difficult to comment precisely as to the amendment itself.

There are some simple principles, however.

It would be better if there were fewer abortions. The best way of achieving this is improved contraception. If a women is to have an abortion then the earlier this happens the better.

If, however, a woman has decided to have an abortion then she should not be forced into undergoing a long counselling process.

There, should, however be independent advice and counselling available for those who want it. Those advisors who work for providers are clearly subject to a conflict of interest. However, that does not necessarily prevent them giving advice.

To me the key is to ensure that women are made aware of various s…

NHS Reforms

Why does the NHS need updating?
The NHS is a national treasure. But despite the best efforts of staff, the NHS could deliver better care for patients. Right now around one in four cancer patients are only diagnosed when they turn up as emergencies. So although the NHS is good, it could be better still.

What is the purpose of the bill?
To update the NHS to give every patient the best possible health care by trusting family doctors, nurses, and other health experts to work with local people to decide, design and deliver the right health services to meet local need and deliver world class healthcare. The Health and Social Care Bill is designed to give every patient the best chance of surviving an illness like cancer, and the best quality of life if they have a long-term condition like diabetes.

It is basically about more control for patients, greater power for doctors and nurses and less central bureaucracy.

The Coalition’s plans to update the NHS will give patients the best-possible care…

Vicky Haigh's case, the Huffington Post and various campaigners

I have written an article about the problems with adversarial family justice on the Huffington Post

My own view is that the adversarial nature of family proceedings have made the whole process much harder to resolve and if any lesson is learnt from this that needs to be learnt.

I have also been criticised for the behaviour of Elizabeth Watson. There are a large number of people in England who are unhappy about the way the legal system operates. She is one of them.

I work with some of these people, but I do not work with others. Elizabeth Watson did contact my office. I advised her to obey the injunction and that her behaviour would be likely to result in her being jailed. I ended up having to ban her from being able to email me. I do not accept any responsibility for her behaviour. The court papers applying to imprison Elizabeth Watson were issued before I raised Vicky Haigh's case in the House of Commons.

I remain of the view that it was wrong for the authorities to attemp…

Vicky Haigh - yesterday's court hearing

Yesterday's court hearing brought into the public domain more about the case relating to Vicky Haigh.

It, however, has not brought into the public domain all of the issues relating to this case and the judiciary retain control of those aspects of the case.

I am not making any statement as to the details of the underlying care issue. The Judge who took the hearing yesterday was also the judge in P, C and S v The United Kingdom. The link gives the case report from ECtHR on Bailii. In this case the decision was found to be in contravention of a fair trial on a procedural basis.

The same judge (Sir Nicholas Wall) was also a judge in the case which is now RP v The United Kingdom. I have considerable concerns about the way that particular case was handled by the judges concerned.

It remains that I am making no public comment about the underlying care case in respect of Ms Haigh. However,

1. Even if the court's decision is 100% accurate - does that warrant the removal at birth…

Firing Bullets into the air

I always wondered about this issue. What goes up normally comes down (unless it reaches terminal velocity).

The link is to an interesting BBC story.

Who, What, Why: How dangerous is firing a gun into the air?

The rebel advance into Tripoli has been celebrated with gunfire

Libyan rebels have celebrated their advance into Tripoli by firing guns in the air. How hazardous is this?

It is, unarguably, an emphatic way to display one's jubilation.

Shooting an automatic weapon into the sky to signal an occasion one welcomes is a popular practice in much of the world, as the footage of Libyan anti-Gaddafi forces seizing the main square of the capital city has demonstrated.

Six months for recording a court hearing - Norman Scarth

The link is in Russian about the imprisonment of Norman Scarth who is actually 85. He has a complex history including a court hearing which found that he used a chainsaw to fight off bailiffs when he was 75. [a court judgment which is disputed see comments] However, that does not justify imprisoning him for 6 months for recording a court hearing (see the link and ask google to translate it if your Russian is not up to it).

It has got into the Argyll News

Because he has been held such that people cannot get to him to sign paperwork an application for a writ of Habeas Corpus was made today. This has been adjourned until next week.

The English judicial system is really not good at responding to major abuses of human rights by the judicial system.

Looting, the Riots, Families and the Role of the State

I described the events last week as a "game changer". I think they are as they highlight the substantial numbers of people who basically don't feel a personal commitment to following the rules of society and are willing to simply fight their own corner.

There seems to be a dispute between those who argue that it is a question of poverty and those who argue it is a question of discipline and law and order.

The problem is that actually it is both. Given a static situation in terms of discipline if there is greater poverty then there will be more people tempted to break the law. At the same time poverty in itself does not require that people don't follow the law.

Hence we need to look at both aspects and not pretend that either aspect doesn't matter.

The high levels of youth unemployment we see today are a problem. What the statistics have concealed, however, is that there have been growing numbers of people who are "economically inactive".

The jolt…

The looting, the police and politicians

I know there are people who are critical of the police. My own view is that I am supportive of the police action last week. It is always possible to dig little holes into someone's performance, but normally futile.

I think that Chief Constable Chris Simms of the West Midlands Police did a good job throughout the week and his management assisted in both bringing orders into the situation and also keeping things calm when they could have become much more difficult. I have personally thanked a number of the rank and file and our thanks as society should go out to them who have put themselves in harms way to deal with a difficult situation.

We must also thank Tariq Jahan for his efforts that assisted in dealing with a tragic and dreadful situation that could have been the flashpoint for further problems.

David Cameron and Ed Milliband are both doing speeches today. I think they need to get into the details of the issues. I would be interested in knowing how many of the children…

The best and the worst

The best people I met on my tour around the city centre were those who had come to help clear up. This is a photograph of the volunteer clean up crew.

Thanks to the efforts of the city council's staff who started work at 6am most of the mess had been cleared up by this point.

The aftermath of the worst is really looking at the attempts to steal a cashpoint machine.


All we had was an attempt to loot things. This does not warrant dressing up as anything more than this.

I am now updating my earlier post following meeting with The Chief Constable, other Police Officers and The Deputy Prime Minister.

The looting and vandalism (which is a concentration on looting and "free stuff") is done by ill disciplined youths who are out to get a small amount of money and get up to mischief. Nothing more should be read into it or the other events other than the event in Tottenham which was the catalyst. It is not as technically driven as people think although there is some organisat…

Where does it go from here

This is always the test of chart readers.

There is obviously an international element to the recent market movements. There is also recognition that even the US cannot simply fund demand on increasing debt.

I think there is also an August over-reaction as a result of many people being on holiday and people closing out positions. However, to hazard a guess I would not expect the market to go below the 2010 low.

I may, of course, be wrong. A goodly amount of weekend doomsaying could push the market lower. I think there is a 40% chance of bottoming out below the 2010 figure, but I am with a 60% chance of it bottoming out above that.

I think, however, that Labour's whinging about the government's policy of managing the deficit (too much too quickly) is now essentially proven to be wrong.

Hackgate - The Movie

A funny spoof trailer

Hat tip to Peter Black

The Adoption Target and its effect today

The Sunday Express today has a story about how over a thousand children each year continue to be wrongly adopted as a result in part of an error in calculating the adoption target.

Christopher Booker today in the Sunday Telegraph looks at an additional two case studies.

There is a lot of misinformation spread by civil servants (and parroted by ministers) about the adoption targets.

Each English Council with childrens services responsibility had a specific local target known as BV PI 163 or PAF C23. (Those are "Best Value Performance Indicator" or "Performance Assessment Framework".)

This was calculated as the number of children adopted from care each year by that local authority as a percentage of the total number of children that had been in care for at least 6 months as at the 31st of March of the same year. (The years go from 1st April to 31st March same as the financial years).

All local authorities had specific funding to encourage adoption and some also had fina…

Keep Families Together - Grandparents plus

The link is to an impressive campaign by Grandparents Plus about keeping families together rather than reaching for adoption orders ala Martin Narey.

The videos are well produced and deal with the real issues. They are quite emotive, but what they say is real and not a misrepresentation of the situation.

What Price Privacy

"What Price Privacy" is the name of a report written by the Information Commissioner published on 10th May 2006.

It gives details of what prices people charged to obtain information (often illegally) about other people.

I have always been more concerned about how the press obtain information than what is reported. However, it is worth looking at the report and in particular Table 1 on page 24.

TABLE 1: Tariff of charges in Motorman Case
Information required Price paid to Price charged to
‘blagger’ customer
Occupant search/Electoral roll check
(obtaining or checking an address)not known £17.50
Telephone reverse trace* £40 £75
Telephone conversion (mobile)* not known £75
Friends and Family £60 – £80 not known
Vehicle check at DVLA £70 £150 – £200
Criminal records check not known £500
Area search
(locating a named person
across a wide area)not known £60
Company/Director search not known £40
Ex-directory search £40 £65 – £75
Mobile telephone account
enquiries not known £750
Licence check not known…

Ofcom's broadband map

Ofcom have produced a map of Broadband availability. The link is the link to it. The real problem, however, is that it does not indicate what someone should expect in some of the really large counties such as Powys.

Broadband will vary across such counties so it is more of a management tool than a tool which really explains what someone should expect if they move to somewhere in such a county.

It is, however, something I find vaguely interesting so I thought I would repost it.

Launch of Jazz Festival in Birmingham - Digby Fairweather and John Hemming duet

This was the second time I have played with Digby Fairweather at the Jazz Festival. It is always a pleasure to accompany him.

Sadly, however, I have my duties to perform in London and as such will not be able to attend most of the festival. I am hoping to find some time to sit in at some of the summer events in Birmingham, however.

Pic: Merlin Daleman

Questions and Answers Ed Milliband Style

This interview was quite surreal. Whatever the question was the answer was essentially the same.

Labour support 20% VAT

Yesterday's finance bill.

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): I have found it odd recently that some private health insurers will pay those whom they insure to use the NHS. If that is the habit of private health insurance, where does the hon. Gentleman think the saving to the taxpayer is in allowing this tax relief?

Michael Connarty: I did not want to cite that example, although it is a good example of what happens when people use private health care and take resources away

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John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): I have found it odd recently that some private health insurers will pay those whom they insure to use the NHS. If that is the habit of private health insurance, where does the hon. Gentleman think the saving to the taxpayer is in allowing this tax relief?

Jonathan Edwards: The hon. Gentleman will be aware that I am in a different party from those on the shadow Front Bench and we do not normally negotiate on the clauses we table. I can only assume that my staff are m…