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Monday Message 03.06.13


  • Do Right Fear No One; Chairman’s Comment
  • A Meeting with Lord McNally and friends
  • MOJ spending for 2012: What a scandal
  • A big hug of thanks and congratulation to those who do
  • Eddie Stobart’s the Con is confirmed
  • More Satire from the Western Circuit
  • What’s in the Press
  • Further Protest: 4th June: 1 minutes silence and more
  • Other Consultation Responses Published
  • DNA: A helpful update by Forensic Access
  • E-Petition: Save our Justice System
  • E-Petition: Save the Probation-Service

1. Do Right Fear No One: Chairman’s Comment.

Too often maybe I have been guilty of being the messenger of doom. I hope it is that in part which has galvanised everyone so wonderfully. However, this week I am in optimistic mood. The Labour Party are now under whip to oppose Mr Grayling’s ridiculously plans. Quite a change from three months ago. I have received assurances from on high that should they win the next election they will sit down with myself and others and design a system which is in the interests of all and saves the tax payer money. Given that opportunity, we can do exactly that. The Justice Select Committee sits on the 11th June, taking evidence from myself and others. It membership is as follows:-

Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith (Chair): Liberal Democrat

Steve Brine: Conservative

Jeremy Corbyn: Labour

Rehman Chishti: Conservative

Nick de Bois: Conservative

Gareth Johnson: Conservative

Rt Hon Elfyn Llwyd: Plaid Cymru

Seema Malhotra: Labour

Andy McDonald: Labour

Yasmin Qureshi: Labour

Graham Stringer: Labour

Mike Weatherley: Conservative

There is more concern being expressed in the press than ever, there is unity within the professions like we have never known it and all of you are getting involved in the struggle like never before. Has the ring of a plan coming together. Lets us all keep up the good work.


2. A Meeting with Lord McNally and friends.

On Thursday I met with Lord McNally finally. This came as something as a surprise as hither too both he and Mr Grayling had studiously avoided me. Mr Grayling still does. I had about an hour and 15 with him. Ms Guppy was present throughout, but never uttering a word. The look on her face told its own story. Lord McNally, listened expressing surprise and what appeared to be genuine interest, often. What if anything I or anyone can read in to such exchanges with politicians I know not. He was left in no doubt why these plans were so disastrous and where the savings could be made. He still would not tell me how much the government were sitting on in terms of restrained assets. The impression I got was that the restrained assets pot was a feeding trough for too many competing departments. He constantly referred to me as putting forward the case for the prosecution. If that is what I was doing, I heard nothing by way of defence. He complained that his civil servants were getting a hard time at the road shows, when it was the ministers who were responsible. I pointed out that he and Mr Grayling could protect their civil servants if they came and took the brick bats. Somehow, I do not think he and Mr Grayling will be taking up that offer. I doubt that the strength of our arguments will persuade those in the MOJ itself, given they were capable of devising such a scheme in the first place. Yet I believe there are now many who believe these proposals are unworkable and that may yet force a re-think.

3. MOJ spending for 2012: What a scandal.

Inside times published the 2012 MOJ spending recently, HERE
It makes for some very interesting reading. This brilliant letter makes the point.

We trust that when Mr Osborne announced a 10% cut in the MOJ budget, HERE He had in mind scrapping altogether and/ or re-negotiating some of the more ludicrous MOJ contracts. Why do I doubt that? Why is it so easy for the private sector to make such favourable arrangements with Government? Maybe Price Waterhouse Coopers who are investigating the contracts with G4S and Serco for the provision of very expensive tagging equipment will tell us; details HERE

Just a thought, should there not be a statutory prohibition against any politician or civil servants joining any firm where they have played any part in negotiating any contract with them. Maybe once this consultation is out of the way we should get another petition going?

4. A big hug of thanks and congratulation to those who do.

The effort being put in by those who do is quite extraordinary. Our consultation response committee consisting of:
Chair: Max Hill QC
Secretary: Gillian Jones
Members: Nigel Lithman QC, David Hislop QC, Paul Bogan QC, Ed Vickers, Lesley Bates,  Ian West, Mark Fenhalls, Chris Henley, Valerie Charbit and Shauna Ritchie deserve a huge vote of thanks. But it is not just the committee members. Our only and first honorary member Sir Anthony Hooper and his wife Fiona have been of huge assistance. To them I have to add the names of Bill Waddington (CLSA) Richard Atkinson (Law Society) Aktar Ahmed and Greg Powell (LCSA) all of whom have worked ceaselessly in conjunction with the Bar to beat these proposals. The list does not end there. It is all of you who work so hard in the world of blog and tweet that is helping to turn the tide.
Here is a link to all the interesting blogs that are out there.
Save UK justice: the blogs
Then there are those of you who email me, text me, phone me with ideas and offers of support.
You are all of you brilliant, fantastic, and the profession is proud of you all.
Thank you.

5. Eddie Stobart’s the Con is confirmed.

One of my undercover operatives rang up Eddie Stobart’s posing as a client. It was confirmed to them, as we expected that Stobart’s have not a single barrister on their books. They simply charge a fee for directing the public to what they can get themselves for free. There is a very easy way to stop this nonsense and that is to enshrine in our code of conduct a rule that prevents any direct access barrister taking a referral from an agent who has charged the public for that service, simples.

6. More Satire from the Western Circuit.

Satire can often bring home a point in a way that hits home. Here is another great example of your work, this time from my friends on the Western Circuit. PCT exposed:
Mr Lamb was nothing short of a child prodigy. At infants school he already knew his ABC and loved the BFG. He watched the BBC and ITV and had the OED on DVD.  He was fascinated by letters of all shapes and sizes. His mother was worried he had an unhealthy obsession for alphabet soup but no doubt he would grow out of that.
Naturally he achieved straight As in his GCSEs and A Levels. He obtained a BA at UCL and was made Doctor of Letters with his PHD. But he didn’t like the FT or anything to do with 123. Letters were his thing.
He gained a distinction in his LPC and started an incredibly successful career on the High Street in London. He sailed through the SQM and was given an ever-decreasing SMP by the LSC until the latter was turned into the LAA at huge, but as yet, unidentified public expense.
Just when things looked as if they couldn’t get any better Mr Lamb was sent a very long 164 page letter by the MOJ explaining that he would have to undergo BVT or PCT. Or was it ECT? Whatever it was he got very excited by that. He couldn’t believe his luck. Oodles of acronyms he’d never heard of before but, more importantly, the opportunity to make lots of LSD (or libra sestertius denarius in old money). The rates did in fact seem to be in shillings but that must have been a typo just as the above acceptable level of quality reference must have been as well. No one in his right mind in the rest of the country was going to bid apart from a few HGVs so he would have all the work. He couldn’t wait.
He went along to see that nice Dr Slaughter at the MOJ Roadshow to find out what to do. Everyone else kept banging on about boring numbers such as -17.5% that Mr Lamb had no interest in even if he could understand them. And why did all the other solicitors and barristers there keep asking about £220M and where the figure came from? And what did quality have to do with anything? If they didn’t want to bid that was their choice. Mr Lamb was a firm believer in choice. Dr Slaughter said she would look after everyone and tell them how to fill in the application form even if she hadn’t devised the bidding process yet. There was plenty of time to sort out irrelevant details.
As for how you got a contract that was blindingly obvious. You decided what was the least you could possibly survive on then halve it. Even Mr Lamb could work that one out. You didn’t need a BSC in Economics to see that. Then you were guaranteed a fair share of the work by surname initial. Right up Mr Lamb’s street.  It was an omen. He had to bid PDQ.
Prize-giving for London N and E arrived. He waited expectantly with the other successful bidders in that arbitrarily defined area of 27 contracts. He couldn’t believe his luck. He was in esteemed company: TESCO, SERCO, BILKO, HARPO, GROUCHO and STOBBO amongst others. All masters in their respective fields.
But wait.  Something was going wrong as Dr Slaughter was handing out the envelopes. GROUCHO wasn’t happy with the Xs. He’d had a wonderful evening but this wasn’t it. TESCO was used to dealing in GGs but got too many Qs which was not good for business.  HARPO was speechless so no one knew what he’d got. BILKO, with his Ts, had already started getting everybody else’s clients to change their surnames by deed poll to Too-Thick. While STOBBO was very unhappy with the Zs. Unless a herd of zebras was arrested on Hampstead Heath he had no chance of making enough money to pay privately for his choice of defence representation in his forthcoming trial for allegedly lying in court. Mr Lamb thought STOBBO looked a little like a wounded animal.
It was nothing short of shambolic and really needed an interpreter to sort it all out. But there wasn’t one. COCO had won that contract.
Still, some people would complain about anything. Mr Lamb knew he would be alright. He’d deliberately pitched his bid so low he would get something commensurate with it: the last contract. He was a master of the A to Z but unfortunately had no idea how to count. Nor it seems did the MOJ.
Poor old Mr Lamb. When he opened envelope 27 he was left with FA.
All he could do was write a long letter complaining to Dr Slaughter. But she couldn’t promise to read it in full, only to consider it.
Mr Lamb came away thinking there was no longer any justice in the world. Which was a shame. Because every civilised person knows what justice is whether he can spell it or not.
Once lost, though, it never returns.

7. What’s in the Press

Sarah Vine on the privatisation of the Court Service; The Guardian
The Reality of Life at the Coal Face
Claire Montgomery: Financial Times
Sarah Forshaw: Evening Standard
Alistair McDonald; The Telegraph
Chris Grayling responds and misleads in the process; The Telegraph
If Mr Grayling were prepared to tell the country the truth about his proposals it would be one thing but he is not. In responding to Alistair McDonald’s reason piece he says that an individual will not be hit unless they individually earn over £100,000. I am afraid Mr Grayling you fail to point out that your proposals envisage a joint income of over £37,500 after tax etc. Or does your article represent a change of heart as opposed to a misleading spin?

Proposals to limit legal aid for judicial review will undermine the rule of law; The Telegraph
Are the MOJ moving the goalposts on the required savings? Stephen Bird
90 of the Best Sound a Warning; The Telegraph
Gregory Bull; Wales online

8. Further Protest: 4th June: 1 minutes silence and more.

Two protests happen on Tuesday.

The first a one minutes silence for justice outside every court in the land at 9.59 am. Details HERE

We urge your support

In the afternoon:
Save UK Justice Demo
We urge your support again

9. Other Consultation Responses Published

A) Garden Court North release their response to Chapter 5 of the MOJ proposal HERE
B) Extradition lawyers’ response to Legal Aid Consultation published on 5 St Andrew’s Hill Chambers’ website (28 May 2013) HERE
This response was written on behalf of a group of specialist extradition practitioners from 5 St Andrew’s Hill Chambers and law firms Dalton Holmes Gray, Kaim Todner, Kingsley Napley, Hodge Jones and Allen, Lawrence & Co and Tuckers.
The response supports the submissions of the CBA and London Criminal Courts Solicitors Associations, stating that the proposals are “unworkable, discriminatory and contrary to the interests of justice.”
“The proposal to harmonise all cases in the Magistrates’ Court is simplification without thought or care.” (para 16)
“The proposals that all cases should be paid a fixed fee of c£400 or less for competitive tender will be completely unworkable and untested for extradition cases. If introduced, the scheme will apply without any period of adjustment.” (para 17)
In reply to the question “Do you agree with the proposed scope of criminal legal aid services to be competed?” the response is no. The reasons given include that the scope is too broad, that extradition proceedings are particularly complex and unpredictable thus making it hard to estimate time and caseload. The response also highlights the difficulty in responding to the proposals “because the specific arrangements do not fit in with the specialist Duty scheme.” (para 28)
“The current proposals do not reflect the economic reality and are not viable.” (para 30, relating to Q9 on the proposal under the competition model to introduce 3 year contracts with possibility of extension).
Q12: do you agree on division of London into three procurement areas? The response is no, because extradition cases are only heard at one Court and the division would exclude specialist firms.
Q17: general question on agreeing with the competition model.
“This proposal is fundamentally flawed in extradition just as ni crime. Even if this level of competition is desirable, the lack of ability to choose a solicitor means that there would be no effective competition. The present market is competitive because the specialist firms receive the highest volume of work. THe choice of properly qualified specialist is of paramount importance of the individual, the administration of justice and the smooth running of the court system.”
C) Argent Chambers’ Response HERE

10. E-Petition: 10 Friends for Justice

The e-petition has now got over 71,000 signatures the target as you all must know by now is 100,000 plus. I want to repeat Nigel’s plea of last week for all to email the link below to at least 10 friends asking them to do the same on receipt. The Government in an effort to thwart the petition has published a response HERE.  We trust that when you read it, it will only encourage you to redouble your efforts to get the petition over its target.


This kind of action gives you a for taste of what will happen if the private sector gets it’s hands on the publically funded legal profession. No doubt all employees will be contractually restricted from expressing any view that is perceived to be contrary to the company’s interest regardless of the fact it might not be in the public interest to suppress such views.

Sign the Petition HERE


11. E-Petition Save the Probation-Service

Whilst I have your attention on E-Petitions can I interest you in the e-petition to save the probation service. You might want to consider what a danger a privatised probation service could prove to be for the citizens of this country. There is no-one who would not have shuddered at the awful death of Drummer Lee Rigby. Those accused of his killing are both converts to the Islamic faith. The biggest school for indoctrination in fundamental Islamic beliefs is handily hidden away from our eyes is the prison system, 13% of whose population are followers of Islam. That compares with a country wide population of 2.8 million, 4.5% of our population. Lord McNally, when I saw him this week said that before he saw this statistic he thought that those of Islamic Faith were law abiding citizens. I pointed out to him they were, the problem we faced was with those who converted to fundamental Islamic believes. Those accused of the dreadful killing of Drummer Lee Rigby are West African, Richard Reid, the shoe bomber was a British convert etc. How does anyone imagine that a privatised prison service and probation service could possibly cope with this very real threat to our society or even have any interest in doing so. This struggle is not only about the pointless waste of money that these proposal represent it is about how the very fabric of our society will be threatened if we do not do something about it.
Do Right, Fear No One
Michael Turner QC

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