Maison Rouge

When the Almighty created Adam and Eve, in His infinite wisdom He built in the necessary procreative tools to ensure there would be lots of little Adams, Darrens, Evitas and Traceys frolicking through the Garden of Eden, all living the life of Riley till Kingdom come. Of course, as we well know, the serpent put his oar in, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But whilst the Almighty, again in His infinite wisdom, factored into woman a procreative inhibitor, known as the headache, thus giving her the occasional night off, no such inhibitor was factored into Adam. Headache be damned, if Eve wasn’t in the mood, no cold shower and a good book at bedtime was going to satisfy his carnal lust, and being weak and mortal, his fancies turned elsewhere.

Steve Wright, not that one, the other one, has just been convicted of the murders of five Ipswich prostitutes, and beneath the brutality and the tragic circumstances of the girls who were needlessly killed whilst offering their sexual favours, lies a deeper malaise which should be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Man’s carnal lust has been around since the dawn of time, as have prostitutes to service his needs. These are two incontrovertible facts, and so long as “Polite Society” ignores them, there will be more Steve Wrights, and more needless and tragic deaths. Pretending something isn’t there won’t make it go away.

So I ask, in a spirit of enquiry, why not have legalised brothels? The advantages to both clients and providers are obvious. The prostitutes can ply their trade in a comfortable and controlled environment, where they will be well protected. No need to expose themselves on dirty, unlit streets at the mercy of sexual predators. Clean and infection free bedrooms would be made available, clients would be vetted to ensure no foul play, and all the necessary protective devices would be in place. Clients would also benefit, refreshments made available, and sexual gratification guaranteed. And if the client did prove a threat, a big burly bouncer would be on hand at the press of a button. And there’d be no shortage of job applications to fill that particular post!

The only problem, as I see it, is the use of the word “brothel.” It conjures up a sordid image, and the literati among you will know it derives from the Old English, meaning “go to ruin.” Not the image I seek to cultivate in my brave new world. So I suggest a competition to choose an appropriate name, no previous experience necessary, perhaps using a premium number phone line which I shall set up as a matter of urgency, with the winner getting first crack of the whip!

To start you off, how about “Maison Rouge?” or “Maison Fanny Colline?” Over to you!Let’s do the decent thing, put aside our social inhibitions and prejudices, acknowledge the reality of the situation, and do what we can to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our society from sexual predators, and from themselves.

THE LUNATICS ARE RUNNING THE ASYLUM

So it’s official – the lunatics are running the asylum! I refer, of course, to the news that unqualified Crown Prosecution Service “paralegals” are now to be entrusted with the conduct of summary trials in Magistrates Courts, as well as the more routine applications and guilty pleas in low grade crime.

To those of us toiling away at the coalface, it comes as no surprise, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Soon, these unqualified “paralegals” will be conducting Crown Court prosecutions along with their more senior ‘in house’ colleagues, as they grope uneasily from one crisis to another in the interests of justice. Next they’ll be wearing wigs and gowns and calling each other “my learned friend,” a misnomer if ever there was one, and the independent Bar will be helpless to stem the tide, just as they have been since the inception of publicly funded crime.

It comes as no surprise because this has been the agenda of successive governments since the blessed St. Margaret appointed Lord Clash of McFern as her curmudgeonly Lord Chancellor in 1986. His brief, which he accepted with typical Presbyterian relish, was to reduce the legal aid burden on the taxpayer at any price, and the price was economy, stupid, at the expense of quality of service.

As it was then, is now, and publicly funded crime is budget driven. The government is a monopoly provider, so they set the agenda and the terms of engagement, and if the legal profession don’t like it, they can lump it. So a word to the wise – if you can find a proper day job, go for it, and go for it now!

Pay peanuts and you get monkeys, and sadly in our profession, we have a cartload and more at the Treasury’s beck and call. Good luck, and may the road rise with you!

But I have a sneaking suspicion there’s another, hidden, agenda in all this. The facts speak for themselves. The prisons, police and court cells are full to bursting, so what better way to reduce overcrowding than to enrol “paralegals” to prosecute? Don’t forget that 80% of all criminal cases are determined in the Magistrates Courts, so with the “paralegals” at the helm, the conviction rates will reduce to a trickle, and at a stroke, our lords and masters will have achieved a number of memorable goals – they’ll get bargain basement prosecutors on minimum wage, a greatly reduced prison population, so fewer prison officers and support staff, all of whom can be made redundant, leaving only the editor of the Daily Mail to fulminate. A small price to pay, and with £110 billion on the Northern Rocks, a price worth paying!

TILL DEATH US DO PART

“I, Hubert, do take thee, Naomi, to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, till death us do part”. Hang on a moment, who wrote this script? After all, 40% of all first marriages end in divorce, and this bit about ‘for richer for poorer’, I mean, let’s get real!

Very recently, the House of Lords rode to the rescue of two distressed damsels, who, well before their sell by date, were divorcing their wealthy husbands and wanted a large slice of the cake. They got it, and how! And needless to say, we’re all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for the High Court [Family Division] to hand down its judgment in the Paul McCartney case.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not going into MCP mode, and their lordships’ judgment applies equally to both sexes, but by the nature of things, even in these egalitarian times, man is still more likely to be the hunter and provider, and woman the mother and homemaker.

What irked these husbands, and one in particular who had survived a mere three years of wedded bliss, was the court’s insistence on the equal division of wealth, regardless of fault, regardless of the length of the marriage, and regardless of the assets brought into the marriage by the respective spouses.

So for those of conspicuous wealth who are thinking of taking the plunge, and possibly teetering on the brink, it’s time to give serious consideration to a prenuptial agreement. They’re very popular in the States, known as Bimbo Blockers, you know what I mean, where the octogenarian billionaire expires on his wedding night, no doubt with a smile on his face, and the grieving 20 year old Bimbo scoops the pot!

Whilst prenups, and for that matter pre-cohabs, are not yet legally binding here, they do at least give an indication of the parties’ intentions. Expending a small portion of that conspicuous wealth on the services of a good lawyer can save endless heartaches and bitter recriminations when, perish the thought, love and reason fly out the window.

Postscript. When I wrote this article last year, little did I know that the Court of Appeal would use it to such dramatic effect in giving Susan Crossley [aka Mrs. Kwit Fit/Lilley/Sangster] such a well deserved verbal spanking. Known affectionately in the popular press as the serial divorcée, throughout her four marriages she set her sights on climbing the stairway to Heaven on the back of her four wealthy husbands, and all for an alluring smile and the promise of a torrid tumble on the nuptial couch! But aren’t men strange! Even though Mr. Crossley has escaped her honey trap, with her track record, what on earth possessed him to say “I do” in the first place?

WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN?

Am I alone in being bored rigid with the inquest into Diana’s death some ten years ago? I’ve lost count, but is this the fifth or sixth inquest to be held on the same topic? And besides, this interminable washing of dirty linen in public is so un-British, which is perhaps why it’s being orchestrated by some absolutely ghastly Egyptian shopkeeper of dubious antecedents throwing large wedges of hot, sweaty money at an overpaid team of poodles all prancing to his tune. Of course, like countless others, I was deeply affected by the death of Diana and her companions at the time, but ten years on, does anybody give a rat’s crap for all these conspiracy theories being peddled about like shoddy goods at a car boot sale?

But whilst these conspiracy theories continue to make the front page of the Daily Express for the edification of their long suffering readers, what about the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Cock Robin? The Daily Express is silent on the matter, which I find disgraceful, and a blatant example of selective journalism.

Talk about ten years! This conspiracy theory has been around since 1744, and still no answer in sight. It simply doesn’t ring true, and I for one would like a fresh inquest into Robin’s untimely demise. A brief examination of the facts gives rise to serious disquiet. The confession of the Sparrow was all too convenient, and besides, how many sparrows have you seen flying around with a bow and arrow? And did he have a solicitor present at the time? I think not. Again, we are told, there was only one witness, that being the Fly, who admitted that he saw the dastardly act with his “little” eye. On any view, an unimpressive witness! There was also some talk at the time of a blinding flash of light just before Cock Robin met his grisly end – was this investigated? And if so, why the silence? Has there been a monstrous cover up masterminded by the Powers that Were, with the active connivance of the Secret Service? These questions and more need to be answered, and now!

Finally, there was an ugly rumour down in the woods that Cock Robin was considering a romantic attachment to a wholly unsuitable feathered friend from over the hill and far away, not one of us if you catch my drift, and the Kite, the Linnet, the Dove and the Lark, to name but a few, had warbled their vocal opposition to the union. All very sinister! There’s more to this conspiracy theory than meets the Fly’s “little” eye!

SECOND CLASS CITIZENS

I read with interest a summary judgment from the Administrative Court, which tells us that in prison disciplinary hearings before an ‘independent’ adjudicator, the prosecution case can be presented by the prison officer who is the reporting officer and who is therefore a prosecution witness. Almost invariably in my experience, he is the only witness. In the judgment, we are further told that such a procedure is not in breach of the prisoner’s human rights under European Convention law, as there is nothing in Article 6, the relevant article, requiring the prosecutor to be independent.

Hang on a minute! Have I missed a trick here? Isn’t Article 6 all about fairness, and justice being seen to be done, as well as the right to a public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal? And what price the role of the prosecutor as formalised in detail by Mr. Justice Farquharson as long ago as 1986? I seem to remember something about a fair and independent prosecutor, not seeking a conviction but acting as a minister of justice, and placing the evidence fairly and impartially before the court. Now I accept that the learned judge’s Report was aimed at prosecuting barristers, but is there one rule for us, and another rule for the rest?

I have done my fair share of these disciplinary hearings, and thankfully, I have never encountered a situation which exercised the mind of the Administrative Court. Of course, by the very nature of these disciplinary proceedings, they are indeed “at the less serious end of the spectrum.” But try telling that to the prisoner who risks losing remission and the chance of early parole when the adjudication goes against him.

This judgment sets an ugly precedent, and should be revisited. It gives the impression that prisoners are second class citizens when it comes to fairness and impartiality in quasi-legal proceedings, and that simply isn’t fair.