It’s been a rag bag sort of week on the law and order front, so I’m struggling to add to your store of knowledge on matters of great import.
Let me take a moment to ventilate one of my bêtes noires. Have you noticed how many people, and some who are otherwise quite articulate, use the expression “you know” almost all the time in conversation? And does it irritate you as much as it irritates me? I mean, if “I know,” then why tell me? And if I don’t, then why make an assumption on a false premise? I am told by my nearest and dearest that I’m overreacting, and to go with the flow. So I will.
So back to the plot. I read recent reports that the judiciary are, you know, on a collision course with the government, yet again, over “terror” legislation, and specifically, executive powers to freeze bank accounts, stop paying benefits and, you know, control the spending of people designated as terror suspects. The thorn in their side is the ubiquitous Mr. Justice Collins, yes him again, who is expected to deliver an adverse ruling on Thursday, with the government threatening to, you know, rewrite relevant
sections of the Counter Terrorism Bill, so deux doigts to the learned judge. I suggest a re-reading of my recent article Quis Custodies Custodiet before battle lines are hardened and, you know, positions become polarised. Nobody wins in this clash of the Titans.
Frances Gibb, Legal Editor of The Times, is back from the dead, and suddenly all over us like a rash. Her latest offering in the Law Times, co-authored with Alex Spence, is to compile a list of the top 100 most powerful and influential lawyers in Britain. I think she means Top Judges and Lawyers, as topping the list is Lord Bingham of Cornhill, or ‘Tom’ to our impish scribe, who has been a judge for the past twenty eight years. Now I have the highest regard for ‘Tom’, which will come as no surprise as I climb the
greasy pole to fame and fortune, but check out his photo! No disrespect intended, but he looks as if he’s on an away day from the twilight home for the bewildered.
Surprisingly, to some at least, no room in the Top 10 for Mr. Justice Collins!The biops for some of the entrants in the Top 10 make for interesting and colourful reading. Lord Carlile at Number 7 is noted for successfully defending Paul Burrell on charges of dishonesty. Now wasn’t he the same Paul Burrell who was a witness at the recent Diana/Dodi circus? The worm turns! The entrant at Number 10, whom I confess I’ve never heard of, is described as “a ruthless rottweiler.” Not very flattering for him or rottweilers, you may think.
Sadly, and a glaring omission, is my absence from the Top 10, and proof, if proof be needed, that these surveys are not worth the paper they’re written on, especially as one of the judging panel boasts the unlikely name of Gary Slapper.
Finally, we are enjoined to go online, a fruitless exercise if ever there was, to discover the identities of the remaining ninety. I wonder how many of my aspiring colleagues, judges and lawyers alike, have taken the plunge. For my part, if I’m not in the Top 10, then it’s not worth the candle, but I’d love to know, you know, who scrapes in at Number 100. Still, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, there’s only one thing worse than bad publicity, and that’s no publicity.