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Archive for October 21st, 2009

Lord Chief Justice turns on super-injunctions

Independent: The country’s most senior judge has defended Parliament’s right to freedom of expression after allegations that a firm of lawyers and an oil trading company tried to stop the media reporting the business of the House of Commons.

Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, said yesterday it was a “fundamental principle” that MPs should be able to speak freely in Parliament. He described this right as a “precious heritage” that had been secured through the sacrifice of previous generations who had fought and died in the name of free speech.

The judge’s intervention follows a row over the use of a so-called “super-injunction”, deployed to gag the media from reporting on a question raised by the Labour MP Paul Farrelly.

The MP had asked about the effectiveness of legislation to protect the freedom of the press in the wake of a High Court injunction, obtained by the international oil trading company Trafigura and its lawyers Carter-Ruck, “on the publication of the Minton report”. The report concerned the possible harm caused by the dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast by Trafigura in 2006.

The injunction has since been lifted, and MPs are due today to debate the growing threat to press freedoms from such widely drawn orders.

Lord Judge said yesterday: “I am speaking entirely personally, but I simply cannot envisage that it would be constitutionally possible, or proper, for a court to make an order which might prevent or hinder or limit discussion of any topic in Parliament. Or that any judge would intentionally formulate an injunction which would purport to have that effect.”

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Lawyer guilty of conning bank out of millions

Independent: A powerful City lawyer was facing jail yesterday after being found guilty of conning one the world’s richest banks out of millions of pounds.

Kate Johns, 39, deputy head of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi’s legal department, repeatedly cajoled colleagues into ignoring procedure and approving six- and seven-figure credit letters. Southwark Crown Court in London heard that the massive transfers ended up in the coffers of the struggling Indonesian carrier Air Efata, which owned just three planes.

In return, she received pay-offs totalling £1.95m, more than £1.1m of which she used to clear the mortgage on her luxury town house. She also splashed out £40,000 of her “ill-gotten gains” on a pair of earrings to go with a £35,000 ring bought for her by the airline’s grateful boss, Frank Taira Supit.

Investigators discovered she had received another £1m from him before the scam, which she claimed was for legal advice. Johns used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle of shopping trips, personal grooming and breast surgery, but her massive betrayal of trust failed to rescue the airline, which was later grounded. Mr Taira Supit, a 58-year-old former lawyer and Harvard graduate, was so devastated that he hanged himself.

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Griffin branded ‘despicable’ for attacks on Army top brass

Independent: Racist insults made by the BNP against Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, the black Victoria Cross holder, was a driving factor behind General Sir Mike Jackson, the former head of the Army, making a stand against the far-right party.

Gen Jackson is among a group of distinguished former military leaders who have warned against the extremists attempting to “hijack” the reputation of the armed forces “for their dubious ends”. The General told The Independent: “I heard complaints that the BNP were being extremely offensive about Johnson Beharry, I looked into it, and found out that was indeed the case. I thought it was pretty appalling that a brave man like that should be insulted in this way.

“The BNP claim that they have a better relationship with the armed forces than other parties. But their behaviour shows that they don’t understand the armed forces at all. The fine men and women who serve so courageously are not like the BNP. They are decent people who appreciate and honour the sacrifices made by their comrades.”

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Mervyn King: banking fallout will last generation

Guardian: Split up banks, urges Bank of England governor, after first half budget deficit rises to record £77bn

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BNP supporters to be in Question Time audience

Guardian: The BBC is to include BNP supporters in the audience for Thursday’scontroversial edition of Question Time when the party’s leader, Nick Griffin, will become the first far-right politician to appear on the programme.

Hundreds of party members are understood to have applied to watch the edition when it is filmed at BBC Television Centre in west London. A source said a number would be vetted and allowed to take part.

The disclosure is likely to inflame the heated debate about the corporation’s decision to invite Griffin on to the BBC1 current affairs programme – a move anti-fascist campaigners say will confer legitimacy on the party.

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Lord Judge calls for jury system that caters for computer generation

Times: The jury system is threatened by the internet generation, who no longer get their information from listening to people speaking, the Lord Chief Justice warned yesterday.

In 15 years’ time, the oral tradition of the courts may have to be rethought and juries given evidence via computer, he said.

“I am very strongly in favour of the jury system. But I look at my grandchildren: they don’t learn by listening to people talking at them. They have teachers who guide them,” said Lord Judge, the most senior judge in England and Wales.

Nor, he added, did university students. They put lecturers’ notes “into their machines” which they then used later to educate themselves.

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Intern ‘had no access to inside information’

Times: An intern at Hoare Govett accused of leaking secret information about takeovers was given menial tasks, a court heard

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