Archive for October 26th, 2009

Former bar chief questions wisdom of legal services reforms

Law Society Gazette: The former chairman of the bar who led the profession when the legal services reforms were working their way through parliament has voiced strong reservations about the changes.

Stephen Hockman QC (pictured), chairman of the bar in 2006, believes the public and not just the bar will suffer if the reforms are embraced too readily by barristers. In particular, he fears that solicitors up and down the country will lose the access to the specialist advice and representation on which they and their clients have always relied.

Hockman’s comments came in an exclusive interview with Gazette columnist Joshua Rozenberg. An environmental and regulatory specialist who leads a traditional set of chambers at Six Pump Court in the Temple, Hockman was speaking ahead of a decision expected next month from the Bar Standards Board on whether barristers should be allowed to join legal disciplinary practices.


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PricewaterhouseCoopers tries to win approval for Lehman Brothers’ assets scheme

Times: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the administrator of Lehman Brothers in Europe, will return to court this morning for a second attempt to win approval for a plan designed to speed up the administration.

PwC is appealing against a High Court decision to block its idea, which it says would take years off the time that hedge funds have to wait for the return of assets frozen when Lehmans collapsed last year.

About 900 European investment funds that traded through Lehman Europe and held their portfolios at the bank had about $23 billion (£14 billion) of shares, bonds and other financial instruments frozen when Lehmans entered administration on September 15 last year.

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Radovan Karadzic boycotts opening of war crimes trial

Guardian: Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader charged with genocide for the worst mass murders in Europe since the Nazis, called the bluff of the special UN war crimes tribunal today by boycotting the opening of his trial.

Presiding over the trial in courtroom number one of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague, the judge, O-Gon Kwon, of South Korea, sparked uproar in the gallery by adjourning the keenly awaited case after a brief 20-minute hearing.

Dozens of Bosnian Muslim victims and survivors of the Serbian mass murder at Srebrenica in 1995 howled and wailed as the judge adjourned the proceedings and pleaded with Karadzic to appear in court tomorrow afternoon.

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Police in £9m scheme to log ‘domestic extremists’

Guardian: Police are gathering the personal details of thousands of activists who attend political meetings and protests, and storing their data on a network of nationwide intelligence databases.

The hidden apparatus has been constructed to monitor “domestic extremists”, the Guardian can reveal in the first of a three-day series into the policing of protests. Detailed information about the political activities of campaigners is being stored on a number of overlapping IT systems, even if they have not committed a crime.

Senior officers say domestic extremism, a term coined by police that has no legal basis, can include activists suspected of minor public order offences such as peaceful direct action and civil disobedience.

Three national police units responsible for combating domestic extremism are run by the “terrorism and allied matters” committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo). In total, it receives £9m in public funding, from police forces and the Home Office, and employs a staff of 100.

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48 violent or sex offenders under supervision charged with further offences

Guardian: Forty-eight convicted violent or sex criminals have been charged with a further offence of murder, rape or another serious offence while under the supervision of the probation service in the last year, according to official figures published today.

The justice ministry figures also show that the number of registered sex offenders in England and Wales increased by nearly 1,000 in 2008-09 to a total of 32,336.

A total of 1,414 registered sex and violent offenders were also returned to prison for breaching the terms of their release licences. A further 68 were sent back to prison for breaching the terms of their sex offences prevention order.

But a row broke out today over the figures as the government announced that they had changed the basis on which they were compiled, leaving the impression that the number of offenders charged with murder or other serious offences had fallen from 79 to 48.

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Prison officer quits over relationship with killer

Independent: A prison officer has resigned following claims she had an “inappropriate relationship” with a murderer who strangled his former girlfriend with his belt, it was revealed today.

Shirley Fowle, 42, fell for 28-year-old Alan Dalby while serving his sentence at HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, the Sun newspaper reported.

A Prison Service spokesman said today: “A prison officer resigned last week from HMP Swaleside following allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a prisoner.”

Ms Fowle told the Sun: “Everybody has a past – everybody tries to kill someone in their temper. I haven’t had sex with the guy. All I did was have a relationship.”

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Tommy Sheridan in court over perjury charges

Independent: Former socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan and his wife appeared in court today charged with lying under oath following his newspaper defamation case.

Sheridan appeared at the High Court in Glasgow alongside his wife Gail, who is also accused of perjury, for a preliminary hearing before Lord Kinclaven.

Both have denied lying to the court during Sheridan’s successful £200,000 libel action against the News Of The World in 2006.

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