Archive for November 13th, 2009

Justin Fenton in London: Police think ignorance of crime is bliss

Independent: Hours before I arrived in the London neighbourhood of Kentish Town last Thursday, a transgender prostitute named Destiny Lauren was found dead a few streets away from where I was staying. But the news didn’t spread for several days, when police announced that an unidentified man had been held “in connection” with the crime and released on bail.

The police here typically wait until an arrest has been made, or until they’re stuck and need the public’s help, to publicise major crimes. One press officer told me that the public should only know about crimes when police need to get the information out.


Read Full Post »

Victory for The Independent as secret court opens its doors

Independent: A secretive court which handles some of the most difficult and sensitive cases in England and Wales is to open to the media for the first time, after a successful legal challenge by The Independent.

The cases are currently heard behind closed doors at the Court of Protection and involve vulnerable people incapable of managing their own affairs, including brain-damaged soldiers, people with Alzheimer’s disease and others lacking mental capacity. In a test case before the High Court in London, this newspaper argued that such matters should not be decided in secret.

In a landmark ruling yesterday, Mr Justice Hedley said the media should be allowed to attend future hearings at the court, provided they have “good reason” to do so. However, they will remain closed to the public due to the sensitive nature of the hearings.

Read Full Post »

Times: Gloom today, merger tomorrow

Gloom today, merger tomorrow

Times: The City legal market could be set for a wave of mergers between mid-sized firms as they fight to remain competitive.

The financial crisis hit the legal sector harder than anyone expected and few firms were unaffected. But the firms ranked No 11 to No 25 by revenue were hit worst, according to the report on the legal sector published by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

On average, their revenue declined by 9 per cent in 2008-09, PwC said, compared with a 4 per cent drop among the top ten firms and a 2 per cent fall among the rest of the top 50. Likewise, their profits fell more sharply, down 28 per cent.

Firms such as Simmons & Simmons and SJ Berwin once aspired to match the “magic circle” but now find themselves in a difficult position. From 2004 to 2007, a boom in transactions meant that there was enough work for law firms across the City to enjoy double-digit growth.

Read Full Post »

Entrepreneurs accuse Rutland of contract breach

Times: Two entrepreneurs who claim that they came up with the idea to turn around Britain’s largest pawnbroker are suing the private equity house that made tens of millions doing the deal without them.

Paul Vercoe and John Pratt say that Rutland Partners, a private equity firm, agreed to work with them after they presented a confidential proprietary plan to buy and expand Harvey & Thompson, then a US-owned private pawnbroker. The pair say that, in return for the business plan, Rutland agreed that they would be given senior positions and equity stakes in the business after the takeover.

Rutland bought Harvey & Thompson for £72 million in September 2004 but neither Mr Vercoe nor Mr Pratt had any further involvement with or received a stake in the business.

Read Full Post »

SFO drops case against Sir Christopher Evans

Times: Sir Christopher Evans, the biotech entrepreneur, will not be prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office over allegations relating to his business, Merlin Biosciences, Times Online has learnt.

The SFO will say today that it has dropped its four-year investigation into Sir Christopher after extensive inquiries.

Read Full Post »

Labour wins Glasgow North East by-election

Independent: Gordon Brown today survived his latest by-election test when Labour comfortably cruised to victory in the Glasgow North East by-election.

It won the seat made vacant by the resignation of former Commons Speaker Michael Martin with a majority of 8,111 over the SNP.

Despite widespread predictions that the far-right British National Party would do well, by putting the Tories into fourth place and saving its deposit, in the event it did neither.

The Tories’ Ruth Davidson pushed the BNP’s Charlie Baillie into fourth place. She gained 1,075 votes to his 1,013.

Read Full Post »