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Archive for November 23rd, 2009

Now the expenses spotlight falls on Britain’s judiciary

Independent: Expenses claims by judges and magistrates have risen by £3m in the last two years, according to figures obtained by The Independent under the Freedom of Information Act.

First-class train tickets, air fares, hotels and dining bills are among the record £32m claims made by the judiciary this year. The figure includes compensation paid to judges who buy homes closer to the courts where they work, and nightly allowances of £32 when they choose to stay at their second homes.

Under the claims for hotel accommodation, judges receive a maximum of £146 a night when they travel to London to hear a court case and £126 a night when they venture outside the capital. Sometimes judges have to spend weeks at a time on circuit when they can claim thousands of pounds in expenses.

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Secret files show UK courts were misled over 9/11 suspect Lotfi Raissi

Guardian: British prosecutors failed to disclose crucial evidence to the courts in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in a case that resulted in an innocent pilot being jailed for five months, previously unseen documents reveal.

Lotfi Raissi, an Algerian living in the UK, was the first person in the world to be arrested after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington DC. Accused of being the “lead” instructor of the 9/11 hijackers, Raissi, 27, was held in Belmarsh high security prison awaiting extradition to the United States.

In a landmark announcement, Jack Straw, the justice secretary, is shortly expected to reveal whether the UK government will accept responsibility for the miscarriage of justice and pay Raissi compensation.

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Return to the Dixon of Dock Green approach to fighting crime

Times: Thousands of crimes are being dealt with by way of written apologies, handshakes and bunches of flowers, rather than convictions or cautions, as part of a revolution in local policing.

Ad hoc penalties for offences including assault, theft and vandalism, are being brokered by police officers who are encouraged to use common sense and abandon Whitehall targets.

The officer leading the experiment, Chris Sims, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, told The Times that his force was delivering “bespoke justice”, which was creative, swift and welcomed by victims. Officers, Mr Sims said, were administering “a moral clip round the ear” to offenders.

At the heart of “community resolution” is a 21st-century version of Dixon of Dock Green policing, with beat bobbies exercising their own judgment.

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EADS executives try to overturn watchdog ruling

Times: The biggest insider-trading inquiry in France will reach its climax today as the cream of Europe’s aerospace industry makes a last-ditch effort to avoid fines running to millions of euros.

A host of senior industry figures will tell the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), France’s stock market watchdog, that it has overlooked a vital piece of evidence in support of their claims of innocence.

Seventeen present and former executives of EADS, Europe’s aerospace and defence giant, are to be questioned by the AMF this week over allegations that they exploited inside information when they offloaded stock options in 2006.

They are accused of making the sales in the knowledge that EADS’s share price would slump when production delays at Airbus, its aircraft division, became known.

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Thames ready for legal challenge against Ofwat controls

Times: Thames Water, Britain’s largest water company, is set to square up to Ofwat as the industry regulator unveils price controls that could cost the industry up to £1 billion in fines.

The private company, which supplies water and sewerage services to 8.5 million customers, is threatening to appeal to the Competition Commission if it considers Ofwat’s demands are unfair. Thames fears that Ofwat’s “final determination” could jeopardise its £5.5 billion plan to overhaul London’s Victorian sewerage and water infrastructure.

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Four charged with terrorism offences

Independent: Four men were charged with terrorism offences following counter-terror raids, police said last night.

Officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit detained the men earlier this week in what was described as a “low key operation”.

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Customers in line for bank charge windfall worth billions

Independent: A landmark court ruling against high street banks this week could hand eight million bank customers windfalls worth billions of pounds.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will announce whether it agrees with the Office of Fair Trading that unauthorised overdraft fees are subject to laws on unfair contracts. If the group of banks fighting the test case lose, they face a flood of claims from customers who have paid overdraft fees during the past eight-and-a-half years, but if the OFT loses the two-year court battle for refunds of charges will be lost.

Today the consumer group Which? claims the banks could face huge claims for refunds on the basis of an opinion poll that found 63 per cent of people charged the fees have not asked for their money back. That suggests that eight of the 12 million people charged fees since July 2001, the earliest period for which claims may be made, being six years before the launch of the current case, could claim refunds.

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