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Freelance Advocacy Services: News and Advocacy Availability

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Content is updated regularly here (as is availability on www.freelanceadvocacyservices.uk)

Greg Foxsmith COURT AVAILABILITY   I am on annual leave from 8-23 August, for future availability see www.freelanceadvocacyservices.uk).  Book via gregfoxsmith@msn.com or 07980846330

NEWS

Well done to advocate Paul Morgan- who completed a marathon golf challenge for charity here

The Accused-another edition of the C5 fly on the wall Legal documentary aired on Friday, featuring Greg Stewart (GTS) and Ravinder Saimbhi (33 Bedford row)  Essential viewing! #TheAccused View here

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The “Innocence Tax” –a great piece by Fleet St Fox in defence of Legal Aid. definitely one to promote, circulate and share with your family and friends who just don’t get it. Reported here in the Mirror.

Tribunal fees Judiciary give the Government a pasting -see here

“Flexible working” .Thoughts on the pilot, now scheduled to start in September, by Jon Black (LCCSA) here in the Tuesday Truth. Read the response by senior Judiciary dismissing criticism as “ill-informed” here

Disclosure failings read the scathing CJJI report here

Research by Howard league on sentencing young adults here

New Lord Chief Justice here

Gove in salt incident – here

Lord Neuberger in a speech last month referencing legal aid argued that it “verges on the hypocritical for governments to bestow rights on citizens while doing very little to ensure that those rights are enforceable”.

 

The LCCSA European Conference will take place this year in Seville from Friday 6th October until Sunday 8th October 2017.

https://www.lccsa.org.uk/events/european-conference-in-seville-on-friday-6th-october-sunday-8th-october-2017/

Lawyer of the Month July –  Graeme Hydari

Congratulations to Graeme on winning criminal lawyer of the year at this year’s Legal Aid Lawyer “LALY” awards. Graeme is at HJA, and has specialised in representing defendants with autism.

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A special mention as well for short-listed Jude Lanchin (Bindmans) -an outstanding and tenacious lawyer, and Mel Stooks (GTS) for shortlisted in Children’s Rights category.

Good luck and Congratulations to Meer, who joins the long list of departing Legal Advisers from Highbury Court, to take up a manager’s role at CPS

June’s lawyer of month: Mel Cooke. Mel is the leading expert on all football related law. her firm Football Law Associates is the go to place for Public order offences, Football Banning Orders, and more.

A list of lawyers of the Year for 2016 is here, and here is a 2015 list,

Music 50 years on…look back at the Summer of Love ❤️with this playlist 🌺

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London Legal Walk 2017

Monday 22 May  was the London  Legal Walk – with over 8,000 lawyers walking 10k to raise money for London Legal Support Trust.
The LLST  is an independent charity that raises funds for free legal advice services in London and the South East.
I entered as part of the Bullivant Law team- and we all finished!

Please sponsor the team! Our fundraising link is here:-http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/BullivantLaw2017

Thank you!

Check out my walking playlist here

Below- at the start with Judge Rinder

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Below-a well earned drink at the finish

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Hornsey YMCA and the Crouch End Festival

My son Daniel (9) ran a mile at this year’s Crouch End festival to raise funds for North London YMCA.  All the money raised goes directly to their work and services, not fundraisers, bureaucrats or charity directors. Their work is community based, and includes outreach work, youth work, housing and finance advice.
In 2014 we raised £150 and we hit that target again last year

THANK YOU FOR HELPING US REACH THAT TARGET AGAIN! 

It’s not too late to help by sponsoring Daniel now-thank you!



Running Playlist here

Below-Daniel and Adam from a previous year’s effort

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Below:- end of 10k!


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Chris Grayling- the worst Lord Chancellor in history

Who is Chris Grayling?

Born on April Fools Day, Christopher Grayling MP (MP for Epsom) was until May 2015 the Justice Secretary, and Lord Chancellor. But who is he, what does he stand for, and how did he perform?

My assessment here
(TV interview about Grayling, Legal Aid and Magna Carta, via YouTube)

Under Grayling’s tenure, there were record levels of absenteeism as MoJ staff were sick with stress and mental health issues.

Joshua Rozenberg assesses his likely legacy In the Law Society Gazette here (March 2015)

Grayling “just didn’t get it” – article in Law Society Gazette here  (November 2015)

Introduction

Top ten things about which Grayling was wrong and why.

Why “Failing Grayling” illustrates the worst aspects of Cameron’sGovernment  (as argued by Nick Cohen in the Spectator, Dec 2014)

2014
a year in the life of Christopher Grayling (with links) as reported in the Tuesday Truth.

Summary of “Graylings Failings” in 2014 in the Solicitors Journal.

EXPENSES

Grayling is an MP who purports to want to cut public expenditure. However, when it comes to his own public expenditure, Chris likes to get as much of it as he can. The extent of his guzzling was chronicled in the Telegraph here

Chris neeed a good secretary, so the taxpayer forked out for him to have a secretary (40k pa) . Luckily, someone was available for the job- no need to advertise! The ideal candidate? Step forward Mr Graylings wife- susan!

Years later, how Grayling get away with it, and whether he did in fact refund the amount of money he publicly pledged , remain shrouded in mystery (as explained by Ian Dunt in this article, Jan 2017)

Grayling and Legal Aid

Grayling had supported Price Competitive Tendering, which was so flawed even the Mail on Sunday criticised it ( enjoy this  Downfall parody video with Grayling stabbed in back by MoS ) Legal Aid had already been cut to the bone, before Grayling set to work with cuts to all areas of legal aid.
The attack on criminal Legal Aid was strongly opposed by the Justice for Sale campaign,

Criminal Lawyers went on strike in January last year.

Grayling was hell bent on forcing through cuts despite evidence it will destroy most criminal legal aid firms.

Grayling cuts to legal aid for immigration cases were found to be unlawful (Dec 2014)

Even Magistrates commented on the “threat to Justice” as more defendants are appearing unrepresented (full story in The Independent here) (January 2015)
More detail here (via the Bureau of Investigative Jouralism)

Maybe Grayling’s cuts were purely ideological, as argued by Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan (for Justice Gap, March 2014)

Some criticism even on Tory blog site Conservative Home- see this demolition of Grayling’s Legal Aid Cuts (“Grayling’s cuts damaging and unfair”, Conservative Home Feb 2015)

The supposed “safety net” introduced for exceptional cases was revealed in this article  to be a failure (Daily Mirror 28/12/15)

Grayling repeatedly claimed that Legal Aid in the UK is “the most expensive in the World” -an inacuracy also repeated by the MoJ but demolished here

Letters to the Lord Chancellor outline his errors on legal aid (via the Intragant website)

His LASPO Residency test was overturned in July 2016 (see here)

PRISONS CRISIS

Guardian article on rising suicide figures exposing prison crisis, and subsequent letters.

The Independent reports on Grayling callous indifference to rising suicide rate

An insider account of the “Highdown 11” (prison protesters against prison cuts all acquitted)

Lord Ramsbotham speaks out against Grayling over the prison suicide crisis.

Grayling makes Chief Prison Inspector reapply for his job.

Grayling dismisses huge increase in prison suicides as a “blip“.

Grayling’s legacy will be to have left prisons in a worse state than he found them.

After cancelling an effective rehabilitation course, Grayling was described as an “incompetent, short-sighted recidivist” (The Guardian, April 2015)

Grayling was criticised in a parting shot from the outgoing Prison Inspector here (the Indy, Jan 2016)
Prisoner Book Ban

Grayling’s book ban, and and the Howard League’s response

Authors use Chris Grayling as villain in response to the book ban.

“Strange and absurd” -Court Judgement on Grayling and the book ban.

Picture: demo against book ban outside Pentonville prison:


Having lost on his prison- book-ban, Grayling delays implementation and is described as “stealing Christmas“.

A short Video of the book ban demo outside Pentonville prison, March 2014

Grayling and Human Rights

The sad truth is, Grayling doesn’t actually understand Human Rights, and even the Daily Mail had to correct him- see this article.

Grayling’s views on workfare and making employees work for free here (New Statesman 2012)

GRAYLING AND THE MOJ
Man wrongly imprisoned for 17 years persued for costs by MOJ

Grayling gets MOJ “flogging expertise to Saudi floggers” -selling legal services to Saudi Arabia and other repressive regimes. (As set out by David Hencke, Jan 2015)

The MOJ “deal” with the Saudi regime represents a clear conflict of intetest as set out by Jack of Kent in his informative argument. Gove has done his best to extricate the MOJ from Grayling’s toxic legacy -update here.

The commercial arm also managed to make a £1million loss! Detail here
Grayling and Magna Carta

BACKGROUND:- this website has info about Magna Carta, it’s historical significance then and now, why we should celebrate it and how the Government has hypocritically hijacked the anniversary.

Nothing but lip-service, is all we can expect from this Lord Chancellor

Grayling is a hypocrite with his MOJ event to commemorate Magna Carta (argues Peter Oborne) – don’t jump on the bandwagon!

Robin Murray spells out the hypocrisy and called for a boycott of Grayling’s Magna Carta event.

More here on why principled lawyers would not attend.

Frank Magennis in the Justice Gap described this as an unfolding of British Justice (published Feb 2015)

In the 800th anniversary of Magna Carts (see below) a RELAY FOR RIGHTS saw demonstrators walk from Runnymede to Westminster to protest against Christopher Grayling and his preposterous, hypocritical “Great” Legal Summit. This led to a public Impeachment for the man masquerading as Lord Chancellor.
See also this article on Grayling and Magna Carta in the New Statesman (Feb 2015) by Anthony Barnett.

Grayling and the Probation Service

Grayling was accused of no less than murdering the probation service

Grayling’s privatisation has led to job losses and failure (article in the Independent December 2015)

Grayling and Judicial Review

JR bill falls apart after grayling admits misleading Commons

The Lord Chancellor lost yet another judicial review in October. This time it was over his decision to make mesothelioma sufferers pay up to 25 per cent of their compensation for legal and insurance costs should they win their case. Giving his judgment in the High Court, Mr Justice Williams said: “No reasonable Lord Chancellor faced with the duty imposed on him by section 48 of the Act would have considered that the exercise in fact carried out fulfilled that duty. This is not a case in which the procedural failure was minor or technical in nature.”

Grayling in his own words

in this article we find out what Grayling thinks , with critical analysis.

Grayling as Lord Chancellor

Former Tory MP, barrister and blogger Jerry Hayes described Grayling as “a shit that has to be flushed after the election”

Matthew Norman, writing in the Independent, (Jan 2015) asks “what in Sanity’s name is Chris Grayling doing in the job of Lord Chancellor?”

Minutes of Grayling’s appearance as Lord Chancellor before the Justice Select Committee here. Note the admission to Jeremy Corbyn that cuts are “ideological” (Q200)

Grayling on Twitter
You can find out more about Mr Grayling by searching #FailingGrayling

Musical Grayling

Check out the chris Grayling playlist

Freedom of Information

Naturally Grayling is not a fan (source:Guido)

Lord Chancellor Grayling In Retrospect

Has there ever been a more incompetent minister than Grayling? Answer in this article in Huffington Post

Unfavourable comparison with his successor here in the Spectator. (Dec 2015)

Grayling Brexit

After the May 2015 election, Grayling let it be known that he would be very happy to stay on as Lord Chancellor. He was promptly demoted by Cameron to “Leader of the House”. The New Statesman asked “Is Grayling the most incometent Minister?” (article December 2015) “It’s often said that all political careers end in failure, it just seems that Grayling’s seems to be failing before it has ended…”

For many months we heard nothing about Grayling. Then it emerged he had been granted permission to campaign in favour of Britain leaving the EU in the forthcoming referendum, and he became a self appointed leader of Brexit. Grayling’s support for “out” caused celebrations in the “in ” camp, as Grayling (a “sheep in sheep’s clothing”) proved that he has “yet to discover an argument he has consciously been on the right side of” (read the full sketch by John Crace 14/01/16) However, as we now know, the Country did vote to Brexit, although few have cited Grayling and his support as having been an influential factor in that.

One of his first speeches in the cause showed his “humorous side” as described in this article 50 shades of Grayling (Political sketch by Patrick Kidd, Times, January 2016)

Post MOJ: Grayling as Leader of the House

We didn’t hear much of or about Grayling after his demotion from Lord Chancellor, other than his legacy being unravelled and overturned by his successor, and his Brexit campaign (above). However, never one to be on the right side of an argument, he  sought to with-hold details of MPs dodgey expenses and arrests (as outlined here in the Daily Mirror (Feb 2016)

Post Brexit Grayling

Grayling was appointed transport secretary in Theresa May’s new cabinet (July 2016)

Two weeks later there were 16 hour delays in traffic jams leading to Dover…

He combined his newfound interest in Brexiting and Transport with an important intervention in Public Life-railway platforms. Mr Grayling is however wrong even about the Brexit dividend to station platforms as explained here

Meanwhile, as controversy mounts over heathrow expansion and HS2, Chris struggles to find any relief for the long-suffering commuters reliant on failing Southern Rail. He is then offered a new job by a Village without an idiot, according the satirical website NewsThump here

in December 2016 there are calls for his resignation even from Tory MPs (see this BBC News item)

An Obituary for my Father-in-Law

My father-in-law, Ahmet Baboullii, passed away on 19 January 2015.
He was just two weeks short of his 90th birthday.
Ahmet was born in Larnaca, Cyprus on 02 February 1925.
The island was then British run with mixed Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. Ahmet spoke both languages fluently, becoming tri-lingual when he later learned English.
He was originally known as Ahmed Musafa, later taking the Greek name Baboullii.
Ahmets father farmed land and did carpentry, and Ahmet was the eldest of five children (of whom just one brother survives)
He joined the British army, supposedly at 16, although it is possible that he was younger and lied about his age. He initially joined a transport regiment, and served in Egypt, but later became an army PT instructor based back in Cyprus. He retained high level of fitnesses until late in life.
After leaving the army, Ahmet left for the UK in 1955.

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He settled in London, and spent the rest of his life in North London, predominately in Islington.
He supported Arsenal Football Club, attending matches at Highbury taking first his son, and later his daughter who remembers standing on a soap-box in the crowd to try and gain sufficient height in the packed terraces to see the action.
He worked in engineering, predominately for an Islington-based company called Ormond Engineering Ltd (based behind Sadler’s Wells)
He married Nasif in 1956 in Liverpool Rd Registry Office. They had two children:- Freddie was born in 1960, and Sonya in 1969.

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A man of simple tastes, Ahmet was hard-working, reliable, and a devoted father. He was an excellent cook, and prepared the family meal each day.
Although separated from Nasif in later years and living independently, they remained on friendly terms and he was a regular visitor to see the grandchildren.

Ahmet lived modestly, but wanted for nothing. Everyone remembers him as having a broad smile, and extending a warm welcome (and almost certainly some food and drink) to visitors.

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I first met Ahmet in 2000 when I was dating Sonya, and was always made very welcome when we visited. He was a sprightly 75, always had a twinkle in his eye, was a knowledgable football fan and Arsenal supporter, a great cook, and partial to a beer or whiskey.
We hit it off straight away.
My key memories:-
1 Asking his permission for me to propose to Sonya.
2 His phenomenal barbeque in our back garden at Adam’s naming ceremony.
3 Leading the dancing at our wedding.
4 Taking him to the Emirates for his 80th birthday (v Man Utd)
I will miss him.
He will be greatly missed.
RIP

Cycle deaths in London

I attended a demo outside TFL HQ on Blackfriars Road, to highlight the sad cases of recent cycling fatalities in London, and the failure of Boris/TFL to take proper budgetary action to improve cycling safety.
Thousands of cyclists laid down their bikes and lay in the road in a symbolic gesture described as a “die-in” by the organisers, an informal group who set up the Stop the Killing protest
The concerns will not go away- and pressure is building on Boris to act.
There is a lot of anti-cycling sentiment out there, for which some cyclist behaviour does not help, but ultimately cyclists are vulnerable and it is time to stop blaming cyclists for the fatal accidents or incidents where they are seriously injured, and work to make London a safer, more cyclist-friendly environment.
A similar argument (but much better written) is made here by Caroline Russell of Living Streets
cycling playlist here

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The Death of Imran Douglas:- A Suicide in Custody is no Cause for Celebration

In some parts of Morocco, after a funeral the family gather and share a meal of couscous, the legend being that each grain eaten atones for a sin during the life-time of the deceased. This week I joined a family for couscous (picture below) to mark the passing of 18 year old Imran Douglas who sadly killed himself in Belmarsh prison. Imran was British born, his maternal Grandmother from Morocco.
You might think that an awful lot of couscous would need to be eaten to atone for the sins of young Imran, who had brutally murdered a pensioner in her own home.
Imran, who had (unusually in a murder case) pleaded guilty for the crime committed when he was just 17, had been sentenced to a period longer than his age (a minimum term of 18 years), and sent to high security Belmarsh prison (until very recently he would have been detained in a Young Offenders Institution until he reached 21).
Less than a week later he was dead, having apparently ended his own life.
It will take years for an Inquest to establish if that is right, or whether there was foul play (or as previously seen at Belmarsh, excessive restraint)

Few will shed tears or care about his demise, the memory of his horrific crime being fresh in the mind, having been vividly reported at the time, again at his sentence, and now once again on the news of his own death (the circumstances of which appearing to attract little curiosity).
Indeed his passing appears to be celebrated by those who feel the need to express a view at all, commentary being summarised as “he got what he deserved, prison too good for him” etc.
Yet watching the small gathering of family and friends who cared for or about Imran, one is reminded that he leaves behind his own family, including mother, sister, grandparents, and although they never condoned or tried to justify his terrible homicide they too have the same grief and feel the same loss as anyone bereaved.
And perhaps our collective conscience should be pricked just sufficiently to remind ourselves that he was still a teenager,that he was in the institutionalised care of the State, and that by allowing him to hang himself he was failed by the State. As many have been before. (About 50 prisoners AGED 21 OR YOUNGER IN THE LAST SIX YEARS ALONE)
There will be many more deaths by suicide of vulnerable young people held in adult prisons, if proposals currently being consulted on by Government are implemented, as the Howard League argue powerfully here

At least Imran Douglas acknowledged his responsibility by pleading guilty to his crime. It is a safe bet that nobody will admit responsibility for his death, and very unlikely that anyone will be found responsible.
And the fact that nobody (other than his grieving relatives) care, allows this culpable negligence to continue year after year, which should be a matter of shame. How we treat prisoners is a mark of our society, as Winston Churchill amongst others acknowledged. So even those who won’t shed tears at the passing of a convicted murderer should still ask:-
Is it right that someone so young was serving his sentence in an adult prison?
Was he assessed as a suicide risk, and if not why not?
Alternatively, if an acknowledged risk, how was it apparently so easy for him to take his life?
Will the Inquest uncover any facts or (as Imran’s family hope) help prevent further suicides of young people? (There are reportedly eight outstanding inquests into deaths in Belmarsh

And in the unlikely event that anyone had the time or inclination to look at why this young man ended up committing his crime in the first place, they could start by looking at the incident in April 2012 ago where he was hit by a speeding car, and put into a coma on life-support with severe neurological damage. Although no angel before, this was a life-changing incident, and when he came through his demeanour and personality had changed beyond recognition.
Whether he then received the after care from occupational health and/or medical authorities is not clear, and may be out of the remit of the inquest into his death.
The car that hit him? That was a police vehicle. No charges brought in respect of that. But that incident isn’t something you will have read about in the media reports about his death, as it doesn’t sit comfortably with the simple “evil murderer” narrative that allows us to share a feeling of revulsion and moral superiority.
His family, at the wake in their small East London flat, know there was more to Imran than just the one awful crime for which he will be infamously remembered. And they have never stopped thinking about the consequences of that hideous crime, or feeling compassion and sympathy for the family of Margery Gilbey, along with guilt that it was Imran who was responsible.
Nothing in this article should be considered as trying to justify that crime, but it is important that we at least try and understand it. And we can and should as a society deplore that murder, but it is not necessary as a corollary of that to celebrate the death by self-harm of the murderer. A suicide of a young person should always be a cause for concern, not a cause for celebration.
Nothing can now bring back the victim of Imran Douglas’ crime, but at least justice was done when Imran pleaded guilty and was sentenced.
It is unlikely that there will be any justice for Imran’s family, who have lost their son and been treated with indifference or outright contempt. And to our shame, few will care.

NOTES

1 BELMARSH prison have confirmed that 18 year old Imran Douglas (detained at age 17) died in custody at the prison on 13 November 2013.
2 The cause of death is said to be suicide, although an inquest will take place to confirm the cause.
3 Police attended the prison and stated there were no suspicious circumstances.
4 Imran’s mother Carla heard the news informally via a third party the following day, but could not get official conformation of her son’s death for over 48 hours. She was in shock and taken to hospital, the prison initially refused to confirm where the body was taken.
5 Imran Douglas was buried following a service at East London mosque on 18 November. It was on the day of his funeral that the Daily Mail reported on his death and readers posted their gloating comments.
6 Imran’s family will be asking for help from Inquest, the charity providing free advice to bereaved people facing an inquest, with a focus on deaths in custody. They work for truth, justice and accountability for families and for policy change at the highest level.
7 This article/blog is written in a personal capacity, with the support of Imran’s mother Carla. 

Imran’s mother said “I am heartbroken. It was hard enough coming to terms with the fact that he had committed a serious crime, and had such a long sentence, but now he has gone for ever. How is it that the prison service can let this happen? “

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One of the more moronic comments following the Mail article was one that claimed “you can tell from his photo he was born evil”.
I disagree- in the charge photo, cloaked in a blue police custody blanket, he looks to me young and frightened.
He was not born evil- and his family will remember the happy times shared together, although they cannot forget his crime, or stop thinking about how desperate, sad guilty and frightened he must have been when he took his own life.
With permission of Carla, I include above a photo of Imran as they will try and remember him.
I hope their questions are eventually answered.