Tuesday 5 August 2008

Basically Bonkers

Ian Oakley sounds like he should have been a fairly bright, if somewhat dull, person. His picture makes him look pretty dull too. In fact he sounds like he should have been very dull:

  • Went to Durham University - yep, dull, although we'll give him some credit for taking History
  • Regulator at the FSA - dull to the max
  • Founding Chairman of Monmouth Conservative Future - sounds dull, whatever it is
  • Facebook friend of Chris Grayling, Grant Shapps and Louise Bagshawe (although his Facebook profile seems to have gone) - really big yawn
  • Conservative candidate for Newport East in 2001 - fairly dull, managed to get ex-Tory Alan Howarth's majority for Labour under 10,000
  • Councillor in Hillingdon - du.. well you get the idea
  • Conservative parliamentary candidate for Watford
Or at least he was the Tory candidate for Watford until about two weeks ago, which is when he stops sounding quite so dull. He was arrested in connection with a campaign of harassment against Liberal Democrats in Watford and resigned as the parliamentary candidate. There's a comment on that TimesOnline article that maybe Oakley was the real victim. That suggestion doesn't look quite so clever today as Oakley pleaded guilty at St Albans Magistrates' Court to five counts of criminal damage and two of harassment. It seems that over a period of two to three years Oakley targetted his Lib Dem opponents by:
  • Slashing car tyres
  • Smashing lights on cars
  • Making silent phone calls
  • Sending poison pen letters
  • Painting grafitti on an opponent's house calling him a "perv"
  • Accused one of his opponents of being a child abuser
Now, do you think he learnt this kind of thing at Durham, the FSA or Conservative HQ? The Mags told Oakley that his conduct was "very, very serious indeed, so serious that custody would be an option".

Oakley has been taken off the main Conservative party website, but his entry hasn't disappeared yet - you can still find it through the cache. The Watford Conservatives site also seems to have purged any mention of Oakley, but their banner proclaims "Cleaner. Greener. Safer." and it's a good point. Keep a close eye on the perps at all times and you should be a lot safer.

Daniel Finkelstein fesses up to his part in Oakley's selection and says that there "wasn't the smallest sign that he was, well, basically bonkers."

Monday 4 August 2008

Rumours of my demise...

... have been greatly exaggerated. Although this site hasn't seen much action for a while I have been active, for instance on Twitter. Everyone knows what Twitter is by now, but if you don't then think of it like microblogging, such as Tumblr, but more communal and immediate. It's one of those technologies that tend to all get lumped together as "social networking", but I see Twitter as sociable, not just social. While it gets compared to Facebook statuses it is clearly far more versatile than that. Have a look at Twitterapps to see some of the things that can be done with it. There's plenty more at Everything Twitter and a neat visualisation at Twitter World.

One of the advantages over a regular blog is that it somehow seems more acceptable to go off topic, because each tweet is gone soon after posting, so you get to see a different perspective on people. A while back there was a bit of a debate about people using twitterfeed to publicise their blog posts. I personally find it quite useful to see when new posts go up, but that's partly to do with how I get my RSS. An idea of what the appropriate tweetiquette is will take time to develop. I still get worried sometimes about going too far off topic. Tweetburner is useful for seeing just how interesting my links to assorted football stories are to people (answer: slightly). Tweetburner gives you a bookmarklet that allows you to post a nice short URL for any webpage and still leaves room for a comment about it. You can then see how many people follow the link, although there's no way of telling whether they actually stayed on the page for more than a second.

One problem that I have found is that it is easy to follow too many tweeters and inevitably interesting stuff gets lost in the noise. That's not the real real big issue though - instead that is whether interest will be maintained or whether it will peter out as many people's facebook usage has. The Ed Techie discussed this way back in January: Facebook - the holiday romance. The only advantage Twitter has over the many other similar services would seem to be the number of users - although sometimes this can be too much stress leading to the famous Fail Whale. Twitter is only as useful as the stuff that gets posted/tweeted/whatever.

Props to Nick Holmes at Binary Law who issued the clarion call for law bloggers to get on Twitter. His other suggestion, for subject specific news feeds, has, I think, only yielded one new feed - Housing Law from Nearly Legal. Also available are feeds for:

Any I've missed?

I have also grabbed HRLaw to act as a feed for Human Rights stories, but as yet I haven't finished sorting the sources and putting them through pipes. If anybody has any suggestions for must-have feeds then please let me know.

The real clincher has to be the opportunity to converse with a gorilla. I wonder if he's thinking about moving to Spain. Regardless, the campaign to get Tempranillo his own website starts here and now.

That's enough about Twitter, if you're interested then you can find my tweets here.

Random thought: Is copying the Lego approach a sure fire route to winning privacy claims?

Friday 23 May 2008

Common Sense 2 v City of London Police 0

Bystander and Geeklawyer have already covered the story of the City of London Police issuing a teenager with a summons under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 for displaying a sign calling Scientology a "dangerous cult" during the Anonymous Project Chanology demonstrations. The teenager relied on Latey J's judgment in Re: B & G (Minors) (Custody). I can't find an authoritative copy, only this one, but the LexisNexis summary of the appeal ([1985] FLR 493) suggests that it is accurate as would appear to be this copy of the appeal judgment. The Guardian is now reporting that the CPS has rightly decided not to take this any further, hopefully putting the cops firmly back in their box, on the basis that his sign was criticism, rather than abusive, insulting or offensive. There isn't a statement from the CPS, at least not their website, but interestingly one of their most recent news items is the text of a lecture given at Birmingham University on 'Free Expression and the Rule of Law'.

Vaguely interesting fact: Mark Thomas holds the world record for the most protests by one person in one day (link 1, link 2).

Making it a doubly bad day for the City of London Police, Latham LJ and Underhill J have ruled that the warrant that they obtained to raid Harry Redknapp's home was unlawful. Bit of a bungle by the cops on this one too, as this was a really high profile raid as part of investigations into corruption in transfers of footballers. Harry Redknapp is manager of Portsmouth and his house was searched while he was out of the country by police accompanied by media coverage that Redknapp's lawyers have claimed was encouraged by them. The Police have issued a short statement in response.

Update: the Redknapp judgment is now on BAILII: [2008] EWHC 1177 (Admin)

Saturday 26 April 2008

Know Your Rights

The first in a very occasional series connecting current news stories with random other links, all set to lyrics of songs by The Clash.

This is a public service announcement ... with links

You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a crime
Unless it was done by a policeman or aristocrat
Know your rights

I was going to link to something about Thomas Cholmondeley for the 'aristocrat' bit, but that's pre-empting the outcome a bit.

Coming soon, the various measures for calculating inflation will be plotted against 'Lost in the Supermarket'.

Tuesday 15 April 2008

How to Vote (Pt 2)

1. Go to polling station.
2. Collect ballot paper.
3. Go to booth.
4. Mark an 'x' next to your preferred candidate.
5. Do NOT eat the ballot paper.
6. Place ballot paper in box.

If you absolutely have to eat your ballot paper, remember you can do it with relative impunity in the comfort of your own home by requesting a postal ballot. Don't worry, somebody else will probably vote for you anyway.

Thursday 3 April 2008

Health and Social Care Bill

A spy has pointed out to me two articles in the Solicitors Journal, 'Human Rights Act extended to cover residents in private care homes' and 'Form and Function', which cover proposed amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill which will reverse the decision of the House of Lords in YL v Birmingham as far as private care homes are concerned. I wrote about this way back when, and I think that this is only part of the answer and one of the politically easier options for the Government as it avoids tackling tricky issues about the wider reach of the HRA. It's worth noting that the Department of Health press release does contained buried away in the notes to editors this little gem:

"The Government is also considering how to address the wider question of the scope of the Human Rights Act, and has undertaken to consult on this issue."

All in all, it's a step in the right direction as far as I'm concerned, but cannot be seen as the end of the road.

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Not a waste of time at all

Scott Baker LJ has ruined everybody's hopes of finally getting to the bottom of what really happened to Diana, Dodi and Henri Paul by shooting down Mohamed al Fayed's claims that MI6, Prince Philip, Slobodan Milosevic and you killed them, stating that there was no evidence to suggest otherwise.

Ask yourself this though, if MI6 did kill somebody then they'd make sure that there wasn't any evidence, wouldn't they?

He also appears to have ruled out any possible participation by the lone gunman, Savo Milosevic, a Paul McCartney lookalike, Alex Krycek, Martin Bormann or New Coke.

Scott Baker LJ noted that Mike Mansfield had dialled down the crazy compared to al Fayed:

"Mohamed Al Fayed's beliefs are to be contrasted with the way in which his legal team have been approaching the matter to witnesses. Advocates are bound by professional rules of conduct which do not allow them to make allegations of serious misconduct for which there is no evidence. Those representing Mohamed Al Fayed did not suggest to a number of the key players in the alleged conspiracy that they had played the part ascribed to them over the years."

Expect some sort of intervention soon from Heather Mills as to why Part VII of the Bar Code of Conduct is all part of the system's way to defeat justice.

No word yet though from Mansfield as to whether the current form of al Fayed's Thames-side toy is simply part of an incredibly cunning long term strategy to make them the Manchester United of London.

All in all money well spent then.

Friday 14 March 2008

How to Vote (pt 1)

Local elections are coming up in May and a few stories about voting have caught my eye over the last couple of weeks.

Taking them in chronological order, firstly the Divisional Court has held in Pilling v Reynolds [2008] EWHC 316 (QB) that a '\' next to a name on a ballot paper can be counted as a vote, even though it wasn't in the right box. This would seem to be right, to hold otherwise would be to do quite a damage to Ruffle v Rogers. When I started to write this post the case was only reported on Lawtel (full judgment Edit: I can't seem to get the darn Lawtel links to work at the mo), but thanks to my brilliant tardiness it can now also be accessed via Westlaw or LexisNexis, but not it seems via any non-subscription services (Edit: It is on BAILII, just they called it Re Burnley Local Government Election).

There has been quite a bit of coverage about Eshaq Khan, a Conservative Councillor in Slough who has been found guilty of vote rigging. At least 145 postal votes were faked, probably hundreds in total, making his 120 vote majority look a tad vulnerable. The Times has followed this up with several articles about postal voting, such as this, this, this and this leader. Richard Mawrey QC gave the judgment.

Postal voting is just one of the many concerns surrounding the Zimbabwean elections on Saturday. I have a sneaking suspicion that Mugabe might just clinch it.

It appears that Youtube has been hit by vote rigging of some sort as well, after a change at the top of it's most watched video leaderboard. Is Youtube still even going? The explanation appears to be that the video was tagged with "hot" and "sex", a throwback to the days before cats controlled the internet.

Then yesterday's Guardian carried a report on its front page about proposals to reform electoral legislation to encourage greater participation. Apparently the quite ridiculous combination of alternative or supplementary votes (not clear which) AND compulsory participation is being mooted. Ken Ritchie, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society has responded to these proposals. See also the view over at Make My Vote Count. How long before somebody suggests tagging ballot papers with "hot" and "sex" to increase voter turnout? Actually, it looks like I just did. Patent pending.

Also buried within the Guardian was this report about the value of influence-peddling to MPs. The research paper, 'MPs For Sale? Estimating Returns to Office in Post-War British Politics', has been carried out by two Harvard researchers and there is a brief summary available as well. There is also a little bit of analysis about their statistical analysis.

And finally, Bhutan has become the world's newest democracy, possibly inspired by Slough.

Friday 22 February 2008


Although wikileaks.org is no longer available, there are a whole host of cover names or the ip address is still working. More at Media Law Profs and the New York Times.

I'd have called it samizdat.org, but whatever, I've got a nose bleed to attend to.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

New Immigration Bill

Here, here and here, although unsurprisingly not here yet.

It's a small point, but since when have nonpayment of taxes and law breaking NOT been integral parts of British society?