Will we allow the Criminal Justice System to follow The Downward Spiral of Cost Neutrality, into oblivion?

This is surely what “Do Right, Fear No-one” is all about

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“Election 2020. Corbyn Landslide Victory.”

Well, one headline you won’t see is “Owen Smith Landslide Victory.” Not even Sadiq Khan or Kezia Dugdale believes that, let alone Owen himself. So why do I think that my own choice of headline is the more likely? (And no, I have not been abusing “substances.”)

Ballot papers are arriving, so its time to give the Labour Leadership election a bit of thought without the usual hysteria on either side.
 
Regular readers will know that I am a Corbyn supporter. You can give that whatever name you like but I’m not calling others “Owenistas” if you get my point.
 
What matters is which party is going to form the next government. I cannot see any way in which there will be a snap election. it requires a two thirds majority in the Commons, and I honestly don’t see that happening in any circumstances, so we have until 2020. Four more years.
One thing that every Labour supporter can agree on is that the mainstream media and the interests they serve, do not want a Labour government. They were seduced once by Blair and Mandelson, but are unlikely to make what they see as “that mistake” again.
Harmsworth, Desmond, Murdoch, the Barclay family and others, will move mountains, quite literally, to see it doesn’t happen again. And that is the key to the decision you and I have to make if you have a vote for the Labour leadership.
The editorship of these newspapers, and their proprietors, are desperate to see Labour defeated in 2020.
The same editorship that is so keenly aware of the political pulse of the British electorate
If they are so convinced that Jeremy Corbyn is “unelectable” why are they wasting so many column miles of newsprint, or terabytes of online copy, in such a determined effort to trash him?
If they genuinely thought he was “unelectable” they’d be busting a gut to ensure he WON this election wouldn’t they?
Why do they want him to lose and Owen Smith win?
Because they know that Smith is a lightweight who can be rubbished with ease. Fast forward four years to the republishing of the images of Smith’s sparsely attended meetings. You don’t have to spend too much time thinking just how damaging the use of this would be.
He would be a laughing stock. Whatever policies he espoused would be drowned out by the ridicule heaped upon him by the power of the right wing press.
All of which explains rather neatly why they are so keen for Owen Smith to win. It is Smith, not Corbyn who is unelectable.
So why am I so convinced that Jeremy Corbyn IS electable?
Granted the party membership has grown dramatically to something over 600,000 members. Owen’s supporters will point out quite rightly, that you need a lot more than that to elect a government at a General Election.
Parties get elected very largely, by people banging on doors, or so the activists tell us. I have no reason to doubt that.
The Tories do well because they have a lot of people with the time and the commitment to do just that.
Labour’s 600,000 are not just voters. There is every prospect that a very significant number of them WILL bang on doors.
THAT is what is so significant about the numbers attracted to Corbyn or Smith meetings. If Corbyn retains the leadership then a vastly greater number of supporters, fired with enthusiasm by his campaign and his genuine socialist principles, WILL go out and campaign.
By contrast, how many of those attending Owen’s coffee morning gatherings will be out there doing the same?
If Corbyn is defeated, will his supporters campaign for Owen Smith with such enthusiasm?
Equally,  I am not convinced by the old chestnut that Corbyn will not attract voters from the Tory party so he cannot win.
At the last election the Tories polled 6.5% more votes than Labour. The turnout was 66.1%, so 33.9% DID NOT VOTE.
It is idle to speculate as to why they did not vote, but no one could quibble with the suggestion that many of them, and certainly more than 6.5% (the Tory majority) did not vote because none of the options, Tory, Blue Labour, crumbling LibDems, or UKIP, were attractive.
What this means is that if as few as only 6.5% of the 2015 electorate who did not vote, (or 417, 326 people), are persuaded to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, then they are well on the way to winning. Who needs Tory turncoats when Labour has over 600,00 members?
But it doesn’t stop there. By 2020, there will have accrued another five years of new voters turning 18. if the psephologists are right, then a very significant proportion of new voters will vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party. I do not know the figures, and I invite correction (genuinely) but is it not reasonable to say that we are talking in at least seven figures?
So NOW do you understand why I say that the mainstream media are so anxious to snuff out the Corbyn campaign? This is what they can see coming.
In 2020, Jeremy Corbyn WILL be electable. Not only that, they and the Tories are convinced that he WILL be elected.
Owen Smith presents no realistic challenge. The Right are confident that if Smith is elected, the Labour Party will melt away. They ARE “Right.”
I honestly cannot see why the PLP are blind to this. Maybe they are just seduced by the cosiness of what Blairism gave them 25 years ago. They’ve lost two elections since then. Those days are gone.
That is why I was so pleased to be able to cast my vote for Jeremy Corbyn this afternoon.
I want a Labour government.
Jeremy Corbyn is the only person who can deliver it.

 

Statistics, Vote Leave statistics, and lies.

“The Letter very materially misleads the public. Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab and Iain Duncan Smith should immediately disavow the baseless claims to which they have, one hopes inadevertently, put their names.”

Hope springs eternal Jo!

This is not a factional sniping by a self interested politician on the make, this is a factual demolition of a deliberate attempt to mislead the elctorate

Waiting for Godot

As the Institute for Fiscal Studies has stated, there is “near consensus” that Brexit will damage the economy.

Capture

On any view the mid-case £30bn is a very substantial sum of money. Illustratively, to recover it by way of income tax would require an increase in the basic rate of income tax to in excess of 26.5%. It represents about 25% of all NHS spending in 2019-2020. To recover it, either the budget deficit target would have to be abandoned, or spending cut, or taxes raised or some combination of all three.

In an effort to address this very serious concern about the effects of a ‘Leave’ vote, leading Brexiteers including Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab and Iain Duncan Smith this morning wrote a letter making a number of promises about where in a post-Brexit world funding might be found (the “Letter“).

The Letter can be read here and it states (in particular):

For example, the UK…

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Immigration is a legitimate concern, but it’s not a good reason to leave the EU. I very rarely agree with the Prime Minister but on this he’s right: we are stronger, safer and better off in.

I should really like my friends who support ‪#‎VoteLeave‬ to read it.

It is not scaremongering. it does not quote ludicrous or dubious statistics. It addresses the immigration issue square on.

#VoteLeave has based its campaign very largely on this question in the sure knowledge that such a dog whistle approach is bound to garner many votes. They are wrong, and this tells you why.
It’s by Labour MP Jo Cox and is really worth reading and sharing.
“In the final days of the EU referendum campaign, the issue of immigration will be high on the agenda of many voters.
Let me be clear from the start: it’s fine to be concerned about immigration – many people are.
This doesn’t mean to say they are racist or xenophobic – they are simply concerned about pressures on GP surgeries or schools, or how once familiar town centres are changing, or whether they’ll be able to compete with migrant workers to get a job.
Most people recognise that there are positive sides of migration too. Whether it is providing the skilled workers we need for our economy, or the amazing doctors and nurses from abroad who help run our health service, the UK has reaped the benefits from immigration.
But I strongly believe that concerns about immigration – as legitimate as they are – are not a reason to vote for Brexit.

This is why:
First, because leaving the EU won’t solve the problem. Over half of all migrants to Britain come from outside the EU, and the result of this referendum will do nothing to bring these numbers down.

In fact, the leaders of the Vote Leave campaign have been promising that Brexit will allow Government to actually increase the amount of immigration from outside the EU, opening up a whole new tier of immigration to fill short-term vacancies.
The Leave campaign has also already agreed that all EU migrants who are here legally should be able to stay in Britain even if we vote out. That’s the right thing to do – but it’s important that voters are not under any false illusion that a vote to leave would reduce the number of European migrants currently in Britain.
In addition, the Leave camp have called for an Australian-style points-based system for migrants, and yet Australia has twice as many migrants per person than we do.
What’s more, the whole purpose of the Aussie system is to give businesses more control over who they bring into the country – which tends to be the cheapest workers – forcing down wages and doing absolutely nothing to address concerns about insecure employment.
And most important of all, voters need to know that the free movement of EU citizens to Britain would not automatically stop if we left. Countries that remain part of the EU’s single market, such as Norway – a model often used by the “out” campaign – have a higher rate of immigration from EU countries than the UK because free movement is a mandatory part of having unfettered access to the single market. The other option is, of course, to leave the single market altogether, which all experts agree would be catastrophic for businesses and jobs in our region.
Second, we can deal with migration while remaining in the EU.
It is right and fair that people who come to Britain pay something into the welfare system before they can take something out. That’s why Labour has long pushed for an end to the payment of benefits to people who don’t live permanently in this country, and for a major extension of the time EU migrants have to wait before being able to claim benefits – a commitment now secured by the Prime Minister as part of the renegotiation deal. It’s also time to protect the going rate for skilled workers, and to stop the exploitation of cheap migrant labour. We can do all of this while remaining within the EU.
We can also do more to help communities facing the greatest pressures. We know that EU migrants who arrived in the UK since 2001 contributed £20 billion more to our economy than they’ve taken out in benefits. But this money shouldn’t just disappear into the Treasury coffers. We need a clear formula to ensure that the taxes that migrants contribute go quickly to the areas where they are living, to make sure that local health services and schools get the funding they need when the population changes.
These practical changes will help ensure that people come to our country for the right reasons. They will know that when they work hard, speak English and play by the rules, they will find that Britain is the sort of country that welcomes them. And we will know that the system is fair, under control and works for the British people.
And finally – and perhaps most importantly – the overall benefits of EU membership are huge. While the leave camp are trying to distract voters, their economic case has been completely demolished by everyone from the President of the United States to small and medium businesses in Yorkshire. On this there is no doubt, leaving the EU would hurt Yorkshire businesses and hit our own pockets.
Please don’t fall for the spin prior to June 23 that the only way to deal with concerns about immigration is by voting to leave – that simply is not the case.
Immigration is a legitimate concern, but it’s not a good reason to leave the EU. I very rarely agree with the Prime Minister but on this he’s right: we are stronger, safer and better off in.
Jo Cox is the Labour MP for Batley and Spen.

Chattin’ S**t!

Only one possible explanation for this. The CBA must have forgotten to put a stamp on its response to the “Consultation.”

My Mid Life Crisis

As a criminal barrister, I well know the feeling of trying to advise on the significance of a problematic piece of evidence to a client. Especially to a client who won’t listen to your advice. Who is wilfully blind to the disastrous effect that this particular piece of evidence is going to have on their case. Or who doesn’t want to hear how introducing that piece of evidence themselves is going to sink their case without trace. The client who persists in insisting that this piece of evidence is going to be the magic bullet in the case.

You, as the barrister, know this is only going to end one way. Disastrously. But if your client ignores your advice and insists on pressing on regardless, all you can do (apart from banging your head repeatedly on the nearest wall) is stand back, wait for the inevitable car crash and then say…

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Crystal Balls!

“See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil…” about the CJS that is. Oh dear. CrimeBarrister nails it yet again. I had thought after the ignominious demise of “Dame” Ursula Brennan that this brand of civil service obfuscation night just be a thing of the past. How naively trusting I was.

My Mid Life Crisis

Realising that I apparently now had psychic powers when it came to the criminal justice system (see my last blog, Guilty Pleasures?) took some getting used to. But happily it seems that I am not alone.

You will no doubt be pleased and relieved to hear that the future of the CJS is in the safe hands of the trio of Richard Heaton, Alison Saunders and Natalie Ceeney. They are, respectively, the Permanent Secretary of the MOJ (reported salary: between £175,000 and £179,999 – source data.gov.uk here), the Director of Public Prosecutions (reported salary: £205,000 – source The Telegraph here), and the Chief Executive of HM Courts and Tribunals Service (reported salary: between £180,000 and £184,999 – source Gov.uk here).

So, with a combined annual income of getting on for three quarters of a million pounds, should us hardworking taxpayers have a hope that between them they…

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Guilty Pleasures?

Why is it that it is always left to the voice of the junior “coalface” Bar to tell it like it really is?

This is a courageous and bitingly accurate critique of a speech that those of us who practise daily in the Criminal Courts will characterise as “wildly inaccurate,” because we are not prone to using appropriate profanities on social media, are we?

I sincerely hope the inaccuracies stem from misinformation provided to the SPJ by those with a desire to impress, be it HMCTS, or some of whichever judges have been tasked to “pilot” BCM. (For “Pilot” read “Railroad, obvs.”)

Defendants do not give in with a shrug, very often it is a result of a bullying judge who insists that a plea be taken at PTPH, no matter how slim the bundle of material given to the defence may be. (And I shall probably find myself in contempt of court if any more of them utter that hackneyed inanity, “your client knows what he’s done.”). There have been more than several examples of such judges putting such cases back to the end of the list, sometimes until 7pm or later, so that counsel can “take further instructions” or “give proper advice,” on a plea of guilty. In one case recently, a defendant pleaded guilty in the Mags Court to a Class A drug importation offence, when it turned out he had a perfectly good defence.

I personally have seen examples of such bullying. I suspect the SPJ has not.

And what of the MG5, or Case Summary, on which such instructions are ordered to be taken, and plea advice given? One example in particular springs to mind of a recent case where the OIC had summarised the interview as containing full admissions. Errrr, no. In fact it was a No Comment interview. Not surprisingly, the judge exerted heavy pressure on Defence Counsel to extract a plea.

The iniquity of this is obvious. There are very many entirely honest and professional police officers in this world, but there are one or two who might just take advantage of this situation if it becomes commonly known that such pressure is to be exerted on the basis of the content of an MG5 which the defence have no opportunity of checking without served evidence.

The SPJ thinks that the coining of the phrase “Pressure to Plead Hearing” is a jolly wheeze. No it isn’t. It is a bitterly ironic warning of just what exactly is going on because it is a very accurate description of what can and does happen.

So I take my wig off To @CrimBarrister, and will happily act as second when the dooks go up.

That is of course unless our representative bodies get in there first, as they should be doing, and telling the SPJ to his face just exactly how life is in the real, and not the parallel, universe.

To help them do that, you can get off your own bottoms and send your own examples direct to the CBA for starters. Don’t wait for someone else to do it, because you’ll only have yourself to blame if nobody succeeds in removing the scales from the SPJ’s eyes.

My Mid Life Crisis

When I said I had returned refreshed from the Two Fingers To 50 Tour (see previous blogs), one thing I hadn’t expected was to develop psychic powers while I was away.

fortune-teller clipartlord.com

(Cartoon by the marvellous Clipart: see more of their ace stuff at http://www.clipart.com here.)

Because, as I exposed and predicted in February’s Does Your Client Plead Guilty, Very Guilty Or Extremely Guilty?, the new Better Case Management (and Digital Case System) which is sending criminal justice into meltdown has been specifically engineered to ensure that more accused people are ‘encouraged’ to plead guilty.

Now, those of us working at the system’s coalface had long suspected this. Not for nothing did we joke that the new PTPH was called a Pressure To Plead Hearing. We were told we were just being paranoid. But the truth has now been exposed in a speech given by the Senior Presiding Judge, Lord…

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Assisting the Court

“You may be representing the prosecution but you are first and foremost an agent of justice. That may sound pompous. That may sound an unrealistic ideal. When it comes to sentence, it should be at the forefront of the mind of the prosecution advocate. “

A view from the North

When I was in my pupillage I witnessed an exchange between my pupil master and a Judge. My pupil master was prosecuting a sentence. The Judge asked him to identify the features of the offence that aggravated the sentence. My pupil master declined and instead indicated that he was in a position to identify those features which were capable of aggravating the sentence, whether they in fact aggravated the position was a matter for the Court. The Judge was bad tempered, he responded that “if Counsel was not prepared to help me by identifying which features did aggravate the sentence then you may as well sit down”. My pupil master resumed his seat.

I learnt many valuable lessons in pupillage, not the least of which were some of the best places for lunch near to each of the courts on circuit. The exchange above was one such valuable lesson. Sentence…

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A Tale of Everyday Life

159 pages of CPR Rules issued by our revered LCJ yesterday, came in the nick of time, obvs

A view from the North

A courtroom somewhere in England. Her Honour Judge Christine Jones-Smith presides. The case is listed for mention with the defendants to attend from custody. The Prosecution are represented by Mr Justin Messenger. The defence are represented by Miss Fi Owens and the ever busy Miss Rhea Turner.

The case is called on and only one defendant is produced in the dock. The present defendant is identified and the parties are introduced.

HHJ CJS: Miss Owens, where is your client?

MISS FO: I am told by the custody staff that he has not been put on the van. In fact my learned friend Miss Turner informs me that my client shares a cell with her client and when the officers came to their cell this morning they called upon the co-accused but, despite their insistence that they were both required, they only placed the co-accused on the bus.

HHJ CJS: I…

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