Monthly Archives: June 2010

Executed by tweet

It was just a wooden chair! There was nothing remarkable about it until one realised that the padding at the sides consisted of cushions piled on top of one another and strapped together and that underneath was a shallow metal tray.

Even that did not really capture the menace behind the image until one realised that the blemishes grouped together in the left hand corner of the back of the chair were in fact the marks made by the bullets fired by his executioners into the chest and heart of convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner.

Whatever your views about capital punishment I was left with the overwhelming sense that this was not what I wanted to see published in my newspaper. After all, in the days when we had capital punishment here we were not treated to interviews with the hangman or grisly pictures of the swinging noose ( or at least not since the days of public executions).

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The technology of the Saville tribunal

The report by Lord Saville into what happened in (London)Derry on 30th January 1972, which has become known as Bloody Sunday, was published on 15th June 2010. 

Much has already been written about it. The statistics are there for all to see. It took 12 years, it cost £190 million, there were approximately 2,500 written statements and the opening statement was the longest in English legal history. The tribunal heard from almost 1,000 witnesses, sat in Derry and in London and spawned judicial review litigation which reached the then House of Lords (now the Supreme Court). 

As I have mentioned earlier [Bloody Sunday, 22nd June, 2010] I was involved for the best part of six years in gathering the evidence for the Tribunal but little of my time was spent in the actual hearings apart from listening to one or two witnesses of particular interest.

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Spanner in the candy jar

Now that the Government has told us what price is to be paid for the years of Labour profligacy and its impact on our incomes, our pensions, our taxes and our futures, it is hard to decide where to start.

Should it be the demand from Europe that George Osborne should let the Commission or the Finance Ministers or the cleaners at the Berlaymont Building see his prep in future (our Budget) before he delivers it to Parliament?  By the way, did you know that the building which houses the Commission is in the Rue de la Loi, which roughly translated* means the rule of law?  How cheeky is that?

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Bloody Sunday

Some time in May 1998, I returned to my office from a meeting to find on my desk a three page fax (remember those?) from the Solicitor to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry asking if Eversheds would be prepared to express an interest in taking some statements in Northern Ireland during July and August of 1998.

The publication of the Saville Report last week has set me thinking a lot about what transpired. Having indicated our interest, I and a couple of other partners, a senior support lawyer and our Head of IT set about working out how we might respond to the opportunity offered to attend a meeting with the Solicitor and the Secretary to the Inquiry and leading Counsel.

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Utopian vision

I was fortunate to be invited to dinner recently at the House of Commons with two MPs, one my first time elected local MP and the other an old university chum, now a Minister. Being early for my meeting in the Central Lobby, where I bumped into a solicitor I know (what a small world it is!) I had time to marvel at the building that is Westminster Hall. Dating from the 11th century it survived the Great Fire in 1834 thanks to the intervention of Sir Walter Eliot who decided the Hall should be preserved and the then Chamber of the House of Commons should be allowed to burn. It also survived the best efforts to destroy it by Goering’s Luftwaffe in the 1940s and attempts by the Provisional IRA in the 1970s.

What a glory it is, particularly with its magnificent hammer beam roof, dating from the reign of Richard II (1377-99) when the original three aisles dividing the building from 1097 were replaced by “the greatest creation of mediaeval timber architecture”.

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Leaving it to chance

History is a wonderful thing and I am constantly amazed at how much of it appears to be a matter of chance.

There are numerous examples. For instance, I have come across the attached piece published by the Education Forum. I reproduce it in full, typos and all!

A significant event marking the international relations of the 18th century was the 7-year war (1756-1763). The war established England’s position as the greatest colonial and naval power of the times and allowed Prussia, led by king Frederic the Great, to confirm its status as a great European military power. It is nonetheless common knowledge that despite the king’s energy and military prowess, there was a time when Prussia was on the point of giving in due to its enemies’ (Russia’s, more specifically) overwhelming superiority. In 1761, the new British cabinet, led by Bute, stopped the transfer of funds to the Prussians. Given the circumstances, Frederic the 2nd found himself no longer able of carrying on the war. He even gave serious thought to abdication. But then there came about what the king himself named “the miracle of the House of Branderburg”.

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A snapper up of unconsidered trifles

Autolycus, in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, is described as a roguish peddler, vagabond and pickpocket who steals the Clown’s purse, pilfers a lot, but ultimately helps the lovers Perdita and Florizel to escape. Autolycus describes himself as a “snapper up of unconsidered trifles” – a description that can be applied to me as I squirrel away bits and pieces of news, seemingly unimportant snatches of overheard conversations and random observations of what is going on around me, just in case they may prove useful at some later stage.

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Bribery and corruption

At last, I have come to the attention of the US Department of Justice.

Though some of you may have suspected me for some time, I am going to have to disappoint you!  Someone in the DOJ has found my blog and last week spent more time reading more pages than anyone else on that particular day. Now, I do not know why the DOJ has become interested in a blog on the subject of e-discovery written by a former litigation partner at a large international law firm but the knowledge that he or she had looked at the blog led me to think about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and our own Bribery Act 2010.

We have been used to acting for lawyers and their clients for some time in relation to FCPA cases and clients in this country will have to get used to handling regulatory investigations and prosecutions which may arise in future under the new legislation which received the Royal Assent on 8th April as part of the wash up procedure at the end of the last Parliament.

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