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Showing posts from November, 2007

Election Results: Thursday 29th November 2007

Elmbridge DC, Cobham Fairmile
Con 418 (74.6; +0.4), LD 45 (8.0; -9.3), Labour 38 (6.8; -1.7), Ind 32 (5.7; +5.7), Ind 18 (3.2; +3.2), Monster Raving Loony Party 9 ( 1.6; +1.6).
Majority 373. Turnout 17.9%. Con hold. Last fought 2006.

Kerrier DC, Helston North
Con 315 (37.1), Ind 226 (26.6), Ind 194 (22.8), MK 115 (13.5).
Majority 89. Turnout 17.8%. Con gain from Ind. Uncontested in 2007.

Rochdale MBC, Middleton North
Lab 603 (41.6; -9.8), LD 566 (39.1; +21.3), Con 280 (19.3; -11.5).
Majority 37. Turnout 18.2%. Lab hold. Last fought 2007.

Natwest / Enron Three and plea bargaining

When I met up with the Natwest Three they told me that they were likely to plead guilty. The reason is quite simple. If they plead not guilty and loose they would get 35 years, but if they admit guilt they get 5 years (actually it turns out 37 months).

There is always a question of risk with a court. I am quite happy to have an incentive for guilty defendants to plead guilty. I am also happy that this is greater at the start of the process than at the end. However, the risk penalty should not be as great as it was in this instance.

This saga always had a question about the ethicality of what happened with Natwest. It was also clear that a lot of unethical things happened.

It remains, however, that we have skewed extradition arrangements to a jurisdiction that seems interested in cases like this one where Natwest and the defendants were all in the UK jurisdiction. This seems to be a trend in dealing with cases of alleged fraud.

As to whether what the Natwest / Enron three did was …

Drinking Alcohol in Pubs

These four articles are from the publicans trade magazine. Basically the police are starting to raid pubs looking for drunk people. This is not something the police want to do and is being driven by the Home Office.

www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/news_detail.aspx?articleid=50988
www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/news_detail.aspx?articleid=51390
www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/news_detail.aspx?articleid=53823
www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/news_detail.aspx?articleid=53947

This is an absurd waste of police time and will be very very unpopular when it happens (in a sense it has already started).

Southall - what about his research?

Responding to today's GMC hearing:
John Hemming MP has called upon the General Medical Council to investigate the research of Dr David Southall. "The GMC", he said, "have so far refused to investigate the research of Dr David Southall. They have found most of the recent allegations considered by the GMC to be proven."

"It is very important that Dr Southall's research is properly investigated. His research involved giving babies dangerous gas mixtures and this must not be swept under the carpet. If he is struck off by the GMC that must not stop any investigation into the research that he has managed. The fact that his research managed to be performed is something that needs in itself to be considered."

"In fact there should be a public inquiry into what he has done over many years. This must not be the end of the issue.".

Does Paul Flynn mean this?

Paul Flynn is one of the Labour MPs I respect. However, about the Labour Party's donation scandal he says:

David Abrahams wanted to give money while protecting his privacy. He did not want to hunted and hounded by the jackals of the national press.

Labour party supporters are right to be furious that again we are being portrayed as the bad guys. Idiotic administrative failures of this kind do not compare to other scandals. Buying peerages is a utterly wrong. So is stuffing £50 notes in brown envelopes to ask PQs. Lobbyists treating politicians to buy votes is abominable.This is perceived to be worse than it is because it comes in the wake of other scandals involving party funding.

The point about the register of substantial donations is to identify where rich people (eg David Abrahams) are giving large sums of money and to identify if it is something which could be thought of as buying favours.

David Abrahams is a developer. Hence the fact that the government did him the favour o…

Another question for those supposed to protect children

The linked story is one where a child died because of failures from his mother. I cannot tell from the story whether or not it fits my thesis. However, what it does demonstrate is that Childrens Social Services are normally aware of the families where children die from abuse or neglect. The system of references, therefore, is not failing.

Indeed the increase in references is making the system creak. Although the growth has now plateaued.

Election results: Thursday 22nd November 2007

Carmarthenshire UA, Llandybie
Ind 496 (39.9; +0.1), Lab 337 (27.1; -6.7), SNP 310 (24.9; -1.5), Con 52 (4.2; +4.2), Ind 49 (3.9; +3.9).
Majority 159. Turnout 42.0%. Ind hold. Last fought 2004.

Conwy UA, Rhiw
LD Trevor Stott 548 (44.3; +44.3), Con 513 (41.4; +3.0), Ind 80 (6.5; -12.7),
BNP 61 (4.9; +4.9), Green 36 (2.9; +2.9), [Lab (0.0; -13.2)], [PC (0.0; -29.1)].
Majority 35. Turnout 26.0%. LD gain from Con. Last fought 2004

Dundee City Council UA, Lochee
First preferences:
SNP 2005(48.9;+1.8), Labour 1395(34.0; -2.8), LD Chris Hall 435( 10.6;+3.9),
Conservative 154(3.8; -1.4), Solidarity 57(1.4; -1.7), SSP 55(1.3; +0.2).
Turnout 29.2%. SNP elected at fourth stage. SNP Hold. Last fought 2007.

Forest Heath DC, Manor
LD Tim Huggan 281 (53.6), Con 211 (40.3), UKIP 32 (6.1).
Majority 70. Turnout 41.3%. LD gain from Con. Last fought 2007.

Norfolk CC, Aylsham
LD David Harrison 1696 (60.6; +23.2), Con 854 (30.5; -6.4), Lab 177 (6.3; -19.4), UKIP 71 ( 2.5; +2.5).
Majority 842. Turnout 39.0%. LD hold. Last f…

Remove the HMRC CD Burners

I have been appointed by Vince Cable to head up the Lib Dem investigation into Government Data (in)Security.

My first call is a simple one. Remove the CD Burners from the HMRC computer room until they have sorted out security.

There is no sense allowing any more horses to depart through the same stable door.


Thanks due to b3ta for the image.

ADVICE TO CONSTITUENTS FOLLOWING HMRC DATA LOSS

John Hemming MP ISSUES ADVICE TO CONSTITUENTS FOLLOWING HMRC DATA LOSS

John Hemming MP is calling on all constituents to remain vigilant following the loss of bank account details, national insurance numbers and other personal information belonging to over 25 million individuals.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday announced that “two password-protected discs containing a full copy of HMRC’s entire data in relation to the payment of child benefit were sent to the NAO, by HMRC’s internal post system operated by the courier TNT. The package was not recorded or registered.”

Commenting on the loss of personal data by HMRC, John Hemming MP said: “This is a major error by HMRC with clear implications for many families in Birmingham (Yardley).

“We all have a responsibility now to watch our accounts closely, and ensure that we report any suspicious behaviour either to HMRC or our banks.”

Nigel Evans MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Identity Fraud has said “If they are not e…

Hemming endorses Clegg

I have been asked which candidate I support for Leadership of the Liberal Democrats. After some thought I have decided to support Nick Clegg.

Concerns had been raised about his views in some areas, but the following quotation from the Politics Show makes it clear that he supports the National Health Service rather than a continential health scheme and does not support education vouchers.

(see link for show)
NICK CLEGG: I'm against vouchers, I'm against social insurance.

Judges make surrogacy enforcible

When Parliament agreed the Human Fertilisation Embryology Act in 1990 it decided that surrogacy agreements were not enforcible - whether that is right or not I am not commenting.

36 Amendment of Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985(1) After section 1 of the [1985 c. 49.] Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 there is inserted—
“1A Surrogacy arrangements unenforceable
No surrogacy arrangement is enforceable by or against any of the persons making it.”

The Court of Appeal - however (see link), has just decided that it is acceptable to enforce a surrogacy agreement even though the child has been with its birth mother for 18 months. The issue that concerns me here is the constitutional issue. Parliament decided that surrogacy agreements are unenforcible, but one has just been enforced.

There is also this in the judgment:
Dr Arsen had been instructed by the guardian ad litem, and the guardian ad litem fully supported Dr Arsen's conclusions, as well as expressing her independent expert view that, of t…

Evidence Based Evidence - moving away from witch finding

The link is to an article in the Sunday Times about the unreliability of expert evidence. There does seem to be little concern in the legal profession about the reliability of opinion offered in court.

That essentially is much like the witching courts where the witch finder says "she's a witch" and then the state dunks her. The similarity goes as far as the amounts of money made by various expert witch finders.

When you put that together with manufactured "evidence" and phony letters in the Famliy Division where there is little if any accountability and you have a recipe for disaster.

Disaster is indeed what we have got.

I have written to the LCJ suggesting how we could act to improve the quality control on expert evidence. The difficulty of course is that many of the experts sincerely believe what they are saying is true. It just so happens to be false. The outcome for the expert is more money in the bank. The outcome for the other parties to the case is o…

An important Shaken Baby judgment from earlier this year

This judgment made is very clear that the SBS triad can occur through a fall. (where the baby's head is bigger than normal).

There is still the question as to what is really evidence of a baby that has been harmed through shaking.

This comes back to the Evidenced Based Medicine Question.

Where James Munby is particularly good (he was the judge here) is in recognising the harm of care proceedings themselves.

What needs to happen is for the harm of care proceedings to be more fully recognised in the way that matters are handled.

The fact is that the system causes harm. What harm it prevents is less clear. Clearly it prevents some harm, but in many cases it is merely a futile way of enriching professionals.

Prime Minister Responds on Adoption

Q6. [163661] John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): In England in 2006, 4,160 children under five were taken into care and more than 60 per cent. of them—2,490—were adopted. However, in Scotland 574 left care and 373, roughly 64 per cent., went home to their parents. Can the Prime Minister explain why in England children under five who leave care get adopted, while in Scotland they go home to their parents?

The Prime Minister: Social work legislation in the two countries is, of course, different. I shall look at the figures that the hon. Gentleman has put before me. But as is known, we have made strenuous efforts to try to ensure that children in difficulty are given the proper upbringing, whether that is by returning to their parents or, where it is essential, by being fostered or adopted. I will continue to look at the matter, but the hon. Gentleman has to understand that social work practice in the two countries is different.

This does go to the nub of the issue. What is so differ…

Secret Prisoner to move to Ford Open Prison

The story so far:

About 2 weeks ago Charles Roy Taylor (age 71) was imprisoned by Nottingham Family Court (Judge Mitchell) in private proceedings for 20 months.

There was a bit of confusion as to the nature of the proceedings. It has been clarified (not that it was unclear to start out with) that the UK cannot have secret prisoners and that his name, offence and length of sentence need to be public.

We are now at the stage where "the system" (being the Ministry of Justice) now admit that he has been convicted and sentenced to 20 months for contempt of court - ie breaking a court order.

The question, of course, is which court order and what did he do.

I think the law is quite clear that it needs to be public as to exactly what he did to end up being locked up for 20 months.

This clear Munby J judgment makes it entirely clear (para 49) that orders should normally be public. So we need to know.

What was the court order that resulted in him getting 20 months for breach and what has he…

Birmingham Remembrance Parade 2007

As usual I took photos of the remembrance parade from the VIP stand. Although there are other people who take photos I don't think anyone else posts them on the web.

I also take the view that it would be good to have photographs of record that involve all the participants including the crowd. However, I have to take mine from a stationary position which is not ideal as you can see from the struts that appear in the photos.


Includes salvation army band and 4 riflemen that fire shots to start and end 2 minutes silence.




The Lord Mayor comes out of the Rep.

Lord Mayor's party awaiting parade.

Colours passing the Lord Mayor.

The West Midlands Fire Service Pipe Band wearing full regalia.
Previous Parades:
20052006
Someone else's photos - better quality than mine

Fran Lyon moves to Warwickshire

The link is to a story in the Newcastle Journal about Fran Lyon moving to Warwickshire to get away from Northumberland County Council and certain doctors in the North East. Hopefully Warwickshire Childrens Services will be more rational than Northumberland.

Election Results: Thursday 8th November 2007.

Babergh DC, Hadleigh North
LD Richard Whiting 446 (49.0; +25.5), Con 261 (28.6; +3.6), Ind 138 (15.1;
-6.4), UKIP 66 (7.2; -3.7), [Lab (0.0; -19.1)].
Majority 185. Turnout 27.4%. LD hold. Last fought 2007.

Guildford BC, Holy Trinity
Con 1110 (50.9; +3.9), LD Vivienne Johnson 944 (43.3; -5.9), Lab 83 (3.8;
0.0), Peace Party 43 (2.0; +2.0).
Majority 166. Turnout 37.0%. Con gain from LD. Last fought 2007.

Hadleigh TC, Hadleigh North
LD Tracey Alexander elected unopposed.
LD hold.

Tamworth DC, Castle
Lab 619 (40.3; +2.1), Con 613 (39.9; -7.7), BNP 208 (13.6; +13.6), LD Jenny
Pinkett 95 (6.2; -8.0).
Majority 6. Turnout 27.5%. Lab gain from Con. Last fought 2007.

Telford and Wrekin UA, Brookside
Con 593 (52.0; +21.7), Lab 362 (31.7; +3.2), Ind 114 (10.0; -1.5), Ind 72
(6.3; +6.3), [UKIP (0.0; -10.7)], [Telford and Wrekin Peoples Association (
0.0; -18.9)].

Majority 231. Turnout 22.5%. Con gain from Lab. Last fought 2007.

Respect Splits

With Galloway changing the locks on the office it appears that his faction has de facto control of the National HQ. (see link for Story in Independent).

Officially the party is called "Respect - The Unity Coalition". It has a number of election names:
Respect
Respect (George Galloway)
Respect - Homes For All
Respect - Peace, Justice, Equality
Respect - People Not Profit
Respect - Save The NHS

Offically at the election commission, however, the key roles are:
Leader: Ms Linda Smith
Nominating Officer: Ms Linda Smith
Treasurer: Ms Elaine Graham-Leigh

So it appears that Linda Smith has de facto control on candidates. I have now been told she is in the galloway faction.

The Website is controlled by the not George Galloway faction.

I presume that Birmingham's group are in the Galloway faction.

Another sad death from child abuse in Essex

Lets be entirely clear. This mixed race child was known to the authorities and left with its parents who were crack addicts. This would be a logical consequences of a skewed gateway procedure that concentrates on taking into care the more adoptible children. The budgetary limits on care proceedings mean that this skews the threshold.

This happened in Essex.

A sad story (Jonathan Phillips)

The link is to a story in the Daily Mail about how the system has now caused the destruction of a family.

It is important to understand how some social workers deliberately set out to upset parents in the hope of getting a reaction that they can then use against the parents in the courts. The unannounced visit is one trick used to upset mothers.

Still another baby for the government's adoption targets.

Climbie Foundation Head Speaks out

The link is to an article in Community Care which essentially argues the same case about failures that I am arguing. Interestingly there was also this snippet:

An independent social worker, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed with Dioum but said that the system has deteriorated since Laming’s inquiry.

She claimed that decisions about cases were being made higher up in the system while the assessments of frontline social workers were ignored. “It’s about targets, money and dogmatic procedures,” she said.

Court of Appeal on urgent appeals for children

The link is to an appeal about an ICO. The ICO actually expired before the hearing into the appeal. The answer from the Lord Justices was this.

In office hours, a potential appellant who wishes to apply for an immediate stay should contact the Court of Appeal office at the Royal Courts of Justice on the conventional telephone number, 0207 947 6000; out of hours, such an appellant should contact the security offices of the Royal Courts of Justice, 0207 947 6260. In either event, the appellant will be able to speak to a Deputy Master who, in turn, will speak to a Lord Justice. Provided the latter is satisfied that the matter is appropriately urgent, and a short stay is called for, he or she will either grant a stay, or arrange for the matter to be listed at short notice for a short oral hearing, on notice to the other parties, within the time frame permitted by the judge at first instance. If the court is then satisfied either that permission to appeal should be granted or that the a…

Capacity to Litigate

The link is to a case which looked at an Adult's ability to litigate and when a "next friend" should be appointed.

Para 58 is quite clear:
The authorities are unanimous in support of two broad propositions. First, that the mental capacity required by the law is capacity in relation to the transaction which is to be effected. Second, that what is required is the capacity to understand the nature of that transaction when it is explained.

Generally English Common Law is not that bad. After all much of the ECHR is based upon it. On the issue of capacity to litigate it is clear that this capacity relates to understanding not the litigation, but the issue about which the litigation is ensuing.

All we need to do, therefore, is to find some way in which English Common Law can be applied to courts in the Family Division and we will be away.

Fran Lyon on "This Morning" - ITV

The link is to Fran's story on "This Morning".

Denise Robertson said:"I was scared because it seemed so cold so remorseless. I can't understand why the public are not rising up about what is going on. We know this is happening. We have talked about it. Fran's an example. The message that is going out there to young girls is "do not tell" because it will be held against you.

"I cannot understand why people are not getting behind John Hemming's campaign. We have had so much sympathy, quite rightly, for the McCanns, but I cannot see the difference between a child being abducted by a stranger and being abducted by the state. To me the loss, the pain is identical.

"I think that the family court always without exception takes the word of social services and rubber stamps what is put in front of them. On this programme some while ago I appealed to hear from someone who had been to the family court who had had the situation reversed to writ…

Election Results: Thursday 1st November 2007

Ashfield DC, Sutton West
LD Fiona Asbury 873 (37.0; +37.0), Lab 560 (23.7; -3.7), BNP 321 (13.6; +13.6), Ind 275 (11.7; -38.2), Con 257 (10.9; -11.8), Green 72 ( 3.1; +3.1).
Majority 313. Turnout 26.5%. LD gain from Ind. Last fought 2007.

Bridgnorth DC, Brosely West
Ind elected unopposed.
Ind hold. Last fought 2007.

A Saudi view on Oil Production

Sadad Al Husseini was head of exploration and production for Aramco (the Saudi oil company). He has presented recently at the Oil and Money conference in London.

He also has information on David Strahan's site. One part about reserves and another podcast about general issues.
[David Strahan did a presentation at the first APPG OPO meeting.]

Key points on these are:
The world’s proved reserves have been have been falsely puffed up by the inclusion of 300 billion barrels of speculative resources, according to the former head of exploration and production at Saudi Aramco, and this explains the industry’s inability to raise output despite soaring prices.

One simplistic, but not unreasonable system for predicting production is to take the total producable reserves and halve them. This, therefore, knocks off about 4-5 years of production.

I have also extracted the following from the podcast:
Every indication is that the increasing prices that we haev been seeing are part of a trend. You ca…

Labour's vote buying on Newsnight

Newsnight's reporter did an excellent job in obtaining usable evidence that Labour candidates have continued buying votes. The advantage of buying postal votes is that it is easier to check that people have voted for the party's candidate. It is possible for people to show their ballots in the polling station.

They were paying about £15 a vote in 2004 and hence an increase to £20 per vote is only slightly in front of inflation.

What would be particularly interesting would be to trace how they get the money to pay for the votes. That investigation sadly is unlikely to happen.