The CPS are so under resourced, understaffed & over worked that the system is on the brink of total collapse

23 May 2015 at 12:38

I was just scrolling though the Mail online to get my daily fix of my chum the splendid Quentin Letts, when I noticed my bewigged face staring back at me. It was when I went on strike last year. Never adverse to see my picture in the newspapers I thought it would be a good idea to read the piece written by Max Hastings. I really wish I hadn’t as it is a depressing rant about how the police, the judiciary, the church and lawyers are all dinosaurs and holding this great nation back.

I had always thought that Max was rather a good journalist. But clearly standards are abandoned when it comes to cash payment for column. I can imagine one of Dacre’s flunkeys ringing the old boy up and offering a couple of grand for a thousand words slagging off the usual suspects. Since Leveson, Dacre has had an obsession with the greed and wickedness of my tribe so I wasn’t expecting to be thrown a bouquet. But (now this sounds rather naive), it would be nice if Max had done a little research rather than reaching for the nearest MOJ press release. ‘No lawyer seems ready to accept responsibility for the soaring costs of litigation’. Oh, really? Silly me. I’d forgotten that my fees have been cut by forty five percent over the last few years, that many silks are going bankrupt and the junior end of the bar would earn more flipping burgers. Then Max helpfully tells us that the legal aid bill is twenty percent higher here than in the rest of Europe. Oh, really? Silly me. I’d forgotten that we come twelfth out of fourteen in the European tables and that the budget has fallen by about a third.

And then we get the ‘highly profitable’ human rights industry. Sadly, it seems to have passed the criminal bar by. I am not going to spend time pointing out the bloody obvious, but the President of the Supreme Court has made it perfectly clear that they are not bound by judgements from Strasbourg. Parliament just has to ‘take account of them’. So by pulling out of the Convention (which can’t apply to Northern Ireland or Scotland and perhaps Wales) we give the power to enforce human rights to the Luxembourg court. Far, far worse than the present position. It is all alarmingly bonkers and not thought through. Poor old Gove is going to have some sleepless nights over this. If the government does have a crack at it it is unlikely to win a majority.If you want to read an excellent demolition of Dan Hannan’s case for pulling out of the Covention have a look at @barristerblog.

But a word from one of Max’s dinosaurs. It is not crying wolf to say that the justice system is about to collapse. The CPS is so overworked, underfunded and understaffed that it is unable to devote the time to the proper preparation of cases at the Crown Court. Last week I was prosecuting a serious matter at the old Bailey. No brief arrived. No file arrived. I wasn’t flying by the seat of my pants, I was flying totally blind. I had to conduct the trial by borrowing the judge’s papers. And they were inadequate. Was justice properly served? You must be joking.

Yesterday I had to offer no evidence where a mentally damaged young man was allegedly being tortured and beaten by his brother. Crucial medical evidence couldn’t be obtained. There was just not the time or the staff to do it. Is this justice? Is this protecting the public? Like hell it is. And these are not isolated incidents. Walk into any robing room and you will hear the same story, over and over again. Speak to any circuit judge and they will share their total frustration at the hopelessness of it all. If the public were told the truth about what is really happening in our courts there would be an outcry. And rather than be revered, our legal system would be the laughing stock of the civilised world. In 2012 forty five homicide trials failed because the CPS provided insufficient or no evidence after a not guilty plea. God knows what the figure would be last year.The poor guys just can’t cope

Like many barristers I really love my job. If I won the lottery I wouldn’t retire. Not only has it become an expensive pastime it is a tragedy to see the system on the brink of total collapse. Can I honestly put my hand on my heart and claim that the Overriding Objective is being fulfilled? Of course not. Oh, Max you might like to know what the Overriding Objective is. ‘Acquitting the innocent and convicting the guilty’. Unfortunately the Mail won’t pay you to write about it.

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UKIP & Labour are fighting over an ideology. If you want a religion go to church. Cameron's ideology free zone is a strength not a weakness

16 May 2015 at 10:32

I don’t believe for one moment that the Edstone is laying unloved in a Woolwich warehouse guarded unloved by its engraver who is a Tory supporter. This must be a wicked lie told by the Tory press to a cowed and desperate people whom Rupert Murdoch and the Conservative fear machine has terrified into submission. The truth is that the Edstone has been secretly moved to shrine in Andy Burnham’s basement where once a day Len McLuskey, Yvette Cooper, the shadow Health Secretary come for inspiration, meditation and prayer. Polly Toynbee and Owen Jones are allowed to preach about its powers. For surely like the stone in 2001 it possesses the mystical ability to grant life or death. Hooded and robed in scarlet the last priests of socialism perform their rights and incantations to curse their enemies to eternal damnation. In a puff of red incense the political career of Chuka exploded into a billion atoms helped by a nasty little piece in Labour List. Kendall should not be too much of a problem to liquidate. They will smear her as lightweight and a joke candidate. Tristram will take a little longer. They will smear him with faint praise, plant stories by aides that he was never quite up to the job of even being shadow education secretary. Maybe leak a few Cambridge photos of him looking posh, languid and entitled. And anyway, ‘he is far to nice’, they will snigger.

So unless something radical happens there will be just two serious players in the field. Cooper and Burnham will slug it out as to who will be leader and deputy. All the while the unions will be stuffing the ballot boxes with their placemen. They will make misty eyed speeches about the beating heart of Labour, about how families will be trodden under the vicious Jack boot of Osborne and how soon the NHS will be owned by fat cats putting profit before care. The depressing thing is that nobody on the left has contemplated what would happen if they are proved to be wrong. What on earth would they tell voters if Britain’s economy continues in a upward path, if more families are taken off benefits and into the world of work, if the NHS does flourish? What is their narrative? Praying for a disaster rarely works as the Tories found to their cost post 1997.

But this is nothing compared to the genocide that is happening within UKIP. Casting Douglas Carswell as some sort of manipulative villain is almost beyond parody. He seems the sort of fellow who would be perfectly at home as Dean of a run down school of theology. And now the money men are issuing conflicting orders on whom should be executed. There is something deliciously Daily Mash about a party being financed by a spread better and a pornographer. And the more the Eternal Leader snarls, shouts and barks in thin skinned aggression the more he morphs into the Munchian picture painted by O’Flynn.

But the KIPPERS seem to be in the midst of an ideological war just like Labour. The old guard, decent old Tory sorts versus the aggressive tea party neo con types. It has always struck me that the aides that surround the Eternal Leader look as if they have just returned from the terraces of a Millwall match.

The problem the Labour and UKIP is that they are fighting for an ideology. A belief system which the faithful can unswervingly worship. It is pathetically out of date and out of touch. What gripes the Amish wing of the Tories is that ideology has been off the menu since Cameron took over. They always crowed that this was his weakness. This election has shown that it is his strength. If the British people want a religion they can go to church. If they want jobs, prosperity and social mobility they want a party that can give them hope of delivery.

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Farage is the Archie Rice of British politics. Dead behind the eyes. He has a dangerous enemy in O'Flynn. His card is marked

14 May 2015 at 10:43

I imagine that The Eternal Leader will be lining up his field guns for a mass execution of dissenters. I suspect that the gilt has worn off the Farage gingerbread. You can be a dictator when you are winning, but once you lose the magic dust, once your party gets fed up with your thin skinned snarling tantrums the circling sharks will sniff your blood and come in for the kill. The time for the defenestration of Farage is when the public finally cotton on to the fact that his bonhomied, hail-fellow-well-met is an artifice. Look at his eyes when he laughs. Dead. He is the Archie Rice of British politics.

To take on Douglas Carswell on a matter of principle is an act of insanity. Trying to trouser £650,000 quid a year off the taxpayer is a jape too far. The British public probably secretly approve of the Kippers plundering the Brussels coffers, but they draw the line at them slurping from our trough. Short money is given purely for Parliamentary activity. I have always wondered how long Carswell could put up with Farage’s posturing. I would imagine the time will soon come when he renounces UKIP and sits as an independent praying that the Tories will take him back in 2020.

Patrick O’Flynn’s broadside make Geoffrey Howe’s resignation speech a pean of praise. I suspect he was itching to deliver it since his economic policy was snatched away from him and he was publicly humiliated. Patrick is a very big and dangerous fish in a small pond. He, as former political editor of the Express, is a Westminster insider. He is an expert in where to plant the poisoned daggers. And this morning’s stiletto will be the first of many. He also has the ear of Richard Desmond whose £1 million pound investment has not produced a yield.

And what of Suzanne Evans? She has just had the leadership stolen from her in the most cynical and brazen way. She is nobodies fool. She must be smarting. In the interests of unity they might just stick with him until after the referendum. But I doubt it. His card is marked. The plotting has begun. I’ll give him six months. Tops.

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Farage has become the Eternal Leader, union barons are trying butcher Chuka & Tristram while Farron will make it Jeremy Thorpe without the sex

12 May 2015 at 13:55

Now that the dust has settled and the stretcher bearers and grave diggers have gone home, it is time to see which way the political wind might blow. I can’t understand why Labour needs to search it’s soul and find out what went wrong as it is so blindingly obvious. There was no great enthusiasm to vote Conservative but there was a terror of letting socialism in. Labour strategists should have woken up to the total distrust the electorate have of them when Ed refused to accept on Leaders’ Question Time that Labour had overspent. The titters and sharp intake of breathe by the audience really summed up the mood of the country.

Cameron has successfully rebranded the Tories as the the aspirational party. Proper One Nationism may drive the Rampton Wing to distraction but they are in hardly any position to complain. All those yellow bellies who flirted with the Kippers and wanted a deal must be feeling very foolish indeed. We know where you live.

So what of Labour? If they chose Cooper, Reeves or Burnham the champagne corks will be popping at Number 10 because it would have shown that they they have learned nothing. Dan Jarvis, who would have been formidable, has ruled himself out of the leadership but not of the Shadow Cabinet, is a lost resource. But what of Chuka and Tristram? Smooth, good looking, articulate and reasonable. God, how the left will hate them. Chuka has more baggage than Tristram, that Wiki rewrite will always come back to haunt him, and he can be a bit clunky on the telly. My money is on Tristram. What’s the worst you can say about him? Posh, academic, er, that’s about it. But the unions will want to butcher these these two. And it has started. OMOV (how did Hattie let them get away with that piece of gratuitous sexism?) will be in place in time for the leadership election. This means the union barons are frantically signing up their goons (the count so far is 22,000 and rising) to get Burnham or Cooper in. They might succeed.

And what of the Lib Dems? Of course Tim Farron will win. Personable, witty, and left wing he is the darling of the grass roots. Most important of all he cleverly managed to be semi detached from the coalition. Poor old Norman Lamb hasn’t a prayer. Oh, and the latest count for new members is 3,000. I would imagine that this is down to theTim machine. But what would happen to the Orange bookers? It will be Jeremy Thorpe Liberalism without the sex.

Now the KIPPERS. Farage has become the Eternal Leader. And his style is very North Korean. Dissent will not be tolerated. But UKIP is pretty well finished. They may have won 4 million votes and that’s why they will flog that dead horse of voting reform. Too late matey, we’ve had the referendum. If you can’t win Thanet, Thurrock and Broxtowe when you are riding high in the polls you are stuffed. And what happens to them if the good sense of the British people prevails and we remain in a reformed EU? The rock on which they were built would have shattered. They would revert to form as the shouty men in the saloon bar party. Rather annoying and odd.

So now Cameron can mould the Conservative party in his own image; decent, compassionate and doing the right thing. Some won’t like it. But the new intake of Tories seem to be a very sensible bunch. So what will be his legacy? Hopefully to have kept Britain in the EU and the United Kingdom intact. And ensure the torch is passed to George Osborne. None are forgone conclusions.

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Grayling's problem was not having a legal qualification but not having a heart. Gove has and must use it to bring back humanity to our system of justice

10 May 2015 at 07:39

Nobody can be more delighted than me that Michael Gove has been made Secretary of State for Justice and that the gothic horror of Grayling has been finally exorcised from the department. I am not suggesting that the legal profession should be dancing in the streets; for the time being lets just concentrate on Grayling’s grave.

The spin is that Gove is to oversee the abolition of the Human Rights Act and replace it with some sort of British confection. To be honest it’s all smoke and mirrors. The new British Act won’t be much different from the old one but at least we can claim it as our own. The real problem is how not to bugger it all up by pulling out of the European Convention which is not as easy as it seems. My advice? Long grass and have a drink with Dominic Grieve. He will tell you how to fudge it. Let’s get the referendum out of the way first.

The reason Gove is there is because sorting out the MOJ is one of the biggest and most dangerous jobs in government. Grayling left a toxic wasteland where civil servants roam the smoking rubble bayoneting the wounded. Officials control their ministers with policies that are destroying our system of justice. They have to be reined in or sacked. Gove is a master of this. Political control of policies must be restored.

His first day brief will be jaw dropping. He will discover that the legal aid budget has not been spiralling out of the control but was reducing well before the Grayling cuts. He will realise that the brief that the whips had to swallow that we the most expensive legal aid system in Europe is a lie. We come twelfth out of fourteen. He will read reports from HM Inspectors of prisons that incarceration in Britain is dangerous and unsafe with a record level of self harm and suicides. He will see that those contracted to run our system are inefficient , corrupt and fraudulent who have been ripping the taxpayer off for years. He will see a gradual attempt to silence the judiciary. And he will be horrified that the independent bar where most of our judges are drawn is not just on its knees but faces extinction. Michael Gove is a decent man. He will be angry, he will wonder how any Conservative Secretary of State could let this happen on his watch. Worse, encourage it to happen. Grayling was the Dementor who sucked humanity and hope from our prisons. The most despicable trait about him is that he regarded it as a badge of honour when every senior judge or barrister warned him of the havoc he was wreaking.

His problem was not having a legal qualification but not having a heart. When a backbencher warned him that his reforms would put our legal system into the hands of the likes of the Co-op he leered that ‘they have very good funeral services’. That is the measure of the man.

Michael, you will not be short of advice but here is some. Build bridges, listen, consult. Find out from those who really care about our justice system how it can be repaired. We will help you with efficiencies. We will help you breathe life into a creaking system which is on the verge of collapse. We are not your enemies; just battered, bruised and confused how a Conservative government could dismantle the most revered system of justice in the world.

And it is not too late. You can turn this around. Even officials at your department recommended to Grayling that there be a moratorium on rolling out the destructive system of two tier contracting for solicitors which will wipe out three quarters of High Street firms, eradicate the independent bar and place legal advice into the hands of those who don’t give a damn about quality just profit. All I ask is put this on hold before it is too late. Then make up your mind on the evidence. You may not be legally qualified but you do have a heart and a soul. Let this be an early priority.

And to my colleagues I say give Gove a chance. Let him consult, let him listen. But if he is sucked into the seventh circle of hell by a cabal of dangerous officials and ignores us let loose the dogs of war. This is a battle for survival.

I trust Michael Gove. I believe that he can deliver. I hope to God that I am right.

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The real loser in this election has been Boris. And prepare for an SNP psycho drama.

9 May 2015 at 08:14

There are two very disappointed men in Westminster, Boris Johnson and Graham Brady. This was to be their moment. After a gruelling election where there was no overall majority, a weak and wounded Cameron was to be given the pearl handled revolver and bottle of whisky by the 1922 committee and Boris anointed as the great saviour easing the Tories back into power. It was not to be. Some of us were warning that it was never to be. Some of us remember 1992 and the extraordinary common sense of the British people. And some of us predicted what was to happen.

Boris is the real tragedy. He is stuck in a place that he doesn’t care too much for in a constituency that doesn’t care too much for him. He has not been whisked to greatness. He will have to endure the cruellest punishment of all; serving out the rest of his term as mayor. I may be wrong but Cameron can’t give him a proper job until his mayoralty fizzles to an end. And then what? He is a big beast with no lair. And there are no big vacancies. George Osborne is eying up the curtains of Number 10 which he deserves to inherit and he won’t let Boris anywhere near the centre of power.

So what is to be done with him? That glorious non job of Party Chairman? Perhaps. But does he really want to spend a couple of years on the rubber chicken circuit grinning at swooning Tory matrons? I doubt it. Poor Boris is going to have to do something that he instinctively despises. Work. He is going to have to stalk the bars and the tea rooms sucking up to backbenchers in the hope that one day they will vote for him. Has he got the will, has he got the stamina? Can he be arsed? Schadenfreude for thought.

Cameron’s enemies have not so much been destroyed as seriously wounded. The Labour Party will do what they are best at; wallow in self pity and political genocide. There will be the usual fighting for the soul of the party nonsense and the Blairites will pay off old scores. Tony Blair must be grinning from ear to ear. There was a very good reason that he won three victories. He was not a socialist and didn’t frighten the children and horses. If Andy Burnham is elected as leader it will show that they have learned nothing.

But there will be another psycho drama. There will be a power struggle in the SNP. Sturgeon may be queen of the tartan jungle but in murdering Labour she has been personally responsible for a Conservative government. She must be feeling a bit queasy. And at PMQs every Wednesday someone else will have two questions as of right. If Salmond is not elected as leader of the Parliamentary Party I will be astonished. Who will be calling the shots then?

Sturgeon’s career can only be on a downhill trajectory. The Scots have had a great party. Once the hangover begins one or two people might worry that they are electing a one party state. The Parliamentary elections are in 2016. Labour and the Tories have everything to play for. One of the great triumphs of this election was the feisty and charismatic Ruth Davidson. She is a woman to watch and will be a force to reckon with. She will give Sturgeon a serious headache.

And Cameron? The UKIP monkey is off his back. All this silly talk of them holding the balance of power was always fairy dust. Who is going to lead them? Carswell? Has he the inclination, the will or the stamina? He may be misguided but is basically a decent guy. Cameron would be wise to offer the hand of friendship. He can always re rat. But back to the Prime Minister. He has won an election and will never fight another one. He will be able to leave the political stage with his head held high. Unless there is an almighty fuck up over the EU referendum. Ah, it’s not going to be all wine and roses after all. Do a deal with Juncker and get it out of the way quickly. And pray that the inherent good sense of the British people prevails again. Why on earth do people actually want to be Prime Minister?

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We no longer judge politicians on straight answers but on their level of obfuscation. Farage was sinister. Cooper out of touch . Clegg revealing

3 May 2015 at 09:34

Yvette Cooper, Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg were very revealing in their obfuscation on Marr today. It is strange that we don’t judge a politician on straight answers any more, just their degree of opaqueness. Cooper can’t admit the obvious that any government putting through legislation can’t do it blindfolded. There are always discussions with usual channels or in their case the unusual channels of the SNP. To fail to do this leads to Parliamentary paralysis. Nigel Farage’s failure to explain that part of his manifesto where those who disapprove of different lifestyles will be ‘accommodated’ was eerily instructive. Now that should send a shiver down the spine of those who believe in tolerance and equality.

But Nick Clegg’s good humoured dodging whether an EU referendum was a red line was most revealing. His ploy was clever. The subtext is if you give me more money for the NHS and the most vulnerable in society I won’t scupper your referendum plans. This will cause horror on two levels. The Cameron haters on the Rampton wing have always screeched that this is their red line and their excuse to dump him. They will have to think of another cunning plan. Oh, I think they have. They want a secret ballot on any referendum deals. In other words a coward’s charter to stab him in the back from the shadows of obscurity. Constituency associations will be furious. The Rampton view is that the imperative to to defenestrate Cameron. An SNP/Labour deal would be a disaster and wreck the economy and after a year the Tories would romp back with Boris at the helm. Bollocks. The country would never forgive them. Worse the SNP are only interested in leverage for the 2026 elections and a springboard into a referendum.

Then there is the horror for Cleggy. Cable is on manoeuvres. Grass roots don’t want another coalition with the Tories, they prefer Labour. But the red line for Ed would be Clegg’s head. Tim Farron in government with them propped up by the SNP? We might as well hoist the red flag over Downing Street now.

And then there is Ed. Unless he is Prime Minister, he is dead man walking. He wouldn’t hang on for long and then take up an academic post where he would be deliriously happy

Just a few days to go and everything to play for. Forty percent still haven’t decided. My guts tell me that this is ground hog day for 1992 but my head is deeply troubled.

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Cozying up to anarchist chic is a terrible mistake. Brand will do what he does best. Take the piss

29 Apr 2015 at 09:06

Until Russell Brand became the David Icke of politics I used to find him rather funny. Years ago my kids bought me the DVD of his stand up routine on wanking which still stands up pretty well. I particularly enjoyed his shtick about the attractions of the nozzle belonging to a smiley vacuum cleaner called Henry. But I do wish entertainers would keep out of politics for their own good. Because whatever they say will alienate large tranches of those who would normally pay to see them. Politics is bad for business. Or in Brand’s case maybe it’s not. Maybe this modern day messiah’s rather quirky views puts bums on seats. Which raises the Ed question. Who needs each other more, Miliband or Brand? It’s a bit of a no brainer really. Brand will get acres of free publicity out of this very effective stunt. And he will be given the imprimatur of legitimacy. He has persuaded the incarnation of everything he despises, money, class, privilege and Oxbridge to sit down and record an interview. It’s win, win, win. He’s even got Owen Jones on side to write a predictable piece in the Guardian. I am very fond of Owen but he has become a sort of Katie Hopkins figure of the left. Not in the vile and sinister comment sense as Owen is basically a decent guy. It is that he is employed to write about and champion the unheard voices of the far left. So that’s what he does; rather well. So to keep his column sometimes he has to justify the totally bonkers.

But Jones and Brand have tapped into a real problem. There are a lot of folk, particularly the young, who feel that society has passed them by. They feel excluded. They do not belong. They are victims of a crap education in sink schools on estates where drugs, gangs, unemployment and failure are a way of life. This is a generalisation, but there is a ring of truth nevertheless. Brand has tapped into their despair. He has connected. But he should be giving them hope, he should be encouraging them to channel their anger into political activity. To fight for change. To fight for the right to a decent life. To use their vote.

Smashing the system is great when you are a dozy, driven undergraduate when mummy and daddy are paying the bills and stand bail when the police catch you bravely graffiti a penis on your MP’s front door. Revolution tends to be a middle class pastime. A right of passage until a door is opened to a decent job. As for the people who have every right to feel bitter? Well, they were a great vehicle for moneyed conscience to take a short spin in. But they will still be on the scrap heap and feel betrayed by those who used them.

Brand should be encouraging these people to vote. To fight for a fair deal. Yet all he does is wallow in an anarchic fantasy where he is the star. Interestingly his latest venture in named The Emperor’s New Clothes. Rather than him standing Christlike on the posters he should pictured stark bollock naked.

But if I can smell a fraud why can’t Miliband? Whatever possessed him to grant an interview to Brand? Whatever made him speak in a Dick Van Dyke faux cockney accent? He cannot come out of this well. If Brand endorses a member of the establishment he loses all credibility. He will be finished. So he will do what he is very good at. He will take the piss.

Maybe Miliband thinks that by engaging in this way he will attract the youth vote. The very people whom Brand in entreating not to vote! Barmy.

If Miliband really wanted to gain some street cred he should grant an interview to the Artist Taxi Driver. I did it the other day out of curiosity. It was a little weird. Mark drove to Wood Green Crown Court where I was prosecuting and I sat in his car was was interviewed for half an hour. We are on different planets. He is of the far left and is convinced that most Tories are corrupt baby eating bastards. And he gives a hard interview. He does his homework. But he is the real deal. Utterly authentic. And he cares. Labour’s minders would not let Ed within a mile of Artist Taxi Driver because he is genuine.

Choreographed stunts in back gardens and cozying up to a chic anarchist has destroyed any image of normality. The British people will take no lecterns from Ed Miliband.

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Don't just worry about Sturgeon. Socialism will be on the March with an Orc army of UNITE puppet MPs

26 Apr 2015 at 10:47

It’s only old farts like me who remember the death throes of the Callaghan minority government. The trouble is it was not a government at all, it was an enormous pork barrel where the meat was pretty rancid. And every minority party demanded a share. I remember dear old Merlyn Rees, who was Home Secretary at the time, explained to me over a drink how confidence and supply used to work. ‘Jim and I used to wander the tearooms and give the boys what they wanted’. So when Miliband said on Marr this morning that there will be no deal with SNP he may have been telling the truth. The reality is that each parliamentary vote will be a nightmare of deals. Everyone would be paying everybody else off. And Sturgeon has one aim. Make a killing at the 2016 Scottish elections with a manifesto commitment to an early referendum and then hold a gun to the head of Miliband with an offer he would not be allowed to refuse.

But Sturgeon is only part of this nightmare scenario. Most people have forgotten about Labour’s die hard Socialists on the back benches. They have forgotten about Len McCluskey and his army of sponsored MPs. How many of them in rock solid seats will there be? Fifty? Sixty? More? We just don’t know. But it will be in serious double figures. Combine that with Plaid and the SNP and you have a significant force of the left. A dangerous Orc army hell bent on singing from the yellowed pages of the Socialist song book.

Socialism died in 1979 and was buried in 1997. And now Miliband will forced to exhume the body. Well, hardly forced; he will be using his shovel with relish. Digging for victory. Apart from a tiny minority, there is no stomach for Socialism in the UK. It is a failed experiment which has brought France to its knees and is trashing Greece. But have the Tories cried wolf too often on this? The demon eyes campaign in 1997 was ridiculous. New Labour won power for so long because it had consigned left wing ideology to the cemetery. People were no longer afraid. Well they should be now. Never has the threat been so great.

It is right that the Tories should spend the last few days of the campaign concentrating on the economy, but it would be insane not to warn of the dangers of a grand Socialist coalition. If the opinion polls are still at stalemate on the Monday before polling day the markets will get rattled and money will flow out of Britain. To the left this will be a badge of honour. To the rest of us it will be a taste of the horrors to come. The bond markets will lose confidence, interest rates will be under threat and inflation will begin to creep up as the unions will demand higher wages with threats of industrial action. And the economy will crash. Investors would flee the country, tax receipts would be in free fall and there would be no money to keep the NHS alive. I have always trusted the common sense of the British people. They usually get elections right. It will be decided by the undecided of which there are legions.

The Tories should be reminding voters of the catastrophe of the most dangerous political coalition this country has seen in years; Brown, Balls and Miliband and pose the simple question, ‘can you afford to take the risk?’

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The DPP was right not to prosecute Janner. But we need to know who made the decsion not to prosecute years ago and why

18 Apr 2015 at 16:16

As there is such a lot of misinformation about the Lord Janner case whizzing about on social media I thought it might be helpful to give a brief guide as to what has happened. The DPP, Alison Saunders, has played this one by the book.

The first test is on the available evidence is there a realistic chance of a conviction. The answer to that was yes. But before everyone starts pointing fingers and making assumptions remember that everyone who appears in a criminal court has had to have passed this test. And until conviction they are still just allegations as they have not been proved.

The second test is it in the public interest to prosecute. The DPP said no. Four highly qualified doctors, two from the CPS and two from the defence were unanimous that Janner was not fit to stand trial. Any thought of corruption collusion and cover up just borders on the bonkers. It is an important principle of law that there must be equality of arms and there must be a fair trial. If a person cannot understand what is going on, nor give instructions to his lawyers no judge would allow a trial to get off the ground. So the decision by the DPP is both sound in law and common sense.

As part of the public interest decision she would have to consider the other option, should she take this to trial and go through the fitness to plead procedures. Before trial a defendant has to be arraigned. This means that they have to plead guilty or not guilty. But before they can do that they will have to have been advised on the strength of the evidence. If they can’t understand what on earth is going on they are unable to make a valid plea. Whether a person is fit to plead is a matter for the judge based on medical evidence and legal argument. If the judge rules in favour a jury is sworn and they hear the evidence and make a decision by weighing up the evidence. If they are agreed that what the prosecution says happened did happen then the judge decides on a Mental Health Act disposal which very often means, depending on the seriousness, a spell in a secure hospital until it is safe enough for him to be released.

What the DPP had to consider is whether Janner was likely to commit further offences. Clearly not. And for serious dementia any form of Mental Health Act disposal doesn’t fly.

Fitness to plead procedure is not uncommon, I am prosecuting a couple at the moment. They are due process. They protect the public and the patient. They are fair. The DPP decision not to prosecute is not fitness to plead procedure just a decision not to prosecute. And the DPP got it right.
However, their should be an enquiry by a judge as to what made the CPS decide not to prosecute all those years ago. If there was enough evidence to give a realistic chance of prosecution now, why not then? Who took the decision and on what basis and who was consulted. And why wasn’t the then DPP Ken MacDonald shown the papers?

The Cyril Smith and Saville cover ups cast an indelible stain on British justice. They may be the tip of an iceberg. Painful as it will be, for the sake of confidence in our system and to try and right the wrongs of those whose lives have been wrecked because of abuse we really must have some answers no matter how inconvenient or damaging they might be.

As for Janner he has not been convicted of anything. Talk of stripping him of his peerage, even if we could, is the ‘no smoke without fire’ horror that has left lives in ruins. Something has gone horribly wrong here and we need the answers. There will be a paper trail.

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