A snapshot of the Justice system, 2018

1 Prison riot- cuts are to blame http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-43441542  I have blogged about my recent experience defending in a mutiny trial HERE

Google reviews (aka condemnation) for British Courts https://www.theguardian.com/technology/shortcuts/2018/mar/04/guilty-uk-magistrates-courts-condemned-by-google-reviews

Knee-jerk reaction-proposed new law to tackle the scourge of “killer cyclists” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-5459411/Review-set-recommend-new-law-causing-death-dangerous-cycling–report.html

Another useless ex Lord Chancellor popped up this week, the lamentable Liz Truss  describes lawyers as part of a ” blob like elite” as described inthis article.


Wood Green: I successfully defended someone charged with sex assault, after he had allegedly grabbed a nurse on the breast in the secure unit of the mental health hospital where she worked, and had been detained under the Mental Health Act for 10 months.

Court of Appeal: I successfully appealed a sentence last month in a robbery case where the judge had misapplied the guidelines and failed to properly consider totality of sentence. It is important to be familiar with the “TIC and Totality” guideline , and to remind sentencing tribunals of the principle that “where consecutive sentences are passed to consider if the aggregate length is just and proportionate

Vigil for Justice -film Well done to the Justice Alliance for this event. Watch their short fact-filled films on Justice on their twitter feed or via film-maker Jason Parkinson’s website here https://jasonnparkinson.com/2018/04/19/the-justice-alliance-time4justice-campaign/


A “day at Highbury Court” as reported in the Gazette. A good account of a typical day, although no reference to the touting activities that Highbury Court is infamous for. Also mentions the lack of lock on the door of advocates room that Defence lawyers have been raising with the Court service without success for over 4 years…

Crack-down on homelessness. Windsor council “moved on” homeless people before the royal wedding, whilst allowing people with homes to pitch tents and camp along the route of the procession. The Courts are increasingly dealing with homeless and vulnerable people more harshly than our Victorian forebears, as reported in the Guardian.

As duty solicitor earlier this year I represented somebody at City of Westminster Magistrates Court for sitting on a pavement. They had a criminal behaviour order that prohibited them from sitting on a pavement. The Met arrested them and CPS prosecuted them for sitting on a pavement.

Court service job losses https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/may/02/6500-jobs-to-be-lost-in-modernisation-of-uk-courts

Charter for Justice launch film here.

Strike. Almost all counsel’s chambers on the South Eastern continue to decline instructions in new legal aid cases. So do I. Full list here. Law Society guidance for solicitors in cases where Advocates have declined to act in Crown Court matters has been updated-here. Judicial guidance here

New changes to PACE Codes of Practice here


Grayling was trending again on twitter (and not in a good way) this week after ongoing train cancellations and timetable shambles. Chris was supposed to meet MPs but had to cancel some meetings after he didn’t timetable them properly (I’m not making this up) and then gave a statement in the house where he said that those responsible should resign.

It’s completely unacceptable to have someone operationally in control and not taking responsibility,” Failing Grayling declared hysterically.At that moment, satire died. (Full sketch by John Grace here, and here is a further extract: If you were writing a new series of The Thick of It, you’d hesitate to create a character like Chris Grayling for fear no one would believe in him. Even in the current cabinet, a confederacy of dunces where the sole qualifications for membership are being a bit dim and entirely incompetent, the transport secretary is a class apart. To say that Failing Grayling has more than his fair share of bad days is a category error. Because that implies he has the occasional good one. He doesn’t. Every day is a desperate, losing struggle against the chaos caused by his own hopelessness. But even for a man who has turned his failure into a monumental work of performance art, Monday hit a new low. Or, as Grayling might see it, a total triumph. The moment he formally achieved the coveted status of the idiot’s idiot”

(Read more about Grayling HERE )

June I had honoured my pledge to support the bar action, as a result of which was without work for a considerable period. I was bitterly disappointed at the conduct of the CBA, who met the MoJ alone (without solicitors, despite calls for unity and joint negotiations) and denying HCAs a vote in their ballot.

£200million wasted on Court digitalisation project https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/03/up_to_200m_wasted_on_court_digitisation_plans/

Memory Lane -and bridging the Gap

It was 15 years ago that I finished the mentoring project that ended up being broadcast as part of the BBC documentary series Make Me Honest. During that time, both the Court and my hair have gone, but both Carla and Michael are doing well.

Now I am part of a new mentoring project- Bridging the Gap Islington. Can you help?

We need individuals or firms to join as supporters, sponsors or patrons. For a relatively modest sum, you or your practice can be linked to this small, volunteer-run charity. Contact me to find out more!

Call to Arms? CBA consider resuming action on fees https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/criminal-bar-lifts-lid-on-utterly-inadequate-fees/5068038.article

Judges got 2% https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/judges-to-get-2-annual-pay-rise/5068092.article

Tweet tweet! 🐦 The incoming DPP (Max Hill) will be the first in the job to have a Twitter account and says he will use it to build confidence in the CPS.

Hearsay in DV cases with Hostile witness: Griffiths v CPS.
The appellant appealed by way of case stated the decision of the Justices not to stay the action for an abuse of process. The submission was that the defence was unduly prejudiced by the refusal of the key witness to submit to cross-examination, depriving the appellant of a fair trial. The witness had commented “we both done wrong” but had also accepted in her initial statement that she had bitten and kicked the appellant during the incident. The Court were entitled to say, “it is open to us, properly directing ourselves, to treat Miss Smith as a truthful witness notwithstanding her behaviour in Court this morning”.
The Court held that the Justices were entitled to reach the conclusion that they did, and there was no error in failing to accede to the submission of no case to answer.
Full Transcript

 SENTENCE The Law Commission have published the draft Sentencing Code alongside an accompanying Report on 22/11. Full Report 

Medieval Animal Trial, Leeds. Delighted to have taken part in the Compass Festival in Leeds last month. My blog here

LCCSA 70. watch the film here https://youtu.be/oXvz9nVVA7A


Breakfast Court Victory. HMCTS have confirmed the proposed projects for “flexible” (aka extended) court sitting hours for criminal courts have finally been abandoned (detail here)



Naughty Court usher up North https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6465731/Court-usher-46-suspended-having-sex-video-link-room.html

And naughty police with naughty solicitor in Wales https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6511443/Detective-caught-having-loud-sex-married-female-lawyer-police-station-KEEPS-job.html