Category Archives: UK

A Thing A Blogging UK Magistrate Wants Known

‘Bystander’, the pseudonymous UK magistrate (a court of first instance for lower-level offenses) blogger, wants you to know something. Well, actually he wants all British news editors to know it:



Just sayin’, as they say.

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Anarchy in the UK

As it happens, I’m in the UK only a few miles from where this was posted on the door of a Manchester Subway:

(For an ironic corrective, see this compendium.)

The more pervasive rioting has been in London, including a major tear-up of the main street in Hackney, Mare Street, which was about a mile from Homerton, which where I lived when I first moved to London.

The Internet suggests there are signs of returning normalcy. Commentators on the #Manchester hashtag, for example, say much of the damage, including broken glass, has already been replaced.

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Charon, QC Receives a Sales Call

Charon, QC is a blogging barrister. Charon deals with cold callers: 101

Caller: Can I speak to Charon please?

Charon: Speaking.

Caller: You are Charon of The Staterooms, Battersea?

Charon: Yes…and you are?

Caller: We are doing conservatories in your area and wondered if you would be interested in hearing about the opportunity we can give you.

Charon: Yes, but you do realise that I am a lawyer and I charge everyone for my time? I've just started the time clock running. Can you provide your credit card or AMEX card details, please?

Caller: Sorry? I'm not with you.

Charon: It is perfectly straightforward. I am a lawyer. I charge for my time. Nothing in this world I live in is free. You called me up to ask if you could speak to me — ergo, you want to buy some of my time. Time is money. I take money. In fact, I have a most useful device from Barclays which allows me to take money from your account and put it straight into my account. Can you provide your credit card or AMEX card details, please?

Caller: I'm not sure I understand…you want to charge me money to listen to what I have to tell you?

Charon: Bingo!

Caller: Bingo?

Charon: Bingo!…yes, you have understood the position perfectly. Can you provide your credit card or AMEX card details, please?

Caller: This is ridiculous…..

Charon: What is ridiculous?

Caller: That you want to charge me for calling you.

Charon: I don't see what is ridiculous about it. I have to make a living, as you do. I didn't call you. You called me to ask if I would listen to you tell me about conservatories. I said that I was happy to do this, warned you that I am a lawyer and charge for my time, and then asked you for your card details so that you can pay my fees for listening to you.

Caller: This is mad.

Charon: Mad? Fortunately this call is not being broadcast for you have just slandered me by calling me mad and as I've just finished writing a chapter on the law of defamation for my new Tort book, I'm fairly well up on libel.

Caller: I haven't libelled you.

Charon: Technically, because there is no publication to a third party in this instance, you have not libelled, but calling me 'mad' when I am not, could found an action in defamation, had I been broadcasting this conversation; one which even in these anti-libel days we live in I may well have won.

Caller: This is now getting more ridiculous…. I am terminating the call.

Charon: Did I tell you that I am on the third floor of a block of flats? I assumed, given your thorough market research, you were aware of this. In the circumstances, I was fascinated to hear how you were going to build a conservatory for me. I haven't seen many conservatories hanging off the side of mansion block buildings. I was genuinely keen to learn….

Caller: CLICK

Of course, by quoting the whole wonderful thing I have probably exceeded fair use, and can now expect a writ the next time I visit London…

Posted in Shopping, UK | 2 Comments

UK to Scrap National ID Cards

Official statement just released on the IPS website,

Both Parties that now form the new Government stated in their manifestos that they will cancel Identity Cards and the National Identity Register. We will announce in due course how this will be achieved. Applications can continue to be made for ID cards but we would advise anyone thinking of applying to wait for further announcements.

First fruits of the Con-LibDem coalition.

Posted in ID Cards and Identification, UK | 3 Comments

We Predicted This Would Happen: Man Jailed in UK for Failing to Disclose Passphrase

UK jails schizophrenic for refusal to decrypt files.

In the UK under the odious Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), if you are served with an order to disclose a passphrase to an encrypted file and you don't, you're guilty.

We saw this coming ten years ago,

Caspar Bowden, director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, said ministers still had the power to reintroduce such “objectionable proposals” later as regulations. He said two new offences in the bill raised serious civil liberties concerns:

“The bill will give police the power to demand decryption keys from anyone they suspect of possessing them, and failure to hand keys over can lead to a two-year jail sentence.

“Defendants will be presumed guilty of withholding a key unless they can prove otherwise, a likely contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights, and decryption notices will be secret, so it will be impossible to complain effectively if they are used in an oppressive way.”

A “tipping-off” offence could prevent innocent associates from complaining publicly, with a penalty of five-years imprisonment, he added.

The National Council for Civil Liberties took a similar line. Liberty's Director, John Wadham, said :

“These powers are too sweeping, and in some respects problematic. It's difficult to discern quite how an individual could prove that they didn't have a key: you can't prove a negative. This reversal of the burden of proof may well infringe the right to a fair trial. The indefinite gagging order on any individual whose e-mail has been intercepted is extraordinary.”

A Home Office spokeswoman denied the bill would mean defendants being presumed guilty. “The bill doesn't reverse the onus of proof, the authorities still have to prove that an offence has been committed for it to get off the ground,” she said.

What Sir Humphrey didn't tell the reporter, of course, is that the relevant “offence” is not disclosing the passphrase, not some underlying crime — of which in this case there is no evidence, although the defendant certainly has issues. But there's evidence that he didn't disclose his passphrase, and that is all it takes to jail him for nine months.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Cryptography, UK | 3 Comments

No Gavels in English Courts? But I Saw it on the BBC

According to Marcel Berlins, English judges have never had gavels, despite what you routinely see on the BBC.

He is not amused.

(via The Magistrate's Blog)

Posted in UK | 1 Comment