Tuesday, 1 November 2011

I have found our next Prime Minister

Good news, I have found our next Prime Minister!

Don't worry though, we don't have to abandon elections just yet, because I have a list of three names for you to chose from all of whom are currently unemployed and thus can start tomorrow.

First, is Giles Fraser.  He has been in the news recently as he resigned as Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral.  He is against violence and so when he become concerned that evicting the protesters from the church yard would end in violence he chose to have no part in it and resigned!  MPs in general take note, this is integrity.

Second up is Fraser Dyer, a Chaplin at St Paul's who resigned because he felt "embarrassed by the position taken by the Dean and Chapter" of the cathedral.  In other words, his bosses made a decision that he could not support on principle so he refused to support it and resigned his post.  Nick Clegg, Vince Cable & other Liberal MPs take note this is called sticking to your principles and being honest about what you stand for.

Last is Graham Knowles who until yesterday was Dean of St Paul's and together with the Chapter took the decision to press for legal action to remove the protesters.  He came to the conclusion that his actions were against his principles and resigned saying he is "no longer the right person to lead the Chapter".  Tony Bliar et al take note of how to deal with mistakes.

So there you have it, three men who have all shown themselves to be principled, honest and who have integrity.  They may not be able to preserve Britain's place in the world as a second-rate power being roughly wagged like a tail by the great body that is the USA but at least they might run the country in a way that puts the subjects of Her Majesty first.

Wiping the slate clean - taking offences into consideration

The BBC are on a mission this week to discuss criminal offences that are dealt with by being taking into consideration, there are articles on their website, it's being discussed on the Today programme and I will be discussing it on Radio 4's Law in Action at 4pm on the 1st and 3rd November 2011 - well I might be if I was interest enough during the interview.  Taking an offence into consideration is the process whereby a guilty defendant can admit to crimes for which they have not been charged on the understanding that they will not be prosecuted in future for that offence.  This helps the police as each offence TiC'd counts as a bona fide detection and thus boosts forces detection rates.

It is not a well understood process, even by lawyers, and many make the mistake of thinking that once you TiC a crime you are safe from prosecution because you can rely on the special plea of autrefois convict - literally instead of pleading guilty or not guilty you enter a preemptive plea of autrefois and must then call evidence to prove that you have previously been convicted of the offence.  However, an offence taken into consideration does not allow the autrefois plea to be raised!  Case law dating back to the 1940's in R v Nicholson (if i remember rightly) has made clear that TiCing an offence does not protect a suspect from being charged later on.  A TiC simply invokes a convention that the Crown will not seek to prosecute in future, although prosecution does remain a possibility in exceptional cases.

In some circumstances it may be possible to argue that the later prosecution is an abuse of the courts process and should thus be struck out.  However, I suspect that this will only be effective where there had been relatively few offences TiC'd and the new offence is not a serious one because then the suspect can argue that their original sentence was inflated sufficiently to punish them for the new offence.  I am not aware of any cases where this has been considered.

I should also point out that contrary to some BBC reports I have seen, suspects do not receive 'credit' for admitting more offences.  In fact, the court will increase the sentence to take account of the TiC's.