Category Archives: Law

Pub Justice

After an exchange of views over rough justice over at Witterings from Witney, I’m reminded of a system of ‘justice’ that used to exist in various out of the way places.  Back in my late teens and early twenties I used to frequent a lot of rural pubs and learned quickly that laissez faire was not permissible, but that you could get away with a hell of a lot providing you observed the landlords writ. Which usually went;

  1. Pay for your drinks and settle your bar tab
  2. Respect the premises and other drinkers
  3. Take your fights outside and off the premises

Failure to observe rule 1 often meant having your tie cut off, and more seriously no more beer until you had settled, knowing full well that you had blotted your copybook, and the privilege of a bar tab would no longer available to you.  Rule 2 was a little more fluid, and varied wildly from pub to pub.  Where landlord A) Would permit near naked drinking games and all manner of robust hilarity, landlord B) Might eject you from the premises for simply laughing too loud.  Rule 3 was sacrosanct.  All disagreements that threatened to tip over into a pummelling or even bloodshed would be met with a firm “Outside.  Now.”  Failure to comply was not on the agenda because landlords always had some form of ‘equaliser’ behind the bar.  From a heavy stick or cricket bat to a baseball bat, or even a shotgun reputed to be loaded with blanks wadded with sand.  No one was ever stupid enough, at least in my recollection, to test out that particular landlords patience.   The subsequent ban from the premises was also a serious incentive to mind your P’s and Q’s, never mind the F’s and C’s.

This was also in a time when there was such a thing as a village Policeman, who was responsible for enforcing things like gun licences, and turning out with a couple of other coppers to hit any trouble spots mob handed, and leave serious drinkers to their own devices.  Like the ‘lock in’.  also known as “Roll on four o’clock, let’s get out of here”.  That was another thing.  If you were part of the ‘in’ crowd, you gradually migrated into the serious drinkers bar, and waited for all the strangers to be sent home before the doors were locked, curtains drawn, and the party could begin in earnest.   Misbehaviour or disrespect could lose you this privilege, so you had an incentive to respect the ‘rules of the house’.  this was a time of course when landlords had the right refuse service to whomsoever they pleased, and suffer little or no sanction from outside.  This might be ‘No Bikers’, ‘No Travellers’ or even ‘Anyone I don’t like the look of’.  Argument meant a ban.  A ban meant no beers.  It was a sellers market with plenty of punters, so the system of enforcement after a fashion, worked.

The big change in pub culture was apparent in the late 1980’s.  Breweries had developed a policy of asset stripping publicans with punitive rates for ‘barrellage’.  Which essentially meant that the more beer a landlord sold, the more he tended to be charged for it by the brewery company.  His margins shrank, so prices went up, which drove drinkers away to the few Free Houses and private clubs.  Flowers / Whitbread used to be a major villain in this regard.  I don’t know whether this practice still continues.

As the 1980’s wore on, country life became more attractive to the suburban crowd, who bought up local houses, pricing locals out of the market and changing the village demographic.  These new suburbanites brought their own rules, demanding more food, no smoking areas, and whined about everything.  By the late 90’s, the rural worker, once the backbone of any country pubs clientelle was an endangered species.  The New Labour war on the countryside, resulting in the foot and mouth debacle, was more or less the death knell for the pubs I knew and once drank in.  Quite a number of my farming friends got out of the business, others went bankrupt, and fewer survived.   Again this meant fewer rural drinkers, and the rise of the appalling ‘Gastro-pub’.  Now there is the smoking ban.  Even fewer people visit public houses now, and that’s without even mentioning the frequent drink driving ‘crackdowns’.  My last visit to England six weeks ago included a ghastly experience in one of the remaining watering holes I used to frequent.  Only one guest beer, and the rest of the place almost deserted on a Saturday night.

There may be places where pubs are still frequented by locals, with laughter and good conversation the order of the day, but their time is almost up I fear.  The forces of darkness have driven such people from each others company, and the country of my birth is all the poorer for it.

Or as a drinking companion of mine (an old school country lawyer, and latin speaker) might have said; Sileo in pacis meus imbibo frater. Pro virtus decretum ut vestri carmen quod risus.

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Oh dear

In the wake of the awful Norwegian massacre I’m quite disturbed to see a media blame fest shitstorm headed for so called ‘right wing fanatics’. A brush with which they wish to tar any and all political opponents. A broad brushstroke all encompassing accusation designed to discredit philosophical opponents.

You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if the phrase ‘right wing extremist’ becomes a far broader church than it already is. Anyone who blogs on the side of personal freedom may find themselves lumped in with the real nutters who think killing believers of whatever faith (political or otherwise) can murder ideas. Stalin tried it. Pol Pot tried it. Mao tried it, as did Hitler, and various Junta’s from both sides of the political spectrum. Are the ideas they wanted to kill dead? No. Weally? No shit, sherlock.

It may be that anyone may find themselves under scrutiny. Anyone who has, or run a business (Classic sign of a bloodthirsty ‘right wing maniac’, that), lost income, pension, or employment due to doctrine-led changes in legislation (Totally evil baby eating right winger there). Or maybe doesn’t ‘believe in global warming’ (Got to be one – dangerous right wing headcase). Anyone who even wandered into a church to admire the architecture must be a dangerous extreme christian fundamentalist who needs locking up. Perhaps those who have even openly wondered that the middle eastern conflict might not be all the fault of anyone even vaguely attached to the Jewish persuasion. Yes, they’re all as guilty as the man who pulled the trigger, even if they’d never heard of the assassin or had anything to do with the creed alluded to. We’re talking communal guilt here. Arrest them all!

As far as I’m concerned extreme left and right are simply two sides of the same coin; statist bastards who cause most of the trouble on this planet. They share this specific trait; they can’t let well enough alone. If they can’t get their own way they don’t care who they hurt. To me, they are equally repulsive, and to be avoided. Life is too short to waste time on them.

As someone whose politics veer mildly to the right of centre, and further toward the cause of personal liberty which is neither left nor right, I’m concerned. Concerned that anyone who speaks up for the rights of the individual over the state may find themselves, or even more sinisterly their family members, on some state / media sponsored ‘shit list’ as an ‘extremist’. Although as an expat, I’m hoping their attitude to me is; “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” That’s fine by me because today my business affairs on the European side of the pond are concluded, and I’m on my way home to Canada. Back to BC, and God’s own country.

My take on it? The man who has admitted to the murders of Norwegian teenagers and Government officials will discover that trying to kill people who have a particular belief system will only polarise that belief system, and like the Islamists (and others) before him, find his murderous activities have rebounded against his espoused cause.

Well, well, well.

Nice pussyI’ve never been a fan of the Murdoch owned press, least of all the tabloid section, but my goodness isn’t the current state of affairs interesting? Ofcom going after the big guys for a change, and the notorious News of the World disappearing. If you’ll forgive the schadenfreude, the Times and associated tabloid media have done a lot of harm over the years. Reputations unjustly trashed, bloggers ‘outed’, people unjustly fingered for crimes they didn’t commit. The unthinking mob set on innocents. Whatever is coming to them couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.

Right at this moment I’m enjoying a delightfully warm smug feeling of self righteous satisfaction. (Evil chuckle, strokes metaphorical white cat) There’s the added bonus that if Camerloon and his über green cohorts go down with the Murdoch ship you may hear raucous laughter echoing all the way from British Columbia.

News from the valley of the trolls

I often wander through the comment sections of the Tellytubbygraph just to see what the denizens are up to, and occasionally dropping my own world weary words into a comment. My favourites have to be Delingpoles blog, and Christopher Bookers articles because of the fruitloops they attract. A mere handful of commenters wage their own little war of words which I take the odd pot shot in just for fun.

One of the things I’ve been made aware of is the use of people actually being paid to troll opinions on said blogs. Well I’m wondering if all those paid trolls are aware that what they are doing may be illegal. Yes, that’s right, against the law and all that jazz. Now I wasn’t aware of this little point of law, but it appears that the paying of people to post opinions, or commission false reviews etc, known as ‘Astroturfing’ is actually illegal.

I almost fell of my chair laughing.

Oh, and my kids Uni exam results are in; decent 2:1’s for both, which is a vindication of everything we’ve helped them out with. All ahead smirk factor 12. Engage!

About this Magna Carter thingy

After my peregrinations about the ticking constitutional time bomb created by the Lisbon, Maastricht, Nice, and Rome treaties with the EU, I found myself wondering what there is a dissenting private citizen can do. Within the law of course.

After a brief comment conversation over at Orphans of Liberty with the erudite legal blogger Tom Paine on a related matter, I elected to do a little digging.   In doing so, I took time out to read the full English text of the Magna Carta, a key constitutional document which Queen Elizabeth swore to uphold in her coronation speech, as have so many of her forbears.  In amongst all the anachronistic stuff about Fish Weirs, etc, and the still valid rights of widows and right to a trial by your peers (Not by what is effectively a foreign power), I came across this little gem.

(61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security:
     The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.
     If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us – or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice – to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chiefjustice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.
    Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.
    If-one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.
    In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear.
    The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power.
   We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished.   Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party.

Now even though this was signed almost eight hundred years ago in 1215 (As Tom rightly pointed out) at virtual sword point; because the reigning Monarch has sworn at her coronation to uphold the document, it remains valid. As with the Common Law in force before that date.

What I get from article 61 is the following;

  1. Although ‘Parliament is sovereign’ MP’s, their staff, and the Civil Service they direct are effective officers of the Crown, having sworn an oath to the reigning Monarch, and therefore legally bound to uphold the principles enshrined in Magna Carta
  2. If any such officer does not, there are clearly outlined procedures for a private individual to obtain redress, to begin with; taking an oath of allegiance to the committee of Barons.  Funnily enough, if you don’t, then the Crown can ‘compel’ you to. Not that I’ve ever heard of this happening. Nor is it likely.
  3. Taking such a binding oath is apparently not a ‘right’ or ‘entitlement’, but a duty of everyone who doesn’t agree with an English Governments actions in respect of the rest of the document, like ceding powers to a foreign authority

Then I came across this article where a committee of Barons had actually submitted such a petition on 7th February 2001. It seems the complaint was largely ignored, as the Treaty of Nice, and the Treaty of Lisbon were later signed and ratified. Yet according to the provisions of Magna Carta, these treaty signings were not legally valid. Unless of course the document is a complete anachronism, in which case the English Monarch is no longer the Monarch, and therefore all related constitutional bets (Including Government) are off. Because all of their power is devolved from the reigning Monarch. But wait a minute, that would mean… Oh dear.

There appear to be so many paradoxes floating around the current constitutional situation underpinning the UK that it violates the rules of causality. As well as blowing the basic rule of contracts and other formal agreements out of the water. An agreement (or Oath) between ruler and ruled is only an agreement so long as no one violates the terms and conditions, of which Magna Carta forms one. If the terms and conditions are ignored, such as in any contract, any stakeholder can be said to be no longer bound by it. Rather like with a contract of employment; you break the terms and conditions, you get disciplined or fired, or your Boss violates those terms, then you walk and claim ‘constructive dismissal’.

A broken oath cannot be considered valid. No valid oath means no agreement, which means no Monarch or Sovereign, so how can the UK Parliament (Which derives devolved power from the institution of Monarchy) have any sovereignty at all? Or any of the treaties and arrangements it makes any validity? This is the can of worms the ceding of authority to the European Union has opened up, as it is a clear violation of the Monarchs oath of office, as laid out in the basic documents.

From where I stand, the only real rule seems to be “Sed quoniam inquam sic.” (Because I say so). To which the answer is; “Vos quod cuius exercitus.” (You and whose army?) Usually quickly followed by; “Ut exercitus illac.” (That Army over there). Which rather makes a nonsense of the oft repeated claims by politicians about living in a Democracy. In a real democracy, the threat of coercive force would not be an option. However, this is the real world.

I may be wrong, but on the other hand……..

Might as well say “Hang ’em all” and go do my own sweet thing.

After the fact…

Sometimes when I read the legal news I find my credulity stretched past its elastic limit. One such item pitched up on Out-law today. Apparently UK web sites will have to ask for their users permission to collect traffic information via tracking cookies in line with the latest EU directive.

Okay, so what’s wrong with that? You might quite reasonably ask. Well, some dozy item calling himself the culture secretary says that it’s okay to request said users permission after the data has been collected.

Forgive me for being terribly dense here, but doesn’t ‘permission’ have to be granted before an act takes place? Or it’s almost like someone nicking your drivers licence, selling the data on, before handing your licence back with a smile and a “You didn’t mind, did you?”

/Headdesk

Don’t rush though. All you UK web site owners who use tracking cookies have a year to comply.

A quick constitutional ramble

I’ve been following a tiny news item via Captain Ranty’s site about a matter of constitutional import. Now just about every country in the Anglosphere has a legal system based on what is known as Common Law, which derives from the Magna Carta, signed in 1215 by the then Monarch and his Barons. The key words here being the Monarch and his (or her) Barons.

Common law forms the basis of the legal system on a globe spanning basis, apart from in countries where the authorities routinely rape young women just to make it okay to put them to death, that is. Wherever the British Empire touched, there is common law. Generally speaking. Mostly. Kind of. Sometimes.

Now there’s a problem in the offing which may come as close to a Casus Belli as any since the English Civil war. It’s mostly New Labour’s fault of course, with their usual less than competent approach to framing legislation. Although the mission creep of the European Union has grown since Edward Heath signed the Treaty of Rome and told everyone it was all about free trade between European Nations, the lying toad.

Here goes; a Baron Mereworth, whose family has held Letters Patent from the crown for centuries, was and is miffed at not being summoned to the House of Lords following his succession to the title. He tried to take the Ministry of Justice to the High Court over the matter, only to be dismissed with a brusque “We can’t deal with this.” response. In essence, they gave him the brush off. Go ‘way son, you bother me patronizing style of thing.

This little High Court tiff is a direct result of the New Labour 2005 Constitutional ‘reform’ act. With a stroke of the pen there was an effective coup d’etat in England. No wonder the penalty for Treason was scaled back to a maximum of life imprisonment. Those New Labour shits knew exactly what they were going to do, and like much of their other legislation, it has left a steaming, barnyard smothering pile of legal poo behind.

All right, so what, you might say. All these Lords and stuff is soo old hat. Weren’t they abolished in 2005 or something? Like that Magner Carter thingy. Load of old bollocks. It’s History right? Doesn’t apply any more. We’re all equal Europeans now, yeah?

You might say that, and in some ways you’d be perfectly right, and in others so terribly, awfully wrong. In effect ceding sovereignty to the European Union, Parliament has essentially given up the last of HM Queens powers of state. Which leaves the rest of the Commonwealth, Canada, New Zealand, Australia in a bit of a cleft stick. Who appoints their Governor Generals? More to the point, as the Governor General of each Commonwealth Nation is effectively powerless, it begs the question of who pays his / her wages? The Crown? Who dat den? Without an effective Monarch there can be no Crown offices. There is also the question of legality, as, to quote this article;

Given that the last Labour government was in the habit of not obtaining assent from the Queen, when placing their laws onto the Statute Books, the hope is that Hereditary Peers will challenge the government in High Court and restore their access to the House of Lords. They can then take on the difficult task of bringing Blair’s government to account for its treachery and treason.

WTF! Hang on. I was always taught that a bill passed by Parliament cannot become law unless it receives Royal Assent. You mean to tell me that there are laws being enforced that are not actually laws at all because they have not got the official Royal signature on them? Well fuck me rigid.

Confused? Well I certainly am. Although I have the distinct feeling that under this legal mess is a number of political grenades with pins pulled. Whoever manages to penetrate the steaming heaps of obfuscation and confusion may see the whole lot go up in a constitutional detonation causing all sorts of casualties.

To quote Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, a High Court Judge most recently involved with ’super’ injunctions; “The danger is you muck around with a constitution like the British Constitution at your peril because you do not know what the consequences of any change will be.”

Watch this space. This might get really interesting. From a distance that is.

This post might appear at Orphans of Liberty shortly. Possibly.

Privacy vs. The right to know

It’s a contentious issue, these gagging orders. Apparently some witless footballer (No names, no injunctions; but everybody knows who the idiot is) who couldn’t keep his trousers zipped up and had an extra marital affair, is taking legal action against Twitter. Now this guy didn’t come to court with ‘clean hands’ as Raedwald so pithily observes, yet said ‘sports personality’ is taking a metaphorical dive outside the penalty box and yelling “foul!”, even though he committed the first bad tackle with his tackle. I suppose we owe him a grudging gift of thanks, because without his lawyers heavy handed tactics, maybe his story wouldn’t be breaking so hard it’s shattering, and likewise a number of other illiberal gagging orders.

See Sky news discussion below.

Now the courts might try and identify the person who blew the lid off the super injunction scandal on Twitter, but I have the feeling they might just get the following response;

BTW: For those interested in the super injunction preventing Ex Model and Trainer Vicky Haigh currently in Ireland hiding from UK Social Services who apparently want to take her new born baby, she has her own WordPress blog. She links to a number of other blogs telling similar, untold stories. Dispiriting reading for those who believe in freedom and the rights of the individual.

It all just begs the question; Just what on Earth are the courts up to in the UK? Never mind the Internet being ‘out of control’, in the words of one Judge. At least the Internet doesn’t threaten anyone with incarceration for speaking out against injustice.

The mighty falling

Watching the furore over the downfall and arrest of the current IMF chief with a grim smile.  Apparently this guy has had four highly placed media people covering up, obfuscating and tacitly condoning his alleged sexual misbehaviours.  First thought; he won’t be the only one.  Second thought; exactly how many of these people are there, covering up the misdeeds of the rich and powerful and who are they? 

Now if it’s any consolation, I’m usually firmly against ‘outing’ if it serves no useful purpose. However, I think in this case the public interest would be served by exposing those who ‘bury bad news’ about their masters and hauling the harm they hide struggling and flapping out of the murk, into the light of public scrutiny.

Now I’ve read the various volumes published by the Marquis de Sade (He was a Frenchman too), and know that sex and power often go together (I mean, how else did John Prescott get away with it?). So why should we be surprised, or think that the rich and powerful need shielding from the consequences of their own actions?

When a footballer who parked his willy where his wife wot not of can demand to see the emails of a media outlet over alleged ‘blackmail’ perhaps it’s the right moment to call ‘Time out’ on gagging orders that can only affect those under the jurisdiction of that particular judiciary. Although a ‘privacy law’ will probably lead to the situation where the powerful may indulge their sexual predilections hidden from public gaze, no matter how unpleasant. Rather like with the French.

Not being a prude, let’s face it, sex is sex, but there is a line here, and a fairly well defined one. That line is harm. By that definition I mean that no one is physically abused without their full consent, and then with no lasting damage.

For ‘abuse’, read against volition. As abuse can be a pretty subjective matter. There are few, or no moral absolutes in this area. An extreme feminist might define ‘abuse’ as non kowtowing to her personal prejudices, or in the case of a rich man’s wife, finding her credit card spending curtailed. Yet either might be in, let’s say a BDSM relationship involving the willing receipt of pain. From something as mild as a little hanky spanking in leather to full on whips and barbed wire underpants. So who defines what is ‘abuse’ if both parties in such a relationship are willing participants? We all have our own personal definitions. Permanent harm might simply be defined for example as a visible mark or symptom, excluding the purely decorative (Tattoo’s and piercings), and of course death.

That sexual crimes are known to have happened and subject to suppression is common currency. For example, the children of rich families are known to have murdered, then expected their family to cover up their wrongdoing. Politicians have moved heaven and the courts to suppress leakage about their misdeeds (e.g. Kennedy, Clinton). That those with money and power have such appetites should come as no surprise, but that they should have the means to suppress the information about such behaviour steps over the line to willing evil.

This isn’t to say that everyone who reports on such matters is blameless. There are incidences where the tabloid press have ruined people’s lives for exposure for mere peccadilloes. Where false witness has been given, and the victim(s) left with no means of redress but a mealy mouthed half paragraph apology buried on page seven.

I believe that the only real libertarian position on this matter can be “Do what you want, but don’t try to hide the truth.” For those who would willingly hide the truth are as guilty as those who commit the crime in the first place.

Cross posted to Orphans of Liberty