Friday, 13 July 2007

Farewell to wigs

The inevitable has happened and the wig is to be abolished, at least in civil and family cases. As of January 1st 2008 only judges sitting in criminal courts will have to wear the wig and traditional gown. Civil and family judges will wear a simple, zip-up (yuck!) gown instead. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think this is a mistake. Newly appointed civil and family judges, who won't need their new gear very long, are advised to save themselves a few pennies and shop around.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007


China has executed Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of their Food and Drug Asociation, for accepting bribes to approve untested drugs. Although the consequences of what he did were tragic (at least 10 people died after taking a fake drug) the sentence is shocking and ought to be condemned. Even more horrifying was Tehran's confirmation that a man has been stoned to death for adultery. It's hard to imagine a more unpleasant method of execution, or a "crime" less deserving of it. Whatever the failings of our own justice system, I for one am very pleased to live in a country that doesn't have the death penalty.

Save our hedgehogs!

Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court is currently home to a high-profile case involving the heroic prosecution of a merciless hedgehog-slayer. Whilst the police, the RSPCA and the HSE were too lazy and uncaring to prosecute this 63-year old fiend for the heinous crime of trying to do his job, Defra had no such wimpish qualms. Some bleeding-heart liberals will no doubt argue that prosecuting Mr Whiley is over the top and that, although rat poison is a dangerous substance whose unintended victims are often cuter that its intended prey, this could all have been sorted out without the need to spend thousands of pounds from the public purse pursuing the matter through the courts. I'm not fooled though. Throw the book at him, I say! If only other goverment departments put taxpayers' money to such excellent use.

Monday, 2 July 2007


Well, it's the first weekday of the new anti-smoking laws and already the smokers in Chambers are plotting ways to flout the ban. We used to have a smoking room but now its patrons are being forced out onto the streets like the reviled social pariahs they are. Before the ban came in there was much discussion as to whether a set of chambers really constitutes a workplace. The answer seemed fairly obvious to the non-smoking majority - we may be self-employed but we employ clerks, admin staff and cleaners so, yes, Chambers is a workplace. After much huffing and puffing about the Nanny State and the freedom of the individual (and, in fairness, making some good points on both those topics), the smokers reluctantly agreed.

This afternoon I caught one die-hard smoker sheltering from the rain and having a sneaky fag in the doorway to our building, which is expressly forbidden, on pain of a public flogging. I grinned at him in a "your secret's safe with me" way and he looked a bit sheepish. We then started chatting about the maximum penalties for smoking in prohibited places, not displaying a "no smoking" sign and other related criminal acts. Neither of us had a clue, though I think I remember something about a £50 fixed penalty. Note to self... must take more interest in the law. Especially laws on which everybody seems to have a very strong opinion. Everybody apart from me, that is. I'm glad that my days of waking up stinking of smoke the morning after a night out will soon be a distant memory, but in the great scheme of things, I'm almost ashamed to admit that I lost interest in the smoking debate ages ago.