Clive Mitchell, the BBC, and their fulsome, flowing praise for the shy retiring modest Michael Caplan QC - legal shysters to Pinochet and the McCanns
Does one detect the immaculately manicured hand of Clive Mitchell , the top Press liason man at Downing Street, in the timely production by the BBC of the BBC4 "Profile" this week when Clive Coleman profiles Michael Caplan QC (Kingsley Napley - Our reputation as a 'safe pair of hands' ) . The quiet unassuming but well regarded and extraordinarily well paid lawyer, who visited the Mccan's immediately they arrived back in the UK a week ago, and who is acting as their legal adviser ? (More on C Mitchell here)
Caplan of course is famous for having acted for General Pinochet when he failed to prevent his extradition on a warrant from Spain for murder. The first House of Lords judgement 3-2 for sending the bastard to Spain to meet his fate, but was re-heard when Lord Hoffman's tenuous connnections with Amnesty were revealed.
Re-heard the poor old murderer lost again despite the activities of the industrious Mr Caplan.
It was of course the then Home Secretary Jack Straw lolling at ease on his vermilion chaise longue who determined that the vile torturer was too ill to stand trial.
On his return to Chile, he boarded the aircraft in a wheelchair and then delighted his elderly crowd of fellow murderers and hangers on by walking off the aircraft like Lazarus.
At the time in a 13 page explanation Jack Straw finally relied on the Extradition Act 1989 section 'Order for return':
s.12(1) ... the Secretary of State may by warrant order [the accused] to be returned unless ... the Secretary of State decides under this section to make no such order in his case.
s.12(2) Without prejudice to his general discretion as to the making of an order for the return of a person...
Ignoring the provisions of Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 s.4(4) - reiterated in the Criminal Procedure (Insanity and Unfitness to Plead) Act 1991 in a General Note - which states,
The question of fitness to be tried shall be determined by a jury.
Anyway it now appears that Geoffrey Bindman, Labour's favourite solicitor (chairman of the Society for Labour Lawyers) and acting on behalf of Amnesty in the case had a polite (and private) chinwag with his chum Jack and made it clear that Amnesty would not be pursuing the matter further. On 17 July 2002, Geoffrey Bindman did respond to queries from Anti Pinochet protestors and agreed, most likely, Jack Straw "took the view that the statutory requirement for a hearing before a jury to determine fitness to be tried did not apply in this case."
In December 2001, Geoffrey Bindman was fined £12,000 at a disciplinary hearing of the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors over two charges of conflict of interest and one of "improperly passing on confidential information to which he pleaded guilty.
Geoffrey (Knighted in the 2007 Honours List) is now 74 so, probably is a bit too old to take on the McCanns case - although he migh have had more influence on the final result for Pinchet than the much famed Michael Caplan.
Whatever the outcome, it is looking like a beanfeast for the gents in pin stripes. Or as one might now say, in wigs and gowns now that "Solicitor Advocates" can at the insistence of Michael Caplan wear this tokenist and mediaeval garb to demonstrate their equivalence to m'learned friends in court. Pic of Jeremy Thorpe MP gay Liberal , ex Etonian, who was saved from a murder rap by (Sir) David Napley.
You can listen to the program live (Sunday 16 September 2007 17:40-17:54 (Radio 4 FM)) or go to the Profile site and listen at any time in the next 7 days.
The BBC have thoughtfully provided what is almost a verbatim transcript of the program as " Safe pair of hands for McCanns " at BBC Online. (Ooops isn't that the tag line for Kingsley Naply -- " Our reputation as a 'safe pair of hands" - the BBC would NEVER advertise... well, for anybody. It is written by Mr Coleman ofBBC's excellent "Law in Action" who delivered the Profile
Apparently Richard Branson is chipping in £100K for the McCann's legal defense fund and encouraging others to do so - the Sunday Times reports that You Gov poll on the McCann's responsibility for the death / disapperance of their eldest daughter in the UK shows
Entirely inoccent - 20%
Responsible for Madeleine's death - 48%
Unsure / Don't know - 32%
McCanns’ high-profile campaign had made them suspicious - 40%
McCanns’ high-profile campaign had not made them suspicious - 50%
The Question does arise - Are the McCanns interests best served by having the same legal representative ?