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MINUTES OF THE CBA COMMITTEE, HELD AT 5.30 P.M. ON TUESDAY 12th DECEMBER, 2006 AT 289-293 HIGH HOLBORN Chairman Andy Hall QC Vice-Chairman Sally O’Neill QC Alison Levitt Secretary Alexandra Healy Assistant Secretary Chris Kinch QC Liz Marsh QC John Dodd QC Patrick Curran QC Fiona Jackson Lesley Bates Kirsty Brimelow John Denniss David Young Duncan Atkinson David Bartlett John Riley Jonathan Akinsanya Sophie Shotton John McLeod Gillian Jones Will Hughes Jeremy Barnett Lynn Barlow (BBC) Duncan Staff (BBC) Audio Link Sarah Buckingham (Birmingham) Stuart Baker (Birmingham) Richard Atkins (Birmingham) Rob Davies (Bristol) 1. Apologies Paul Mendelle QC Patricia Lees Tom Crowther Zubair Ahmad Peter Barr James Leonard Paul Bogan Sean Larkin Eleanor Mawrey Tom Little 2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting These were approved 3. Matters Arising and 4. Chairman’s Report Confiscation Preparation. Andy Hall QC has endorsed a letter from Geoffrey Vos QC to Amanda Findlay (Director of Legal Aid Strategy at the DCA), containing much of the first meeting of the review group. Sally O’Neill QC cited a case where the confiscation amount in question was £1,000,000, but defence counsel received £150. The prosecuting authority receives 16% of the proceedings. Fiona Jackson will forward a document on recuperation figures. CPS Funding: the Carter Group is not putting undue pressure on the DPP and the Attorney General to bring CPS fees in line with Carter. Tactically, it is felt that it is presently best to bide our time. Andy will discuss this with Ken Macdonald QC in due course. 5. Presentation by Lynn Barlow (BBC) Lynn Barlow and Duncan Staff explained their plans for the BBC documentary, their 4th in 10 years. More specifically, the past 5 years have been spent studying the criminal justice system (e.g. “Anatomy of a Crime”). Their plan is to portray the working lives of barristers in the 21st Century with six, 40-minute programmes of “observational filmmaking”, each following barristers for a year. They envisaged that the experience should be similar to other public services already covered. It must be a collaborative project in which trust is and informed consent is central. The Bar will also get to see the programmes before transmission. Alexandra Healy asked about the likely conflict of filming with conduct and practice. In response, Duncan Staff said that filming will be over a long time-span, therefore with plenty of wastage in-built. Sally O’Neill QC asked about the BBC’s selection process. The BBC has been guided by the Bar Council, and is aiming for a representative cross section of practitioners. Important to the series was both a compelling story and a context. Whilst the BBC will maintain editorial control, there was no hidden agenda. Lynn Barlow would regard it as a great failure if any barrister felt that they had in any way been misinformed or compromised. This approach was borne out by their track record. Jeremy Barnett expressed his concern about the project. John McLeod emphasised the pedigree of this BBC team. This was the most serious form of television, and mass communication was the only way to change the public perception – therefore, courage was required to engage with the project. After the departure of Lynn Barlow and Duncan Staff, Andy Hall said that, whilst he was very suspicious of journalists, he saw this as a great opportunity to help redefine the perception of the Bar by the public. On the basis that it is in our interest not to flag-up the “grouse-shooting” element at the Bar, discussion followed as to how suitable subjects might be selected. John McLeod outlined the Bar’s involvement in the making of the documentary The process of moving the Bar’s involvement away from the Chairman and Chief Executive to him was ongoing. We can filter information, and seek to influence, what the BBC film. Preparation: individuals involved can be briefed on how to handle the situation. Selection: we can influence the long and short-lists of subjects, and ensure we get 20 solid and interesting candidates. Andy Hall endorsed this approach. Overall, the Committee was happy. 6 Media Policy John McLeod addressed some general media issues: we are monitoring press and parliamentary briefings, and have 3 overall objectives: To make choices on what we focus on – e.g. juries in serious fraud trials; To propose policy changes, the strategy being to make approach at a policy level, that perhaps the Bar Council is less focused upon. The Government has a longer- term strategy in place to inform and drive the Civil Service. We must effect ministerial change. To illustrate what we do as a profession, and how that serves criminal justice. The two groups should develop their plans around these 3 areas. Kirsty Brimelow asked about the relative strategy directions of the Bar Council and CBA. In reply, John McLeod said that the GMC tends to decide and shape policy – therefore the CBA Chairman is the nodal communication between the CBA and the Bar Council. An example might be that the Bar Council is presently soft-pedaling on fraud trials - it is important that the CBA represents the constituency of the Bar, and that the trial by jury issue might be a signifier of our position generally. Andy Hall QC pointed out that sentencing is once again an issue, also to be addressed at the Spring Conference (symposium of workshops, a seminar on government recommendations) 7 Criminal Justice Policy Sally O’Neill explained that we presently have 8 working parties in train. Ongoing consultation between the CJP Group and the Committee was cumbersome. The main Committee should therefore allow the CJP group (consisting of Sally O’Neill QC, Paul Mendelle QC, Paddy Gibbs QC, Jeremy Dein QC and Alison Levitt) to function independently, and to report progress at the monthly Committee meeting. Sentencing and ASBOs are probable looming issues. Andy Hall QC felt it would be useful for there to be a list of working parties and their membership. 8 Education Chris Kinch QC described the two latest day-long seminars: Confiscation (11 November 2006) at which the Attorney General had been present and had involved a mock trial (a Mitchell and Owen double act). The Prosecution of Serious Sexual Assault (2 December 2006) had been a sell- out. The format works very well, and Kay Scudder had been very enthusiastic. Old Bailey Lectures: it was agreed that CPD accreditation sheets be distributed at the end of the lecture. It had been noted that recently people had simple turned up, signed for their points, and left. Chris welcomed suggestions for topics to be addressed in 2007. These might include a Human Rights Update, and Sentencing and Appeals/Expert Witnesses. Both could be full-day courses. Spring Conference: arrangements were well-advanced. The team included Adam Weston. We’ll jointly host dinner with the Midland Circuit. The Attorney General will give the keynote speech. Tom Little is liaising with Barco with regard to sponsorship for the event. 9 Website Andy Hall and Julian Bradley updated the Committee on the present state of play. It had already generated an income of some £5000 in its first week from video sales. However, it was very much at stage one (the videos being there to cope with the yuletide CPD demand). Overall, the site should offer a digest of news and policy issues, as well as offer a forum for information exchange between practitioners. Still to come was an informative CPS weekly updater, and an indexed links page. The long-term aim is a full-time member of staff to manage the site. 10. Circuit Reports David Bartlett reported that the CPS may be in dire financial straits – to what extent might it be possible to use the Freedom of Information Act to establish the situation in greater detail? Jeremy Barnett’s experience was that in Bradford, the CPS is doing all the work. Defence solicitors are now giving up and even Irwin Mitchell is now not doing any crime in Leeds. Fiona Jackson asked about quality assurance for HCAs, and was concerned that the same criteria should be applied equally to them. She referred to the Edward Henry paper on defence HCAs merely being “straw juniors”. In reply Andy Hall QC said Persuading the CPS to apply similar grading is a non-starter, although their failure to meet such standards brought the Bar’s skills and experience into sharp relief. Barristers are graded, regulated, quality-assured. The CPS much less so. Our “light touch” quality assurance is now in hand, and part of the bargaining process with Carter. 11. International The Head of the Defence Section of the International Criminal Court wants to meet us – 15 January 2007 12. Bar Council Reports There were none 13. Any Other Business Kirsty Brimelow was concerned that the list for prosecuting sex offences in London had closed without notification – no more applicant to be accepted. We must write to the CPS.
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