Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category
Capone is only nine, going on 10 but I know that his time is approaching quickly, far too fast for me.
He saved me when I escaped London from a woman and a destructive lifestyle. We used to walk five miles every day – at least. Now he has to be encouraged every step, at best half a mile then I have to take him home and Carla and I go out again for exercise
He has a strong, stable, self-contained personality. He is loving, obedient but independent. He is my guide as much as I am his master.
He has severe arthritis in all four legs, particularly around the elbows but he also has some sort of spinal problem and you can see it clearly from the way he walks. For some months anti-inflammatories seemed to help but no longer. Now he is on 300mg gabapentin twice a day and there has been an improvement, without evident side effects.
He also developed epilepsy a few years ago and about every six months he has a cluster of about a dozen seizures over 24 – 36 hours.
I shall be by his side until the final moment and that will be a very difficult decision to make. As long as he is happy and enjoying life I will look after him. When he finally goes to that neverending walk in the sky his legs won’t ever hurt again, the sun will always shine and there will be deer and rabbits to chase around every corner.
There is real momentum building in Parliament on the issue of medicinal cannabis. The first thing George Freeman said this week when he welcomed us to the Department of Health was: “There is a lot of discussion going on in government about this subject”.
This is extraordinary progress, unimaginable as recently as 2012. Undoubtedly, developments in the US have raised cannabis up the political agenda. Through 2014, CLEAR has been well received by the Home Affairs Select Committee, the Home Office, the Department of Health, the Health Select Committee and just before Christmas I met with Baroness Meacher and Lord Howarth in the House of Lords. They are chair and treasurer, respectively, of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform. They are determined to push reform through to make medicinal cannabis available and have briefed one of the UK’s leading psychopharmacologists to prepare a review of existing evidence on the subject. Armed with this they have a plan to meet with key individuals in both Houses of Parliament and I have no doubt that they will succeed in changing minds.
Also this week, I met with advisors to Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, in the very heart of government at the Cabinet Office. The Liberal Democrats are planning towards another coalition after the General Election and determined to see drugs policy form part of a new coalition agreement. Right at the front of their priorities is medicinal cannabis for which there is strong support from existing ministers, Lynne Featherstone at the Home Office and Norman Lamb at the Department of Health. Expect announcements in the run up to the election.
George Freeman is the Life Sciences Minister, responsible for medicines, NHS innovation, research, development, the MHRA and NICE. His role is as important as any other minister in achieving the reform we seek. He is another ally and has asked me to submit a paper setting out our proposals. Of particular importance is how medicinal cannabis could be regulated, either with a full Marketing Authorisation from the MHRA or possibly registration as a Tradional Herbal Medicine. The very fact that we are now discussing such detail is a measure of how far we have come.
So there is great cause for optimism at the start of 2015. We are closer than we have ever been before and this has been achieved by moving away from the old ‘protests’ and outdated campaigning ideas. I am confident that early in the new parliament we will see substantial progress.
A Life Well Lived
15th January 2015
To William and Ethel, a son.
Husband. Father. Brother. Grandfather. Uncle. A mentor, benefactor and example to so many.
He has had a wonderful life.
It is a wonderful life, alive in the hearts and memories of all who knew him, especially those of us that love him.
For us it is as a legend, almost a fairy tale of romance, nobility and triumph against all the odds. That is why, though very emotional, I can feel no sadness at my father’s story; only joy, pride, satisfaction at a life so well lived. Would that we could all cross the finish line in first place, for my father has the gold medal around his neck and he is our champion.
Until the build-up to war in 1938, William, my grandfather, could not get regular shifts at the steelworks in Newport. There was no food on the table and my father was severely malnourished. 50 years later after winning a scholarship to Oxford, in union with the woman he adored every minute of his life, he was at the top of his profession: one of the leading commercial lawyers in the UK, an extraordinary achievement, a measure of our time.
Yet nothing mattered to my father except family. That’s not that it was more important than anything else. It was all that mattered.
So we have had our fair share of petty squabbles and division but never, not once, has he, nor my mother, been diverted from a deep and abiding love for each one of us. For his five children, he provided the total security, material and emotional, that enabled us to go out into the world and make our own mistakes, achieve our own successes in which he took so much pride.
My earliest memory is of him hopping down the path of our bungalow in Gorleston to a waiting ambulance having put a garden fork through his foot. Hugh was not yet born, so I was younger than 18 months old but I remember it like yesterday.
We all have special memories. It is impossible to pick between them. I recall him taking me on my first visit to the cinema, the Acocks Green Odeon, to see Zulu – and the great Welsh pride in that. Later, I recall seeing James Bond films with him and he introduced me to the books, including the naughty bits, so risqué and daring at the time.
In 1970, I accompanied Dad as a VIP guest to the Alcan Open, a golf tournament in County Dublin. We were both mischievously plied with drink, me having just passed 13, and we nearly missed our plane home.
In the past year of his life he endured the tragedy of Jonathan’s untimely death. With great dignity he has led this family to where we are today. Nothing has ever given me more pride than to take him to his last formal occasion in October when he saw my son, Richard, called to the bar. I know he was equally overjoyed a few weeks later to visit Jacob at his college in Oxford.
What characterises my father’s life throughout is enormous generosity, both of spirit and in material terms. Even to those who had wronged him or against whom he had just cause for complaint, he has always been there, always a ready hand to those in times of need.
Indivisible from my father’s life is his union with my mother which transcends death as much as any relationship ever can. I believe his love and legacy will sustain her forever. They deserve each other as much as the night deserves the sunrise. Nothing will ever extinguish what is between them.
Dad often used to speak in French. I’m not sure why but I fondly remember being called John-Pierre or John-P. So I will never say goodbye to him. Instead, the French express it so much better: au revoir mon pere.
There is little else that needs to be said about this. It is self-explanatory and is a total vindication of my action against De Hoedt to stop his lies and abuse.
I was forced to take legal action against four people with regard to the hate campaign that was launched against me back in 2012. I reached a settlement agreement with Alun Buffry. A consent order concluding my claim against Sarah McCulloch will be published shortly and De Hoedt is now restrained from repeating or causing to be repeated any of his lies on pain of going to jail.
The ringleader Chris Bovey is still to face justice. Whether I can succeed against his great wealth and army of solicitors and barristers remains to be seen but the issues are the same. Bovey is probably the most malevolent, dishonest manipulator I have met in my life and he is responsible for encouraging the other defendants into the conduct that led them to the High Court. He has a great deal to answer for both to those he has misled and to the massive damage he has caused to the cannabis campaign in the UK. I particularly regret the way he turned Greg De Hoedt against me. I counted Greg as a close friend and it causes me great heartache that I had to pursue him to this extent.
Bovey has had my claim against him struck out on procedural grounds. My appeal will probably be heard in the autumn. Given new case law that has arisen in the meantime I have good grounds for optimism. If I succeed and the substantive issues in my claim are heard then he will be looking at a damages award well into six figures. Bovey’s biggest problem is that if an award is made against him, he has the assets which the Court can seize.
Reynolds v De Hoedt
Hearing note – 22 May 2014
Royal Courts of Justice
Master Bard in Chambers
Application to set-aside Default Judgment of 23 February 2014
1. This is an application to set aside a Default Judgment of 23 February in a libel action brought by the Claimant.
2. The Defendant has been represented by Mr McLean. The Claimant was represented by a Mackenzie friend, who is a pupil, who addressed me in terms clear and modest, and perfectly proper.
3. The temperate nature of the hearing has not been matched by the matters which have gone on between the parties. The Claimant is president of CLEAR which is campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis. The Defendant and others used to be with CLEAR but departed in circumstances described at best as acrimonious and became associated with NORML which has similar aims. As it happens there has been a great deal of unpleasantness and vituperation. As far as I can tell it has been largely one way and directed at the Claimant, who has brought libel proceedings against three defendants.
4. The evidence shows that the Defendant was not responsive or receptive to approaches from the Claimant to seek to get him to desist publishing numerous defamatory allegations on the internet and not prepared to provide an address for service. When the Claimant used the business premises associated with the Defendant and the Defendant’s parent’s address on both occasions the documents were returned. The Defendant states that he had not been given the documents or told about them. This is something I am asked to view askance, suffice to say Master Eastman was prepared on seeing the Sheriff’s documents showing contracts at a particular address to make an Order deeming that an address for service.
5. Default Judgment was granted on 23 February. On 26 February the Claimant notified the Defendant by email. On 14 March the Defendant’s Solicitor went on record. On 26 March about 28 days after the judgment was granted the Application was made to set-aside.
6. The Claimant is seeking damages and an injunction and Master Eastman did not have power to grant an injunction and he directed when entering Judgment that it was for the Claimant to list the application for an injunction before a judge. This is due on 4 June
7. I have not so far gone into the detail of the allegations made and complained of in the Particulars of Claim. I should start by commenting that a considerable amount of what has been said by the Defendant can only be characterised as puerile, as to the publications and the response which has arisen from attempts by the Claimant to be in contact with him. Although the Defendant contends that the Claimant directed tirades at him I have seen no evidence of this. The way the Claimant has expressed himself has been surprisingly temperate given the nature of the allegations published. Without going into any details the substance includes that he has paedophilic tendencies, he has reported cannabis users to the police, a serious allegation for him, that he has been pocketing large sums of money from CLEAR and that he has been given to exposing himself on the internet. I take these as a snapshot and there are other allegations.
8. I am asked to set-aside Default Judgment in circumstances where the Defendant is coming from a place which is less than attractive. Not only has he posted these puerile allegations on the internet, not only has there been apparent attempts to avoid service, as has been seen from what was tweeted by himself there is a certain kind of mockery over the Claimant’s attempt to gain redress. The Defendant produced a Witness Statement. In it he says that the Claimant has regularly subjected him to abuse by email, including making threats to take legal action. Apart from proper and understandable threats about publications I can seen no evidence at all of any regular abuse on the part of the Claimant against the Defendant. Further, although the Defendant says in his Witness Statement that will raise substantive defences he does not seek to do so at all.
9. In all these circumstances, Mr McLean properly in seeking to address me on the set-aside Application has not focused on condition (a) because subject to the pleadings point he acknowledges that the Defendant has not put forward evidence to that effect but that there is another good reason the Defendant should be allowed to defend the claim.
10. I have to bear in mind questions of whether the Application was made promptly…… It does not seem to me that this will be determinative of the matter. It seems that the Defendant within 2 weeks or so of learning of the Judgment had solicitors on record. Within 12 days they filed the Application to set aside the Judgment. I am not prepared to say that this is so tardy as to cause discretion to be exercised against the Defendant.
11. Because of the Defendant’s unattractive behaviour and him making it difficult that I should rely on those as good reason to decline to consider discretion rather than exercise it as he has not come to Court with clean hands. That makes the Defendant’s position unattractive but if there is a good reason to set aside then that ought not to stand in his way although it may stand in costs.
12. The strongest point that Mr McLean makes is his attack on the Particulars of Claim because he says for various reasons they are defective. I have no intention of going into details of criticisms some of which are better than others. Most of the criticisms are directed towards the point that the extent of publication cannot be known, that there is not enough material to assess damages, that sometimes the words used are not sufficiently or properly pleaded or particularised, that the claim for exemplary damages is inappropriate, that pleading malice as freestanding is inappropriate
13. I am told that Master Eastman has struck out a claim against Bovey but that is not a claim in identical form to this and not knowing the basis I am not bound by that. The Claimant acknowledges the force in some observations by the Defendant. His desire is not to seek substantial damages, not least because he recognises the difficulty of enforcement, but rather to get a judgment in his favour and an injunction to support it. He has indicated that he would be satisfied with nominal damages to have this matter dealt with once and for all, a sum of £5.
14. There is force in some of Defendant’s criticism, exemplary damages would not be awarded, malice is inappropriately pleaded but there is a good deal of material in the Particulars of Claim in publications printed off the internet which are attached to it which does meet with sufficient standards to stand up as adequate pleading it may be if matters are to go further pleadings may have to be considered
15. I have to deal with this in a manner which is proportionate and an efficient use of the Court’s resources. In exercise of my discretion, the Defendant cannot complain about the Particulars, given his failure to respond he cannot complain about judgment at £5 and a order for costs against him with the Claimant going for an injunction .
16. In regards to the Particulars of Claim, whatever particulars can stand that up as a matter to which there is no defence, there is no real prospect of successfully defending, on the material, even if pleaded by an expert, there is no good reason why judgment should be set aside or varied … nominal damages are assessed at £5, I am dismissing the application and the Claimant has costs of the Application and the action.
17. Upon hearing the solicitor for the Defendant and the Claimant in person with the assistance of a Mackenzie friend, and upon the Claimant reducing his damages to nominal damages of £5, I order;
1. Application to set aside dismissed
2. Damages assessed at £5
3. Defendant to pay the Claimants’ cost of the Application and of action to date.
18. I will assess the litigant in person’s costs now…..Total at £18/hour. There is nothing objectionable in this. This is summarily assessed at £5000.
PERMISSION TO APPEAL
19. I am asked permission to appeal on two grounds:
1. To enlarge the Defendant’s Witness Statement
2. That the claim should be stuck out because of the way in which it is pleaded
20. I do not agree on 1. There is nothing put forward by way of real prospect so this cannot amount to a ground of appeal
21. As far as the 2nd is concerned there is no current application to strike out the claim, merely an Application for setting aside, I have expressed the view for the purposes of a judgment for nominal damages that there is easily sufficient pleadings for it to be inappropriate to set aside, it would be a wasteful use of the Court’s resources and disproportionate. Therefore I refuse permission to appeal
22. Really this is not a seemly way for anyone to conduct a genuine political campaign to be behaving. This is the sort of thing which would give that campaign a bad name… Mr McLean please pass on to your client that he should reflect on this.
23. In the same way it should be understood that it can be inflammatory to crow about a victory. I can understand any step into the right direction affords personal satisfaction. However, it must be in the interest of parties, the legal system, and the cause for this to come to an end. They are not flying the flag in an appropriate manner.