Thursday, 21 May 2009


I've just been watching that old tub of lard Lord Falconer windbagging on the debate in the House of Lords on the conduct of four peers, following the inquiry into cash for access.

For that creep to be standing in that place taking part in a debate on the transparancy and righteousness of anyone else makes me want to throw something at my telly!

Let's just remind ourselves of Charlie Falconer's track record and vested interests, shall we?


Charles Leslie Falconer, Baron Falconer of Thoroton, PC, QC (born 19 November 1951) is a British barrister and Labour Party politician. In June 2003 he became the Lord Chancellor and the first Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (a position created originally to replace the position of Lord Chancellor). In May 2007 the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) became the new Ministry of Justice with an enhanced portfolio, that encompasses all the responsibilities of the former DCA plus some functions transferred from the Home Office. Upon that reorganisation taking effect on 9 May 2007, Lord Falconer became the first Secretary of State for Justice, while keeping the title and role of Lord Chancellor. Following Gordon Brown's accession to the position of Prime Minister, Falconer was replaced as Minister of Justice.

Educated at the Edinburgh Academy, Trinity College, Glenalmond, and Queens' College, Cambridge, Falconer became a flatmate of Tony Blair when they were both young barristers in London in the late 1970s in Wandsworth. They had first met as pupils at rival schools in the 1960s. At school, he dated Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, an ex-girlfriend of Blair's, immediately after that relationship. While Blair went into politics, Falconer concentrated on his legal career. They met up again in 1976 when working as barristers in the same building. He practised from Fountain Court Chambers in London, and becoming a Queen's Counsel in 1991. He married privately-educated Marianna Hildyard, a barrister as well, in 1985 [1]. Her father, D.H.T. Hildyard, was the British Ambassador to Chile in Santiago. She became a QC in 2002. They have four children: Hamish, William, Rosie and Johnny. Hamish is a student at St John's College, Cambridge. He was chair of Cambridge University Amnesty International 2006 - 2007, and is the director of Sudan Divestment. They own a £2.5m house and a £250,000 basement flat in Islington. They also own a £550,000 country retreat in Thoroton (between Bingham and Bottesford in Nottinghamshire). His father used to live in the village, and they rent out his old home[2].

Having had a privileged education and upbringing, he placed his daughter and three sons at independent Westminster School [3]. Tony Blair later used teachers from this school to privately tutor his children. This proved to be an electoral problem when he tried to be selected for the seat of Dudley East before the 1997 election, which had been held by John Gilbert. He intended to keep his children at Westminster if selected, which caused the local selection panel to drop him from the selection procedure.

In May 1997 Blair became Prime Minister and Falconer was made a life peer as Baron Falconer of Thoroton, of Thoroton in the County of Nottinghamshire (he was the first peer created on Blair's recommendation), and joined the government as Solicitor General. In 1998 he became Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, taking over responsibility for the Millennium Dome after the resignation of Peter Mandelson. He was heavily criticised for the failure of the Dome to attract an audience, but resisted calls for his resignation. This is in contrast to the sacking of Dome Chief Executive Jennie Page just one month after the fiasco of the New Millennium eve opening night.

He joined the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions as Minister for Housing, Planning and Regeneration after the 2001 election and moved on to the Home Office in 2002. At the Home Office he was responsible for criminal justice, sentencing and law reform, and annoyed some of his fellow lawyers by suggesting that their fees were too high.

In 2003 he joined the Cabinet as the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, becoming also Lord Chancellor 'for the interim period' before the office was abolished. The government argued that the position of a cabinet minister as a Judge and Head of the Judiciary was no longer appropriate and would not be upheld by the European Convention on Human Rights. The announcement was generally seen as a rushed one as the abolition of the office of Lord Chancellor would require primary legislation. Removing the Lord Chancellor's judicial role was a policy known to be disliked by Lord Irvine of Lairg, the previous Lord Chancellor.

The post of Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs took over the remaining responsibilities of the Lord Chancellor, and also became the sponsoring Department for the Secretary of State for Wales and the Secretary of State for Scotland. Falconer announced his intention not to use the Lord Chancellor's power to sit as a judge and stopped wearing the traditional robe and wig of office. Falconer hoped to be the last to hold the title, ending 1,400 years of tradition. However, Lord Falconer has since said to the House of Lords Constitution Committee that he now "regrets" campaigning for the historic role of Lord Chancellor to be abolished. He even joked about reinstating the traditional practice - abolished by his predecessor Lord Irvine - of making the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Great Chamberlain and the Earl Marshal walk backwards ahead of the Queen to show respect. "I was keen to walk backwards, but was told I could not because all the other people now walked forwards and I would look like a crazed... I would be a very, very odd Lord Chancellor on that basis", Lord Falconer told the committee.

In a recent radio address on the BBC, he rejected calls for an English parliament to represent the people of England in a similar role to the Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly (see West Lothian Question). He stated: "We need to have an arrangement whereby the regions, and Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland, are better represented in the House of Lords." This reference to "the regions" as opposed to England, is seen by many[who?] as implicitly Anglophobic, and in line with New Labour's aim to divide England into nine regions[citation needed].

Lord Falconer was replaced in his ministerial posts by Jack Straw in Gordon Brown's inaugural cabinet reshuffle.

On 8 July 2008, Lord Falconer joined US law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher as a senior counsel.

Freedom of Information Act

In his role as Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Lord Falconer has sought to make it easier for government bodies to refuse to release documents under the Freedom of Information Act (2000), on the grounds that they are too expensive and too time-consuming for civil servants to find. Currently, the legislation allows requests for information to be refused if the cost they will incur exceeds £600 for Whitehall and £450 for other public bodies. Lord Falconer's proposed changes would make no difference to this level, but would expand the number of activities that would be included in the totals, making it easier for government parties to refuse requests for information. At the end of March 2007, Falconer's department announced that it would not introduce the proposals to parliament, but would instead have a second three-month consultation with the public (the previous consultation, also of three months, ended three weeks previous to this). Media elements reported this change as a 'backtracking', and Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, was quoted as saying "This raises the strong possibility that the government will decide to leave the current arrangements untouched".

(Thank you Wiki)

As you can see, Charlie Falconer isn't really that keen on us being able to look at Government documents - he thinks it would cost too much money to make the Government documents available. Absolute poppycock - how much does it cost to put stuff online - next to nothing is the answer, and all bloggers will testify to that fact.

But what does cost a lot is when the Government departments, in order to cover up certain facts, have to "doctor" the paperwork, in order to keep naughty Government officials safe from being caught out in flagrante delicto!

So, what are Lord Falconer's own vested interests? What would Lord Falconer prefer you not to know about? Watch this space!

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