Friday 25 February 2011

Jolyon Tuck - an apology

Torbay Duty Solicitor Jolyon Tuck has taken the trouble to write to ask for a correction to the original article which was queried his professional work in the case of Rodney Knowles.

Modesty forbids Tuck from saying it, but he had a difficult client.

Knowles is now in prison and received a fair trial on separate serious sexual charges. He has been convicted on secure grounds. Good.

Jolyon writes:
"I have been aware of this article for a few months. It is only now that the Crown Court case is complete and you have taken the opportunity to conclude the story that I would ask that you revisit the original piece.

Neither of your assertions that this is poor defence work or it being a calculated bet that a criminal record wouldn't matter to Mr Knowles are correct.

I am tickled by the suggestion that I rolled my client over nicely, but would be prefer you not to make such misguided comments.

My role in cases of this nature is to advise on the law, the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution case and balance that with my client's own instructions. During that consultation, the client will also receive advice on possible sentence both before and after trial.

Ultimately, I work for my client, act on their instructions, and they are under no obligation to take my advice. I have had people take my advice and I have had people ignore my advice, but I have not yet rolled a client over.
Your note that I should be dealing with motoring offences because of my field of work on our website is a slight misrepresentation. It states that I deal with Criminal Litigation and Motoring Offences. Having said that, I have made arrangements for my profile to be updated to address your concerns.

I am surprised that you criticise the Duty Solicitor qualification. All of the defence solicitors that appear regularly in the Torbay and Teignbridge courts are duty qualified and there should be no slur attached to the work we do under the Duty Scheme.

Any qualified solicitor is allowed to give advice on criminal law and represent clients in court on a private basis. To act as a Duty Solicitor you must complete two further qualifications.

Without public funding through the duty scheme and availability of Legal Aid, it is a sad truth that many going through the courts in would receive no legal advice at all."
If you need a solicitor in Torquay, Tuck is your man at WBW solicitors.

However, Tuck's quoted line in court that the law on knives is clear is still not the case. If it was clear, then the police wouldn't have had to issue clarification, which still isn't clear and never will be, because the law attempts to criminalize the carrying of common objects - such as a bread knife in a caravan, definitely a fixed blade, definitely longer than 3 in - and then decides to whether it fancies applying the law or not, depending not on demonstrated intent but on the grounds of whether the police have something else going on.

A bad law, which shouldn't have been passed in the first place because it was hysterical PR rather than effective legislation, is a doily of exceptions. Those exceptions cause resentment because a mohel may have to explain their surgical tools and be excused, whereas a pagan may end up having a court argue about whether an athame is or is not a ritual object and whether paganism is a religion. By then it will be too late; the pagan will now have a record of arrest and charge (or maybe a caution) and this will show on CRB checks.

Mr Tuck is concerned however, that duty solicitors do not command public confidence.

I've no doubt the ones in Torbay are wonderful and completely reliable. However, this is not the case nationally. There is a reason for that, and it doesn't lie in the qualifications of the duty solicitors. There are two main problems; the speed of change in legislation and the increasing politicisation of the criminal law.

The speed of change in legislation puts the duty solicitor ever more on the back foot before they are called to the station. Is the law what the police claim? For example, the case of the stupid old fantasist, Mr Roger Day, both the police and the CPS were convinced that Day had a case to answer. Day had worn an impossible collection of medals at a Remembrance parade. They assured the bench that this was a crime, and the bench duly castigated Day, confiscating property and fining him, which automatically created a criminal record such that he wouldn't be able to pass a CRB check.

The only snag was, the legislation had been repealed two weeks before the "offence" via a commencement order which brought a new act in to force act, automatically discontinuing the old one. It simply wasn't a criminal offence (or at any rate, not the one he was charged with) no matter how much other folk may have been offended.

When Day's solicitor - who may have been appointed later rather than as the duty solicitor - realized this he marched smartly back to court and the bench admitted the whole case was in error. It was too late for Day by then; he had been dragged through court and the papers do not record the striking out of the conviction.

It is a repeated gripe that duty solicitors are too ready to advise clients to accept cautions, failing to recognize that under the CRB and ISA systems - which are being revised but will take a while - a caution is of no practical difference to a conviction with an admission of guilt when it comes to applying for jobs or doing voluntary work which require an enhanced CRB check, and most of them do.

It was criticized in the Beefeater case where Yeoman Warder Bob Brown accepted a caution on what was claimed was legal advice, failing to realize that this would be used in the subsequent employment law case. (See Brown's own comment, I don't know what has happened to the IPCC complaint).

Even more serious is the way the law has been used as a political tool. Indeed, the men's groups claim that the Beefeater case was profoundly political and what should have been a matter of internal company discipline was elevated to criminal harassment on little or no evidence, and none that would stand up in court if it had gone there. Since one warder was immediately reinstated, and Mark Sanders-Crooks was paid a significant out-of-court settlement to withdraw his employment tribunal case and now works with a medevac service, they may have a point.

With the increasing politicisation of what will and will not be accorded criminal status, duty solicitors trying to advise on the criminal law are barking up the only tree they can, but it's still the wrong tree. The client has been arrested for show-trial purposes. The object of the exercise is the intimidation of the audience by the ritual humiliation of the defendant. In the end, it matters little if the defendant wins or loses; the main thing was to have caused as much inconvenience as possible for them.

One example of this is the Paul Chambers Twitter Joke Trial. Blogger Jack of Kent - David Allen Green - is acting for Chambers and has blogged this extensively. JoK became involved after an initial guilty plea seemed wrong to him in law on specific application, and wrong in general as the law was being used in a way which was - we hope - never intended by the legislators. JoK's first task was to achieve a change of plea.

It could be argued that the initial advice to plead guilty was sound as that would have minimized the time spent in court and confined the damage to a criminal record plus what ever other penalty was imposed. Chambers' conviction still stands. He's been sacked and he's probably unemployable in the general professional run of jobs - e.g. teaching - even if he manages to shift the conviction in subsequent rounds of litigation. So he's no better off than he was at the start, and maybe a bit worse.

However, another way to look at it is that when the agents of the state have their kicking-boots on, that's the most important time for the duty solicitor to warn the client that rolling up in to a ball may not save them much grief.
"WBW Solicitors strongly recommends that you do not agree to be interviewed by the police, whatever the nature of the investigation, without first speaking to a member of our team and, as the Criminal Defence Service funds our attendance at the police station, you do not have to worry about the cost of our advice and assistance at that stage"

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Earthly Remains

Anna Raccoon is looking in to the business of earthly remains after cremation; specifically what happens to metallic parts.

A check through the terms and conditions of the city crematorium for Silicon Fen showed they were fully aware of this. If you wish, they can deal with it or you can collect the recovered metals yourself, so long as you pick them up within two weeks. Fair enough.

There are other instructions:
The coffin must only contain the body of the deceased
And nobody else under normal conditions, capice?
All the shrouds and/or clothing must be of natural fibres e.g cotton, wool, silk etc.
If modom does not know the difference between an acrylic ManU strip and a Fair Trade long-staple cotton tee, our fashionistas will check the fibre content for her.
Shoes or any material manufactured from PVC should not be included.
Lil'ole farm bois will have to take off their gumboots. Crocs likewise.
Where he's going, there isn't any coverage.

Monday 14 February 2011

Careers Advice for Would-be Dictators Part 2

Dictatoring is a job which falls in to two distinct phases: getting the job and keeping the job. They require separate skills. Yesterday: Getting the job. Today, part two

Keeping the job.

There's no getting away from it; there is always an element of performance, a willingness to go on the stage when other people won't. It is sometimes said that this is a product of the media age meaning 'as recently as the 20th century'. Not so. The performance element has always been there. Elizabeth I realized that she had to appear at Tilbury even though it meant some risk to herself. There's no suggestion she used a body-double. Which ever version of the speech was delivered, the main thing is she was there, attempting to say what the forces needed to hear.

The duff speaker who will go on stage trumps the good speaker who hides. You cannot do this job if you aren't prepared to go out and hoof it to the best of your ability. You don't have to be a world-class actor; the benchmark is Delia Smith.

Perhaps the public ought not be so enamoured of performers, but they are, so there's no point in railing against it. Resign yourself to presentation lessons; you, the irresistible force, have just run up against the immovable object of public expectations.

Once you've got the speaking thing nailed there are six things which have to have their bumps felt and, yes, they are all trying to kill you. It goes with the territory.

* Power apparatus: that's the armed forces, the secret police and the civilian police
* The judiciary and the bloody lawyers
* The economy
* Furriners
* Parliament or equivalent council
Lastly, depending on your regime
* Turbulent priests

The modern dictator will usually keep a pet council for the look of it. Like any pet you want it fed properly and brushed but it is is the pet and you are the master, so it can get do tricks when told or it will be put in the naughty cell and have its privileges removed.

Likewise, the flippin' judges and lawyers are necessary for "resolving" civilian disputes but they are reptillian in nature and don't respond to training the way the mammalian councils do. The best thing to do with them is to keep them very cold as they are more docile when chilled, i.e. don't keep pumping public money at them. Warm one up only when you need it.

Think of them as Gremlins which, as you know, must never be fed after midnight or allowed to get wet.

A key mistake with managing the judiciary is to give it the idea that it can rule on your decisions. The first rule you need to establish is
"This is not justiciable because it isn't for you to question me, the duly appointed dictator. Back in your tank."
Let the judiciary do the bottom-sifting job they are supposed to do; making public tutting noises about crime. They can encourage your civilian police force stay in line and not taking kick-backs, although they seem myopic about spotting corruption if it wears a white coat or a blue uniform.

The civilian police force is important because they will keep things profitable. It is vital that they are kept from corruption if at all possible because they tend to attack the economically active part of your dictatorship on account of that's where the money is.

Even Vladimir Putin is fed up with the levels of corruption.

The economically active part of your economy is a mix of people who work and those who finance it. Now, the police will have to hamper some forms of work, usually prostitution and drug dealing, and you will have to take a view on whether you want them to do that or if you want them to regulate and control both those activities. Drug dealing and prostitution are going to happen whatever you do, so you'll just have to decide whether to get involved or not. Dictators need not pay any heed to what anyone else says; that's the point of being a dictator. Ultimately what you will be judged by is if you allow these things to become a nuisance.

The turbulent priests are bound to give you an ear-bashing on this point, though. They are also a useful method of social control so you will probably have to put up with their twittering; they are a flock of bird-brained screaming peacocks. Think of them as the intermediate stage of feather boas, hats and pillows. Watch out for the occasional ostrich. Big buggers, can break your arm with a blow of their beak, but even they can be turned in to fans for strippers.

A word on Furriners. It is impossible to give hard rules about this because, as the lawyers say, so much is fact-sensitive. In general Furriners or their friends will have annoyingly large amounts of money which obviously should be yours, so the first aim is to get that money. This means you may have to be nice to them but an effective dictator knows how to be strategically nice as well as ruthlessly unpleasant. It is unnecessarily restrictive to confine yourself to one or other behaviour; just work out where you want to be and then do what is necessary to get there.

The effective dictator follows the rules laid down by St Geldorf: just give us the fockin' money, although not necessarily in those words. Later there can be a settling of scores. Purely as a rule of thumb, if you have to shoot furriners, try to make it the poor ones. Avoid over-using your armed forces. They are a sentimental lot; their loyalty can be relied on until the day they suddenly turn on you.

Which brings us to the secret police. These are your score-settlers and no dictator manages without them. This means they are very nearly your equals and can be a source of opposition. However, they are by nature 2ic otherwise you'd already be floating face-down.

Think of the secret services as a pitbull terrier. Not too bright, very agressive, with some behaviour problems due to a tendency to perceive attack even when there isn't one, but one heck of a killing machine when under proper control. Your job, like any responsible dog worker, is to keep the animal lean and to heel. The dog will thank you for it.

Yesterday: Careers Advice for Would-be Dictators, Part 1, Getting the Job

Sunday 13 February 2011

Careers Advice for Would-Be Dictators part 1

Catherine the Great. She married in to the ruling family and then the CEO, her husband, suddenly died of someone.

Dictatoring is a job which falls in to two distinct phases: getting the job and keeping the job. They require separate skills.

Today, part 1, Getting the Job

Getting the job depends very much on chance.

Politics, economics, outside events, the behaviour of your opponents, mad bastards on your own side; all these change what we careers advisors call 'the environment'. Many of the world's dictators talk as if they could control these, but that is just their ego talking. An ego the size of Basingstoke is the minimum character requirement for a dictator.

Cuddle-up to power while young, but do be careful not to over-identify with any single source of it. Power-sources such as the military or political parties have an unpredictable habit of self-destructing. People will accuse you of not being clubbable; true, but you also won't find yourself with your career over before it even starts.

At this early point in the dictator's career it is more like being the 2nd-in-charge officer on a complex ship on a choppy sea with a mardi crew and half the stores gone. Even that is a simple job in comparison because at least at sea there is only a limited number of people to contend with, unless the pirates show up.

Several notable dictators claim to have been marked out for greatness from childhood but this is wishful thinking. Had they been recognized young, they'd have been drowned in the bath. Instead, in their larval phase they resemble the weedy specky nerdy type with a grasp of detail which makes them valuable to their elders, and so invited to the big table to do the donkey work.

It's only later that the dictator separates himself - and it nearly always is himself although there are such things as women dictators - from the pack.

That is the first career hurdle for a dictator; looking just useful enough to stay alive but not becoming the natural slave-brain, the one which does all the work but doesn't get credited. At some point you may have to choose: do I want to achieve my aims from this position, or do I want to be Leader?

If you are dictator material this won't even be a question for you. Rather, you'll be worried about recruiting your own reliable seconder and finding all the ways you can be in pole-position when the current leader (or nearest approximation) falls out of the window having decided on a breath of fresh air. Windows are terribly dangerous, architecturally. Almost as bad as lamp posts. That's why the streets are often dark in dictatorships.

In general, dictators don't see being 2ic as tolerable for long, let alone negotiable. It's not something which is open to dialogue. You might as well offer vegetables to a toddler, and for much the same reason; toddlers don't like vegetables and they do like control.
"And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli!"
Howled George Bush Snr. to the delight of US Teletubbies as one of the most powerful men on Earth got a right cob on, thus illustrating that wiser, better men often don't find themselves in office.

The first quality of a dictator, then, is a certain impervious disregard for rationality, proportionality, or any of the considerations which paralyse brighter mortals. Being terribly clever is not the most important thing. Make the clever-cloggs your 2ic but keep a very sharp eye on them. Don't want them getting ideas about doing your job.

The second quality of a dictator is luck, because with those tendencies there's a fair chance you are going to kill yourself accidentally, and quite young. But then so will your competitor dictators, which is why there aren't that many of them.

The third quality is unlimited energy. This allows you to outpace any enemies who, although not direct competitors, would like to see you out of it. While they are sleeping you will be building networks.

That checklist again:

Ego the size of a market town (minimum)
Not thick but far from clever

Lastly, you will need the spooky ability to recruit a core of the right sort (i.e. useful) followers early on, when you do not yet have the power to dispense patronage. Even those who are themselves acting as your patrons must think themselves privileged at that point.

This used to be much simper in the days of the aristocracy, using the hereditary principle to attract support. That is rarely allowed now. We have had several effective dictators this way, but unfortunately it also brings out a crop of noxious half-wits. Then again, so does democracy and the secret vote-rigging of the EU. Each claim legitimacy to do the job badly. Why can't they just base their claim to keep their job on the basis of competence?

Still, we don't do hereditary succession any more, except if your name is Bush. Or Benn.

Tomorrow: part II, Doing the Job

Tuesday 8 February 2011

The Martyrdom of St Barnabas & Carol Hill

St Barnabas has a claim to be the natural saint of the bloggosphere and whistleblowers. He was tortured then stoned, or perhaps burned, to death for talking to the public.

The blogger Fr. Mark White notes that Barnabas may have been as prolific as St Paul, but St Paul was the one who got the attention and whose work survived and made it in to the official list. The MSM, if you like. St Barnabas' work seems to have mostly vanished and he has to make do with the credits others give him.

He's remembered in many churches, though. For instance, at Great Tey in Essex there is a church dedicated to him.

You might think that a vicar of a church invoking such a virtuous man would have an instinctive reaction when faced with someone telling an unwelcome truth. They would rise up and defend the them, especially if it concerned a child.

In June 2009, seven-year-old Chloe David was involved in a case of bullying at the Great Tey Voluntary Controlled CoE primary school, the one associated with St Barnabas Church and its vicar the Reverend John Richardson.

Chloe was tied to a fence with a skipping rope and lashed by four boys. Now, children play rough but this is exceptional. It is sufficiently serious that it may be an S&M act-out, which means you have to record it in full and make sure social services know in case they want to launch further enquiries as to where this game originated.

The dinner-time supervisor Carol Hill found Chloe. Mrs Hill is a first aider and has a duty to the child and her parents which, if ever there is a choice, takes precedence to her duty to the school. She wrote in the school record:
"Chloe has been tied up and then hit with a skipping rope – red marks on right leg and right wrist".
Hill reported it to her employers and left them to do their job.
The notice sent to the parents by Headmistress Deborah Crabb reads:
"She was hurt on the right leg and right wrist with a skipping rope"
"Chloe was hurt by some other children so to reassure you they had all missed part of their lunchtime today and their parents have been informed."
This is not quite the same thing. 'Hurt' implies playground accident. We've all had those. This was deliberately inflicted injury by a coordinated group. It also neglects to mention the bondage.

At tribunal, Crabb explained the boys insisted they were playing "Guards and Prisoners". So she was always fully aware that this was a coordinated playing-out of a fantasy by four boys whipping a small girl. In no sense could it be interpreted as an accident.

When Carol Hill, who also volunteered at the Beavers, bumped in to Chloe's mother, it transpired that Mrs David didn't appreciate how potentially serious the incident had been, nor the sexual connotations involved, nor that it had been in the nature of an attack.

Chloe's father demanded a copy of the original report and furiously withdrew the children from school, citing that the Crabb had attempted to cover up potentially serious abuse and so couldn't be trusted to deal with real abuse by adults if that ever occurred.

It was further suggested Crabb had acted in this way because one of the children who had been involved in the attack was the son of a governor. What else would she cover up? This is how child abuse continues to happen, everybody making excuses for it and closing ranks to protect their buddies instead of the victim.

In response, the school sacked Carol Hill, claiming that she had broken the child's confidentiality by talking to the parents. Unless Hill had some reason to suspect the parents were the dangerous ones, she had an obligation to speak to them if she believed them to have been misinformed, which trumps her obligation to the school.

She's there to protect children, not to save Crabb's face, or the face of another governor whose child was involved in the victimization. Child protection trumps employment law.

The school also claimed that Carol Hill had no right to go to the papers over their attempt to mislead the parents, and that she did so as a matter of personal antipathy to Crabb. So what?

Crabb tried to lie to the parents and untrustworthy governors colluded with her in that. It is a matter of public interest that a head deliberately misled parents and then tried to plead confidentiality in this betrayal of child protection. At no time could it have been in Chloe's interest to lie to her parents. But it was in the interests of some of the other children and the school.

On that sacking panel were three people from the C of E school’s governing body: John Wickes, Cathy Rayner and the local vicar, Rev John Richardson.

Unfortunately, eighteen months later, that which is glaringly obvious to anyone who isn't an employment lawyer also escaped the Employment Tribunal in Bury St Edmunds, another place where a martyr wasted his blood and is probably wondering if it was worth it.

Carol Hill has an inconclusive ruling which seems to say that technically, they could have sacked her for not keeping schtum about potential child abuse, even though every bit of child protection advice says she must speak out, not keep secrets. It's just they followed the wrong procedure for doing it. Yeah, right, a complete accident and not an example of grown professionals deliberately flouting employment law and child protection protocols.

Anybody with a lick'o'sense would rather Carol Hill looked after their children than this poisonous gang. It follows, of course, that Mrs Hill is the one who might be banned from volunteering with the Beavers and could end up with the social services arguing she can't have access to her own grandchildren.

She is the test case for the vetting and banning list. The school will have to notify what ever the Independent Safeguarding Authority becomes that she was sacked for gross misconduct, or would have been if they hadn't got the procedure wrong. (There is still some argument over what the heck it means).

But the whole point is that if she had a choice at all, she made the correct one in putting her duty to the child ahead of her duty to the employer. Rev Richardson should remember that; his duty to God is ahead of his duty to the Church.

As Carol Hill appears not to want to take it to Appeal, that is the end of this case. However, the political ramifications will carry on because now it looks like any employee who discovers wrong doing, especially abuse against children being covered up, is unable to go to the police without it being gross misconduct. The culpability ought to be in keeping quiet, not in talking.

Come on Michael Gove and Eric Pickles, get yer fingers out. This wants sorting. We can't have a big society if people like Mrs Hill aren't allowed to volunteer and exercise their role in child protection. Even Ed Balls - even Ed Balls - knew this case was rotten and wrote to the school to say so.

There is a way, via the admirable Anna Raccoon, to register support for Carol Hill and to wish her well and give her a pat on the back. Send her the equivalent of a box of chocs, more if you can afford it.

Update: Anna is still accepting donations to pass on to Carol Hill.

Friday 4 February 2011

That's not a knife - epilogue

Back in August 2010 the post That's not a knife....THAT'S a knife discussed the case of Rodney Knowles who had been arrested in February 2010 for having a knife in his car. He had pleaded guilty to that in April, but complained bitterly to the press, who took up the story.

The result was that the next month, May, the police found themselves having to explain to holiday makers that an offence would depend on whether there was or was not a good purpose for having the knife of the limited permitted dimensions.

They maintained, however, that they were right to make the arrest and that as Mr Knowles had pleaded guilty to the bare offence, no further details had come out in court. Mr Knowles' own representative, Jolyon Tuck said in exasperation:

"I can say quite safely Mr Knowles has no comment to make."

In July Knowles was charged with serious sexual offences which allegedly took place many years earlier. They included grooming, rape, sexual assault and threats which meant the victims dared not complain.

This week the trial was finally concluded and Knowles was convicted of eight counts of rape, 15 counts of indecency with a child and seven indecent assaults. The threats against the victims had been so effective that they had not been able to go to the police for decades. Knowles pleaded not guilty and maintains the accusations were fabrications. Knowles will serve at least 10 years in prison before he is eligible to ask about parole.

There is a difficulty with what are termed 'historic abuse' cases in that time really does put a question mark over testimony, so it might thought that this is a case of a disabled old man being victimized.

That's not what the whisper-wall says, although you don't have to believe it. It says that Knowles was a wrong'un who used his disability to either make people think he was a victim or to make himself immune from complaints.

Recommendation: Save your sympathy on this one.

Press reports of the conviction

The Herald

The Express

Update: 25/2/11 h/t Jolly Lion in the comments

My living hell at hands of violent and bullying father

Update: 25/2/11 Jolyon Tuck - an apology

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Marriage a la mode - all the fun of the law

The first effects of the Bull ruling are being felt. Hotels which provide exclusively gay male accommodation, thus distinguishing themselves in the market, have had their business model damaged. This is what the Guyz Hotel "Gay Men Only" said last week.

The screen-grab is fuzzy, but it is from Guyz Hotel index (not the booking terms and conditions) and it says [my emphasis]:
Guyz Hotel has been run as a gay hotel for the past 24 years, and is one of the most popular and longest established gay hotels in Blackpool, catering for gay couples, singles and groups who want a gay environment with quality accommodation. Previously voted 3rd best gay hotel in UK!!
This could mean that it happens to be run with the preferences of gay patrons in mind. That is being 'gay friendly'. This is not the same as saying: "this is exclusively for gay people". It continued:
Guyz is a GENUINE Gay Hotel. That means it is a hotel owned and run BY gay people FOR gay people but beware there are some straight owned ‘Pink Pound’ friendly Hotels locally that display the pride flag trying to cash in on gay money, and it isn’t until you check in that you discover they may be mixed, or even have STAG & HEN parties staying.!!!
No doubt about it then. They won't accept heterosexuals and they won't accept lesbians. They discriminate on gender and sexual orientation; a guest has to fulfill both conditions to be admitted.
If you are specifically looking for a Gay Hotel be sure to ask if it is exclusively gay when booking to avoid possible disappointment
Ordinarily I wouldn't bother about a hotel choosing to run itself for gay men and failing to provide any objective and reasonable justification for doing so. There are a great number of hotels, so even if this one was discriminatory towards me and/or Mr Raft, it wouldn't matter unless a fair percentage of hotels refuse to serve us. In the meantime, Gabrielle's says I can't take Mr Raft in there either, not even if we are both gay.

Still, if that's the price of establishing a profitable business then I can live with it because I'd rather see people rich and happy than poor and miserable. The explicit sexism and heterophobia just doesn't make all that much difference to customer over entire hospitality sector, but it makes a heck of a difference to the hotelier at the modest end of the market where there are large numbers of similar hotels and only limited ways of distinguishing a service.

The EHRC dances round this by summarizing that sometimes it is possible to provide services on a discriminatory basis but that all differences in treatment must have an objective and reasonable justification. (See full guide). Can Mr Raft be refused entry to The Pink House hotel in Brighton objectively (because he's a man) and reasonably so? I doubt it.

For as long as the Bulls down in Cornwall have been tangling themselves up in knots over who can sleep in a double bed, the Guyz Hotel has been trading on an explicit separatist ethic. They cheerfully took up a registration as 'gay men exclusively' through a trade association, BAGS. (To use that link, do a search on the criteria "exclusively gay guests", meaning the website provider and the hotel both believe it is legal and intend to discriminate on sexual orientation.)

However, public money was spent by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on bringing a private civil case to test the implementation of a regulation in a statutory instrument which followed quietly behind the primary legislation.

John Wadham of the EHRC is crystal clear on this: if you are in a commercial relationship then you can't discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation and civil partnership is marriage for the purposes of claims under this statutory instrument.

That Regulation again:

Statutory Instruments 2007 No. 1263 EQUALITY
The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007
Made 17th April 2007 Coming into force 30th April 2007

There are explanatory notes at the bottom of the made version and an explanatory memorandum attached, which sets out the intentions of the act and is much easier to read before going on to the Act, although what is intended is not the same as what happens when the technical game of legal ping-pong starts.

5.11 The Regulations will impact positively on people in the lesbian, gay and bisexual community by providing a route to redress against discrimination. However, it will also have a positive impact on members of the heterosexual community, as they too can seek redress for discrimination where, for example, they are refused access to a pub because they are not gay.
So the intention of the Act was that public-access places such as the Guyz Hotel could be sued under this regulation for refusing to accept a heterosexual guest and that their ability to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation would be removed from them. If they continue to advertise on that basis they are either discriminating unlawfully or advertising in a misleading fashion.

Perhaps somebody rang John Wadham (Helpline: 0845 604 6610) and asked about wording on the website because this week Guyz Hotel have hurriedly changed their welcome page which now reads:

Is this enough to keep them on the right side of the law? Regulation 10 states:
Discriminatory advertisements

10.—(1) It is unlawful to publish, or to cause to be published, an advertisement which indicates (expressly or impliedly) an intention by any person to discriminate unlawfully.
There are exceptions and exclusions to this but the general commercial guideline holds, so can any hotel being run for profit hold itself out as a gay establishment? To test that, would a hotel be able to advertise itself as a straight establishment? We haven't had the test case yet and the interesting thing here is that there is only one body which can bring it :
3) Proceedings in respect of a contravention of this regulation may be brought only—

(a) by the Commission,
which probably means that no matter how offended the Christian Institutes are by adverts for gay hotels, they cannot do anything about it, especially if the EHRC have told the hotel that they are in the clear. However, John Wadham and the EHRC might possibly bring one against a hotel which says:
Dire Straitz Hotel has been run as a heterosexual hotel for the past 24 years and is one of the most popular and longest established straight hotel in Llangrebub, catering for heterosexual couples, singles, and people who want a heterosexual environment. Situated close by Llangrebub's new heterosexual piazza, Dire Straitz Hotel is a short walk along the promenade from Llangrebub's tea rooms, ball room and chapel. Your hosts Mr and Mrs Jones would like to welcome all guests, old and new, and assure you of clean quality accommodation and service.
Although Mr and Mrs Jones say they welcome all guests, the wording could be interpreted as showing an intention to unlawfully discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation or simply be discriminatory in presentation.

Personally, I'd rather see the Chymorvah hotel and the dozens of gay hotels such as Guyz or Pride Lodge or Chaps open and doing their respective businesses. The more they are profitable, the less likely the proprietors are to wind up on benefits.

Note that the hotels forbore to go round shutting each other down, presumably because both the LGBT operators and the Bulls can count shillings; it's better for both of them to tut at each other but keep taking the money. It's hard to get guests and the best thing to do is to build up a regular clientele to smooth-out the seasonal demand and offer the national chains some competition.

It is guests who should be deciding if there is enough business to support an exclusively gay hotel; not the John Wadham and the EHRC as to whether they can run and advertise such an establishment. But if the EHRC is going to do this, it must do it equally across the economy.

The EHRC has a staff of 80 lawyers; the commission itself has a budget of £70 million. (I'm assuming the Times added up the numbers in the Report and Accounts, but I haven't checked)

When is it going to oblige the Acqua Sauna to open women-only sessions at a time which is suitable for that market i.e. they can't wiggle round it by doing only 4.30am on a Wednesday morning once a month, regardless of whether there is any take-up of the day passes?

Alternatively, scrap the EHRC, save £70 million, and leave Acqua Sauna, the Chymorvah hotel, and Guyz alone to get on with making a living.