Saturday, February 06, 2010

Labour's Solicitor Is Advising Devine, Chaytor & Morley

Gordon Brown has uttered many weasel words about the expenses scandal. We can expect a few more soon.

Someone might like to ask him this question. Why is the Labour Party's official solicitor, Gerald Shamash, providing the three disgraced Labour MPs (Messers Chaytor, Devine and Morley) with legal advice? Is the Labour Party paying for it?

Isn't it interesting how the Labour Party and Gordon Brown couldn't wait to hang Peter Watt out to dry and told him "you're on your own, mate", yet these three are treated very differently.

If the Labour Party really wished to disassociate itself from these MPs, wouldn't it have withdrawn the services of Mr Shamash? Just like it did with Peter Watt...


Jimmy said...

In what sense is it in the gift of the Labour Party to "withdraw" the services of a private firm?

Besides weren't you the one last week saying saying how horrible the Party was for abandoning people under police investigation? Make up your mind.

Perdix said...

Jimmy - if the Liebour Party is paying for the solicitor then it presumably could stop paying.

David Boothroyd said...

Steel and Shamash are not owned by the Labour Party. If they choose to take a client the Labour Party does not have a veto, as Jimmy points out. In any case 'official solicitor' is not an official term. The Labour Party has used different solicitors over the years

As they have acted for a political party, they have experience of handling cases with political and constitutional aspects - which makes them a natural choice in the circumstances for anyone looking for a solicitor.

David Boothroyd said...

Perdix: No, the Labour Party is not contributing anything to the legal costs here. Remember all three have already been barred from standing as Labour candidates.

Lorcan said...

I'm sure Gordon wouldn't know what the question was about...

Jimmy said...


The key word of course there being "if".

hott said...

Mr Morley is does have a very good legal "TEAM".

But the Scunthorpe MP, who is stepping down at the next election after he claimed £16,800 for a mortgage already paid off on his Winterton home, said reports about Parliamentary Privilege in The Sunday Times had drawn the wrong conclusions.
He said: "It does not have all the facts. MPs do not have immunity and nor should they.
"The issue here is the correct procedure as to how a case on expenses is made and who has the responsibility.
"I want to make clear I am not guilty of any offence and although I find this whole issue deeply frustrating because I have to wait to make my case.
"These are real and serious issues but are arguments for lawyers and not for me."
Barristers instructed by the firm Steel and Shamash, which represents the Labour Party and is said to be working also for MPs Mr Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine, are working on whether privilege should protect the MPs.
Created by the 1689 Bill of Rights, privilege ensures anything said in Parliament can not be the basis of a legal case. This has also been taken to include documents produced by Parliament.
Lawyers are examining whether it includes expense claims made by MPs.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010, 06:30

Jess The Dog said...

Please, join the campaign.

Free The Labour Three!

Sir Bob Geldof has apparently put together a charity single in aid of the campaign.

Incidentally, I hope the Labour Party will continue to offer the support of its retained solicitors, and will not withdraw the whip or seek to expel these fine gentlemen and Members of Parliament from the Party.

After all, these are matters for Parliament, not for the general public or a media kangaroo court,

realist said...

Maybe Elliot Morley et al, are having their legal fees paid for by Gordon,s slush fund, that doesn,t exist.
Gordon seems to refrain from commenting about corruption in Labour circles.
What a pity these people didn't go to Eton, Gordon could have really vented some of his spiteful hate on them then.
Then again what more can we expect from our dear, unelected, Great Leader.

Rylanddoyle said...


Labour Councillors pay an insurance premium for legal cover each month; I am fairly sure that Welsh Assembly members do the same.

I would imagine the same process applies for MPs and as such they are probably using this legal cover insurance to pay for the solictiors advice.

As to the use of the firm, it is the firm which handels all legal work for people elected to public office through the Labour Party.

As a Labour Councillor currently being investigated by the Ombudsman I am using their services at the moment

tory boys never grow up said...

Even Donal Blaney, from whom you lifted this post is a little more circumspect with regard to wheter Shamash and Steel is still advising the three Labour MPs (btw what happened until innocent until proved guilty?)

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Blaney's post were to be the subject of a complaint to the Law Society or similar.

Given that you are in contact with Donal perhaps you should ask him about the role of Griffin Advisors in the media management for Greg Hands election (see their website) - and where that was disclosed in Mr Hand's declaration of interests.

Unsworth said...

Usual suspects here. Just follow the money.

A forensic examination of Labour Party accounts is now necessary, what with the taxpayers' cash being paid to Unions who are, in turn, funding Labour.

What Chaytor, Devine and Morley collectively know of 'The Whips' and others will be very interesting. Who is picking up the bill? Can they afford these very expensive lawyers? After all, they obviously feel that they are grossly underpaid. Maybe they'll be appropriately grateful for their benefactor's support when giving their evidence.

pete-s said...

Shows that the labour solicitor is as stupid as labour, if there line of defense is to hide behind the 1689 act. Using that defense then they are saying ANY criminal act that takes place on the grounds of Parliament is not subject to the normal courts, nonsense.

Conand said...

I think the Three would be wise to use a different firm.
Why haven't they had the whip withdrawn?
Who was the Labour Whip who [allegedly] encouraged Devine to commit fraud?
Jim Devine was a political agent. To be employed as such you supposedly have to know all the minutiae of Electoral Law. Double checking the legality of finances, literature etc SHOULD be second nature!

Dave H said...

"...uttered many weasel words..."

Might I pick you up on a factually inappropriate figure of speech. You're being unfair. I've met weasels and they've actually always struck me as perfectly sincere as well as organised. You can't give that to Mr Brown.

To arrange your tribe to move like a string of sausages requires far better leadership skills than he will ever possess. But it's probably for the best. The worse his organisation the less damage he will ultimately commit.

(bad pun. Ed Balls: an organised Gordon Brown)

Political Junkie said...

this is such a draft post. Gerald Shamash is a solicitor who works for a firm of solicitors independent of the Labour Party. The Labour Party sometimes use that firm. But they won't have any influence over who their other clients are. But I suspect you knew that when you posted the blog iain.

Unsworth said...

Charming naivety from those who think that this firm is not subject to commercial influence - as are all firms. Anyone care to hazard what proportion of their business comes from the Labour Party - directly and indirectly?

Here's an extract from their website (of Gerald Shamash):

"He is the Labour Party’s election lawyer. He acts for both the National Executive Committee and National Constitutional committee on disciplinary matters, and in giving general advice. He advises both national and local politicians on Standards in Parliament and local government. He has represented the Labour Party on parliamentary and local government boundary reviews, and at ministerial meetings and conferences.

His position as solicitor to the Labour Party, and the Society of Labour Lawyers, has closely involved Gerald with legislative reform of electoral law. In this capacity he meets regularly with Ministers and has contributed to a number of consultations, most recently in the development of the Electoral Administration Act 2006.

Gerald’s electoral law expertise has brought him into contact with many jurisdictions to lecture, train and advise including; Sweden, Malawi, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Cuba and Russia.

Gerald has been involved in a number of the leading election law cases including: Ahmed v Kennedy (2003) and Knight v Nicholls (2004).

He has also advised and represented members and officers of the Labour Party throughout the recent police investigation into ‘Cash for Honours’ and election funding."

There's precious little mention of any 'other' clients or types of work. Perhaps and despite all of this lucrative stuff Shamash is acting pro bono, then. But, given this degree of specialisation, and given the possibility that his clients may face serious criminal charges such as theft, fraud and false accounting, one might wonder whether Shamash is quite the best choice of solicitor. No doubt Mr Shamash is hugely talented, but such tremendous flexibility and skill notwithstanding, where will he find the time - let alone the expertise - to deal with all three cases?

Thatsnews said...

Anyone who thinks there is nothing wrong with the firm of solicitors that works for the Labour Party working for members of the Labour Party who are accused of criminal acts should consider this term: "Potential conflict of interest."

The firm should not have taken their instructions. It should have suggested other firms who could take on this case.

It does not reflect well on the firm or the Labour Party.

M. Hristov said...

The rule is simple Iain. A solicitor may not act for two different clients where there is a conflict interest or potential conflict of interest.

Anyone is entitled to raise any credible defence they like in a criminal prosecution. Persons facing such prosecutions, particularly middle class or persons formerly or currently in high positions, are likely to feel sympathy with Oscar Wilde’s view that every trial is for one’s life, in the sense that you can lose everything if found guilty. Your home, your wife, your money and your reputation. You also lose control of your life for the period of prosecution and trials can be so traumatic that people collapse, even when acquitted. The tabloid view that it is all “a walk in the park” is total rubbish. Given the pressures upon defendants, it is na├»ve, in the extreme, to imagine that an accused person will not avail themselves of all possible defences.

As regards comments on current matters, “The Contempt of Court Act 1981” covers current proceedings, including those where summonses have been obtained a magistrates court. It is important to stay within the limits of that.

M. Hristov said...

Yes, it is getting late and so I have to correct the following typos

"A solicitor may not act for two different clients where there is a conflict interest or potential conflict of interest."

should read

"A solicitor may not act for two different clients where there is a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest."


"As regards comments on current matters, “The Contempt of Court Act 1981” covers current proceedings, including those where summonses have been obtained a magistrates court. It is important to stay within the limits of that.

should read

"As regards comments on current matters, “The Contempt of Court Act 1981” covers current proceedings, including those where summonses have been obtained from a magistrates court. It is important to stay within the limits of that."

Unsworth said...

@ M Hristov

And? The word 'potential' has vast potential for interpretation...