absolutely barking quietly eccentric neighbour of mine was going home one day when he spied a baby buzzard sitting by the roadside. He thought he’d take it home with him; as you do. Once at home, he had great enjoyment out of training it to fly back to him for the reward of a piece of chicken liver. So proud was he of his achievement, that when his solicitor invited him out to lunch to discuss some skullduggery entirely innocent caper that he’d unfortunately naively become involved in, he took the bird with him in a cardboard box.
There it sat quietly as they perused the menu in one of our famed local gastronomic restaurants (when you are a wealthy client, solicitors round here do invite you to lunch – and expect you to pay!). The other side of the restaurant, two clients were watching and quietly drooling as the waiter approached their table with a covered silver salver. With great fanfare, the waiter lifted the lid and lowered the dish, the better that his clients could appreciate the thinly sliced Fois Gras, interspersed with truffles, that they had planned to consume.
OK, it wasn’t chicken liver, but chicken, schmicken, goose, schmose, it’s all the same to a hungry Buzzard. He flapped his mighty wings and swooped low across the restaurant, scattering wine and customers alight; collected the Fois Gras between his talons and settled on the corner of the buffet to chomp his way merrily through it.
How was he to know that the Fois Gras owners were two senior policemen, or come to that, anything to do with the French legislation preventing possession of wild birds?
Which is how my neighbour and his solicitor came to share a cell for the next 18 hours, and eventually share a criminal record and an entirely reasonable bill for 3,000 euros for possession of said wild bird, and damage caused thereby.
I was reminded of this totally useless shaggy
dog bird tale, when I read of the trials and tribulations of Darrell Littlewood, former owner of Scarborough Football Club. When Scarborough Football Club, ahem, failed to make any money, our Darrell thought up a new venture. Charging people to find out if they were paying too much council tax.
In the first prosecution of its type in the country, 45-year-old Littlewood, now of Dewsbury, admitted 14 charges involving 12 complainants, five of whom were too elderly or infirm to attend the court hearing.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Henry’s firm had sent out misleading flyers, failed to make applications on behalf of clients and had not made refunds to people who had cancelled their contracts within a seven-day “cooling-off” period.
Serious stuff. It demands a top flight barrister. The sort of man trusted to prosecute in serious fraud committed by bank managers. The sort of man who might prosecute in cases involving Premier League Footballers. A “Premier League” barrister indeed. The sort of man who is highly thought of by the Jewish community.
What could go wrong? Well, you could end up with your trial being delayed whilst this paragon of virtue who is supposed to be defending you gets banged up himself for defrauding his chambers of £81,000.
Then you could get even more unwelcome publicity whilst questions were asked in parliament on Tuesday as to how come convicted criminals are allowed to act as officers of the court.
Mr Mulholland said: “I was astonished when I found that a barrister had been allowed to carry on defending people having been convicted of a serious criminal offence. This is a ridiculous loophole that must be closed.
“The fact that [this] case was actually delayed, whilst his own barrister’s criminal case was heard, is a farce.
“Then for David Friesner to toddle back to defend Mr Henry [akaLittlewood] , as a convicted criminal himself, is just extraordinary.”
That David Friesner could quite possibly have ended up defending, or even prosecuting, in the court of Mr Justice Singh is even more ridiculous.
Friesner, 46, appeared on January 12 at Leeds Crown Court, where he admitted stealing £81,500 from his own chambers. He will be sentenced on February 10 when he is likely to be jailed.
At least he managed to keep his client out of the clink.
Littlewood, who had a previous conviction for failing to keep proper accounting records and a caution for fraud by false representation, was arrested in July 2010 and the judge said he had demonstrated in his police interviews his flawed understanding of the proper procedures.
Littlewood, a father-of-two, now faces a costs bill of £12,500 and he must also do 150 hours’ unpaid work.
He also has to pay back a total of £455 to three clients who were not refunded their fees after they cancelled their contracts with Council Tax Review.
This isn’t about ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ – Freisner had been proved guilty, he was awaiting sentence. The Bar Council wants shooting for letting this occur. The only thing that could have made this tale worse would be if the Judge had convictions too, tell me he didn’t……
Are there no standards left in public life? None?