1 invoice and 1 letter about the secret Court application I’m not allowed to write about that cost Wirral Council £535.20

1 invoice and 1 letter about the secret Court application I’m not allowed to write about that cost Wirral Council £535.20

1 invoice and 1 letter about the secret Court application I’m not allowed to write about that cost Wirral Council £535.20


I’m going to write a story now to show you how difficult it is to do investigative journalism in this country due to the legal framework here, as there are details I know about this story which is would be unlawful for me to publish.

There are two documents associated with this story so first I have to explain the background as to what they are and why I got them. The first is an invoice dated 13th January 2014 to Wirral Council from Lees Solicitors to Wirral Council for the sum of £535.20. This is for:

36 minutes preparation for a hearing at £160/hour 36 minutes which is £96 (+ VAT of £19.20) = £115.20

Counsel’s fee £350 (+VAT of £70) = £420

Grand total: £535.20

Due to legal restrictions *(*don’t you just love this country sometimes and their restrictions on the press?) although I know the names of the parties (such as the Applicant and Respondent) in this case, I’m not allowed to publish either of them on this blog. I cannot tell you who (although I know) the Applicant or Respondent are. In fact I’d better not tell you the date of the hearing, just in case you use that to somehow figure out who the Applicant and Respondent are. As far as I can tell (maybe I’m wrong) I’m not allowed to get a copy of or publish the Court Order (if there is one) that resulted from the hearing to consider the application.

This is openness and transparency in the local courts British style.

So why are Wirral Council paying £535.20 to Lees Solicitors for the legal work outlined in the invoice below? I think I’ve gone as far as I can do in answering that question as the rest would be educated guesswork.

Ironically I get more openness and transparency from Laura Quarry of the Family Court at Birkenhead than I get from Wirral Council in this matter in her letter to me dated 27th October 2014 (also below that the Wirral Council invoice). Mind you it is not hard to be more open and transparent than Wirral Council is it?

Laura Quarry states “Thank you for your letter dated 24th October 2014. This case is a Private Law Family matter. Therefore as you are not a party to this application, we cannot provide you with the documents you have requested. The documents you have requested refer to a civil matter and the case number you have provided is not a civil case number.

If you can provide us with a civil case number we can process your request. Please find enclosed your fee.”

If anyone would like to translate exactly what that means by leaving a comment, please do! I think I understand what she means although I may be wrong!

So which department is involved at Wirral Council in Family Court matters that the press aren’t allowed to write about? Why the Children and Young Peoples Department at Wirral Council of course! Who else?

In a recent change a few years ago, the press can be present at court hearings in the Family Court, however we’re still not allowed to report the details. The Family Court run to a different set of rules to the rest of the court system you see.

redacted invoice Wirral Council £535.20
redacted invoice Wirral Council £535.20
Letter from Birkenhead County Court dated 27th October 2014
Letter from Birkenhead County Court dated 27th October 2014

If you click on any of the buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this with other people.

Birkenhead County Court – Chaotic Scenes as Politics clashes with the law – Council Tax protester hits the news

I was going to write in answer to various Census questions people have posed but that can wait. There has been a large protest (and case adjourned) at the Birkenhead County Court leading to a number of arrests.

From reading between the lines in the article, those arrested were for breach of the peace, assaulting officers and obstructing police.

Let’s start off with a few words about Merseyside Police, however I will start this with the caveat that I wasn’t there but I have seen similar scenes before. Charges of assaulting officers is one of those charges used in order to get somebody in a van and a custody suite.

A previous case that I witnessed led to bruising of the person being arrested, four charges of assaulting a police officer (that were later dropped/dismissed in court). When the police face a mob of angry people at what they’re doing they can get their batons out and be quite emotional.

I’ve known a case where a person has been arrested for something trivial warranting say a £40 on the spot fine. However the police (who can in my experience be pretty brutal/heavy handed in sending a dozen cops to arrest one person dragging them out of a building without their feet touching the ground) must realise that their presence can inflame a situation especially where there is a crowd of people.

I’ve seen arrests where batons have been used and police have got very angry. Once police get emotional, their training can be forgotten in the heat of the moment. Often the charge of assaulting a police officer gets dropped or doesn’t stand up in court. Violence begets violence.

So getting back to the story and away from pure opinion on Merseyside Police, Wirral Council take someone to court for non-payment of Council Tax. Said person organises (or gets someone else to organise) a protest of six hundred people which turns into a riot. Court security can’t cope and call police. Police arrive and make arrests.

I’ll end on one thing. It’s a shame a Liberal Democrat government wasn’t elected, which would’ve abolished the Council Tax. Then all this time and expense, police time, Wirral Council legal department time, county court time etc etc wouldn’t have been required.

However, personally I think it is merely the start of what is to come.

There’s more about the protest here. I must admit that the article that refers to the protestors as BNP (who do hijack a lot of protests), hippies, dreadlocks, urban commandoes and those protesting “Judges are lizards” are certainly the strangest bunch of protesters I’ve heard about in a good while!

P.S. Judges in my experience always (try) in civil cases to treat litigants-in-person as fairly as possible to prevent grounds for appeal and in order to ensure justice. However as in all walks of live judges vary and some bad apples can bring the whole profession into disrepute.