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.
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