Who could chair Grenfell Tower inquiry?

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Jun 28, 2017
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The fire in the tower block is feared to have killed 79 people

Rick Findler/PA

Speculation mounts over the delay in appointing a judge to chair the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire. 

A name is thought to have gone forward from the judiciary to Downing Street last week. So is a massive exercise in due diligence now taking place to avoid a repetition of the embarrassing musical chairs at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse?

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, founder and joint head of London’s Doughty Street Chambers, has come forward with a potential candidate: Mr Justice Collins, whose last day in the High Court was yesterday. He formally retires on July 17 and, as Robertson puts it, would be ideally placed, having spent a whole career “holding judges and executives to account”.

“He has made a massive and humane contribution to public law since 1994,” argues Robertson, “which was increased by his staying in the administrative court and not going up to the Court of Appeal.”

Mr Justice Collins, whose father was the Rev Canon Collins, one of Jeremy Corbyn's heroes, would arguably be excellently suited to deal with the sensitive issues that will doubtless emerge in the inquiry into the disaster in London, in which 79 people are feared to have died.

Two barristers among DUP powerbrokers

As the rest of the UK has been scrambling about trying to work out just who the ten Democratic Unionist Party MPs are who now hold such power over the government, barristers have recognised two of their own.

Emma Little-Pengelly, the 37-year-old MP for Belfast South was called to the Bar after studying at Queen’s University Belfast. And Gavin Robinson, 29, the MP for Belfast East, read law at the same university before being called to the Bar.

Little-Pengelly is arguably the more interesting, not least because of her father. The Irish News reports that Noel Little was a founder of Ulster Resistance, a loyalist paramilitary group, who was arrested in Paris in 1989 in connection with a plot involving a stolen missile.

He received a suspended sentence and fine from a French court.

Morrisons 1, Sainsbury’s 0

Sometimes lawyers squeeze every ounce of fun out of the juicy orange that is life.

Sainsbury’s – a large supermarket chain – set loose its legal attack dogs on Jel Singh Nagra, who runs a grocer’s shop in North Tyneside, which he had cleverly called Singhsbury’s.

The supermarket’s lawyers threatened Nagra with legal action for copyright infringement if he did not move pretty sharpish to change his shop’s name. So all credit to the shopkeeper who duly complied – by changing the shop’s name to Morrisinghs.

And all credit to Morrisons, another supermarket chain, for having a sense of humour. A spokesman told Sky News: “Mr Nagra and his customers obviously have good taste so we wish him well.”

But more po-faced legal contributions were still to come. “While it might be tempting for small businesses to choose names that are humorous or satirical,” said Sharon Daboul, a senior associate at the intellectual property firm EIP, sounding a bit like a condescending parent, “attempting to parody a well-known brand is definitely a risky strategy”.

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