Charity Norman rides back into town

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Just when you thought that you had opened your last present and all the fun and festivity of Christmas was over, Charity Norman blows back into town with her Five Minute Memoire: Charity Norman recalls a very bad day at the Bar (The Independent, 22 December).

Those who have a fondness for the nineties will remember Charity Norman as a devastatingly powerful young advocate practising on circuit in both the criminal and family law fields. Seduced by the prospect of sun, lifestyle choices and sheep shearing with her husband Tim, Charity took off to Tim’s homeland, New Zealand.

But, our home-grown bundle of energy could not simply stop there and make outfits for the Nativity play – instead Charity Norman reinvented herself as a writer, her second novel ‘After the Fall‘ being published by Allen and Unwin on 3 January 2013. So you like Jodi Picoult and Joanna Trollope, then you will love this.

When you have tired of the grey novels you received for Christmas, take a stroll to the bookshop, and enjoy a nice dive into this refreshing new writer.

Margaret and Jimmy

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Today’s newspapers are preoccupied with released material from the National Archives from 1982, focussing on two separate issues – the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s role, understanding and belief in the Falklands Island conflict; and her personal relationship with Jimmy Savile.

Hearing this, the blogger, who worked on several charity events with the late Sir Jimmy Savile (at that time known only as a celebrity charity fund-raiser), rushed straight to the archives to follow through one of the stories concerning Sir Jimmy and Baroness Thatcher.

A year before Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher  left office, and the same period of time before she authorised his knighthood, Jimmy Savile sat in my kitchen to drink tea at Sutton Bank. The bank was blocked and traffic coiled back towards Sutton Under Whitestonecliffe and up into the mists of the Hambletons. Jimmy Savile, in training, had run up the bank, a mile of hillside rising 800 feet up a one in four incline. It was not long into the New Year and he had recently returned from spending time with the Prime Minister.

How the conversation turned to the Falkland Islands I cannot now recall. Jimmy Savile declared that he had been in Margaret Thatcher’s company on Sunday 2nd May 1982. Whilst walking together, on receipt of a note her face had turned ashen. Jimmy Savile had looked at her with concern “What is the matter, Margaret”, he said. ” The Belgrano has been sunk”, was her reply.

And so, to the released archives I darted to check the authenticity of the tale. Was Jimmy Savile with the Thatchers at Chequers that fateful afternoon? Did he witness the moment? And did he really say, to her clear annoyance, “Well, it wasn’t there fishing, was it”?

The archives are silent. The players, Jimmy Savile, Dennis Thatcher and Margaret Thatcher are no longer in a position to comment. Perhaps a junior aide may have some memory of the moment? But the tale tells of an establishment familiarity that preceded and followed the Savile phenomenon, whatever its merits – or serious detractions.

Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut

On Wednesday 13 March 1996, about 8.15 am Thomas Hamilton was seen by a neighbour to be scraping ice off a white van outside his home at 7 Kent Road, Stirling. They had a normal conversation. Some time later he drove off in the van in the direction of Dunblane. By 9.40 am at Dunblane Primary School, Gwen Mayor and fifteen children lay dead, a sixteenth child to be found dead on arrival at Stirling Royal Infirmary.

By 27 February the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 received Royal Assent. Under part 1 of the Act, section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 (prohibiting automatic and assault weapons) was amended to prohibit firearms with a barrel length of less than 30 cms; and the possession of small calibre pistols was largely confined to pistol clubs. Under part 3 of the Act, the grant and revocation of firearms certificates was tightened.

In 2002 the Home Office published ‘Firearms Law – Guidance to the Police’ with a view to capturing all of the firearms legislation and procuring seamless practice in relation to firearms certification between police services.

On Friday 14 December 2012, 3,500 miles from Dunblane, Adam Lanza from Newtown, Connecticut kills 26 staff and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Today, Senator Joe Manchin (West Virginia), the National Rifle Association pro-gun rights activist, concedes for the first time that now ‘everything should be on the table’ concerning gun control.

Self-loading and assault weapons have no place in civil society in the hands of members of the public. The measure of a civilised society is not the ‘protection of rights to weapons’ but the protection of the vulnerable – those who may use, and those against whom use may be made, of weapons intended for nothing more than killing.

Press release from Mr Justice Schrodinger, Family Justice Modernisator

This is essential reading for all family practitioners undertaking child care work.  ‘Pink Tape’ barrister, Lucy Reed has carefully, systematically and accessibly summarised the proposed new procedures for tracking public law family cases.

Ensure that you read and digest the guidance, and click ‘follow’ on the Pink Tape blog.