The rise and fall of Phil Shiner
So Phil Shiner, though the preferred title was always Prof Phil Shiner has been struck off the register of solicitors. His fall from grace, the detail, is given in the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) account and no doubt legal journals will rake over the ashes as they please. Although the legal profession might not be the same as the legal journals the latter have taken a very long time to face up to the reality of the Shiner case. First, they said he was being hounded for what he did, he was a victim. Then later on when it was clear what he had done was wrong, there was the bluster. When the game was up and the truth coming out we had silence. Parts of the case are to be heard later this year so we still await the full condemnation. But we may assume eventually it will be clear that he lost! At first Shiner was a poster-boy for the legal profession and they loved him. But now the truth is out, and you would have though the truth was important in legal matters, but they back away only to hide behind a veil of conspiracy theories. For example the government wants to 'do away' with the type of work Shiner did and have concocted this case to discredit it. It was not the SRA who moved first on Shiner, they had to be prompted into action by the government. The legal profession did too little too late to avoid being mired in the Shiner case.
This fall from grace is in many ways to be ranked alongside that of Camila Batmanghelidjh. She ran the Kids Company 'charity' which closed in late 2015 with the same sort of approach as Shiner. For both relied upon vast amounts of public money. Both dazzled enough people to create an aura that, as we can see now, defied logic, but was good enough to keep them going for a very long time. The dazzled include all the usual subjects. promoted the likes of Shiner and Batmanghelidjh and not just by dropping heavy hints on how wonderful they were. Then upon discovery of their failings the liberal press pulled their next best trick, going into finger wagging mode. The promotion was bad enough but the finger wagging repulsive. In the case of Batmanghelidjh the best account of her fall is HERE and HERE . With Batmanghelidjh it was, from the start, hard for ordinary people to take her seriously, although both Gordon Brown and David Cameron did just that. As can be imagined upon closure of Kids Company the name Gordon Brown was never mentioned again! The liberal press only gave Cameron a beating for the public money that made the one way trip into the charity coffers never more to be seen.First they
The Shiner case is a bit more complicated, for a variety of reasons. The sums of public money involved are much larger, also the impact is greater. A woman done up in bad taste curtain material spouting pyscho-babble and clearly at ease being the centre of attention,at any price, is not in the same league as Shiner. One was dotty but the other wicked. Kids Company did not attempt to fly so high as Shiner. For Shiner and his legal firm, Public Interest Lawyers, there was no limit on how high and how far he thought they could go. From a mix of information, interviews with the man and other comments, and yes it's fair to say both are hard to check for accuracy, we learn that some people and perhaps Shiner himself thought he was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. That his work was to be ranked alongside the investigation of the My Lai massacre. Some say Shiner had links to Matrix Chambers. We also hear that he felt his life was in danger and was advised to hire bodyguards, the Pat Finucane case is cited. We also hear that there was a ‘Legal Inquiry Steering Group' set up by Shiner and others in 2002 in anticipation of military action and the legal cases that would follow. The very fact the word steering is used suggests improper activity was the sole motive here and this may even amount to treason. Shiner was also known to conduct interviews in a rather strange way. He would meet the journalist then produce his own pre-prepared list of questions, then read them out and answer them, one can imagine the reaction of the journalist! First you 'organise' the interview to suit yourself and then the evidence, clearly alarm bells should have rung out very early on, but did they?
The criticism of Shiner has, rightly, been harsh but he could have spared himself a lot trouble. The lawyer Gareth Peirce never gave interviews, she did not need to, her work spoke for itself, by contrast Shiner never stopped muddling the work he did with his beliefs, and the latter were widely published. Very often student activists adopt a cause and support 'victims' because that's how they see themselves. This could be the case with Shiner. We learn he was brought up as a Catholic, that there was 'bullying' at his school in Coventry, and family life was 'harsh'. Also that his father had regular full time employment as a skilled engineer and his mother worked for a time as a teacher. And yet none of this is remarkable is it? As a young man Shiner was a fan of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and his favourite comedy character of the many they created was, in his own words -
a buffoon , a pompous and foolish solicitor for the supreme court of England and Wales. And his wife can’t stand him
This we learn from an interview he gave to the Coventry Telegraph, who pose the question -
'Whether he’s ironically inviting comparisons with his own life or parodying the pomposity of the courts is hard to pin down' -
Indeed it is. That interview was in 2014 and just a few years later Shiner was trying to get the SRA hearing into his wrongdoing held in private. When we remember that the firm he founded was called, Public Interest Lawyers, and he has been divorced we can see it's hard to pin down if this is a tragicomedy of design or accident. How did he think he would get away with this wrongdoing? For here was a man not with a chip on his shoulder but a timber yard. It's possible there will be criminal proceedings following the SRA verdict and then we will learn more. But Shiner and his approach, his mental contortions and hypocrisy, is not rare. A lot of people do similar things. Hence we may assume that, sadly, another case like the Shiner one will be with us soon.
Post Brexit and the election of Donald Trump it's all too easy to find people who live in a muddle. Why people should demonstrate in London about Trump with placards proclaiming their hysteria is hard to fathom. But they did. To have an effect on the outcome you needed to vote in that election. And to do that you had to be registered to vote in the USA. Still all girls together in our new pink woolly hats! The rage sharing was unconvincing and made the participants look foolish. But then many people have low self-awareness and seem to be immune to embarrassment when looking foolish. You may have thought the election of Trump would have taken some of the steam out of the Remoaners, but no! They are still capable of inanities and now combine the two issues.
We have always had those who will lecture you on the woes of Palestine and muddle the outcomes of this. In many ways the pro-Palestine anti-Israel divide is the great muddle upon which other, and later, muddles are based. A vast number of liberal, or so they think, ideologues have grown up upon the reduction of a very complex matter into an over simplified binary positioning exercise. But they are never anti-Semitic, they cannot possibly be, or so they think, being far too intelligent, educated and liberal. It's impossible as their view is 'widely held'. They are, knowingly or not, indulging in the safety in numbers routine and it does not bother them that this is an arithmetical not intellectual thing. Dr Nicholas Terry from the University of Exeter has made a study of Holocaust denial and found that younger people are going to anti-Semitism via conspiracy theories. Social media, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit is awash with these people. They are too young to be bothered with reading eye-witness accounts of what happened in WW2 or take on self-motivated research, that would be dull. They would also, out of mistrust not take the work of previous generations too seriously. Remember many young people 'blame' older people for the Brexit result!
Furthermore, Terry said that many claiming that the Holocaust did not happen were often less intellectual than the earlier generation of deniers. Which is odd as many are university educated! But we are back to the arithmetic, the safety in numbers, and there are more of them than the old style deniers so the effect they have is at least equal on this and other subjects. They wilfully distort facts. They maybe too lazy to join the modern day equivalent of the Brown Shirts and march through cities but will happily in another form of lock-step click along together through umpteen conspiracy theory websites and the like.
It is said Shiner would often describe himself as a 'committed socialist', this dates him, there are not many of his sort at university now. Typical of students today is the desire to control rather than participate in debate. Free speech is denied by re-branding it as hate speech and the legal profession has played a big part in getting this in place. No doubt it pays well to be involved with it. But in time this ridiculous obsession with hate speech will be seen as a huge mistake much as Human Rights work is now. And there is very little 'process' to all this, it's not related to a debate but once again arithmetical. The mob wins. We saw that at Berkley University California when Milo Yiannopoulos tried to speak, a riot followed, supported by some of the academics. At which point those people who live in a perpetual muddle swung into action. The Guardian went back into finger wagging mode, fancy causing a riot, all that property damage. But then managed to pretend Milo was some kind of ogre.
Seeing Berkley as a shrine to free speech and justice the Guardian gave us a history lesson on Civil Rights, the Free Speech Movement of 1964, and more. But failed throughout to compare like with like. Milo is nothing to do with any of this, he is a comedian with dyed hair who puts the spotlight on liberal hypocrites. They don't know what to do about this, so ban him. How can such a man be a threat to a university founded in 1868 with the motto, 'let there be light'?
And a final word on the Guardian, they have made a big thing of un-paid work done by interns in various types of work. But were spotted offering un-paid positions at their offices. At least Shiner paid his staff!