18 September 2010

it's not just the wharfies

'The Art Market: French polish' by Georgina Adam in the 17 September Financial Times notes change at the Drouot -
the central Paris [art, antiquities and antiques] saleroom has sacked its famous cols rouges – porters who wear a distinctive black uniform with a red collar, hence the name – and appointed a new transport company. André Chenue, the long-established logistics company, will now be responsible for handling the 800,000 or more objects that, on average, pass through the saleroom every year. For the past 150 years, the cols rouges have had a monopoly on handling all the goods in Drouot; they were all recruited from the mountain département of Savoie, and their posts often passed from father to son. While their unorthodox practices were long tolerated by the 73 smaller Parisian auctioneers who operate in the Drouot building, the omertà was finally broken six months ago.

After an extensive police investigation, a dozen people, mainly porters, were arrested and some jailed, accused of organised theft and handling stolen goods. The Ministry of Justice, which oversees auctioneering in France, then ordered a report. While this has not yet been published, some elements were revealed in French newspaper Les Echos, and seem pretty damning. In it, the authors accuse Drouot of "minimalist governance", "lack of a legal framework", "irresponsible porters"” and "archaic work practices".

After much hand-wringing, the Drouot board finally decided this week to sack the porters – including those who were not accused of wrongdoing – and to start again with Chenue. The auction house reopens next Tuesday, and the new porters will be at work, in uniform – but without the red collars.

Murder Inc (R)

The delightful IPKat intellectual property blog notes a dispute over a Ceaucescu trade mark in Romania.

Valentin Ceausescu, son of former president-for-life Nicolae Ceausescu (the sociopath whose tenure was terminated by lead poisoning), is reportedly suing Bucharest's Odeon theatre for a production of The Last Hours of Ceausescu.
Interestingly, Mr Valentin Ceausescu appears to be basing his claim on an infringement of the trade mark "Ceausescu" rather than an infringement of privacy or post-mortal personality rights.

The play in question The Last Hours of Ceausescu was created by the International Institute of Political Murder [sounds very Dada] which is based in Berlin and Zurich and describes the last hours in the life of Mr Ceausescu's parents. It is reported that Mr Ceausescu is suing for nominal damages of 0.25 Euro only as this was a matter of "principle" for him - no one should be allowed to use the name Ceausescu without consent. Foreign theatres, outside of Romania, are not reportedly affected.
It is difficult to see the son of the mass murderer having exhaustive rights over any use of the family moniker but Romania is a strange place.

IPKat comments that -
It is not quite clear from the report whether a trade mark registration for "Ceausescu" exists but this Kat, while not having found any Ceausescu marks, assumes that there might be a Romanian trade mark registration in place. The reports further quotes Alexandru Ulmeanu, the lawyer acting for the Odeon theatre Bucharest, as saying that he was planning to challenge the "Ceausescu" trade mark. In his view it was an abusive registration which could set an unwanted precedent.

sub specie aeternitas

John Lloyd in the Financial Times reviews Geoffrey Robertson's spirited and, I suspect, somewhat ungenerous polemic (The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse) regarding papal indifference and institutional incapacity in connection with clerical offences against minors.

Lloyd comments -
Robertson does not believe that Benedict is evil, nor does he deny the courage and self-denying charity shown by the Catholic church time after time, in country after country. But, as a veteran of human rights cases he believes that as many as 100,000 children – perhaps twice that – have recently suffered some sort of molestation from Catholic priests. He thinks that as many as 9 per cent of priests may have been or still are molesters – that is to say, much more than the one per cent the Vatican has reluctantly conceded may be the case.

On his reading of the now quite voluminous evidence, much of it amassed over the past decade – journalistic inquiry, commissions of investigation, even research by elements within the Church itself – Robertson thinks that the Church, John Paul II and above all Ratzinger (when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [CDF] between 1981 and 2005), protected the guilty abusers and largely ignored the victims, allowing those who abused them to frighten them into silence. When the first accounts appeared in the US press in the early 2000s, John Paul II described it as “an American problem”; later, senior clerics blamed it on Jewish journalists working on the New York Times – “natural enemies” of Catholics (according to the retired Bishop Babini); or on homosexuality in general (according to Cardinal Bertone, the Holy See’s present secretary of state).

Benedict’s recourse, both before the abuse became generally known and after, has been to insist that all cases were referred to the CDF on conditions of the utmost secrecy; and that canon law, the church’s own legal process, should deal with the offender. On no account, under pain of excommunication, should the matter be referred to the police or other secular authorities. Indeed, in 2001, Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux was congratulated by Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, with the approval of John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, for not informing the police about a paedophile priest, and for moving him to other parish work, away from temptation.

In a lapidary account of canon law, first codified in 1917 and revised in 1983, Robertson shows the system to be passive, slow and conducted wholly by priests and bishops who do not cross-examine or use forensic techniques: a “sodality that closes ranks to protect them ... from the consequences of their own actions”. He quotes the leading commentary on canon law as arguing that “a non-penal pastoral approach may lead an offender to a fuller life in Christ more effectively than penalties”. The rationale of the law is to avoid both the judgment of national courts and the punishment that is normally handed out to child abusers in civilised countries. Because all sex is banned to priests, abuse of minors is lumped in with – and is apparently seen as less serious than – “living in concubinage”. The stress on salvation means that “punishment” is a matter of prayers, fasting, a retreat or community service: typically, offending priests are moved to other parishes – but rarely to posts where contact with children is unlikely. The result, very often, is more molesting.

The burden of the charge Robertson makes is contained in the first three chapters, and in a coda of “Reflections”. The middle sections of the book widen the scope and are useful demolitions of the statehood, and UN membership, claimed by the Vatican through the 1929 Lateran Treaty drawn up between Benito Mussolini and the Church. Robertson sees this as largely fraudulent, if bowed to by most nations, and condemns the use of that statehood by the Vatican to press its moral/spiritual agenda in as many forums and conventions as it can. Chapters speculating on whether or not the Vatican has committed crimes against humanity, or whether the Pope can be sued – whether as a head of state, or as chief executive of a non-governmental organisation – are less to the point, because, though Robertson indulges his legal pyrotechnicality to show that arguments can be made for these, he implicitly consigns them to a never-never land.

Robertson has not become a successful lawyer by muddling his arguments and distorting his facts: we can expect the second to be right and I find the first convincing, if largely silent on the move – outside of Rome and especially in areas such as North America and parts of Europe where widespread abuse has been found – away from a reliance on a canon law that has proved no defence and towards a recognition that the police must be informed. He writes clearly, at times passionately, as counsel for the prosecution.

17 September 2010

more madame arcati

Christine Corcos - editor of Law & Magic (Durham: Carolina Academic Press 2010) and author of a sprightly blog - points to disagreement in the US about whether a legal practitioner is channelling a client's deceased wife. Such a claim would be of interest in Australia, where for example the Law Societies [the entities that regulate the legal profession] take a dim view of practitioners sleeping with their clients, irrespective of whether that congress appears as an item in billable hours or otherwise.

In the US dispute Arizona attorney Charna Johnson faces suspension for telling her client, Chad Lakridis, that references to sex in her emails to him were from his deceased wife, Jan. Other reports indicate that in personal communications and emails Johnson would refer to herself in the first person as Lakridis's wife or use the pronoun "we" when telling Lakridis what to do. Johnson met Lakridis when he taught her ballroom dancing; she went on to represent him for three years. She had previously offered tarot readings. Ah, Arizona!

Johnson and the client both testified that they genuinely believed the client's wife was within Johnson.

The notion that a deceased person can manifest himself/herself within a living person strikes me as absurd and not something that would be recognised by a contemporary court but, as noted in some of my more acerbic comments about devotees of quantum mysticism, has been espoused by some people who assert that reincarnation, precognition, the 'oneness blessing' and so forth are "hard science" rather than an expression of the belief system apparent among fans of L Ron Hubbard, Edgar Cayce and Madame Blavatsky.

In the Arizona case Lakridis reportedly felt that his wife had come back from the dead to heal some of the damage from her drug use and presumably salve the grief - or was it delight - caused by her suicide. I say delight because the client might have taken to heart the statement by Ervin Laszlo, editor and founder of Global Futures, about "Communication with entities that are no longer living in the familiar form in this world but are alive nonetheless". She's not dead, she's just dialling in a performance from another part of the Akashic Field?

Ms Johnson reportedly testified that there was no sexual contact with the client ... it's all very Blithe Spirit and, in my opinion, all very silly.

Corcos notes that the hearing on the channeling allegations pitted two experts who disagreed on whether Johnson must have been delusional. A state expert said that delusion is the inevitable conclusion, given that there is no scientific evidence to support channeling [as noted elsewhere in this blog, Australian courts have not embraced the more amusing claims featured in Global Futures]. Johnson's expert more creatively indicated that such scepticism is an inappropriate value judgment that may contravene the religious beliefs of millions of people. Quite, although I note that while millions - or thousands - of people may well believe in mumbo jumbo that belief, however sincere, does not necessarily make something true.

The report indicates that Johnson began representing the client during his divorce proceedings in January 2000. The client's wife committed suicide a few months later; Johnson subsequently co-represented him in probate proceedings. She reportedly stated that she had her first 'experience' - presumably as the vessel housing the undead dear departed - on or about the day of her client's wife's funeral.

Would we give much credence to the claim that she had no responsibility for murder or other crime because she was merely channelling the deceased? Such a claim is consistent with some of the statements from exponents of quantum mysticism ... if we accept the premise that the dead manifest themselves once they have been interred or cremated, why assume that they only do 'good' things?

In its judgment the court [PDF] noted that Johnson was accused of two ethical violations as a legal practitioner. She represented Lakridis "while involved in a sexual intimate relationship with the client, and also while [she] claimed to be able to convey the thoughts of the deceased wife to the client". Secondly, in an unrelated disciplinary matter (regarding claims that after channelling another client's dead father she had been written into that client's will as sole beneficiary) Johnson was "specifically asked whether she had ever 'channeled' the thoughts of a deceased person to a client. [She] under oath denied ever having done so and the State Bar alleges that this was false and that [she] knew it to be false".

The court dismissed Johnson's testimony that she was confused by questions about channeling in the preceding disciplinary hearing. Johnson reportedly said she was possessed by the woman's spirit and thus was not technically channeling. Cue the sound of scepticism from the bench: "To pretend that she did not understand the common vernacular of what channeling is cannot be believed".

The court held that Johnson made a false statement. She had been charged with falsely denying in a bar proceeding that "she had ever 'channeled' the thoughts of a deceased person to a client".
it is not up to this Hearing Officer to decide whether in fact Respondent was or was not truly possessed by and speaking for [the client's] deceased wife. Respondent believed it, [the client] believed it, as did at least two other independent people who witnessed it. Given all of this, it is hard to believe that Respondent schemed and connived to make all this up. Once it happened, it is certainly possible that Respondent got carried away with all the attention she received as a result of it and either embellished or exaggerated. On the other hand, Respondent could have genuinely believed in and felt controlled by circumstances.

A review of [the evidence] shows that having the spirit of [the client's] deceased wife within her was not an entirely pleasant experience for Respondent and the degree of her voluntary participation in it simply cannot be determined. The experts ... cannot even agree on what was going on.

who'dya call

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network and Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre have released a 44 page report by Chris Connolly & David Vaile on 'Communications privacy complaints: In search of the right path'.

It features the comment, strongly endorsed by myself, that -
The complete absence of any high profile / high impact enforcement action by the OPC [ie the national Privacy Commissioner] means that business organisations are under no pressure to comply with privacy laws, or to respond to complaints quickly. As no organisations are ever named by the OPC, there is no potential for adverse publicity.
The authors analyse "common communications privacy complaint paths" (eg who you can complain to and whether that will be effective) in dealing with telecommunication privacy issues, currently spread over several agencies and involving a range of legislation. Their aim is to assist achievement of optimum outcomes for consumers through development of a "more straightforward, fairer system for managing privacy complaints" in the telecommunications sector. The Report thus examines complaints to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC), the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

Their key findings, with no surprises for specialists, include -
• Distribution of privacy communications complaints: Annually the OPC [soon to be part of the OAIC] receives 110 communications sector privacy complaints, ACMA receives around 16,000 complaints and the TIO around 5,000. "This is partly a natural result of the jurisdiction of the ACMA - as spam and Do Not Call Register complaints will always be the largest categories of privacy complaints in the sector."

• Average resolution times: The average time for dispute resolution varies between 180 days (OPC), 10 days (TIO), and 5 days (ACMA).

• Shaming of businesses for privacy breaches: The OPC, in contrast to other regulators, has never named a telecommunications organisation that has breached privacy, and there have been no formal determinations against any private sector organisation since 2005. [As noted elsewhere in this blog, one might question the usefulness of a watchdog that has no teeth and is so scared of the rain, butterflies or other nasdties that it dare not venture out of its cosy kennel to utter an occasional bark.]

• Where to go for compensation or an apology: If a complainant is seeking compensation and/or an apology, use the OPC or TIO - not ACMA.
Their consequent recommendations are -
· Improvements in complaint resolution times by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner;

· Frank and consistent information given to consumers, especially regarding resolution times;

· Collection of demographic profiles of complainants to better target services;

· Better coordination between the three complaints bodies;

· Consistent messages to complainants on where to complain, and to industry on compliance;

· A full range of regulatory tools and remedies on offer and used – any privacy complaint in the communications sector lodged with any complaints body should be able to achieve all of the outcomes that are desirable in a best practice regulatory environment: compensation for the individual; an apology for the individual; prompt correction or removal of personal data; a change to business practice at the individual company; a change to broader industry practice for systemic issues; occasional naming of individual companies as a warning to other consumers and a lesson for industry; and occasional enforcement action in order to promote compliance.

15 September 2010

judy judy judy

From Martha Nussbaum's 'The Professor of Parody' in The New Republic 22 February 1999 -
It is difficult to come to grips with Butler's ideas, because it is difficult to figure out what they are. Butler is a very smart person. In public discussions, she proves that she can speak clearly and has a quick grasp of what is said to her. Her written style, however, is ponderous and obscure. It is dense with allusions to other theorists, drawn from a wide range of different theoretical traditions. In addition to Foucault, and to a more recent focus on Freud, Butler's work relies heavily on the thought of Louis Althusser, the French lesbian theorist Monique Wittig, the American anthropologist Gayle Rubin, Jacques Lacan, J.L. Austin, and the American philosopher of language Saul Kripke. These figures do not all agree with one another, to say the least; so an initial problem in reading Butler is that one is bewildered to find her arguments buttressed by appeal to so many contradictory concepts and doctrines, usually without any account of how the apparent contradictions will be resolved.

A further problem lies in Butler's casual mode of allusion. The ideas of these thinkers are never described in enough detail to include the uninitiated (if you are not familiar with the Althusserian concept of "interpellation," you are lost for chapters) or to explain to the initiated how, precisely, the difficult ideas are being understood. Of course, much academic writing is allusive in some way: it presupposes prior knowledge of certain doctrines and positions. But in both the continental and the Anglo-American philosophical traditions, academic writers for a specialist audience standardly acknowledge that the figures they mention are complicated, and the object of many different interpretations. They therefore typically assume the responsibility of advancing a definite interpretation among the contested ones, and of showing by argument why they have interpreted the figure as they have, and why their own interpretation is better than others.

We find none of this in Butler. Divergent interpretations are simply not considered--even where, as in the cases of Foucault and Freud, she is advancing highly contestable interpretations that would not be accepted by many scholars. Thus one is led to the conclusion that the allusiveness of the writing cannot be explained in the usual way, by positing an audience of specialists eager to debate the details of an esoteric academic position. The writing is simply too thin to satisfy any such audience. It is also obvious that Butler's work is not directed at a non-academic audience eager to grapple with actual injustices. Such an audience would simply be baffled by the thick soup of Butler's prose, by its air of in-group knowingness, by its extremely high ratio of names to explanations.

To whom, then, is Butler speaking? It would seem that she is addressing a group of young feminist theorists in the academy who are neither students of philosophy, caring about what Althusser and Freud and Kripke really said, nor outsiders, needing to be informed about the nature of their projects and persuaded of their worth. This implied audience is imagined as remarkably docile. Subservient to the oracular voice of Butler's text, and dazzled by its patina of high-concept abstractness, the imagined reader poses few questions, requests no arguments and no clear definitions of terms.
And -
Why does Butler prefer to write in this teasing, exasperating way? The style is certainly not unprecedented. Some precincts of the continental philosophical tradition, though surely not all of them, have an unfortunate tendency to regard the philosopher as a star who fascinates, and frequently by obscurity, rather than as an arguer among equals. When ideas are stated clearly, after all, they may be detached from their author: one can take them away and pursue them on one's own. When they remain mysterious (indeed, when they are not quite asserted), one remains dependent on the originating authority. The thinker is heeded only for his or her turgid charisma. One hangs in suspense, eager for the next move. When Butler does follow that "direction for thinking," what will she say? What does it mean, tell us please, for the agency of a subject to presuppose its own subordination? (No clear answer to this question, so far as I can see, is forthcoming.) One is given the impression of a mind so profoundly cogitative that it will not pronounce on anything lightly: so one waits, in awe of its depth, for it finally to do so.

In this way obscurity creates an aura of importance. It also serves another related purpose. It bullies the reader into granting that, since one cannot figure out what is going on, there must be something significant going on, some complexity of thought, where in reality there are often familiar or even shopworn notions, addressed too simply and too casually to add any new dimension of understanding. When the bullied readers of Butler's books muster the daring to think thus, they will see that the ideas in these books are thin. When Butler's notions are stated clearly and succinctly, one sees that, without a lot more distinctions and arguments, they don't go far, and they are not especially new. Thus obscurity fills the void left by an absence of a real complexity of thought and argument.
Last year Butler won the first prize in the annual Bad Writing Contest sponsored by the journal Philosophy and Literature, for the following sentence:
The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.
And -
The great tragedy in the new feminist theory in America is the loss of a sense of public commitment. In this sense, Butler's self-involved feminism is extremely American, and it is not surprising that it has caught on here, where successful middle-class people prefer to focus on cultivating the self rather than thinking in a way that helps the material condition of others. Even in America, however, it is possible for theorists to be dedicated to the public good and to achieve something through that effort.

Many feminists in America are still theorizing in a way that supports material change and responds to the situation of the most oppressed. Increasingly, however, the academic and cultural trend is toward the pessimistic flirtatiousness represented by the theorizing of Butler and her followers. Butlerian feminism is in many ways easier than the old feminism. It tells scores of talented young women that they need not work on changing the law, or feeding the hungry, or assailing power through theory harnessed to material politics. They can do politics in safety of their campuses, remaining on the symbolic level, making subversive gestures at power through speech and gesture. This, the theory says, is pretty much all that is available to us anyway, by way of political action, and isn't it exciting and sexy?

In its small way, of course, this is a hopeful politics. It instructs people that they can, right now, without compromising their security, do something bold. But the boldness is entirely gestural, and insofar as Butler's ideal suggests that these symbolic gestures really are political change, it offers only a false hope. Hungry women are not fed by this, battered women are not sheltered by it, raped women do not find justice in it, gays and lesbians do not achieve legal protections through it.

Finally there is despair at the heart of the cheerful Butlerian enterprise. The big hope, the hope for a world of real justice, where laws and institutions protect the equality and the dignity of all citizens, has been banished, even perhaps mocked as sexually tedious. Judith Butler's hip quietism is a comprehensible response to the difficulty of realizing justice in America. But it is a bad response. It collaborates with evil. Feminism demands more and women deserve better.

Laudatory lips

Warwick Rothnie (I do like his blog) points to Nature’s Blend Pty Ltd v Nestlé Australia Ltd [2010] FCAFC 117.

The Federal Court in that decision has affirmed the earlier judgment in the 'Luscious Lips' case, noted in a past post on this blog, agreeing that that Nestlé did not use 'Luscious Lips' as a trade mark.

13 September 2010

maaaaah humbug

The ABC reports that New Zealand's Prime Minister has ordered an inquiry into a failure of security vetting regarding former NZ Chief defence scientist Stephen Wilce.

Wilce resigned after allegations that his resume owed more to Walter Mitty - or former IBM executive Jeffrey Papows - than to the scientist's substantive achievements.

Wilce's departure followed suggestions on the NZ 60 Minutes program that he had been excessively creative with his resume. That document reportedly featured claims that he was an ex-Marine combat veteran and an Olympic bobsledder who raced against Jamaica's Cool Runnings team.

60 Minutes reported that there was no record of Wilce serving in Britain's Royal Marines or having combat experience and that no-one on the 1988 British bobsleigh team had heard of him. Previous employers and colleagues reportedly told the program that Wilce had claimed he designed guidance systems for Britain's Polaris missiles.

The program shrilled that -
Mr Wilce’s role comes with the highest levels of security clearance, but it is a job he was given on the basis of a string of lies, many of which on his CV.

He solely represents New Zealand on a strategic international defence committee and reports directly to the Chief of Defence.

60 Minutes has obtained statements from many willing to testify to Mr Wilce’s lies and to his incompetence.

"Very quickly a very sorry tale emerged and I found this fellow was telling me massive porkies", said business consultant Steve Saunders, who interviewed Mr Wilce for a CEO role.

"Stephen Wilce was blatantly lying about his capabilities. Blatantly", says Iain MacKenzie, an engineer and former DTA scientist who reported to Mr Wilce.

"He delivered promise after promise, none of which we saw a result for", says Chris Jarvis, who co-owned CEMA Pty Ltd, a company Mr Wilce had previously been CEO of.

With testimonies like these it's quite a promotion then to go from running a small housing company to becoming the Director of New Zealand's DTA, and our Chief Defence Scientist.

So serious are the allegations made to 60 Minutes that they went undercover to unmask Stephen Paul Wilce.
The ABC reports that he headed 80 staff at the Defence Technology Agency for five years, a security-sensitive (and thus vetted?) position occupied despite suggestions that he had earlier been asked to leave a job at Royal NZ Yacht Club after only a few months when members began to suspect something was amiss. Wilce had reportedly boasted that he had played Test rugby for Wales against the All Blacks, a claim that was alas false.

The NZ Prime Minister has ordered the States Services Commission (the public service watchdog) to investigate the failure: "The investigation will cover the vetting processes used by the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) regarding the granting of a security clearance to Mr Wilce in 2005, and the adequacy of those processes". The NZ Defence Force has launched two separate inquiries, looking at how Wilce was appointed, how he performed and to what information he had access.

Red faces among the spooks come eight years after John Davy, the inaugural head of the Maori Television Service, was sentenced to eight months imprisonment for getting creative with his CV.

Davy's appointment reflected supposed strong financial and management skills, important as he had no television experience and knew little of Maori culture. He had claimed authorship of two books, an MBA from the Ashland School of Business at Denver State University, an accounting certificate and experience as a member of the British Columbia Securities Commission.

Someone appears to have been asleep during verification of those credentials. Davy was unknown to the BC Securities Commission. The 'University' was revealed to be an online diploma mill. Davy - apparently undaunted - claimed that he had been 'undercover', with his academic and financial history being wiped as part of a witness protection program. The reality was more prosaic: he had been twice declared bankrupt and had worked as an accountant in Whistler, rather than as a regulator.

The NZ Herald reports that -
Earlier this year, another senior public servant, Immigration Service head Mary Anne Thompson, was fined $10,000 and ordered to do 100 hours of community work for falsely claiming to hold a doctorate from the London School of Economics.

But she had already resigned from Immigration after helping members of her family to gain residency. Her behaviour underlines the need to treat falsified CVs seriously no matter how mundane or how senior the job.

... Certainly, if some of Mr Wilce's more outrageous claims were in his CV, he should have been quickly found out. Having said that, Thompson's bogus doctorate passed muster in the Departments of Maori Affairs and the Prime Minister before she went to Immigration.
Claims by the imaginative Mr Papows were 'excused' in The Register -
So he's not an orphan, his parents are alive and well. He wasn't a Marine Corps captain, he was a lieutenant. He didn't save a buddy by throwing a live grenade out of a trench. He didn't burst an eardrum when ejecting from a Phantom F4, which didn't crash, not killing his co-pilot. He's not a tae kwon do black belt, and he doesn't have a PhD from Pepperdine University.
As a postscript, the 2010 NZ Defence media release regarding the report on the Wilce incident [PDF] commented rather generously that -
the Court of Inquiry carried out a thorough investigation and concluded that Mr Wilce has represented his work history, military career, achievements, academic qualifications and activities in other fields in a way that has been neither honest nor complete.

“Not only have his actions damaged his reputation, they damaged the morale of those he led at the Defence Technology Agency, and they have damaged the reputation of the New Zealand Defence Force,” says Lt Gen Mateparae.

However, in respect of his recruitment, it appears Mr Wilce’s failings were almost entirely those of omission. Although the Court of Inquiry finds that some of his embellishments were misleading, there is no evidence that he lied about his qualifications.

“The bulk of his untruths arose during the period he was already employed by us. While telling lies in one’s day-to-day life is reprehensible, further elements are required before it becomes a crime. However, in order to promote public confidence in public administration and the administration of justice, I have made a copy of the report available to the Police so that they can reach an independent assessment as to whether any charges are warranted.”
A report by the NZ State Services Commission on the NZ Security Intelligence Service's handling of vetting [PDF] was more acerbic, commenting that
- the Security Intelligence Service did not check with counterpart overseas agencies to see what they knew about Wilce, contrary to standard practice where an applicant for a security clearance had worked overseas

- did not follow up on Wilce's failure to disclose convictions once a police check revealed that he had convictions

- did not record or follow up on information about Wilce received after announcement of his appointment.

12 September 2010

Bingham J obit

Guardian obituary of Lord Bingham, the senior law lord characterised as "the greatest English judge since the second world war".