Nick Kehoe is a former television and newspaper journalist. He is now managing director at law marketing firm Media Coverage. I don’t suppose too many lawyers will be mourning the demise of the News of the World. It was often the scourge of the legal profession and the much maligned ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements which, heaven forbid, gave the less well-off a chance of getting some justice. How ironic then to think that it was lawyers and that same ‘no win, no fee’ system that brought the News of the World crumbling down. Far fetched? Not really. Rupert Murdoch may have fired the shot that put the NoW out of its misery but it was lawyers and ‘no win, no fee’ that loaded the gun. At least, that is the claim of Mark Lewis, the lawyer who first uncovered phone hacking and who has since represented several victims, including the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Mr Lewis told the Guardian this week that if it weren’t for ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements, the News of the World would still be on the news stands every Sunday. And I think he has a point. After all, the public and the politicians didn’t take phone hacking too seriously when it only seemed to involve the rich and famous such as actors and sportsmen. It was only when stories came out that phone hacking had spread to victims of crime that the alarm bells really started to ring. When it was revealed that the phones of Milly Dowler and victims of the London bombings may have been hacked, it led to a wave of revulsion that even the Murdoch empire could not withstand. The point Mr Lewis makes is that many of those families did not have the resources to take legal action against the NoW. Without no win, no fee they would never have been able to take on such a powerful newspaper and bring it to account. As a result we may never have learnt the grotesque extent of the scandal and the NoW might have been able to ride out the storm. Mr Lewis has represented more than 50 people pursuing phone hacking claims so he speaks with some authority. He told the Guardian: ‘Many papers, including the Sun and the News of the World, have been having a go at “greedy lawyers”, saying they want to get rid of ‘no win, no fee’ agreements. Their agenda has been to get rid of them. But the real issue is about access to justice.’ It certainly is about access to justice. Just imagine if all this had happened after ‘no win, no fee’ had been abolished or watered down to the point where it was ineffective. The less well off could not have afforded to take action. And consider this. The News of the World paid the legal fees of one of its employees who was convicted of phone hacking. It all seems so strange so let me see if I’ve got this right. We are planning to remove a system that allows innocent people to protect themselves but leave in place a system that allows a powerful company to fund the defence of the guilty. What are we trying to do? Return to Victorian times? I’m not a lawyer and I’m not involved in any campaign in support of ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements, but if I were, I would want to make the most of this story. The government is on the ropes over this and it does listen to public opinion. When Kenneth Clarke made a careless off the cuff remark in a radio interview suggesting that some rapes were less serious than others, all hell broke loose. He only just managed to cling on to his job as justice secretary and his plans to save money by giving some criminals shorter sentences was unceremoniously dumped. I’m not saying the same thing would necessarily happen over this issue, but you never know. For too long the tabloid press has trotted out the tired old clichés about compensation culture, but now the world has changed. All newspapers have been tarnished by the phone-hacking scandal and they’re not so cocky any more. It will be a long time before they wield the same power over politicians and so the debate can change focus. Lawyers and the organisations that represent them should recognise this and make sure that change of focus takes place. Kenneth Clarke should be bombarded with questions about why he wants to destroy a system that helped to expose the sickening corruption at the News of the World. I don’t think he would like that question and I suspect he would struggle to provide a convincing answer.
Rob Trautman SOT’S Game of the WeekWeek 5Westlake Demons vs Avon EaglesWeek 5 is the halfway point of the 2016 high school football season, and our game of the week saw the Westlake Demons (3-1, 2-1) travel to face the Avon Eagles (4-0, 3-0) in a SWC Matchup. Both teams had huge wins in Week 4 and were looking to avoid any letdowns, as both teams are looking to improve not only their conference standing, but also their playoff resume.Avon was able to get on the board first with a 63 yard touchdown run from senior RB Mason McLemore, giving the Eagles a 7-0 early in the 1st quarter. After putting up 59 points in week 4 the Demon offense could not get anything going against a stout Avon Defense. Avon’s aggressive defensive line was able to create chaos for Westlake QB Trey Bialowas all night forcing rushed throws and the QB to scramble out of the pocket. Avon’s aggressive defense resulted in penalties which kept some Westlake drives going, however the demons were not able to capitalize on the opportunities and the first quarter ended with Avon leading 7-0.Avon’s First possession of the 2nd quarter started on the Westlake 49 yard line , the drive was all Mason McLemore who had a 29 yd. run and capped the drive off with a 5 yd. TD run to give Avon a 14-0 midway through the 2nd quarter. On the following drive Westlake began to find some offensive rhythm driving into Eagle territory for the first time, but the drive stalled after an unsuccessful fake Field goal attempt. A Demon fumble late in the second quarter gave Avon the ball on the Westlake 22 yard line, and Avon QB Matt Kelly was able to score on a 1 yd. run to give the eagles a 21-0 lead with 2:00 left in the half. An impressive two minute offensive performance allowed the Demons to finally get on the scoreboard with a 2 yd. TD pass from Trey Bialowas to Senior WR Connor Sterneckert. Avon held a 21-7 lead at half.Avon got the ball to start the second half and wasted no time, utilizing a big run from McLemore to get them into the red zone; and capped off by a 5 yd. TD run by Aaron Endrizal, Avon lead 28-7 early in the 3rd quarter. Westlake responded on the very next drive with a 34 yd. touchdown pass from Bialowas to WR Terrance Rose, Avon led 28-14 with 10:00 min left in the 3rd quarter. The next drive saw Avon take advantage of their size advantage and ran the ball at will, controlling the ball for the remainder of the third quarter, the drive capped off by 21 yd. touchdown run by McLemore, his third of the night, and eagles took a 35-14 lead as the 4th quarter began.Westlake started the 4th quarter with a 70 yard touchdown drive, powered by a 44 yard touchdown pass reception to Terrance Rose, his second, from Bialowas , his third; Avon led 35-21 midway through the 4th quarter. The Eagle Defense was able to thwart any comeback attempt by Westlake, forcing a turnover on downs on two consecutive drives, to secure the 35-21 victory for the Avon Eagles.Avon Coach Mike Elder talked about how his team played tonight. “We did enough to get by here, we ran the ball exceptionally well, this team concerned me because Westlake is a good football team.”Avon improves to 5-0 and 4-0 in the Southwestern Conference, they will go on the road in week 6 to face Lakewood. Westlake falls to 3-2 and 2-2 in the Southwestern Conference, they will need to bounce back in a hurry as they Host Midview in Week 6. Related TopicsAvon EaglesMike ElderSports on TapWestlake Demons