PLMR’s Review of 2012

Nathan Hollow

It's that time of year again when everyone starts thinking about the past 12 months and what stories and events sum up the year that was 2012. So delve inside to find out what the PLMR team have chosen as their picks of the year.

January – Danny Wilding January saw the world stride into the new year with a bit of a swagger – especially if you were a Spurs fan. Buoyed by a win over West Brom on the 3rd January, sitting in third, it looked to all concerned that Spurs were at last going to come good and deliver a sustained, successful league campaign. It was not meant to be however, and Spurs fantastic January was swiftly followed by capitulation in the subsequent months.

Spurs were not the only thing to sink in 2012, as Francesco Schettino, the Captain of the Concordia made the disastrous decision (on Friday 13th January of all days) to take his Costa Concordia cruise ship off course and into a reef at Isola del Giglio, Tuscany. The poor decision by the cowardly captain, who promptly hopped into a taxi home rather than stay and help survivors, cost the lives of over 30 people. A total of 4,252 were onboard the Costa Concordia when it partially sank, many of them having to swim to the shore to save their lives.

In other news, January saw Myanmar brought in from the cold, with the first visit by a UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in 55 years. William Hague’s two day tour of the country followed its first national elections in twenty years, with a nominally civilian government elected. On his tour William Hague announced that for international sanctions to be lifted Myanmar must first release all political prisoners of the regime. The world is still waiting…

 


February – Nathan Hollow

February might be the shortest month of the year, but it began with bang as the then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne,  resigned having been mired in scandal.

Mr Huhne was charged with perverting the course of justice alongside his ex-wife Vicky Pryce in relation to events in March 2003, when Huhne’s car was allegedly caught by a speed camera between Stansted airport in Essex and London. Allegedly Ms Pryce claimed she was driving the car, and duly took the penalty points, preventing Mr Huhne from suffering the political embarrassment of loosing his driving licence. Fellow Liberal Democrat Ed Davey replaced Mr Huhne as Secretary of State at DECC and at the time Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg claimed Huhne would be welcomed back to a senior position if proved innocent.

The case still continues, despite a December tweet from a Liberal Democrat Judge suggesting the charges were to be dropped, but things are not all bad for Mr Huhne. Last week Lib Dem European MP Chris Davies said, “If Chris is cleared, we will look to him to resume a front-bench position at the earliest possibility”. Better yet for Mr Huhne, this Christmas some papers have quoted a ‘Senior Lib Dem MP’ as suggesting Mr Huhne – if he clears his name – would be the favourite to take over from Mr Clegg.

 

March – Jess Litwin
March saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, deliver his third budget to the House of Commons. With an emphasis on recovering the economy, Osborne promised far reaching tax reform and increased support for businesses by providing a “modern infrastructure; new growth-friendly planning rules and employment laws; the kinds of schools and universities and colleges our future workforce needs.”

In the world of technology and business, March marked ground-breaking (or underground-breaking) leaps in technology, with the introduction of free wifi throughout London Underground and Overground systems. The Boston Consulting Group also released a study which found that the UK’s ‘internet economy’ accounts for a higher percentage of national income (at 8.3%) than any other G20 nation.

 


April – Nathan Hollow

April brought bad news for the Government. Following the budget and pasty gate, Home Secretary Theresa May caused embarrassment over her attempt to deport the radical cleric Abu Qatada. What should have been good news for the Government, particularly amongst core conservative voters, was thwarted by a combination of the European Court and bad time management.

Ms May, who believed the deadline for an appeal to the European Court was Monday 16th April, ordered the arrest and deportation of Abu Qatada and gave a roaring speech to the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately for Ms May the actual deadline was Tuesday evening. Qatada lodged an appeal just in time, and the ensuing decision by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac)  means he can remain in the UK.

Outside the UK, Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won 40 of the 45 available seats in a landslide by-election victory.

 


May – Uche Graves

With local elections in England, Scotland and Wales bringing heavy defeats for the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, May saw the Coalition Government accept that the electorate was ‘punishing’ it for a series of recent failures. The closely contested London Mayoral election proved a bright spot for the Conservative Party, with incumbent Boris Johnson narrowly winning re-election against Labour’s Ken Livingstone. The politically busy month of May also saw the Coalition Government set out its legislative and policy agenda in the Queen’s speech, where Ministers highlighted deficit reduction and economic growth as main priorities.

Across the Channel, the French electorate gave their final assessment of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency by electing Socialist François Hollande. Amid fears of a 75% top tax rate, British papers abounded with rumours of French high earners rushing to settle in London.

Across the pond, the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death gave President Obama a slight boost in the polls. All the while in the Republican field, the clear front-runner Mitt Romney emerged as the party’s likely nominee at this late stage in the primaries.

 


June – Lauren Milden

During the sixth month of the year, the Queen got much more than ‘6 geese a-laying’ to celebrate 60 years on the throne! On Sunday 3 June, almost as many ships as there were rain drops descended upon the Thames. The pageant was inspired by a Canaletto painting, though the BBC’s coverage of the once in a lifetime event inspired few.

Across another body of water, on the 27th of June, the Queen shared a handshake with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness. The latter noted that their meeting symbolised that “peace-building requires leadership”.

Over in American, Obama’s leadership gained an important victory when the Supreme Court held Obama’s healthcare reform act to be constitutional.

 


July – Nick Albrow

Euro glory for the Spanish confirmed their status as one of the greatest ever football teams. Meanwhile, in cycling Bradley Wiggins enjoyed a unique achievement as he became the first ever Brit to ride to victory in the Tour de France. And in case you missed it the greatest show on earth began in London. It looked like the doom mongerers’ predictions would come true as G4S’s recruitment failings led to the troops being called in, but as the Queen parachuted into the Stratford Stadium cynicism gave way to patriotism and Olympic fever gripped the nation.

Away from sport the usual suspects were making the headlines. The bankers were at it again as Bob Diamond was forced to resign in the wake of the Libor scandal and police confirmed that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson would be charged for their role in the hacking scandal.

 


August – Tim Knight

With Parliament in recess, the nation’s eyes shifted across the capital city, from Westminster to hither to unfashionable Stratford. Following a daring, triumphant and tongue in cheek opening ceremony, the Olympic Games captured the nation’s hearts and generated a feeling of national goodwill that politicians dream of (and were not slow to try to cash in on). For once, football took a back seat, as stars like Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins and Jessica Ennis displayed a touching humility in conquering the world in their chosen endeavours.

Across the pond, the American election juggernaut rumbled forward, as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan began their long, winding and ultimately futile journey to the White House. The escalation of the Syrian Civil War instigated a typically muted response from the UN General Assembly, who adopted a non-binding resolution condemning the Syrian government for its use of force against civilians.

 


September – Anokhi Madhavji

September saw major changes as David Cameron rejigged his Cabinet after waiting two and a half years for his moment. All in all, it didn’t go off with as big-a bang as expected. However, to Westminster insiders, the results indicated that the Prime Minister was determined (or desperate) to whip the country into shape.

In a nutshell, Cameron replaced liberal Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke with stickler Chris Grayling, and appointed Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary, with the job of selling the reforms introduced by Andrew Lansley, who became Leader of the Commons.

While it was a new beginning for politics – sadly, it was the end of the Olympic and Paralympic ‘Golden Summer’ – and what a great set of events it was!

 


October – Ros Trinick

October’s news cycle saw victories and losses across the globe. At home in the UK, the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, premiered at the Royal Albert Hall with regal affair. Farther afield in the UK, the Maria Stopes organisation opened its first private clinic to offer abortions to women in Northern Ireland. And on an international level, the European Union won the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for “over six decades [having] contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”

Members of the PLMR team who are avid cyclists, were saddened to learn about their idol Lance Armstrong’s embroilment in a doping scandal, which eventually cost him his endorsement deals and all seven of his Tour de France titles.

October also saw PLMR achieve phenomenal media coverage for our client, Slater & Gordon. As the story broke about abuse by Jimmy Savile while at the BBC, we placed lawyers from Slater & Gordon on all major media outlets. Over the course of two weeks this legal team, representing Savile’s victims of abuse, became the authority on the case, appearing on CNN, BBC and Sky. They were featured on the Today Programme, Daybreak, Newsnight, Exposure and in all major national newspapers – ensuring millions of pounds worth of coverage for the firm were secured.

 

November – Peter Elms The re-election of Barack Obama was November’s big political story. Although it had looked close at points, Obama was eventually the clear winner – despite his best efforts. Looking back now it is hard to imagine that some pundits, not far from election day, were saying that Mitt Romney had a real chance on the back of a poor showing in the first TV debate and an economy that just refused to get better. But as with all elections it was the incumbent’s to lose and this one didn’t.

November was also a big month for Rylan who had similar electoral success on the x-factor this month.

 


December – Catrin Owen

December got off to a cheerful start with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announcing that they were expecting their first baby. Unfortunately this was overshadowed by the tragic death of Nurse Jacintha Saldanha who committed suicide after falling victim to a prank call by two Australian DJs pretending to be the Queen and Prince Philip, telephoning the hospital where Kate Middleton was admitted with severe morning sickness.

Meanwhile, in the Autumn Statement, George Osborne gave Michael Gove an early Christmas present of £1bn to build 100 new schools and scrapped the 3p rise in fuel duty. However, he was criticised by Ed Balls for “revealing the true scale of the government’s economic failure” after the Chancellor confirmed he would miss his target of having debt fall as a share of GDP by 2015.

 

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