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13 December, 2007  
Goings on ...

Spigelman stars in crime thriller … Mrs Spigelman draws literary inspiration from the eastern bloc … “Role model” judicial appointments in NSW … Dust-up for the judges’ Lubyanka in Queens Square … Justinian’s Tubby Callinan on the lecture circuit … The prosecutor as passionate photographer

imageReaders of the crime thriller oeuvre will be entertained by references to a lawyer named Spigelman in a page-turner published recently in the United States.

Called The Day of the Dandelion and sub-titled An Arthur Hemmings Mystery (Simon & Schuster), the work is by New York-based British journalist Peter Pringle.

The unusual plot follows botanical sleuth Arthur Hemmings of Kew Gardens as he attempts to halt dastardly schemes by a giant US agri-corporation to snatch a grain technology discovery in order to monopolise world food supplies.

On page 233, readers are informed that the Oxford professor responsible for a scientific breakthrough in grain reproduction (his body is found in one of the university citys canals in the opening chapters) had consulted a lawyer named Mr Spigelman a few months before his mysterious death.

imageTwo pages later Hemmings asks one of his assistants:

“Could you track down a Mr Spigelman of Black Friars Court? He’s (Professor) Scott’s lawyer and I need to know if Scott left a will.”

Indeed, Spigelman did draw up the professor’s last will and testament and on page 296 Pringle (pic) sets the scene:

“As the clock on the tower of St Andrew’s struck ten, Arthur walked through the covered passages of Blackfriars Court to the law offices of Jacobson, Allen, Knightley & Spigelman.”

As the relatives and friends of the deceased settle into their seats to hear the contents of the will, Pringle notes:

“Mr Spigelman was a jolly man with a permanent half-smile and a ruddy face.”

imageIn the book’s frontpiece, the publishers have listed Pringle’s earlier works, which include Food Inc: Mendel to Monsanto; Cornered: Big Tobacco at the Bar of Justice; and The Nuclear Barons and then, in parenthesis, written “with James Spigelman” (pic).

Further inquiries reveal that in the late 1970s, the future Chief Justice of NSW and Pringle co-wrote a comprehensive expose of the giant power corporations, General Electric etc, and how they were wielding their not inconsiderable influence to persuade Washington to “go nuclear”.

Mr Spigelman in Dandelion is Pringle’s subtle tribute to his former co-writer while one of the other law partners, Knightley, recalls the name of Sydney-born scribe Phillip Knightley who worked with Pringle on the London Sunday Times in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

There is also a passing reference in the book to a Sydney solicitor named Alexander Mitchell.

Could this refer to the former Sun-Herald political writer and columnist Alex Mitchell who once did a tour of duty on the Sunday Times in its halcyon days under editor Harry (Sir Harold) Evans when Knightley, Murray Sayle, Bruce Page, Tony Clifton and Nelson Mews constituted Fleet Street’s “Aussie Mafia”?

Looks suspiciously like it.

* * *

I also hear that Alice Spigelman, who in real life is the Chief Justice’s consort, is writing another book.

She has turned out several plays and a biography of architect Harry Seidler, Almost Full Circle. This time it’s a novel set in Eastern Europe when the Berlin wall was coming down and Communism collapsing.

The fate of former spies, politicians and ordinary citizens as they adjust to the new order are spun together with great finesse – I’m reliably informed.

* * *

imageJustice Virginia Bell (pic) schlepps up to the NSW Court of Appeal leaving her colleagues in the trial division deeply distressed.

Lucy McCallum SC takes her spot on the court while Bell fills the vacancy created by Justice Kim Santow’s retirement. Come May there’ll be more top-end changes as the President of the Court of Appeal Keith Mason bows out.

Santow had the distinction of having his career triumphantly chronicled in a book called Notable Australian Women. At his swearing-in he committed the unspeakable faux-pas of standing-up to make his speech.

As a result old buffers were confirmed in their view that it is unwise to appoint solicitors as judges, because they don’t know the etiquette.

Everyone is very anxious to see whether he stays seated during his swearing-out on Friday (Dec. 14).

It’s always nice to see the law maintaining the right priorities.

Justice Bell is having a “private” swearing-in on January 29 and Lucy McCallum a “formal” one a day later.

Attorney General John Hatz n’ Coats described the new appointments as “role models for young women considering a career in law”.

* * *

Talk about upheaval; judges at the Queens Square law courts are in for a dust and debris encrusted time while a $215 million overhaul of the judicial Lubyanka is underway.

It involves three years of extensive renos to the entire building, both Supreme Court and Federal Court – stripping out the asbestos, upgrading the fire system, rearranging the parking, and zusching up the facade.

Already the private judges doorway in Macquarie Street looks like something out of Baghdad. Forlorn judicial figures trudge in and out past wire entanglements and girders.

Some judges will have to move into temporary digs at the old Industrial Court building in William Street.

The construction company has permission to work on a 24-hours a day seven days a week basis. Despite the nerve shattering symphony of drills and hammering, the Supreme Court insists “it’s business as usual”.

* * *

imageThere’s a message on Justinian’s office phone from an outfit called Aged Care Queensland.

They are looking for Ian Callinan and assumed that because we publish The Secret Diaries of Ian Callinan AC QC that the distinguished jurist must have rooms at our up-market publishing HQ.

Aged Care Queensland is desperately keen to locate the former member from on High to speak at its conference next year on “Retirement Living”.

Surely, The Tub would be too busy to contemplate such a thing.

* * *

Mark Tedeschi’s career as a photographer is zooming ahead.

The NSW Senior Crown Prosecutor’s website says it all.

“Mark Tedeschi has been a passionate photographer since 1988. He has had six solo exhibitions and participated in numerous joint exhibitions. His images are included in the New South Wales Art Gallery collection and the National Library in Canberra. Over 150 of his images are in the Mitchell Pictures collection of the NSW State Library.”

imageThere’s examples on his site of evocative out of focus and smudgy street and vegetation shots. There’s even a page of cat and dog snaps.

The works are sold through the Josef Lebovic Gallery in Paddington, but strangely no prices can be found under the link that says prices.

One of my favourite Tedeschi pics, from his Italian series, is called, “I love him so much I could shoot him”.

A line the SCP must have heard somewhere before.


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