Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Prima facie case is not enough to convict

Latin, On the first appearance.] A fact presumed to be true unless it is disproved.

In common parlance the term prima facie is used to describe the apparent nature of something upon initial observation. In legal practice the term generally is used to describe two things: the presentation of sufficient evidence by a civil claimant to support the legal claim (a prima facie case), or a piece of evidence itself (prima facie evidence)

The Labour leader made a rather bizarre speech on Thursday evening. Essentially he was arguing that because his brother (Chair of the Mersey transport Exec) had asserted that suddenly ditching a long standing policy of Merseytravel -without the benefit of any published officer advice was in his view sensible the rest of us should shut up and accept his decision. Tony Robertson rehearses some of issues here

The trouble is many folk think the decision is potty and will cost us money and pass up the chance of having a better local railway. As Jim Hancocks the doyen of NW political correspondents wrote in the Liverpool Post:

The decision by councillors to turn their backs on a bid by Merseytravel to own their rail network is truly shocking
Since 2006, the two men have worked together to gain control of the rail tracks to complement the authority’s responsibility for the train services. One-and-a-half million pounds has been spent on plans for “vertical integration.”

It’s a technical term meaning that Merseyside passengers would have one company running train and track.........

Cllr Dowd railed (no pun intended) at Network Rail’s refusal to let go.
“I just do not see why Network Rail cannot understand the logic of our argument,” he is quoted as saying as the campaign continued in 2008.
I understand that the decision to shelve the bid to run the track was taken without a full report being prepared for members of the Transport Authority. If true, it beggars belief. Why were councillors asked to reverse a policy which they had faithfully backed for years without a reasoned argument being put before them?
Now in Peter Dowd's speech this highly questionable act became a prima facie case for abandoning the policy. He said it 14 times as if using a latin tag some how invested this truly shocking action with a defence that no sensible person could dare question. Well there may or may not be a prima facie case-I cannot tell nobody has published the advice not even (I understand) to members of the authority. But even if there was a pria facie case we do not take thing at face value-they should be tested- scrutinised aad reviewed. Well not in Merseytravel.
Of course this has nothing at all to do with the rumoured enthusiasm of some Labour people on Merseyside to abolish Merseytravel and put it under a City Region or elected Mayor- any such suggestion would be outrageous

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