Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Ferry Interesting but Stupid, a midweek ramble

Having read The Lawyers Tale in The Gazette, see and noticing that our very own ECR seemed to be going along with it I have to admit to having some reservations.

No one seems to have asked the obvious question. Which senior officers did the harbour master phone after Harvey failed to pick up. Which raises the question. Which senior officer or officers gave the OK for the ferry to sail. Which raises the further question. Why would thy do that? What would be the incentives for handing out our money in this way?

With the chief executive and the editor of The Gazette I am reminded of something from Alice in Wonderland here about the red queen and the black queen, did they have tea together before or after the Queen of Hearts started saying “off with his head”?

I wonder if when choosing a fall guy a lawyer is the best choice? Could this be expensive? 

Anyway this morning I phoned the council’s press department and put my thoughts to them. And yes they did say they had other enquiries along these lines. And yes I put my take on the situation to them and although they didn’t say much in reply, there wasn’t any of the usual “Michael you have got it completely wrongs” associated with my having got something completely wrong. 

So the answer from the council’s press office was that they would send me a written statement about this by email by 1pm. I will add it to this post when/if it arrives.

No statement from the council but this instead:

-----Original Message-----
From:**** ***** <*****@THANET.GOV.UK>
To: MichaelChild
Sent: Wed, 29 Jan 2014 17:07
Subject: Transeuropa statement

Hi Michael,

Apologies for not coming back to you until now. I’ll send you a copy of the minutes taken at the meeting once they are available which will probably be the most helpful way to address this.

**** ****


  1. What is completely stupid about the whole "lets find a patsy to scapegoat" is the obvious. The ferry schedule was known days in advance as is also the fact they (TDC and harbourmaster) knew how long each ferry was scheduled to be docked for. It isn't rocket science to discuss a strategy in advance and agree a way forward

    1. Barry I would say that the implications here ate that no one told the legal department and as the council’s lawyer wasn’t consulted the decision not to arrest the ship was taken without legal advice.

      The arresting of a ship involves attaching a legal document to the mast of a ship where debts are owed where the ship is tied up, so that the ship can’t leave without first settling the debt.

    2. Am I missing something here, but how would they know it was to be the ferry's final departure? It also never ceases to amaze me how much these days isn't rocket science. Perhaps, once upon a time, everything was? Then maybe it is down to a limited command of the language resulting in the overuse of the same old phrases.

    3. William I think you are make the assumption here that prior to every ferry sailing the harbour master would seek advice from senior council officers about whether or not to arrest the ferry. I can assure you that this isn’t what normally happened back in the days when Ramsgate had a ferry service there is also the minor issue of the ferry sailing to Tilbury an unusual destination for a Ramsgate ferry.

    4. Why, in the normal operation of a regular twice a day ferry service, would the harbour master seek advice from the council over whether or not he should arrest the ship? Would the destination necessarily be passed on to either the harbour master or the council, for it is not really like filing a flight plan? The real question is at what point, before or after the sailing, did the council know the company had gone into administration.

      Barry, to spell it out simply for you, I have no axe to grind for a Labour led council, but I do find this constant business of people being wise after the event all a bit tedious. Since you are such a brilliant chap who knows what should be done, why don't you stand for election next year. Then we can all relax and watch a master at work.

    5. I'd vote for Barry over some of those other idiots any day.

      *awaits a stupid Holyer comment about one line answers*

    6. Peter, It is encouraging to know that I am ever in your thoughts.

  2. William perhaps the harbour master's clue
    Was the matter of an unpaid Slovenian crew ?

    try singing that to HMS Pinafore before Michael wields his delete finger.

  3. Small matter of trying to arrest something that didn't belong to Transeuropa. The ship was chartered from P&O who I suspect would have been miffed that their ship was being detained for something that was nothing to do with them. In fact, when it left Ramsgate on that final voyage back to Tilbury it had already been returned to P&O and so any attempt to arrest it would have resulted in a large legal bill for TDC.

    1. Tim I think the key here is not whether the ship should have been arrested but whether the senior officers should have told the harbour master to release the ship without seeking the advice of the council’s legal department.

      We will assume hypothetically that the council’s legal wizard was answering a call of supernature and so didn’t answer the phone, so the harbourmaster called another senior officer possibly one nominally fecundate who then consulted with the queen of hearts and between them they made the decision not to consult with the inconvenient brief, but instead ordered the ship be allowed to depart.

      Who can say what the advice of the lawyer would have been, who can say if the queen would have overruled that advice, the fact remains that the advice wasn’t sought.

      Of course you may be right that had the advice been to arrest the ship and had the ship been arrested this would have been the wrong thing to do, but there is something acrimonious about paying £15,000 per week to employ a solicitor and then failing to get him to solicit.

  4. Do we know for a fact that prior legal advice was not sought; or that TDC was unaware at the time of sailing that the ship was not owned by TEF but by P&O and as such could not be seized by TDC? The Officer who answered the Harbour Master's call may have earlier been briefed on the legal situation and been told that TDC could not seize the ship?

    1. Peter,

      Peter, thank you - succinct as ever. Do you base your response on a sure and certain knowledge of events? If so what are your sources?

      Maybe you're just be being flash. I bet you were a right cocky little teenager.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. John. The ship was always owned by P&O. It was bare boat chartered to TEL but bare boat charter parties always make sure that the ship cannot be used as a lien in any dispute between the charterer and other parties. This fact would have been known to the Ramsgate Harbour master - it was common knowledge in the maritime world. It is immaterial what Harvey could or couldn't have said - the ship was not available for arrest in this case.

    1. Not so Tim and only because it is a ship and this is why legal advice should have been sought. In maritime law is that a ship that is treated as a wrongdoer the creditor in this case, not the owner, that the loss, damage or harm is caused by the maritime property, itself, and it has to make good for the loss. The attachment of maritime lien will start when the cause of action arises and will not be eliminated even by change of ownership in a good faith purchase.

      I have some experience here as I was employed by a ship in Ramsgate Harbour that was arrested.


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