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01/07/2008

On the naughty step

Having discovered that I am the receipient of John Bolch’s coveted post of the month award for the last Naughty Step post, it seemed like time for another. Given that the award was only received due to the unreasonable delay of Geeklawyer in delivering his Blawg Review (caution NSFW and likely to leave you pleasured but having lost all self-respect), it seemed appropriate that this time it should be ‘barristers’ behaving badly on the step.

First up, John Wilmot, barrister, who has just been sentenced to 5 years for VAT fraud, after having conducted his defence in person from the cells, while refusing to come into Court.

Wilmot, imaginatively, claimed to have sold four Boeing 747 jet engines to a contact in Iraq for £117.5 million and sought to reclaim £17.5 million in VAT. The non-existence of the engines or deal was a minor hiccup in his otherwise routine claim to HMRC. He had laid, or rather made, a careful trail of evidence: invoices from a company in Croydon (who had never heard of him and didn’t deal in second hand aero engines on this scale and who apparently used redundant Argos VAT numbers); and details of shipping via a cargo ship (which was carrying beans, not jet engines).

The contact in Iraq? Well, the contact, Mr Al Majari, was never forthcoming, but Wilmot claimed he had (and I love this detail) met him at a Chambers garden party. Now which Chambers was it? Various articles cite him living and working at Temple Chambers in the City, but this is just an address, not a set. Anyone know? Google isn’t my friend in this.

Next up, a not criminal but morally, shall we say, debatable barrister, Mr Barclay Littlewood, late of ‘training at Grays Inn’ (which, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I take to mean that he never had pupillage and is not and never was a practising barrister). Mr Littlewood is ‘Chief Operations Director’ of UKessays and founder of Academic Answers Ltd. I was prompted to consider Mr Littlewood by Charon QC’s podcast with Prof Geoffrey Alderman and by this article in the Grauniad.

Mr Littlewood runs an online factory providing essays for undergraduate and postgraduate students. He thus profits, apparently very well indeed, from human stupidity, laziness, ignorance and greed. Wait, I hear you object, how does he differ from the entire legal profession in this? He doesn’t, and it is not for this reason that he is on the Step. No, Mr Littlewood occupies the Naughty Step for the sheer buttock-clenching, cheek chewing odiousness of his and his setup’s hypocritical blather.

Plagiarism is an academic and professional offence – hello Raj Persaud – and it is massively on the rise amongst students. Mr Littlewood runs a service in which, for a price between £120 to £16,000, one can have written for one an undergraduate essay or dissertation or Masters dissertation. (Prices double for a guaranteed first, up to the £16K).

Aware of the obvious implications, Mr Littlewood’s website is at pains to point out that it isn’t offering these essays for the purposes of passing them off as your own. Not at all. These are ‘model answers’, for up to £16K. (No links, for the obvious reasons, but from the UKessays site).

[I]f you use our model answer in the same way that you would use a journal, newspaper article, question and answer study book or past paper, there is absolutely nothing dishonest in what you are doing.  Our service can be used honestly.  If you do your own 100% original work and your own research, using our answer as a guideline, then this is no different from finding a journal article that deals with all the points you need to make in your essay

But sadly, disappointingly, some people will abuse this generous service:

We do understand that some students will use our work dishonestly.  This is because there are a lot of essay companies who permit students to simply pass off the work as their own, and so a minority of students confuse us with those companies and assume we offer the same service.  We also know that because our work is 100% original and plagiarism free, there is little we can do to regulate that misuse.

Ah yes. These model answers are guaranteed plagiarism free, so that they will not fall foul of plagiarism checking services used by Universities. UKessays is so proud of this fact that at the very top of the home page, they trumpet their ‘£5000 no plagiarism guarantee’. Given that elsewhere on the site, they claim that a first class degree over a 2:2 is worth ‘a million adjusted for inflation’, a £5000 payment for completely screwing your academic prospects seems just a little, well, cheap. But never mind that, because there is nothing at all hypocritical in offering a plagiarism guarantee for your ‘model answer providing service’, nothing at all. Mr Littlewood will tell you so:

If I wanted to debase the academic system I’d have done it by now, and I wouldn’t just have 2 super cars.
I ‘d have 3 Ferraris, 6 Lamborghinis and a Bugatti Veyron for special occasions.
Try ringing ukessays.com and telling us you want to use an essay to cheat with and see what you’re told, indeed you’re likely to get a better lecture on plagiarism that any University could give you. As I’ve said before I turn away thousands of pounds a week due to my ethics, so I can’t see how they can be in question.

And you can tell Mr Littleknob is ‘a barrister’ from the same post

The key […] is how it’s used, the act or actus reus of buying or reading an essay isn’t plagiarism, it’s the mens rea that counts, how its it used and with what intention.

This is, of course, utter gibberish. How the essay is used is actus reus, not mens rea and I would submit that the requisite mens rea could safely be inferred from the act of handing in one of these essays without mentioning one hadn’t actually written it. I trust that Mr Littlewood doesn’t actually turn his hand to writing a ‘guaranteed first’ law essay for his service from time to time.

But will he submit the essays written for students to the plagiarism detection services, this being the obvious solution to their mis-use? No. Or not until:

Universities […] promote us as the legitimate research aid to students.

That said, he claims that UKessays has

extensive measures to prevent the dishonest minority from using our service

These extensive measures apparently being, like the US military, a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. But such is Mr Littlewood’s sense of injustice that until the Universities see sense and promote his service:

if there is some unethical use that manages to slip through undetected I’ll consider it part payment for the thousands of honest users they deter every year (through their misinformation) from using our service.

You do that, Mr Littlewood. In the meantime, you’ll forgive me for considering you to be a loathsome, self-serving hypocrite and strongly suggest that you do nothing but stand against this wall until the revolution comes.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

19 Comments

  1. Charon QC

    Very good Post NL – Plagiarism is a real issue and cheating even more of an issue.

    Reply
  2. Housinganger

    The trouble with University I found is that you have so many different lecturers they never get to know you or your writting style which makes plagerism so much easier.

    I used to have a teacher that could spot any copying a mile off!

    Words can’t describe what I’d like to do to Mr Littlewood.

    Reply
  3. Rudy

    [comment moved to right post by NL]

    I’m glad you mention this: it’s horrid. Here’s a little tale.

    I sit part-time, and a few months back, faced an entertaining Small Claim trial where an individual, who operated the same odious practice as your subject, was claiming several hundred pounds in unpaid fees. These fees were due from an A-level Business student, the Defendant, for an essay he’d written for her but for which she’d not paid. He operated an internet-based service, which carried the same verbal ordure as Mr Littlehood’s about it not being plagiarism, etc., etc: I was handed the printouts. He said that once the service had been provided, it was up to the student what they wished to do with the product.

    Amusingly, the essay in question was about business ethics.

    The Defendant turned up accompanied by mum, ironically a teacher by profession. Her defence was that the essay was rubbish, and got her a fail grade. Apparently loads of her friends had used the service, and he had come highly recommended, but he just wasn’t very good at Business essays (apparently he could “do” Law, though). A number of her friends, at her school and at others in the area, had used the service, with mixed results she said. So, her defence was a total failure of consideration based on an absence of reasonably professional (well, that’s the phrase) care and skill.

    I couldn’t see how the contract was illegal, and thus void that way. The Claimant was an experienced and tenacious litigator-in-person, the full-time DJ warned me, and he would be sure to appeal any adverse ruling, as he had in relation to other (different) matters on which the DJ had ruled against him in the past. That made my proposed exit route of “voidable due to public policy considerations” seem less tempting. Instead, I seized on the fact that the Defendant was only 17, and could elect to void the contract that way. A little spark of joy flared in my brain.

    It took me a good ten minutes to explain this to the Defendant and her Mum, and even then she failed to choose to void the agreement until carefully prompted. Meanwhile, the Claimant simmered. I gave judgment, of the “plague on both your houses” variety which used the words “cheat”, “greedy”, “exploit”, and “amoral” widely but carefully, given that I was in fact basing the ruling on other grounds.

    Maybe it was appealed later, I don’t know. But the sheer brass neck of the Claimant suing over this cheat’s conspiracy amazes me even now. I know that a couple of years back, the College of Law faced down a potential Judicial Review claim brought by a number of students who’d been failed in their LSF for plagiarism (or “cheating” as I prefer to call it). They had obviously been copying chunks of text, and swapping it around between themselves. It got as far as Letters of Claim before the protective middle-class parents who were bankrolling the budding little shysters’ cases finally saw sense, and drew back.

    I do rather find it tedious that the present government keeps passing yet more laws regulating our behaviour (the ASBO trail, for instance0. But if you were looking for a better example of anti-social behaviour combined with dishonesty than cheating – in a Law or Business qualification, especially – in order to create for yourself a financial advantage potentially worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, and social advancement – then I’m open to your suggestions.

    Littlehood and his cohorts will carry on with their malodorous infections until they are hit hard in the pocket. (OK, rant over, but you see what I mean. Love the blog, by the way.)

    Reply
  4. Nearly Legal

    @Rudy. Glad you enjoy the blog. I’m immensely impressed that it has judicial readers.

    I’m delighted that the claim foundered. I would love to see this egregious business pay, but in the meantime, given the inevitable character of the individuals involved, I’m not at all surprised they pursue such claims, or threaten disclosure to get the money. And what of the people writing for them? ‘Need the money’ only goes so far as an excuse.

    Reply
  5. Barclay Littlewood

    Dear All,

    Thank you for my honourable mention on your site. : )

    It seems we have a ghost writer, criticising *the* ghost writers.

    Wonderful! : )

    I come with kindness to protect my good name, and make a few points however much you try and defile it with your cunning word play, I shall not falter.

    If you are going to write such content about things and people you obviously know nothing about, please at the very least do the decent thing and let me know so I can come and reply to you.

    Your views, are a little short-sighted and missed the real issues I feel, and there are some very real issues here. If you’d like to raise some intelligent points in reply to me now or at all I’ll do my best to respond.

    Let’s get your obvious silliness out of the way first, before we go onto the grown ups’ debate.

    “Littleknob”… quite. Littlehood was mildly amusing, but that was from a poster, so no credit to you.

    I must say you’re an awful cyber bully! Word play about my genitalia in public – how shocking! Think about what you say and how it portrays you, you’ll only lose credibility otherwise.

    You say –

    “You’ll forgive me for considering you to be a loathsome, self-serving hypocrite and strongly suggest that you do nothing but stand against this wall until the revolution comes.”

    Again, same problem. Make intelligent points please. So no I certainly won’t forgive you not at least for a few days you little devil until you learn to be objective! A lot of anger there, some big hurdles to overcome – please work on it!

    Your comments reveal a lot about the type of person you are likely to be, no need to add anything more and no reaction required from me. : )

    I’m more than happy to absorb all personal criticism in the name of our cause, but I promise one day you’ll look back and think .. “actually, not such a bad guy that Little(enter childish expletive at your will), a lot of what he said was right. I still hate him.”

    Sorry to disappoint, not everyone is up to no good as the media likes to have us all believe!

    Anybody reading this needs some genuine insight into the industry and I’m the best person to give it, having lived and breathed to for 6 years.

    Your focus of the post (past the quite flattering but obsessive hatred!) is that we are – “Aware of the obvious implications” – yet there are none – legally. Ethically we shall come to in a moment.

    We provide a service and we certainly could encourage or allow people to use our work to cheat if we wanted. There’s no law preventing us from doing so. We just don’t do it because we care about education, despite what you believe. We are not trying wangle through legal loopholes with the stuff you point out – we are educating our users. There are no laws – I should know – I asked for them – ask Barry Sheerman MP!

    Yes, perhaps sadly for you, I sleep very easily at night.

    We have become so popular because honest students see past the usual ill conceived University propaganda, and sensationalised opinions of the press and know they can get honest help without feeling guilty.

    People do, including myself have honest intentions, and I’m sorry if that upsets you! Most students believe it or not do not want to look at their degree and I think “I cheated!”

    Perhaps your judgements say more about you or at least the world you live in, then they do me or our customers?

    Now on to the ethical issues. I know you don’t expressly take issue with the service, (or do you, or is more with me?) but I have a passion for the product and would appreciate the space to bring some matters to the table.

    You say…

    “He thus profits, apparently very well indeed, from human stupidity, laziness, ignorance and greed. Wait, I hear you object, how does he differ from the entire legal profession in this? He doesn’t, and it is not for this reason that he is on the Step.”

    Our product is the best way bar none to learn when used correctly. Of course we profit. We are the world’s leader in the field.

    There’s nothing wrong with buying the written opinions of others. We learn by reading and listening to others do we not? Then why not learn by reading focused information on your essay? It makes perfect sense! A person with one of our essays will be better educated than one without – fact. The question is this – do the Universities have a right to tell students how to learn, who they listen to or what to buy?

    We help people get better degrees, many of them legitimately, and we are very proud of that. A lot of lawyers and other professionals I know that work for us feel the same way. Very few need the money, but they share the passion.

    Thankfully they are not quite as cynical about their profession as you are Mr or Mrs blog writer. Quite simply shocking comments in there.

    No wonder you hide behind a moniker! Leave your job if you hate it that much and don’t degrade the rest of your profession!

    The Universities can propose plans to work with us if they wish – control and collaboration is the only way ahead to a solution – try telling them that though!

    In our view, Universities have been shunning their duty as educators for a long time. They don’t look after their customers. Simple. Although your definition of actus reus and mens rea and your misreading of mine missed the point – that been that it’s how students use these essays that matters – as long as unis want to grade intellect using essays, which is a quite ridiculous notion in my view, we will help people get through the system and get interviews. If they are no good, they won’t get the job.

    Universities are nothing more than a product designed to help people get work. As private money and real (non-academic) expertise takeover they don’t stand a chance unless they innovate. Their customers are waking up and realising they are being churned through a system that cares nothing for them, and provides little in terms of real skills or training. It’s a 2:1 or nothing world and the Universities are victims of their own lack of care in what goes into a 2:1.

    The LLB and BVC were huge wastes of time and money. Pieces of paper to get the job. Content wise they could have been learned in a few months. Pupilage went to most before they’d sat in on a BVC class! Shows you what Chambers thinks of it all. Worthless in every sense of the word.

    The essence of being a good lawyer I gather is far more than a textbook understanding of law and procedure – the interpersonal skills, the emotional intelligence, the open mind, the calmness under pressure.

    I might say you’re living proof that such as system doesn’t teach you how to develop a strong and balanced character, an open mind, wit, pleasant demeanour and politeness, but I would be stooping to some very low standards already set. So I won’t. I’m sure as hard as you try to hide it, you probably a very pleasant person.

    Cynics, critics, naysayer abound, you all forget that this is all about education. You seemingly accept their excuse for education as is, and are fooled by it, we are not. As contrarians we challenge it.

    Laugh now, but see where education is in 20 years and you’ll realise that this was just the beginning! We are helping a very real revolution. Universities as they are today will be a rapidly fading memory confined to the gloomy past in which they firmly belong!

    There’s so little of substance about the real issues in your post. Sorry to say this, but your writing came across as a childish and insecure rant at times. Think before you put effort into your work!

    Even the name calling was a little below par, especially from someone not publishing under their real name.

    This is not about me or you, or some disclaimers. It’s about education. If the press and the public put half the energy it died into criticising universities as it did us we might get somewhere.

    So debate with me, bring some points to me, please. Give me something to work with.

    Anger, cynicism, negativity, a closed mind, narrow viewpoints and limited frames of references, do not make changes to the world!

    Thanks for reading!

    Best,

    Barclay Littlewood

    CEO

    Academic Answers

    Reply
    • NL

      Why Barclay, how lovely to hear from you and what sweet irony that I had to retrieve your comment from the wordpress comment-spam filter.

      As a small correction, I am not a ghostwriter, of course, as I do not produce writing to be put forward under the name of another person as the author. I am pseudonymous, not ghostwritten. I am intrigued by your confession that ghostwriting is what your writers do. I feel that rather makes my point.

      Your ‘contrarian’ posturing is noted, but I fail see why it should be taken as anything but hypocrisy unless your setup agrees to submit all essays written by your writers for buyers to the plagiarism checking services, and your customers, who are of course eager only for knowledge and instruction, informed that this will happen.

      Show me that this has happened and I will be only too happy to change my view on your ethical position, if not my opinion on the educational value of your firm’s output.

      Oh and as a litigator, author and part-time pedant, I have to point out that I didn’t misread you on actus reus and mens rea, I actually quoted you, in full, with no relevant part edited.

      I will acknowledge that you are quite right in one respect. ‘Littleknob’ was beneath me and, in every sense, unnecessary. For that, and that alone, I apologise.

      Reply
    • Francis Davey

      Obviously I disagree with what you do – but that point is being made by others.

      I take issue with your remarks about the BVC. I have taken it (you should not assume that any other poster here has or has not done so). I found it an extremely useful preparation for pupillage. I was able to perform much better as a result of the training I received. Whether it is value for money or not is another matter (and a complex question).

      I also doubt you could learn sufficient material to pass in 3 months from a standing start. Only a very small fraction of assessment is carried out by essay writing (which is all that is relevant to you). Much of the assessment is either purely knowledge based or practical oral examinations (such as advocacy assessments). The latter, in particular, take a lot of practice.

      I still take a close interest in my former college’s BVC: its teaching and assessment. I am quite certain from what I have seen that it does provide useful skill training in practice.

      Reply
  6. house

    Whilst I dont really have anything constructive to say I find the fact you posted on friday 13th quite funny.

    Reply
  7. Barclay Littlewood

    Dear NL,

    It was my pleasure to drop in actually, despite your attempts at a cold welcome. : )

    NL, you still refuse to give your name(s), it’s hard writing to an unknown! Anyway, I’ll soldier on! For the sake of any readers, you have failed to reply to or rebut any of my points. Like the Universities and the press, I think you know we can counter any argument you deliver.

    I challenge you to do better please!

    There is a reason for us to exist, we provide a great service, and we improve education when used correctly.

    I and the 3500 people what work with me are very proud of that fact!

    We are open to misuse, we accept that. So is any source of information, shall we ban websites, books, journals to because of a dishonest few? Why do Universities hand out past answers if they are not legitimate study aids?

    Students that use our work correctly get on average 10% higher than those that don’t – and that’s a bad thing is it?

    Instead I’m sorry to see you seek to engage me in some quite meaningless points of debate that matter to no one but you… minor points scoring, but anyway as I said, I can only work with what you give me.

    Come on, we are meant to be two good minds here! Work with me and we can get something going that resembles a debate!

    So here you go based on what you gave me –

    My fault! No irony at all that your blog filters intelligence away, good thoughts are often hard to find, for some harder than most. Ask your programming team to add a “Comment submitted” message and technically challenged people like me won’t be so bold to try and submit comments three times, that will solve the issue! : )

    They are indeed ghost-writers as their identity is concealed and their work credited to us. You are ghost-writers as you clearly do not use a name but attribute your work to NL, unless you are all called “nearly legal”.

    Dull and worthless debate on semantics?

    NL, you are trying to read your own meaning into my words to prove your points, please don’t do this it’s a tedious way to go on and does both you and me no service at all!

    Another fact for you. It’s common knowledge we will consider working with Universities when they begin to respect our business and sanction our use. There is no good reason for them not to allow our use, apart from the very misuse which they could easily combat through collaboration.

    I’ve being saying it for 6 years, they won’t listen and they never will listen. Again, you are unaware that the Universities do not want to change the essay system – it makes me millions – but them hundreds of millions. Imagine their bills if they had to teach real information and skills! Rather than just feed last years handouts to 200 students a time! Half of them would be out of work for a start! As I said then, the plagiarism situation would only worsen for them and it has.

    People can only misuse work because the Universities refuse to work with essay companies. They are wound up in some war that needn’t exist. Now Turnitin has turned its back on the Universities as well, they are really in trouble. Any student can now check work against their database as can we!

    Finally, as per the quote

    “The key […] is how it’s used, the act or actus reus of buying or reading an essay isn’t plagiarism, it’s the mens rea that counts, how its it used and with what intention.” The how it is used of course refers to the actus reus, (as already stated in the same sentence) and is a summary of the point plus the intention – the mens rea!

    That is why you misread my quote! Again, I am guessing you did so to try and make me look intellectually inferior and by comparison make yourself look superior. Again, a big show and tell there. : )

    If you want to try and achieve that, it it really matters to you, please be my guest. Do give it a go. It’s been a while since I’ve had a challenge!

    Why not go and do some solid research then answer some of the points and we can have a decent debate that will benefit the both of us? : )

    Anyway, past my bed time, must dash!

    Best

    Barclay

    ps House, I like you and NL am obviously not superstitious! ; )

    Reply
    • NL

      What a lot of words, almost defeating my powers of precis, but luckily for us all, you only have two points

      Model essays are good for students.

      This is debatable, but I have no problem in agreeing that they can be on occasion, although it is entirely dependent on context. A £16,000 ‘model’ MA thesis is, naturally, a nonsense, and anyone who seeks such a thing should not be doing post-graduate work in the first place, as you are well aware. But the value or otherwise of model essays is also beside the issue, which is, of course, my view that you are a mealy mouthed, canting hypocrite. And so to your second ‘point’.

      Universities should ‘collaborate’ with you, then and only then will they get to check the ‘misuse’ of your essays.

      What a useful word ‘collaborate’ is – it sounds terribly collegial. But what do you mean by it? You say Universities ‘don’t allow’ students to use you and want them to sanction it. But if your purchasers are just after model essays, how does the University’s permission or sanction come into the picture? It doesn’t, of course. No, you were very clear about what you mean by collaborate in the post I quoted above. You want the universities to promote your ‘service’ and until then you are content for plagiarism using your products to take place.

      There is, as you are very well aware, an extremely easy way for your setup to shed its unfortunate image of being the recourse of the well heeled plagiarist and so help to convince the universities of your good intentions. You refuse to take that step. The reasons why are abundantly clear, and in insisting that universities should actively help your business, and unless they do you’re not going to take any active steps to prevent the ‘misuse’ of your products, you have made my case. Thank you.

      Pedantry Corner

      On actus reus – you wrote ‘the key […] is how it is used, […], it’s the mens rea that counts, how it is used and with what intention’.So I didn’t misread at all. But in any event, to describe buying or reading an essay as the actus reus of plagiarism is wrong, the actus reus of plagiarism is handing in work that is not, in part or in whole, by you, with the mens rea being the intention to pass the work off as your own. Misidentification of the elements of an offence makes it a nonsense.

      On ghostwriting – each Nearly Legal contributor posts under their own name or pseudonym. As I started the blog, mine is nearly legal or NL, which nobody else uses. Thusly we are not ghostwriters.

      Reply
  8. Barclay Littlewood

    Dear Francis,

    Thanks for your comments. : )

    Please explain why you disagree that any student has a right to choose the information they want to learn from?

    Please also explain how reading a high standard essay can hinder intellectual development?

    I think you mean you disagree with the fact people can abuse our service. So do I! Try ringing in and saying you want to hand in – my team always educates you why you can’t!

    On to the BVC then!

    Okay, I cede the point. The 1 year on the BVC was better than the 3 years doing the LLB. At least there was some attempt to focus on the real skills required. Yet we are comparing bad to awful here. Comparatively speaking whilst it was a better course, it was still an atrocious waste of time and money, with a lot of fluff centred around some very basic principles and skills.

    Value for money it is not I think we agree, and it could be packed into 3 months, not stretched out for 8 or 9! Many of the skills taught there should be taught on the LLB, instead of the endless essay writing!

    If advocacy takes so much practice (I don’t agree – at least not on the basics – but still) – why does the BVC teach it for only around 50 hours over 9 months? Why not do 5 hours a week over 3 months?

    8 – 10 hours a week of lessons was absurd! I did 1 day a week all at home. I didn’t attend from January onwards and still passed first time by reading the manuals. The students were being made to fit in around the teachers schedules, what a waste of time.

    The BVC is all about keeping costs low and fees high in my opinion. These places are businesses – when will the public say “enough is enough”? The longer the course, the more they can charge too. Either way, as it was at University, the customer is getting ripped off.

    I suppose there are salaries to be paid, but at the end of it all, it’s a very raw deal for any student. Plus applicants are let on that have no chance of obtaining pupilage, which again is an awful abuse of such students.

    Given that many applicants obtain pupilage beforehand, I still think it shows that Chambers see the BVC more as a formality. It should not be, it should be a course that promotes and shapes brilliance!

    The legal profession doesn’t just need a shake up qualification wise, it has been over charging (and under paying its workforce) for a long time, do you agree that minimum fees are just a protection racket?

    There are hundreds of talented unemployed lawyers that would drive costs down and give the consumer more choice!

    Best

    Barclay

    Reply
  9. Barclay Littlewood

    Dear NL,

    Manners my friend please. I am a visitor! : ) Do you not find it odd you are insulting someone you have never met who has no issue with you and just seeks a healthy debate?

    My, my NL you do get hot under the collar! Play fair! : ) Fight me with your mind, not your insults, or are you scared you can’t beat me?

    You apologise for calling me “Littleknob” and I think we might be getting somewhere, then no sooner do you move on to
    “mealy mouthed, canting hypocrite.”

    “Mealy?” “Canting?” Then you say, “Powers of precis” quite! I’m not even going to Google them! I’m sure you talk like that all the time NL, but please I’m only a simple business man – there’s really no need to try and impress me!

    Please join me and talk like a polite adult for the benefit of your readers. Leave out the emotion, subjectivity, Old English, and insults. If you really want to insult me arrange a face to face meeting at the very least, stop hiding behind a blog “NL” and being daft, again you only discredit yourself!

    As I’ve said before all your personal remarks do is show the rest of the world what type of person you may well be. I don’t want people to see you in a poor light – do you? It devalues any debate and you and yuor blog. Again I will leave it at that.

    Well you’ve said I’ve made two points, it’s a start. You haven’t really made any so far, look at all the ones you missed –

    It’s not unlawful. You’ve ignored that point.

    We put that information on the website – the very focus of your rant – in order on to self regulate – you ignored that point.

    I talked with Barry Sheerman to get regulation – point ignored.

    We push away cheating customers – point ignored.

    Essays won’t be phased out – because Universities profit from them point ignored.

    Universities are teaching quite useless skills – point ignored.

    So of 8 points at least, you found only 2.

    You really hate someone you’ve never met NL – good for you. That seems to be your main point. That’s it. You hate me because we put some advice to help students on our site about misuse – not to avoid any laws as you first thought. You hate me for that. Yet no, really you hate you, not me, because you have hate in you. I don’t dislike you, hate you, I have no grudge against you. I’m sure you’re perfectly nice person deep down.

    I’ll stick with you. Some advice, every second you hate me is a second you can’t do something more constructive with you life – more fool you! : )

    So I’ll reply to your points. But first – NL some more advice, take it or leave, or more likely hate it, you’re very good at trying to tell me what I am saying. Please focus on what you are saying and concentrate hard on what I am saying! The two are separate. You seem to think I am saying what you want me to say. I am not.

    Please, take on board my opinions and stop deliberately misconstruing my comments! : )

    “£16,000 ‘model’ MA thesis is, naturally, a nonsense, and anyone who seeks such a thing should not be doing post-graduate work in the first place”

    The rich have a right to study do they not? (See how annoying that is? That’s what you keep doing – cease misconstruing please!)

    So back to the point in hand. I earn (or could draw) more than £16,000 a week. I am hardly wealthy by some standards. £16,000 is nothing to an awful lot of people. (It’s still a lot to me!) Compared to the extra income over the next 30 year it could generate, it’s an investment, and not much more than the course costs! You agree there is legitimate use, so do I, so that ones dealt with.

    Now onto the Universities and the mens rea issue you mention in your post.

    Universities do not allow our use – legitimate or otherwise. A simple solution would be that they allow our use and we can send them all essays as we go. Hey presto – no one can cheat and the 90% of students that are scared of using would use us. I’ve made them fully aware of my intentions, and made the first steps, I should know. I’ve met with JISC, not you! I’ve lobbied Parliament – not you! You know nothing about their position or the industry! You have 6 hours worth of knowledge, I have 6 years, so please listen and trust the expert.

    I am not going to make all the movement on my own, because as you know, they will say “thanks very much” and do nothing at all. Where does that leave us? I’ll tell you where, the cheating customers will not get replaced with honest ones (because Universities still won’t allow our use) and we lose out on custom. Honest students will still be deprived of the best study aid in the world and I lose my influence.

    So I refer you to the points made to House – please see my post on the benefits.

    We take steps to protect Universities; they take no steps to assist us at all. We are both businesses. Whilst you might see them in some position of moral superiority because they are part of the state architecture, it matters not one iota to us, a business is a business, and believe me, when you know how they operate, even you’d like us in comparison.

    Many people, as do you, continue to be blinded by your perceptions, and what you think you know. Look beyond the exterior, of both my site and what the Universities are really doing – churning people out with very little skills. Making a nation of essay writers.

    I’ve challenged them to stop setting essays and teach something useful. I’m still waiting to be put out of business. This is about education as I’ve said.

    Anyhow NL, don’t worry, I’m well ahead of you, we’re launching something similar very soon, a completely cheat free service that submits essays to the Universities. So we shall see what they do then! I’ll bet you they’ll come up with an “outside help” offence.

    Some Universities are already doing so!

    I’ll say it again. Universities are not here to tell anyone how to learn, they are here to help educate and award degrees. They are operating outside their remit by not allowing the use of our product and hindering learning not assisting it.

    So you can rest easy once and for all –

    Cheating

    Actus reus – Buying and handing in another essay
    Mens rea – Doing so with intent

    Contrast Honest Use

    Actus reus – Buying an essay and using it to study
    Mens rea – Doing so to learn

    That was the point I was making on the website, as I’m sure you know. That the act of buying an essay on its own cannot constitute plagiarism, it’s how you use it that counts. I do hope that is clear enough for you, and that you can’t read in any more imagined arguments to my words, which again is of course what was meant by misread!

    So that’s that, end result, you hate me, you acknowledge there is legitimate use, and I’m sure you now understand the mens rea/actus reus point – and please no more boring legal speak, let’s stick to the real issues.

    On the first point I don’t care – you’ll get no hate or anger out of me – insult away : ) , and on the second point, good man/woman, on the third, great.

    Best

    Barclay

    Reply
  10. Barclay Littlewood

    Hey NL,

    Wow I can certainly get the bit between my teeth when I get going!

    Anyway, I’ll pop back to see if you reply later in the week.

    If not, no worries and no hard feelings and sorry if I bored you. : )

    I’ve enjoyed the chat anyway, and best of luck with your career and the blog.

    Best

    Barclay

    Reply
    • NL

      Barclay,
      Res ipsa loquitur.

      NL

      Reply
  11. Barclay Littlewood

    Dear NL,

    You disappoint me! I wait all this time for 4 words? : )

    Come on you know you can do better than that! : )

    It’s not like you to be lost for words.
    Now I’m not too proud to admit I didn’t have a clue what you posted, but using my wonderful friend Wikipedia, I take it you mean..

    “You feel that further details are unnecessary; the proof of the case is self-evident.”

    I wish I had remembered that in my debating days NL, I could have won every round with just a few words! ; )

    Let me just rip my arguments up then, now you put it like that! Unless of course it’s your way of agreeing with me? ; ) Or was it reference to my typos? I admit I didn’t proofread my post, hardly grounds for your lack of reply!

    Here are the points again for you –

    1. Universities have no right to decide how students learn or buy as long as students learn honestly – point unanswered.

    2. The only way Universities can ensure complete honest use is through some sort of collaboration – point unanswered.

    3. All study aids are misused – that doesn’t mean that they can’t be used honestly – point unanswered.

    4. Selling essays is not unlawful – there’s no need for us to hold copyright, discourage cheating, educate on our site, have our policies as we do etc. – point unanswered.

    5. We put all the information on the website – the very focus of your rant – in order to self regulate and educate against misuse, not avoid any laws – point unanswered.

    6. I talked with MP Barry Sheerman to ask for regulation – point unanswered.

    7. We push away cheating customers – point unanswered.

    8. Essays won’t be phased out – because as useless as they are on the whole, Universities profit by setting them – point unanswered.

    9. Universities are by and large teaching quite useless skills in some areas and for some courses – point unanswered.

    Are you going to reply to those 9 points?

    Anyone going to help him/her out?

    Please show me I am wrong, anyone, I am waiting for some genuine insight and opinions!

    Best

    Barclay

    Reply
  12. Ian Simpson

    Sorry, not too interested in answering Barclay’s questions as I’ve got one of my own that’s worrying me.

    If the point of a ghostwritten essay is simply to show how it should be done, why charge extra for a guaranteed First? Shouldn’t every model essay be a First?

    Ian

    Reply
  13. simply wondered

    that barclay wotsit has the fluid prose of the nigerian scam letters.
    and the concise delivery of clarissa.
    and makes about as much sense to me as finnegan’s wake.
    i really hope his company don’t offer guaranteed first class model haikus.
    he can’t be as good a businessman as he says or he would be running a bvc provider.
    do we think he is written by computer?

    Reply
  14. Barclay Littlewood

    Dear Ian,

    I am sorry that you or NL are not too interested in answering my very important questions, but thanks for your question anyway. : )

    Our 2:1 answers are 2:1 standard or above. It costs more time to write to a 1st class standard and not all our experts are qualified to a 1st class level.

    We supply 2:1 answers to those that want them and 1st class to those that would like to pay extra for a better answer.

    Just like travelling 1st class or standard on a train, one service takes more cost to provide, so the price is higher. For others standard quality provides better value.

    I hope this answers your question! : )

    Simply Wondered – I am sorry you find my simple points and arguments hard to grasp. : )

    Given your knowledge of literature, (I learned a few things from your post – thank you!) I’m sure if you apply yourself you’ll be able to comprehend them.

    After all you got through Clarissa! ; )

    As a point of polite feedback in return, somebody that obviously reads so much as yourself and purports to be an expert in clarity, should at least try and properly capitalise their sentences. Add to that an effort to ensure they are being clear themselves!

    Ending with
    “do we think he is written by computer” somewhat undermines your contribution!

    Your point on the BVC is a good one. You’ll be glad to know I have plenty of plans for the provision of real education in the near future.

    On the point of business, I’m always eager to learn, so I’d love to hear about any business success or advice you have so I can absorb any wisdom you can pass on. : )

    Best

    Barclay Littlewood

    CEO

    Academic Answers Ltd.

    Reply
    • NL

      And with this last gust of hot air from our ethically challenged friend, comments are closed on this post.

      Reply

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