Thursday, 15 August 2019

The Peterloo Massacre - Bicentenary

"In the name of Him who made us, We will perish, or be free" - Samuel Bamford

On Monday 16 August 1819, St. Peter's Field, Manchester was the site of what is known as the Peterloo Massacre.  On the orders of Magistrates for the Counties of Lancaster and Chester*, cavalry, sabres drawn, rode into a crowd of some 60,000 who had gathered to call for reform of parliamentary representation. An estimated 18 people, including four women and a child, died from sabre cuts and trampling. Nearly 700 men, women and children received serious injuries.

The word Peterloo

Tuesday, 13 August 2019


13 August 2019 - 79 days to Brexit.  £1 = 1.08 Euro.  £1 = 1.21 US $.  The clock continues to run down to Exit Day.

Court of Session - Scotland:  

Back in the news is the possibility that the Prime Minister might secure a prorogation of Parliament in order to prevent the House of Commons stopping a "no-deal" (crash-out) Brexit - BBC News 13 August 2019.  A legal challenge to try to prevent such a prorogation is underway before Scotland's Court of Session.  The petition, brought by the Good Law Project, is supported by more than 70 MPs and peers.  The project seeks

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Could Parliament stop "no-deal" Brexit

6 August 2019 - 86 days to Brexit.  £1 = 1.09 Euro.  £1 = 1.22 US $.  The clock continues to run down to Exit Day.
The possibility that the House of Commons may wish to prevent a no-deal (or, more accurately, a "Crash-out") Brexit taking place on 31 October is producing further constitutional talking points.  In March 2019 the House was opposed to no-deal - BBC News 14 March 2019.  The new Prime Minister has said that Brexit will take place on 31 October “whatever the circumstances” - The Guardian 5 August.  A no-deal Brexit entails leaving a deeply-integrated and barrier-free market with 27 other member States and over 510m people.  The UK will also leave Euratom.  No-deal will also have serious consequences in other areas such as Police and Judicial Co-operation - Law Society February 2019.

This previous post (1 August 2019) reported

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Emergency at Toddbrook Reservoir, Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire

Updates at the end -

Recent rainfall has certainly been exceptionally intense and has threatened the dam wall at Toddbrook Reservoir at Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire.   A huge effort is taking place to try to prevent the wall collapsing including use of a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter assisting with emergency efforts (pictured) - Metro News 3 August 2019.

Toddbrook Reservoir opened in 1838 and is located near the south-western part of the town with the dam wall facing the town.  The present situation is not the first at Toddbrook.  As shown in the following paper, heavy rain in 1964 also caused serious concern.  Remedial works

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Brexit uncertainty

1st August 2019 - 91 days to Brexit.  £1 = 1.10 Euro.  £1 = 1.21 US $.

The lack of clarity over Brexit is deeply concerning for everyone.  Will there be a deal or will it be a no-deal Brexit?  If a no-deal Brexit then what will happen?  If no-deal, what will be the situation in Northern Ireland regarding the border?  What might happen in Parliament when it eventually emerges from its lengthy summer recess?

No-deal preparation:

HM Treasury has announced

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Manchester Arena ~ Inquest Pre-Hearings

On the evening of Monday 22nd May, at 22.33 hrs BST, a bomb was detonated in the foyer of the Manchester Arena – BBC News 23rd May.   22 people were killed and over 100 injured (many seriously) – BBC News 27th May.   The bomb was detonated as people were leaving the Arena following a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.

The attacker was identified by police as Salman Ramadan Abedi – (see BBC 26th May) - a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan ancestry who detonated a shrapnel-laden improvised explosive device at one of the exits as concertgoers were leaving.  Abedi was born in Manchester in 1994, grew up in the Whalley Range area and lived in Fallowfield.  It appears that he was known to British Security Services but was not regarded as high risk – The Guardian 23rd May. 

A number of individuals were arrested

Friday, 26 July 2019

Insane automatism and driving

On 25 July, in the House of Commons, the death of 15 year old Katelyn Dawson was raised by Mr Barry Sheerman MP (Huddersfield).  Mr Sheerman asked the Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg MP) -

"On 10 January 2018, Katelyn Dawson was killed and two other women were very badly injured when a white BMW crashed into a queue of people as Katelyn was going to school. She was 15 and an only child. Could we have an early debate on what is going on in the Crown Prosecution Service? It has been many months and now the Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to bring any charge against the driver ....  He got off because the CPS thought he was going to argue insane automatism, which is increasingly being used by wealthy and well-connected people to get off charges when they kill people."

Thursday, 25 July 2019

A new government forms

The ritual transfer of executive power took place on Wednesday 24 July 2019.  The outgoing Prime Minister (Theresa May) attended the House of Commons for her final Prime Minister's Questions and then went to Buckingham Palace to tender her resignation to HM The Queen.  Mrs May will have advised the Queen to appoint Boris Johnson, the successful candidate in the Conservative Party leadership election.  Mr Johnson then attended the palace and was duly appointed Prime Minister.  This time-honoured ritual emphasised the constitutional facts that HM The Queen is Head of State and that the government is Her Majesty's Government.

Mr Johnson returned to No.10 Downing Street, spoke briefly

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Boris Johnson becomes Conservative Party leader

With exactly 100 days to go before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union (EU), the Conservative and Unionist Party announced that Boris Johnson is to be party leader.   Mr Johnson won 92,153 votes (66%) to Mr Hunt's 46,656 (34%).

On Wednesday 24 July, the Queen's first visitor will be the outgoing Prime Minister - Theresa May.  Mr Johnson will then visit the palace to be formally appointed as Prime Minister. 

During a lengthy campaign, Mr Johnson made clear that he plans to lead the UK out of the EU by 31 October 2019 - i.e. to "deliver Brexit."   His stance has been that this will take place with or without a withdrawal agreement.

Appointment of Prime Minister:

In law, the Queen may

Friday, 19 July 2019

Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill - (2)

An earlier post looked at the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill when it was before the House of Commons.   The principal purpose of the Bill is to extend the period for forming an Executive under section 1(1) of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 and to impose a duty on the Secretary of State to report on progress towards the formation of an Executive in Northern Ireland.

The reporting requirements are in Clause 3 of the Bill.   Originally this was a short clause of just 3 subsections.  It has now expanded to 21 subsections.

On Thursday 18 July,

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

European Parliament 16 July 2019 ~ Brexit and no deal

On 16 July 2019 the European Parliament narrowly approved the nomination of German politician Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission.  The Parliament has 751 members.  733 votes were cast and those divided 327 against and 383 in favour - (51% of the total number of MEP or 52.25% of the votes cast).

Ursula von der Leyen was nominated by the European Council at the Council meeting held on 30 June - previous post 3 July 2019.  See HERE for background to the nomination.


Sunday, 14 July 2019

An Ambassador resigns ....

Journalist Isabel Oakeshott, writing for the Mail on Sunday (7 July), revealed comments made by the United Kingdom's Ambassador to the USA (Sir Kim Darroch) about the administration of President Donald Trump.  The comments were in diplomatic communications (Diptel) between the Ambassador and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

In one document Sir Kim wrote:  'We don't really believe this Administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.'

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill

The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill received its First Reading on 4 July 2019.  It was introduced as a Bill to:

"Extend the period for forming an Executive under section 1(1) of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 and to impose a duty on the Secretary of State to report on progress towards the formation of an Executive in Northern Ireland."

Northern Ireland is supposed

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Stephen Laxley-Lennon ~ Guilty of contempt of court

Updated 9 July 2019  - with link to High Court reasons.

Updated 11 July 2019 - sentencing

The Attorney-General's Office has announced that Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka "Tommy Robinson") has been found guilty of contempt of court following a trial held at the Old Bailey before Dame Victoria Sharp P (QBD) and Warby J.   Dame Victoria Sharp was appointed President of the Queen's Bench Division upon the retirement, at age 70, of Sir Brian Leveson.

The contempt proceedings have an interesting and quite lengthy history.

Crown Court at Leeds - 25 May 2018:

In April 2017, Kirklees Magistrates' Court sent a number of men, accused of serious sexual offending against young females, for trial

Friday, 5 July 2019

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson v Westminster Magistrates' Court and others

This previous post (30 May 2019) looked at the decision by  District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) Margot Coleman to issue a summons to Boris Johnson alleging three offences of misconduct in public office.  The alleged offences related to the 2016 EU referendum campaign during which it was said that Boris Johnson repeatedly lied and misled the British public as to the cost of EU membership, expressly stating, endorsing or inferring that the cost of EU membership was £350 million per week.

The summons was later quashed by the High Court (Rafferty LJ and Supperstone J) for reasons set out in a judgment dated 3 July 2019 and published on the Judiciary website.

It is no surprise that 

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

EU Council ~ 30 June to 2 July 2019

EU Council:

The European Council has met over 30 June 2019 to 2 July 2019 and future key EU appointments were considered.  Prime Minister Theresa May attended on behalf of the UK.

The European Council plays an important role in certain appointment procedures for high profile EU level roles. In particular, it is responsible for:
  • electing the President of the European Council
  • proposing the President of the European Commission
  • appointing the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
  • officially appointing the entire body of Commissioners
  • appointing the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB), including the ECB president

Electing the President requires a qualified majority. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Erskine May online

Thomas Erskine May
"Parliamentary Practice" is the title of the late Thomas Erskine May's authoritative and influential work on parliamentary procedure and constitutional conventions affecting Parliament.  Rather than a set of rules, Erskine May is a description of how procedure in the House of Commons and House of Lords has evolved and the conventions that apply.

Now in its 25th Edition, Erskine May is published online via Parliament's website - HERE.  It continues to be available in printed form.

Thomas Erskine May himself was born in 1815 and became Clerk of the House of Commons in 1871.  He served in that post until shortly before his death in 1886.  His work

Monday, 1 July 2019

20 years of devolution

Scottish Parliament
The Scotland Act 1998 section 1(1) states - "There shall be a Scottish Parliament."

The newly created Scottish Parliament was formally opened by HM The Queen on 12 May 1999 and the Parliament assumed its legislative powers on 1 July 1999.  It was the first time since March 1707 that Scotland had its own Parliament.  The creation of the Parliament resulted from demands for constitutional change that went back as far as the mid 19th century.

Further demands for constitutional change

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Lord Sumption - Reith Lectures 2019

In January 2012, Lord Sumption was appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court directly from the Bar.  In December 2018 he reached the compulsory retirement age of 70 years and had to retire even though he can be invited to sit as a member of the court until he reaches age 75 - See his Valedictory via the Supreme Court website.  In May 2017, Lord Neuberger said - “ ... the situation is demonstrably illogical as judges who must retire at 70 are able to sit as part-time judges until reaching 75, and people can be jurors until 75.”

Lord Sumption has delivered the BBC's annual Reith Lectures

Monday, 24 June 2019

Human Rights in the UK

European Convention on Human Rights
An overview of the position regarding "human rights" in the UK.

Rights in general - a basic note:

There appears to be no universally agreed definition of  the terms "right" (or "rights") but the concept of rights is important and there is an abundance of literature in which numerous legal thinkers have sought to analyse and explain rights.

At a basic level. a right appears