Monday, 22 November 2010

A few news items - Monday 22nd November 2010

The government has lost its application for judicial review of the July 7/7 Inquest ruling that "interested persons" (usually relatives of the deceased) could not be excluded from the inquest even when the interests of national security are at stake even though the general public may be excluded.  The Guardian 22nd November 2010. The question for the High Court was whether the Acting Coroner (Lady Justice Hallett) made a legally correct ruling on this point.  Judicial review is not concerned with the question of whether "interested parties" ought to be excluded when such evidence is to be presented.  The Secretary of State for Justice has already announced that there will be a "Green paper" in 2011 which will contain proposals to address the whole issue of legal proceedings and national security issues.  The Guardian has been taking a look at the speech made by Lord Justice Gross - see Guardian 22nd November.  See also UK Human Rights Blog which discusses this matter.

It seems that there will be a further appeal in the Paul Chambers case - see here.  He was convicted - under the Communications Act 2003 s.127 - for "tweeting" in relation to Doncaster (Robin Hood) Airport being closed by snow in the early part of 2010.  His "tweet" said - "Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your s*** together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"  However frustrated Mr Chambers may have been, his "tweet" was ill-advised.  Nevertheless, did it amount to the offence charged?  The key case on s. 127 is  DPP v Collins [2006] UKHL 40.    At a first reading of s.127 it appears that no "mens rea" (i.e. guilty state of mind) is required.  However, in DPP v Collins the House of Lords held otherwise when considering s.127(1)(a) - "A person is guilty of an offence if he - (a)  sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or .... etc.  Thus, on the basis of DPP v Collins, it ought to be for prosecution to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that the accused intended his "tweet" to be of a menacing character.  So far, a District Judge (Magistrates' Court) and, later, a Crown Court Judge (sitting with magistrates) have found that the prosecution have so proved the offence.  We'll see how this develops.  Meanwhile see New Statesman.

Turning to the coalition government, it is interesting that The Guardian has been "tracking" the various promises made by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties prior to the election.  Of course, it is not unusual for some election promises to have to give way in the face of the realpolitik which faces a government.  Nevertheless, the credibility of a party depends to some extent on whether it is able to deliver its promises once elected.

It is now 47 years since this happened.  In some ways, it only seems a few moments ago.

1 comment:

  1. The July 7th inquests are being researched here: