Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Miscellany of news

The sentencing of  Abid Saffique and Mohammed Liaqat was looked at in the post Despicable Crimes.  A former senior police officers has said that his force was afraid to talk in public about this offending because of the fear of being branded "institutionally racist" - see Daily Mail 12th January 2011.  The phrase "institutional racism" was discussed at some length in the report of the Macpherson Inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence murder.  The Manchester Evening News 11th January reported that there was a Police probe into claims that a gang was grooming young girls for sex in Rochdale.

Former MP David Chaytor MP was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for his false accounting.  A further MP - Mr Eric Illsley - has pleaded guilty to 3 counts of false accounting in connection with claims for parliamentary expenses made in the period 2005-8 - see The Guardian 11th January.  He is to be sentenced in about 4 weeks time.  It is also reported that he will be resigning as an MP which will trigger a by-election in the safe Labour seat of Barnsley Central - Politics UK

Control Orders continue to be under debate
within the government.  They clearly have their supporters and there are those who would ideally wish to seem them scrapped.  A principled stance would be based on the State doing no more than is necessary to deal with any substantial terrorist threat.  However, some form of compromise solution seems likely.  Guardian 12th January 2011.

Other legal blogs continue to be busy.  UK Human Rights has looked at the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutshland case which is before the Court of Justice of the EU - see "A Ferrari with its doors locked shut."  The case concerns the "standing" of environmental pressure groups to take legal action.  The opinion of Advocate-General Sharpston is interesting and favours the pressure groups.  The Court does not have to accept this opinion but they are frequently very influential and are often accepted. 

Marilyn Stowe looks at "Why I couldn't watch the Eastenders cot death episode" and also at "Prenuptial Agreements and the Law Commission."  Head of Legal's first post of 2011 looks at the Employment Tribunal ruling in O'Reilly v BBC - a successful claim based on age discrimination.

The Magistrates' Blog - (Sentence Construction) - has an interesting debate about the sentence of 32 months imprisonment handed down to Edward Woollard (age 18) who threw a fire extinguisher from a roof during the student tuition fees protest - see CNN 11th January.  Mr Woollard pleaded guilty to violent disorder and was persuaded by his mother to go to the Police.  Some consider this to be an exceptionally harsh sentence in those circumstances and I tend to agree.  Nevertheless, as Judge Rivlin QC pointed out, it was particularly dangerous conduct which could have had fatal consequences.  In considering the seriousness of any offence, the court has to consider the offender's culpability in committing the offence and any harm which the offence caused, was intended to cause or might foreseeabily have caused - Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.143.  It is clear that the Judge had "deterrence" in mind as perhaps the principal sentencing purpose - see CJA 2003 s.142.  Nevertheless, I would not be at all surprised if there is an appeal against sentence in this case.

Lawthink is a site which I confess to just having discovered and it is an Aladdin's cave of interesting posts.  Some of the more recent are about Prisoner's Voting Rights, whether squatting is justifiable, Police Intelligence and Control Order reform.

The Wikileaks founder, Mr Julian Assange, returned to Westminster Magistrates' Court where his bail conditions were varied and made less restrictive.  Lawyers filed a "provisional skeleton argument" with the court.  In the 35 page document, an array of interesting arguments are deployed.   One such argument is at para. 98 - "It is submitted that there is a real risk that, if extradited to Sweden, the US will seek his extradition and/or illegal rendition to the USA, where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, in conditions which would breach Article 3 of the ECHR. Indeed, if Mr. Assange were rendered to the USA, without assurances that the death penalty would not be carried out, there is a real risk that he could be made subject to the death penalty. It is well-known that prominent figures have implied, if not stated outright, that Mr. Assange should be executed."  The Westminster court will hear the expedition application on 7-8 February 2011.

Addendum 13th January:  "Judge wrong in sentencing Edward Woollard" - The Guardian.

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