Friday, 23 September 2011

Friday Roundup 23rd September - Autumn Equinox !!

Autumn Equinox explained

August disorder - Appeals 

The first tranche of appeals in relation to the August disorder cases are to be heard by the Court of Appeal next week - BBC 21st September.    In relation to these events, Law and Lawyers looked at bail and sentencing on 20th August - "The recent disorder: bail and sentencing."  It will be interesting to see whether the Court of Appeal basically upholds the sentencing guidance developed in the Crown Court during the immediate aftermath of the disorder.

Meanwhile, the Police are continuing their investigations with a view to further prosecutions and a number of media organisations have passed on footage to the Police.  It appears that production orders under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.9 have been obtained in some instances - see The Guardian 22nd September.


The Law Society Gazette 22nd September asks whether the Police are abusing bail rules - "Police 'abusing' bail rules."  There is considerable concern that many people are being kept on bail for an inordinate amount of time and the Law Society is gathering evidence of cases where pre-charge bail has exceeded 6 months in duration.  Bail can be accompanied by onerous bail conditions.  This review follows the Police (Detention and Bail) Act 2011 which was hurriedly passed in the aftermath of the Hookway case - Law and Lawyers - Police (Detention and Bail) Bill - July 2011.

Telephone Gateway to legal advice

When a person is arrested and taken to a Police Station, the question of legal advice / representation usually arises.  The Criminal Solicitor blog has done an excellent job in raising the profile of Clause 12 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO).  The government wishes to establish a telephone gateway system and to "means test" advice.  Please read "If you would like legal advice press #1 ..." and "Just one reason why telephone advice is not good enough."   The story was taken up by CharonQC in a podcast with John Cooper QC - please listen to "Lawcast 197: John Cooper QC on legal aid and the pernicious effect of Clause 12 LASPO."

It is surprising how, sometimes, people think that they can look after themselves in the Police Station.    For example, The Guardian reported on 20th September that Stepping Hill nurse Rebecca Leighton "initially refused to have a solicitor present during questioning as she felt she had nothing to hide" - see "Stepping Hill nurse criticises media over arrest ordeal."

As the link to Criminal Solicitor blog demonstrates, timely
legal advice can prevent many problems arising later and some of those problems can be very costly to put right.  I would urge readers to consider this matter and to let your MP know your views.  Time is pressing.  The Bill will soon be going to the House of Lords where Lord McNally (Minister of State, Ministry of Justice) seems to be insisting that the Bill goes through unchanged.   According to an article in the Law Society Gazette, compromise is not on Lord McNallys' agenda - "Lib Dem dissenters told LASPO reforms will go ahead."   How democratic !!  The Law Society Gazette also reports that the "Telephone gateway plan could face judicial review."

The blogs

A new blog has been created to look at the History of Law.  This is written in a straightforward easy to read style.  It is both interesting and informative.

Eutopia Law is produced by Matrix Chambers European Union law group and "aims at commenting selectively on interesting developments in EU law, particularly as they affect lawyers’ practice areas, and at contributing to the debate on topical issues."

UK Constitutional Law Group looks at "Constitutional Principles and the Human Rights Act" - (Professor Gavin Phillipson, Durham University).  This is not an entirely easy article but I would recommend it to the student who really wishes to consider the relationship between traditional principles of the UK Constitution and the Human Rights Act 1998.  Just how far does the Act allow the judges to go?  Is the way the Act is applied actually leading to subtle changes to our constitutional arrangements?

UK Human Rights Blog has many recent posts including "Prisoner votes and the democratic deficit" (Adam Wagner 20th September) which looks at how the UK government has bought itself extra time in relation to implementation of prisoner voting.

Jack of Kent considered the execution, in Georgia USA, of Troy Davis.  This is widely considered to be a major travesty of justice - The Guardian 21st September - "Ten reasons why Troy Davis should not be executed."   A further appalling execution of a minor - Alireza Molla-Soltani - took place in Iran and was widely condemned - see Foreign and Commonwealth Office statement.

Finally for today, Beneath the Wig takes us back to the topic of advice to people held in Police Stations - "It's not just 'them', it's you and me too."  As the blog states -

"I know some people will read this and discount it, because in their heads, criminals are not like them, and innocent people are never arrested, so they don’t have to think about those that end up in police stations, and therefore won’t turn their minds to how they would afford a representative."

This proposal takes a reckless risk with the rights of the citizen when arrested.  Please do not be complacent.  Contact your M.P. and object.

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