Monday, 31 January 2011

Should suspects be named in the media ... and other matters

The first arrest in connection with the murder of Joanna Yeates was that of the former teacher Mr Chris Jefferies.  His arrest and detention became the focus of media attention and he undoubtedly suffered from some abysmal journalism.  Subsequently, Mr Jefferies was NOT charged.  The Attorney-General did not act against the media - ( Contempt of Court Act 1981 ) -  though he reminded the media about the need for responsible reporting.  It would be contempt of court for media reports of criminal proceedings to be such that they create a substantial risk that the course of justice in the proceedings in question will be seriously impeded or prejudiced.  Criminal proceedings are "active" for this purpose once a person is arrested without warrant. 

In June 2010 the Anonymity (Arrested Persons) Bill received its first reading in the House of Commons and a second reading is scheduled for 4th February 2011.  This is a private member's bill introduced (well before the Yeates case) by Anna Soubry MP but it looks as if Kenneth Clarke (Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor) and Dominic Grieve (Attorney-General) are now lending the bill their support.  If it becomes law then we, the public, would not know who has been arrested for questioning by the Police.  People would "disappear" for a time whilst questioning takes place.  Naturally, that would save suspects a lot of embarrassment arising from irresponsible media behaviour but perhaps the proper answer to this lies in the Attorney being bolder using his powers under the 1981 Act to take action against irresponsible reporting?

Opposition to the Public Bodies Bill continues.  The latest media report relates to the intended sale of some 638,000 acres of forest.  See The Guardian 30th January.   Law and Lawyers looked at the Public Bodies Bill here and here.  The coalition government has also been having difficulties in the House of Lords with the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill (here) - The Guardian 31st January.  Aspects of this Bill are seen as politically damaging to the Labour Party.

Employment Tribunals - (Law and Lawyers here) - continue to be in the news since Mr Vince Cable announced plans for reforms - The Guardian 27th January.   The "Of Interest to Lawyers" blog is taking a particular interest in this matter - see their posts here and here.  The crucial reform seems to be that an employee will have to work a 2 year qualifying period before being entitled to bring an unfair dismissal claim.  The present period is 12 months.  It is also planned to

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Criminal Procedure Rules in the Magistrates' Courts No.1 - A sea change in due process - Background and Overriding Objective

Criminal Procedure Rules (Crim PR) have been with us since 4th April 2005.  The latest version is April 2010 with a further amendment in October 2010 - see Ministry of Justice.  In August 2010 a revised Preparation for Trial form was issued for use in Magistrates' Courts.  Further amendments to the rules take effect on 4th April 2011.  It seems that the rules have gradually come into the consciousness of those who administer and practise in the criminal courts.  Just what are these rules and how do they apply in Magistrates' Courts?

The rules were introduced to address problems of delay in dealing with cases since delay is costly and adversely affects witnesses and the general administration of justice.  Magistrates' Courts are a "summary" jurisdiction and cases ought to be progressed as speedily as possible consistent with the need to ensure a fair trial.   The Courts Act 2003 s.69 legislated for the CrimPR and they have to be read in conjunction with other relevant law such as the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) and the Consolidated Criminal Practice Direction issued by the Lord Chief Justice.  The CPIA Part 1 deals with the thorny topic of "disclosure" and the Act was extensively amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 but those amendments only apply where the investigation into the offence commenced on or after 4th April 2005 - ("Older" investigations need not concern us here).  The CPIA 1996 Part 1 is applicable in all trials in Magistrates' Courts (both adult and youth) as well as in the Crown Court - (see CPIA 96 s.1)  

The CrimPR commence with an "Overriding Objective"  - Rule 1 which is to deal with cases "justly" and this is further amplified in the Rules.  The court must further the overriding objective by actively managing each case (Rule 3.2).  Further, the participants must

Justice Makers - Essential Viewing

The BBC's "Justice Makers" is a fascinating and unique insight into the Supreme Court of the U.K.   There is much to be commended in the programme in which four of the court's Justices (Lords Phillips, Hope, Kerr and Lady Hale) take a central part.    It is essential viewing whether the viewer is a lawyer or not! 

Their backgrounds and personalities of the four justices are revealed.  How the court makes its decisions is examined and several of the recent high profile cases are discussed including the M.P.s accused of making false claims; bank charges on overdrafts; pre-nuptial agreements and control orders.  There are several rather personal touches as well.  Lady Hale (the only female justice) hoped that the others would "forgive" her for disagreeing with them about pre-nuptial agreements.  Lord Kerr admired the "nimble footedness of counsel" as they change tack during argument before the court.  Lord Hope likes to go home to write his judgments since it is more peaceful there than the hurly-burly of London.  At the end of the programme there is a feeling that we are more than fortunate to have this court which is clearly committed to maintaining the rule of law with cases decided by independently-minded people.

BBC Four - "The Highest Court in the Land:  Justice Makers" - "They are the UK's most powerful arbiters of justice and now, for the first time, four of the Justices of the Supreme Court talk frankly and openly about the nature of justice and how they make their decisions. The film offers a revealing glimpse of the human characters behind the judgments and explores why the Supreme Court and its members are fundamental to our democracy."

Addendum:  The BBC programme may only be viewed up to 6th February.
For a much more detailed analysis of the programme see Lallands Peat Worrier.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

A new direction for the Police ? Sir Hugh Orde on the future of ACPO and comments about protests and undercover officers

Sir Hugh Orde - President of the Association of Chief Police Officers - has set out a view that there is a "strong case" for looking at reconfiguring Police structures to match evolving threats and risk to the public in the 21st century - see ACPO website - " Opportunity to set a new direction."  Sir Hugh clearly sees a future role for ACPO as a forum to enabling a corporate approach by which standards guiding Policing can be established or developed.   He also sees it having a future as a coordinating body when an "effective, coordinating policing response" is required.   He argues for a clear accountability structure and wishes to move ACPO away from limited company status.  Finally, he defends undercover police work which

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Control Orders to become T-Pims : A rose by any other name ?

".. that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet ..." Romeo and Juliet Act II Scene II - William Shakespeare

The Home Secretary has announced the outcome of the Review of Counter-terrorism and Security Powers.  Alongside the review is a report by Lord Macdonald of River Glaven QC who provided independent oversight of the review process. 

The review looked at 6 powers: 
  • Detention of suspects before charge; 
  • Stop and Search and Photography; 
  • use by local authorities of powers in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA); 
  • measures to deal with organisations which promote hatred; 
  • Deportation with assurances
  • control orders.

The review found that some of the powers were neither proportionate nor necessary and certain changes are now planned.  A return to 14 days as the standard maximum period of detention before charge or release; amendment of the terrorism stop and search powers so that they are available only in more limited situations; greater restrictions on the use by local authorities of RIPA 2000 (including magistrate authorisation); stronger effort to deport foreign nationals involved in terrorist activities; replacement of the control order system with new "terrorism prevention and investigation measures" (T-Pim).  

In addition to this, the Home Secretary has made it clear that further areas are to be reviewed.  These include use of powers in Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and how more use can be made of intercept evidence in court.

Many will welcome what, on its face, seems to be a more proportionate response to some of the undoubted problems being faced at the leading edge of fighting terrorism.  Study of the detail will, as always, be necessary in order to draw more considered conclusions.  The commitment

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Secrecy in Civil Cases ... (Mis)use of Libel actions ... Law Commission report

The political and legal philospher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) wrote - "In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing ... Publicity is the very soul of justice ... it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial."   This famous statement is being sorely tested by British justice.This week the Supreme Court is hearing three linked appeals which may be referred to as Al Rawi v Security Service (or just Al Rawi) - see The Guardian 24th January 2011.

In the High Court, Silber J had to decide a preliminary issue in a civil action brought against the British government by Mr. Bisher Al Rawi and 6 other claimants.  The issue was whether it was open to a court in England and Wales, in the absence of statutory authority, to order a closed material procedure for the trial of a civil claim.  Silber J decided that issue in favour of the government (i.e. Security Service and others) - here is Silber J's judgment.  In short, SilberJ thought that statutory authority was not required.  The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) was having none of this.  Statutory authority was required.   See the Court of Appeal judgment - Lord Neuberger MR, Maurice Kay and Sullivan LJJ.  According to the Court of Appeal it would be wrong  for judges to introduce into ordinary civil trials a procedure which cut across absolutely fundamental principles of open justice and the right of a person to know the evidence being adduced by the other side.  The proposed procedure would also cause problems with the established law relating to public interest immunity (PII).  The Court of Appeal left open the question of whether a closed material procedure could properly be adopted, in the absence of statutory sanction, where all the parties agreed to it, or in a civil claim involving a substantial public interest dimension. That was an issue which should be considered as and when it arose.

The preferable course in this area would seem to be for Parliament to address the matter and to enact appropriate legislation.  In November 2010, Kenneth Clarke

Monday, 24 January 2011

(1) Man remanded over Yeates murder - (2) Discrimination in provision of services

A man has been charged with the murder in December 2010 of Jo Yeates.  He is Vincent Tabak and has been remanded in custody by Bristol Magistrates' Court.  The actual case may not be discussed since proceedings are "active" but it is of interest to note that, since an amendment to the law which commenced in 2010, a Magistrates' Court may not consider a bail application in a murder case (Coroners and Justice Act 2009 s.115).  Hence, under s.51 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the magistrates "sent" the case to the Crown Court where it is possible for bail to be considered.  Where a case is triable only in the Crown Courts, the appearance before Magistrates is now very brief and the juridiction of Magistrates is limited.  It is an historical survival of committal proceedings which were previously necessary in all cases.

The first man arrested - but NOT charged - in connection with this murder case was Mr Chris Jefferies who has received what on any view must be unacceptable treatment by the media.  It is unclear whether he still remains on bail as this detail seems to have been forgotten by most media reports.   See Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Channel 4 News.  The Attorney-General issued a "warning" to the media about this publicity.

Last week saw the County Court decision concerning the right of two "gay men" (who are in a civil partnership) to receive goods and services without discrimination.  An excellent coverage of this case by Catriona Murdoch is to be found at the UK Human Rights Blog - "A Cornish Hotel and the conflict between discrimination law and religious freedom."  Catriona Murdoch is a pupil barrister at 1 Crown Office Row.  The owners of the hotel argued that they acted on their religious beliefs but it seems that such beliefs count for little in the face of the law relating to discrimination - Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.   Some media reports have suggested that this was some kind of "sting" operation but the County Court Judge said there was no evidence to support that.

An interesting "angle" arises as a result of this case.  It is whether human rights are becoming increasingly capable of

Friday, 21 January 2011

Allow me to introduce ....

Mrs. Edith Brickhill.  She is 92 years of age and partially sighted.  Someone attacked her at her home and stole £30 from her purse.  She has been targeted a number of times previously and is now afraid to return to her home of 40 years.  It is reported here that a man has been arrested on "suspicion of assault."    Of course, assault is a possible charge and this could be charged as common assault (triable only by magistrates with a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment) or assault occasioning actual bodily harm (Offences against the Person Act 1861 s.47  - maximum sentence, if tried at Crown Court, 7 years imprisonment).  A further possible charge would be robbery (Theft Act 1968 s.8 - triable only at Crown Court - maximum sentence life imprisonment). I know which I would go for.  It will be interesting

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Appeals following Judge only trial and convictions are dismissed

Appeals by Twomey, Blake, Hibberd and Cameron have been dismissed by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) - judgment here.  In 2004 they were involved in a robbery at Heathrow Airport - (see the previous post on Law and Lawyers) - and on 31st March 2010 they were convicted by a High Court Judge sitting without a jury.  This form of trial is permissible in limited circumstances under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.44.  Earlier trials had been abandoned due to jury tampering.  The Lord Chief Justice remarked that when criminals subvert or attempt to subvert the process of trial by jury they have no justified complaint if they are deprived of it.

Campers in Parliament Square and in Parliament ... Sentencing of Edward Woollard ... Prisoners voting

It has been an interesting few days in London.  Protesters in Parliament Square have been given letters stating that legal action will be taken against them if they continue to obstruct pavements - see  BBC 17th January.  Of course, Ministers are on record as saying that these protesters have to be cleared away so that they do not spoil the Royal wedding procession (Telegraph 25th November 2010).  Meanwhile, it seems that peers of the realm have been camping within the House of Lords - see BBC 18th January.  Peers allied to the Labour Party have opposed the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill which seeks to reduce the number of Parliamentary Constituencies from 650 to 600 and to change to the "Alternative Vote" (AV) system.  The Labour Party is concerned that this will be to the electoral benefit of the Conservative and perhaps Liberal Democrat parties.  They may be right but, it should be noted, Labour enjoys a bias in the system as it is at present.  Given that the Bill seeks to make a major constitutional change, it would have been preferable for it to have undergone a phase of "pre-legislative scrutiny."   There is a serious question over how constitutional change is being managed and such changes ought not to be made for political advantage.  If the Bill goes through, the electorate will be able to vote on 5th May in a referendum to choose between "first-past-the-post" and the "alternative vote."

Whilst on the topical subject of protest, Law and Lawyers recently touched on the 32 month sentence handed down to Edward Woollard who, during protests

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Royal Wedding .... but what if .... how frustrating !

It is reported that hotels on the intended route of the Royal Wedding planned for April 2011 are doing a roaring trade - see Daily Mail 19th January 2011.   It will be a great day in London and a national holiday.  What would be the position if, having booked a room on the route in order to watch the procession, the wedding was called off for some reason or the route was altered?

An interesting old series of cases in the law of contract offers a clue to the answer.  They are collectively known as the Coronation cases since they arose out of the cancelled Coronation of King Edward VII (1841-1910) which was initially planned for 26th June 1902.  It was cancelled because Edward developed appendicitis.  The Coronation eventually took place in August.

In Krell v Henry 1903, the defendant had agreed to hire a flat with a good view

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Climate Change Protests - No.4 - Role of ACPO to be changed

It is reported that the Home Office Minister of State - Mr Nick Herbert MP has informed the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee that the role of the Association  of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in relation to control of any operational police units is to be brought to an end.  This follows (a) concern about the role of ACPO in the control of certain unit set up to combat "extremism" - see Climate Change Protest No. 3 and also, to be fair, (b) some concern within ACPO itself about the accountability of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).   Mr Herbert has particular responsibility within the Home Office for Policing and Criminal Justice.   This indication of a move to ensure that there is political and legal accountability for these activities is to be welcomed.  It appears that changes will be made to ensure that either a "lead Police Force" or the yet-to-be-created National Crime Agency will assume responsibility for these activities.  (See also Policing in the 21st Century).

It also appears that the Association of Police Authorities (APA) has decided that it no longer has the funds to provide money to ACPO - see The Guardian 18th January 2011.  The Home Secretary has written to them to request a reconsideration of this decision but, of course, you either have the cash or you don't !!  The government has proposed the abolition of the Police Authorities and intends to have elected Police Commissioners instead - see Police and Social Responsibility Bill.  The APA opposes those proposals and refers to the Police Commissioners as "US-style solo sheriffs" - see their Press release.

Monday, 17 January 2011

(1) Courtesy Titles - (2) Lord Kilmuir - (3) "Drugalysers" - (4) Human rights and media comment

Many in the nation are struggling to cope with ever-rising fuel costs; increasing inflation; minimal return on savings; job losses and cuts or axeing of various public services.  "Access to justice" is being made difficult by cuts to legal aid and the closure of many local courts.  Despite all of that, there is anger over courtesy titles for supreme court justices.  When our ultimate court was the House of Lords (Appellate Committee) it was necessary that the Lords of Appeal In Ordinary - (commonly known as Law Lords) - were peers of the realm.  It was argued that a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom should be created in order to separate the judiciary from the legislature.  Separation of the powers is the Supreme Court's raison d'etre.    Naturally enough, the first Justices of the Supreme Court were the previous "Law Lords."   However, it was not seen as necessary that any new Supreme Court Justices would receive a peerage.  Sir John Dyson was the first such appointment and he was not ennobled.  However, HM The Queen has recently agreed that he could have the courtesy title of "Lord."  Future appointees will be known as "Lord" or "Lady" but will not have peerages.  The wife of such a "Lord" will be known as "Lady" but she would be known as "Lady" anyway if her husband was already a "knight."  However, it seems that the husband of a "Lady" would not become a "Lord."  Civil partners would also be disadvantaged.

The estimable Jack of Kent blog takes a look at the interesting career of Lord Kilmuir (David Maxwell-Fyfe) who was one of the British prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials.  Maxwell-Fyfe's effective and ultimately destructive cross-examination of Hermann Goering is still considered

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Climate change protesters - No.3 - I was just wondering ...

The former Police Officer (Mark Kennedy) who infiltrated climate change activists has sold his story to the Mail on Sunday.  Such stories are almost always self-serving but it is an interesting account - see Mail Sunday 16th January 2010.  A second trial was due to commence on 10th January but was dropped when the prosecution offered no evidence.  The 6 defendants at the second trial denied involvement in a conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass.

It is now the law that a conspiracy charge may only be brought where the agreement is to commit a criminal offence.  At common law this was not the case.  For example, conspiracy to trespass was indictable as in Kamara v DPP 1973 (House of Lords).  Indeed, in certain circumstances, a conspiracy to commit any tort might have amounted to a crime.  Clearly, provided that which is agreed between the conspirators is an "aggravated trespass", modern law allows the same result as in the Kamara case.

The fictional Los Angeles detective (Lt. Columbo) used to say - "I was wondering ..."  These events leave one wondering just what the answers to certain questions might be:

1.  Precisely why

Friday, 14 January 2011

A Year On .... Yorkshire Ripper to serve "whole life" ... more on the climate change case

Law and Lawyers blog is one year old - hence the little birthday card.  It has been an interesting year and 2011 promises to be even more challenging as various policies and legal changes begin to take effect.   The very first post on this blog hoped that, from time to time, the blog would throw at least a little light on the laws which govern us and the lawyers who implement those laws.  That will continue to be the aim of the blog.

Criminal Conduct at the extreme end of horror

Peter William Coonan (formerly Peter Sutcliffe - labelled "The Yorkshire Ripper") made an application to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) against the "whole life order" which was imposed in July 2010 by Mitting J.  He was convicted in 1981 of the murders of 13 women in West Yorkshire in the period October 1975 to November 1980.  He pleaded guilty to the attempted murders of 7 others.  The trial judge - Boreham J -

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

Monday, 10 January 2011

Climate change protesters - No. 2 - Further trial collapsed and Undercover police officer

The post immediately below looked at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar protesters case which completed at the Crown Court in Nottingham last week. A further trial was set to commence of six others alleged to have been involved but it now appears that "it is no longer in the public interest" to continue with their trial.  The use by the Police of an "undercover agent" has come to light - see The Guardian 9th January "Undercover officer spied on green activists" and The Guardian 10th January - "A journey from undercover cop to 'bona fide' activist."   The defence in the second trial sought disclosure of details of the officer's involvement.  Subsequently, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) stated that they would abandon the case.  According to the report in The Guardian, the CPS referred to "previously unavailable information" which undermined its case.  The exact nature of that "information"is not all that clear but it may be that the officer had offered to testify for the defence.

Mike Schwarz, a solicitor at the Bindmans law firm who represented the protesters, said:

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Climate protesters sentenced

Climate Change protesters were sentenced in the Crown Court at Nottingham for conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass  - This is Nottingham 5th January 2011.   Aggravated trespass is defined in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 s.68.   Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to commit a criminal offence (Criminal Law Act 1977 s.1) and conspiracies are triable only in the Crown Court.   Sentencing for conspiracy is covered by the Criminal Law Act 1977 s.3

The case is discussed on the UK Human Rights Blog -Climate Defence - a Wild Way Forward.   The case is interesting because the protesters argued in their defence that their action was aimed at prevention of the greater harm which will be caused by continuing operation of this form of power station.  In short, they claimed that their action was "necessary" to prevent such harm.

Despicable crimes

Two men - Abid Saddique and Mohammed Liaqat - have been sentenced by the Crown Court at Nottingham to indefinite detention in relation to serious offences involving "grooming" and subsequent sexual offending against teenage girls - BBC News 7th January 2011.   Girls were given presents, alcohol or drugs before being forced to have sex in cars, rented houses or hotels across the Midlands.  The men were both sentenced to indefinite imprisonment with Saddique to serve a minimum of 11 years and Liaqat a minimum of 8.  Six other men had been sentenced earlier.  A widespread pattern of similar offending was revealed earlier this week by The Times newspaper.  The offending ranged across Central Lancashire, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and extended southwards into Derbyshire and the Midlands.  It remains to be seen whether the revelations in The Times will result in any concerted action by government to deal with what is accepted by responsible members of all communities to be a serious problem.

Interestingly, in July 2010, the government announced that the Serious Organised Crime Agency would be abolished

Employment Tribunals - interesting media coverage this week

Employment Tribunals have received an interesting and mostly critical "press" this week.  These tribunals deal with many types of employment-related claims; the law is complex and frequent changes are made.  A very interesting discussion may be heard on BBC's Radio 4 - "Employment tribunals broken"

The programme discusses matters such as

Friday, 7 January 2011

18 months imprisonment for former M.P. David Chaytor.

Saunders J has sentenced Mr David Chaytor to 18 months imprisonment on 3 counts of false accounting contrary to the Theft Act 1968 s.17.  The charges related to Parliamentary expenses claims.  Interestingly, David Chaytor was granted a 25% discount on sentence for his guilty plea.  The sentencing remarks of Saunders J are available and offer a good example of how sentencing is now approached in the English courts - read them here

Along with Eliot Morley and Jim Devine, Mr Chaytor argued that only Parliament could deal with the matter.  This argument was based on either the Bill of Rights 1689 or on an "exclusive jurisdiction" of Parliament but this was rejected by the Supreme Court.  The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) had also rejected the Bill of Rights argument.  Mr Chaytor pleaded guilty after the Supreme Court delivered judgment.

Previous posts on this subject include: 1st December 2010 and  October 2010.   The sentencing of Mr Chaytor is also looked at on the UK Human Rights Blog.

Addendum 8th January:   Mark Leech (Editor of ConVerse) wrote in The Guardian - "What can David Chaytor expect now that he has been sentenced?"   Leech describes the process of admission to prison but concludes his article with this comment - "He should keep a diary from day one – if other 'dishonourable members' are any example to follow, there is money to be made once the darkest days are over."

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Control Orders

The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (PTA 2005) created "control orders."  Parliament decided that the exceptional power to make such orders had to be renewed each year and, unless renewed, they will expire on 11th March 2011.  On 2nd January, The Guardian reported that Human Rights Groups across the world were condemning the U.K. for using these orders - see "Britain's anti-terror control orders condemned as trademarks of despots."   Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is thought to favour retention of control orders and that is certainly the view of Lord Carlile of Berriew QC who has been the independent reviewer of the operation of this legislation.  The Police, Security Services and a number of former Home Secretaries are in agreement.  Prior to the 2010 General Election, the Liberal Democrats had stated their opposition to retaining control orders.

Mr Justice Silber addressed the Bar Council conference on 6th November 2010  and his short speech

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Police Powers - Bail

A man was held by Police for questioning in connection with the Joanna Yeates murder.   Later, he was released on bail.  He has not been charged and the basis for the bail has not, so far as I know, been published.  I do not wish to comment about this case further but it made me look again at the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 - commonly referred to as PACE.   At first, I looked at the powers of the Police relating to the duration of detention - see here.   Of course, many years ago (or, so it seems) the Police had to either charge someone or let them go free without bail.  This is certainly not the present position.  Parliament has seen fit to gradually extend Police powers and it is possible for persons to be questioned by the Police and then released on bail - usually to have to return to the Police Station at some specified date.  Sometimes there can be conditions attaching to such bail and these may be quite onerous.  The bail may last for a considerable time.  In none of this has any court become involved.  These are Police powers.

Underpinning any decision relating to bail

Monday, 3 January 2011

Blawg Review - a Magnum Opus by CharonQC and a few other offerings

The CharonQC blog has published an excellent "tour de force" review of a considerable (nay, vast) number of Law Blogs (Blawgs) covering numerous subjects.  Described by UK Human Rights blog as a Magnum Opus and by Family Lore as an epic it is well worth reading so pour yourself a glass and begin -  Blawg Review #292 by CharonQC.

The Magistrates' Blog has been looking at the trouble at HMP Ford and also at some of the highly unsatisfactory media reporting relating to the man held by the Police for questioning over the Joanna Yeates murder.  The man has been released on bail. 

It is good to see that the team responsible for UK Human Rights blog are now back in chambers (or, at least, at their keyboards) and one looks forward to their splendid posts continuing in 2011.   "Human rights" is under attack from certain quarters.  Perhaps the attackers might like to tell us, as suggested

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year 2011 - What lies ahead and a Toast to Health and Peace

2011 is with us.  What will it bring?  One of the fascinations of law is that we do not entirely know but the year began in very difficult economic circumstances.   Sound management of the economy is now crucial and it is interesting that, against such a background, the government appears to have something of an obsession with constitutional reform.

Many public bodies will be axed under the Public Bodies Bill - see A Breathtaking Bill of which even Henry VIII would have been proud.   Greater powers will be handed to local government