Monday, 12 November 2012

Stories for Monday morning

Here is my selection of five stories this Monday morning.

In Kent, a 19 year old man was arrested - The Guardian 12th November - after a picture of a burning poppy was posted on a social networking website.  The arrest was on suspicion of "malicious communications."  This arrest comes as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is preparing to release interim guidelines for prosecution of offences on social media.  Unless there is something about the case which has not yet been published, this appears to be an exceptionally heavy-handed arrest.  One might have thought that one of the reasons that World War II was fought was to preserve a right to free speech (freedom of expression) within proper limits.  Good read - UK Crime Blog

The BBC is melting down with its Director-General resigning and calls for the resignation of its Chairman (Lord Patten). A possible legal issue to watch here is the publication on Newsnight of comment relating to the Conservative Peer Lord McAlpine - The Guardian 9th November.

Addendum 20th November - The McAlpine libel developed with the BBC settling his claim for £185,000 plus costs.  Other defendants are possible including several who referred to Lord McAlpine on Twitter. 

Today, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission is to give its judgment in the Abu Qatada (Omar Othman) case.  AQ faces deportation to Jordan.  The issues in the case are very well explained at BBC News UK.

Addendum: Abu Qatada won his appeal - the SIAC judgment is here.  This is the OPEN judgment.  There is also a closed judgment with closed reasons.  The government will appeal to the Court of Appeal though such appeals have to be on points of law only.

The government has sought to boost its case in favour of the Justice and Security Bill by claiming that mounting damages claims which have to be settled out of court mean that the closed material procedures in the Bill are needed -  The Guardian 12th November.  In fairness, this has always been the government's position.  They argue that the sensitivity of certain material means that it cannot be simply presented in open court and therefore it is becoming necessary to settle certain cases without a judge being able to consider the government's evidence.

This Thursday, the electorate have the opportunity to vote for the new Police and Crime Commissioners.  Media reports suggest that the voting turnout will be very low.  One would hope not.  However, the implementation of this supposedly flag-ship and very important reform of Policing has been absymal.  Few people have any idea who the candidates are and information about candidates has been hardly forthcoming.  Thus, voters are likely to vote on the usual political party lines.  This may come to bear out concerns about the politicisation of the Police.  The Police Foundation has a list of candidates as of 31st October 2012.    The concerns of some senior Police Officers are referred to in The Guardian 11th November - Gag on police in commissioner elections frustrates senior officers   Good read - The Guardian - Police and Crime Commissioners: hard lessons in a softly softly election

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