Yesterday, via Twitter, I came across a post on the "Now That's What I call History" blog of Dr Lucy Robinson - Persons Unknown. The blog highlights the forthcoming appearance, at Stratford Magistrates' Court, of Lisa Mckenzie. Dr Robinson wrote:
Lisa Mckenzie works as a research fellow at London School of Economics (LSE). Her webpage states:
" ..... my current research interests especially relate to the precarious nature of particular groups in our society and the vulnerability they experience through insecure housing, work, social benefits, health care, and education."
Mckenzie stood as a Parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green in the 2015 General Election. She fought the election campaign as a "Class War" candidate and achieved just 53 votes. Iain Duncan Smith was returned as MP with 20,999 votes and he is now Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. This blog is not the place to analyse his policies but it suffices to say that they are politically controversial and considered by many to be particularly detrimental to already vulnerable individuals. McKenzie's LSE webpage describes her role and goes on to say - "In addition to my academic work at the LSE I am a political and social activist engaging with local community protests, and campaigns ....." McKenzie also has a page on The Guardian website.
Beyond the information in the Lucy Robinson blog, we have no details of the charges against Mckenzie. Dr Robinson's post points to two topics of legal interest - (a) Criminal Behaviour Orders and (b) Joint Enterprise.
a) Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBO)
These came into force from 20th October 2014 and are the replacement for the former Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBO). The relevant legislation is the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 Part 2.
Section 22 commences:
Whether we are seeing here the use of the CBO as a method of preventing an individual from engaging in active protest remains to be seen.
If the court decides to issue a CBO it would have to be for a minimum of 2 years in the case of an adult offender. The maximum is 5 years.
Further information at Crown Prosecution Service - Criminal Behaviour Orders and at Home Office Statutory Guidance July 2014
Dr Robinson's blog states that McKenzie is charged on the basis of joint enterprise with "persons unknown." As Robinson's blog indicates:
Joint enterprise liability can apply to any offence but the more controversial convictions have arisen in murder cases. In an article for Criminal Law and Justice Weekly (Joint Enterprise Murder - 12th March 2015), Felicity Gerry QC wrote:
"Broadly speaking, the law on joint enterprise arises in 3 distinct situations:
(i) Two people at the same time about to commit the same crime as the same moment, so, for example, two people intend to kill the same person, and they both have weapons which they use against the victim at the same time. That victim dies from both of those wounds. In that case they are both murderers and therefore principal offenders. They have both committed to the victim’s death and with an intention to do so. They have acted on a joint enterprise. Here, the concept of joint enterprise is uncontroversial.
(ii) The second situation would be when one person commits murder as a principal offender but someone else either assists that murder intending to assist or encourage the murder. For example, if one person supplies a gun to the principal. This can be more complicated if the assister is far away from the crime but, subject to relevant evidence, again, assisting in this context is relatively uncontroversial.
(iii) It is the third situation where controversy lies: Say, for example; two people intend to commit a burglary, during the burglary one of them pulls out a knife and stabs the victim (who is also the occupant of the house) and the victim dies. The person who stabbed the victim will be the principal and will be charged as a murderer. That is not controversial.
However, the current state of English law says that the other person, who didn’t kill the deceased, will be convicted of murder, even though he didn’t in fact assist or encourage the murder, provided they foresaw the murder being committed . This means that, if an individual thinks the person he is going along with has a knife or a weapon or they might have a weapon or they might have a personality that might resort in violence and they do commit murder, then as long as at least one of those is foreseen as a possibility then the secondary party will be convicted of murder as well. In all of these cases, if conviction follows, then the sentence will be a mandatory life sentence."
The Crown Prosecution Service have this to say in relation to this third form of joint enterprise liability:
A difficult with this concept is establishing, by admissible evidence, the degree of foresight necessary. The phrase "persons unknown" must, in this context, be particularly problematic. It is hard enough to ascertain the foresight of the defendant (D) in cases where the principal offender is known to D. How can foresight of what "persons unknown" might do be ascertained and attributed to the defendant? Is there a danger that the prosecution view of the general ethos of a particular protest group will be attributed to the defendant? On what basis would such a generalised view be formed? If so, that could be a major step away from needing to prove the foresight of the individual defendant.
For more information on this vexed topic see Crown Prosecution Service - Joint Enterprise Charging Decisions - December 2012
A further joint enterprise case is that of Timi Spahiu reported in The Guardian 25th September 2012.