Wednesday, 18 April 2018

In the face of Barbarism (2)

The previous post - In the face of Barbarism (1) - looked at the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the recent air strikes by the USA, UK and France.  The moral position is, to my mind, beyond doubt.  Action was needed to try to degrade the chemical weapon capability available to the Syrian government and, for the future, greater action is needed to resume the Geneva peace-process which was discontinued in December 2017.

This post considers the situation in international law as to the use of force in these circumstances and then looks at the question of the role of Parliament regarding military action abroad by British Forces. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

In the face of barbarism (1)

Recent events in Syria have acutely raised the question of how the world is to deal with the barbarism of chemical weapons.  Gas as a weapon came to the forefront at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 - (Youtube - video).  Today, its use is prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention which most nations (including Russia and Syria) have accepted as binding.

Syria and Chemical Weapons:

Monday, 16 April 2018

"Ant" McPartlin fined £86,000 for excess alcohol offence

On 18th March 2018, following a road traffic accident, Anthony David "Ant" McPartlin was arrested on suspicion of driving with excess alcohol contrary to the Road Traffic Act 1988 section 5.  On 16th April, at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court, Mr McPartlin pleaded guilty and was fined £86,000 and disqualified for 20 months - see The Telegraph 16th April.   Mr McPartlin's income was said to be around £130,000 per week.  The charge stated that he had 75 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit is 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath.

For offences committed on or after 12th March 2015, a Level 5 fine in the Magistrates' Court is unlimited (in most cases) as opposed to the previous usual maximum of £5,000.  See the Regulations effecting the change.



Previous post.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Syria - some links


The use of chemical weapons in Douma, Syria has, rightly, been met with disgust.  Fundamental human morality undoubtedly demands action against those responsible.  The governments of the USA, UK and France considered the Syrian government to be responsible and, in consequence, undertook air strikes against selected targets in Syria.  The United Nations Security Council failed to adopt three resolutions on the use of chemical weapons in Syria - UN News 10th April.


A difficult question is whether, as a matter of international law, the air strikes are lawful.

A further question is whether the UK government was entitled to act without the prior approval of Parliament.

The following links touch upon those difficult questions.  At this stage I offer the links without additional comment.  Many more links can be found.

Friday, 6 April 2018

A very disturbing - shocking - situation

3 points.  First, the criminal justice system is in crisis.  Secondly, Police numbers have been markedly reduced.  Thirdly, over 50 people have been killed - mostly by stabbing - in London alone this year.  On any view, this is a very disturbing and shocking picture.

Deaths in London:

i News 4th April published the terrible List of victims killed in the capital so far this year and noted that - "The Met Police is currently investigating 55 suspected murders since the start of 2018."   The list shows that most of the victims died as a result of stabbing. 

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Householder arrested on suspicion of murder

A 78-year-old was arrested on suspicion of murder after a 38-year-old died of his wounds in hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The Telegraph 4th April reports - "Police said the struggle broke out after the pensioner, .... , found two men inside his home in ..... south London shortly after midnight.  One of the burglars, who was armed with a screwdriver, forced the homeowner into his kitchen while his accomplice went upstairs.  Detectives believe a struggle then took place between "one of the males and the homeowner" and the 38-year-old intruder was stabbed in the upper body."  It appears that the second intruder escaped from the scene and is still to be found.

The fact that there has been an arrest without warrant means that criminal proceedings are active for the purposes of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and so I make no comment on the actual case.  Update 7th April - no charges are to follow.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Brexit Update - Committee for Exiting the EU

The House of Commons Select Committee for Exiting the EU has published The Future UK-EU relationship.  The Committee's analysis has indicated that there are a number of key tests by which any deal agreed by October can be judged. The Prime Minister has set out her red lines for the negotiations. However, the success of the future relationship will be judged on the ground by the members of the public, businesses and agencies that travel to and from, trade with and will continue to work closely with the EU and EU Member States.  At paragraph 32 the Committee's criteria are set out:

Direct action by the Criminal Bar

An E Mail I received 3rd April .... I am happy to add it to this blog ...

The Criminal Bar is to take direct action as a result of new legal aid cuts. This email explains why action is being taken and why you should care about it. 

From today, most criminal chambers will be refusing to take on new government funded legal aid cases; this means that defendants will go unrepresented in the Crown Courts (where the most serious cases are tried). Such action could bring the courts to a halt - a matter not lightly embarked upon. Action is being taken because the criminal justice system is in crisis.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

More on problems with the Criminal Justice System

Centre for Criminal Appeals "the Centre) works to represent prisoners with compelling claims of innocence.  The Centre also seeks to improve transparency and accountability of the criminal justice system.  Full details of the Centre and its work may be seen in its 2017 annual report according to which - "There is an unfortunate misconception that our justice system is the best in the world .... But for those being prosecuted across the country for criminal matters, the situation is radically different - the "gold" standard simply does not apply.  The challenge for the Centre has only become tougher in recent years.  Government cuts have had a profound impact in every corner of the criminal justice system.  It is inevitable that the quality of representation afforded to defendants diminishes, as well as the quality of the investigation of crime by the police.  The inexorable result is that innocent people will be convicted and the demand on the Centre to redress these errors will become greater." 

Friday, 30 March 2018

Good Friday 2018 - Policing issues - Criminal Bar at crisis point

Good Friday 2018.  Easter and Christmas are the greatest of Christian Festivals.  The story of Easter is well-known.  Pontius Pilate - faced with the baying mob - allowed Christ to be crucified.  Whatever the truth of those long-ago terrible events, we can think ourselves lucky that we live under the Rule of Law in the United Kingdom and that it is a law which places great emphasis on civil liberty and the rights of the individual against the State.

Nonetheless, it would be immensely foolish to take such matters for granted.  We need to have good Policing to investigate offending and to bring those charged before the courts.  Once at court we need to have the prosecution conducted fairly but robustly and the fearless independence of the judges, juries and magistrates is to be defended at all times.  Historically, rights such as the right to a fair trial have been hard-fought and have not been readily granted by a benevolent State.  There are serious grounds for concern at the present time.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

John Radford - aka Worboys - Judicial review

On Wednesday 28th March, the High Court handed down judgment in the judicial review proceedings connected with John Radford - also known as John Worboys - R (on the application of DSD and NBV) v The Parole Board of England and Wales and others and John Radford  [2018] EWHC 694 (Admin).

Background:

On 13th March 2009, taxi driver John Worboys - now known as John Radford - was convicted of a number of offences, including one count of rape, a number of sexual assaults and 12 counts of administering a substance with intent.   He was sentenced by Mr Justice Penry-Davey to imprisonment for public protection (IPP) and ordered to serve a minimum term of 8 years before his release could be considered by the parole board.   In early January 2018 it came to light that the Parole Board  had decided that John Radford could be released on licence subject to licence.  Please see the post of 5th January.  A subsequent post looked at the Parole Board in more detail - HERE.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

"Released under investigation" ~ what is this?

On 18th March 2018, following a road traffic accident, Anthony David "Ant" McPartlin was arrested on suspicion of driving with excess alcohol contrary to the Road Traffic Act 1988 section 5.

Media reports - e.g. Yorkshire Post 19th March - inform us that Mr McPartlin was subsequently "released under investigation."  The investigation referred to presumably relates to the detail of the accident which involved 3 vehicles.  A number of individuals were treated at the scene for minor injuries, and a child passenger from one of the cars was taken to hospital to be checked as a precaution.

Brexit related litigation

This post is a brief note on a number of "Brexit-related" applications for judicial review which are before the courts.

Judicial review is concerned with the legality of  decisions and actions and not with the merits (e.g. political merits) of the decision itself.  This very basic point was either not understood or was deliberately ignored by the media when the High Court was criticised for its decision in the Miller and Dos Santos litigation - see this previous post.  

Saturday, 24 March 2018

European Council - guidelines on the post-Brexit relationship

The European Council, meeting in an EU27 format, adopted the guidelines on the framework for a future relationship with the UK after Brexit. The Commission's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, updated the EU27 heads of state or government on the state of play of the Brexit negotiations. The EU wants to have the closest possible partnership with the UK, which would cover trade and economic cooperation, security and defence, among other areas. However, EU 27 leaders noted that UK's current positions "limit the depth of such a future partnership."

See the Guidelines 23rd March 2018

Friday, 23 March 2018

The Tooting One ~ Protests about tree-felling in Sheffield


A lady was arrested in Sheffield.  She was protesting about the felling of trees and was, seemingly to the annoyance of a "member of the public", blowing a "toy trumpet."  It would appear that the same member of the public was unperturbed by the chain saw noise!  It is not clear why the Police felt it necessary to prioritise the complaint over her seemingly mild protest.

The story is briefly reported in the media - e.g. The Sun 23rd March- Police said the arrest on Rivelin Valley Road on the outskirts of the city had been made following a complaint about the horn-blowing from a member of the public.   A police spokeswoman said: "A 57-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of causing intentional harm or distress, under Section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986. She has been reported on summons."

Salisbury Nerve agent attack - Court of Protection decision

On 21st March, in the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Williams made a number of declarations relating to Mr Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, both victims of the Salisbury attack on 4th March.

Evidence presented to the court by a Porton Down Chemical and Biological Analyst stated that they had been affected by "a novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent."

On 22nd March, the judgment of Williams J was published and may be read via the Judiciary website - HERE.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Under Cover Policing Inquiry

Proceedings in courts and public inquiries rarely produce moments of "drama" but there was certainly such a moment on 21st March at the Under Cover Policing Inquiry.  This inquiry was set up in 2015 under the chairmanship of Sir Christopher Pitchford who died in 2017.  He was replaced by Sir John Mitting - (Chairman of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission from 2007 to 2012).

A serious concern about the inquiry ought to be that 3 years have elapsed since Theresa May - then Home Secretary - announced her intention to establish the inquiry.  Even after that length of time, the inquiry is considering "anonymity applications" and the inquiry has yet to hear evidence on the substantive issues it was set up to consider - see the Terms of Reference.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Draft Withdrawal Agreement - 19th March 2018

The United Kingdom leaves the European Union (and the European Atomic Energy Community - Euratom) on 29th March 2019.  That is two years after notification under Article 50 TEU.

The latest text of of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement has been issued and follows soon after the release of an earlier draft of 28th February - (discussed here).

Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A serious attack within the United Kingdom

(Updates at the end).

For some years, there has been considerable concern about the activities of foreign powers within the UK.  The concerns extend to a number of deaths of individuals with connection to Russia - see BBC News 17th March 2018.  

Markov:

In 1978, the writer and broadcaster Georgi Markov was killed in London by means of an umbrella which injected ricin into his leg.  It is generally thought that the Bulgarian State was responsible for this murder but it remains unsolved - BBC News - 1978: Umbrella attack victim dies.  From the late 1980s, Bulgaria underwent a transition from Communism to Parliamentary democracy and has been a member of the European Union since 1st January 2007.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Brexit and the EU Act 2011

The Mirror 10th March draws attention to a plans by "Best for Britain" to bring judicial review proceedings in an attempt to require the government to hold a further referendum on Brexit.  According to the Mirror - " ... judges will be asked to ­judicially review whether Mr Davis’s Brexit negotiations are unconstitutional."  Their basis for this appears to be the referendum requirements in the European Union Act 2011 which apply to new treaties amending or replacing either the Treaty on European Union or the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.  (See also The Independent 11th March).

An inconvenient point

Thursday, 8 March 2018

The road to Brexit - further developments

Tusk and Verhofstadt
Nothing has happened to convince me that Brexit is anything other than a profoundly mistaken policy for which, in the referendum of 23rd June 2016, the British people were persuaded to vote and did so by a narrow majority.  The referendum result immediately split the four nations of the UK since Scotland and Northern Ireland voted remain.  The UK government has chosen to set the hardest of "red lines" - out of the EU, out of the Customs Union, out of the Single Market, out of the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU.   All of that has been combined with political talk of a future "deep and special relationship" with the EU but what form that relationship will take is still unclear even though almost a year has elapsed since the triggering of Article 50 TEU.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Report on Doping in Sport - is the committee process fair?

The House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) has published a report on combating "doping" in sport - see the report here.  The committee's report is the culmination of the work of two committees, formed either side of the 2017 General Election.

Section 2 of the report focuses on cycling and its findings are critical of British Cycling, Team Sky and a number of named individuals including Sir Bradley Wiggins but did the committee adopt a fair procedure before publishing its report?   In Section 4, the report considers whether "doping" in sport should be criminalised.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Brexit - Draft Withdrawal Agreement (No. 4) - Other aspects

On 28th February, the text of the DRAFT Withdrawal Agreement was published by the EU Commission - see European Commission Draft Withdrawal Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

This previous post looked at Part 1 of the Draft and Part 4 Transition was considered here.  A further post (here) looked at the protocol put forward for Ireland / Northern Ireland.  Part 6 Institutional and Final Provisions is the subject of this post together with a brief "overview" of Parts 2 (Citizens' Rights), 3 (Separation Provisions) and 5 (Financial).

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Brexit - Draft Withdrawal Agreement (No.3) - Ireland and Northern Ireland

On 28th February, the text of the DRAFT Withdrawal Agreement was published by the EU Commission - see European Commission Draft Withdrawal Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

This previous post looked at Part 1 of the Draft and Part 4 Transition was considered here.

A PROTOCOL deals with the situation of Ireland / Northern Ireland.  The Prime Minister stated in Parliament on 28th February that "no British Prime  Minister" could sign up to the Protocol.   Mrs May is mindful of the strong opinion of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which she relies on for support in the UK parliament.   Nevertheless the Protocol is declared to be an integral part of the Agreement ( see Article 166) and should be examined.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Brexit - Draft Withdrawal Agreement (No.2) - Transition

The text of the DRAFT Withdrawal Agreement has been published by the EU Commission - see European Commission Draft Withdrawal Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

The previous post looked at Part 1 of the Draft.  This post considers Part 4 Transition.  Part 4 comprises  Articles 121 to 126.

Brexit - Draft Withdrawal Agreement (No.1)

The text of the DRAFT Withdrawal Agreement has been published by the EU Commission - see European Commission Draft Withdrawal Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

This 120 Page document is packed with detail.  The draft divides into 6 Parts plus Protocols relating to Ireland / Northern Ireland and also to Cyprus.  A Table of Contents is at page 111.

If this document becomes the Withdrawal Agreement - remember it is a DRAFT at the moment - then it will come into force on 30th March 2019.  Part 4 of the draft deals with Transition and the transition period will end on 31st December 2020 - (Art 121).  During the transition period, Union law will be applicable to and in the UK unless the agreement provides otherwise (Art 122). 

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Trade Bill ~ a vague amendment

A number of Bills currently before Parliament are concerned with Brexit and its possible consequences.  The Trade Bill is one of them.  It is a government Bill within the remit of the Secretary of State for International Trade (Dr Liam Fox MP).  Another Bill is the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill which was briefly considered in this post of 15th January.

An interesting amendment has been put forward to the Trade Bill but first let's delve into a little of the Bill's detail.

Clause 2:

Friday, 23 February 2018

Northern Ireland ~ some notes

"The Good Friday Agreement is under attack.  Can we really risk ditching it?  That is a headline in The Guardian 23rd February.  The answer ought to be a resounding NO.  This post examines why.

Several Members of Parliament are calling into question the Good Friday Agreement (1998) despite the fact that it has been, and remains, the basis of the peace process in Northern Ireland - Huffpost 19th February - "Hardline Brexiteers have been accused of “jeopardising” peace in Northern Ireland after they made dramatic claims the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was “not sustainable.”  The peace process is far from being an event that took place only in 1998.  Securing a lasting peace settlement in Northern Ireland has required on-going work and is likely to do so for a considerable time to come.

Northern Ireland - which voted 55.8% to Remain in the EU - is facing particular difficulties over Brexit with the possibility of a harder border having to be created between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  The GFA operates within the context of EU membership and with a strong requirement for a robust legal structure in place to support political power-sharing and human rights.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Brexit negotiations as at 9th February

Here is the Speech of 9th February by Michel Barnier (EU Chief Negotiator on Brexit). Mr Barnier said that - "Throughout this negotiation, you will not find in our attitude or in my attitude – on this subject, or on others – the least trace of discourtesy or willingness to punish. My mind set has been completely the opposite since the beginning of this negotiation and it will continue being so until the last day of the negotiation."   The Speech touches upon:


Thursday, 8 February 2018

In the courts

Updated 13th February re Julian Assange 

A few recent cases .....

Venables -

In 1993, Jon Venables (aged 35) was convicted - along with Robert Thompson - of the murder of two-year old James Bulger.  The murder took place on 12th February 1993.  Thompson and Venables were aged 10 at the time and so had reached the age of criminal responsibility set by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.s50 (as amended).  This age was raised from 8 to 10 in 1963.  At the time of their trial the presumption of "doli incapax" applied though this was successfully rebutted by the prosecution.  This presumption was abolished by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 s.34.

Recently, Venables pleaded guilty to 3 counts of making indecent photographs of children - (Protection of Children Act 1978 s.1) - and one offence of possession of a paedophile manual - Serious Crime Act 2015 s.69.   On 7th February 2018, he was sentenced by Mr Justice Edis to a total of 40 months imprisonment.  Venables remains on lifelong licence in connection with the murder of James Bulger and it will be a matter for the Parole Board to decide whether it is safe to release him after he has served this latest sentence.  See the Sentencing Remarks via the Judiciary website.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Court of Session (Outer House) ~ Unilateral revocation of Art 50 notice

Court of Session Edinburgh
Update - see Good Law Project 9th February 2018 regarding an appeal and see Joint Note by Counsel for the Petitioners 

Scotland's Court of Session (Outer House) has refused permission to petitioners who sought judicial review on the issue of the unilateral revocability of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union - see the opinion of Lord Doherty 6th February 2018.  There is a possibility that the decision will be appealed.

The petitioners wished to ascertain whether, as a matter of EU Law, a notification of withdrawal under Article 50 TEU may be unilaterally withdrawn by the State which gave the notification.  Legal opinion has varied considerably on this point - please see earlier posts 23rd July 2017 and 20th October 2017.


Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918

The Representation of the People Act 1918 came into law a century ago today (6th February) and gave to some women the right to vote.  The legislation came about after a lengthy and difficult political struggle and the contribution of women to the war effort during World War I played a major part.  The struggle and the campaigns by Suffragists and Suffragettes are well-described by Parliament - Women and the Vote. and also by HerStoria - An overview of the Votes for Women campaign.

The Representation of the People Act 1918  was, according to a contemporary author, the most successful piece of domestic legislation ever passed by Parliament.  Barrister Sylvain Mayer KC wrote in his book on the 1918 Act:


Intimidation in Public Life

In December 2017 the Committee on Standards in Public Life published a report - "Intimidation in Public Life" (Cm 9543).  The report was debated in the House of Commons on 18th December where the Home Secretary (Amber Rudd MP) said - "The report demonstrates that a significant proportion of candidates in the 2017 general election experienced harassment, abuse and intimidation, and that the widespread use of social media platforms is the most significant factor driving the behaviour that we are seeing. Worryingly, this is already affecting the ways in which MPs are relating to their constituents, and has put off candidates who would otherwise want to stand for public office."

The report points to "the increasing prevalence of intimidation of Parliamentary candidates, and others in public life."  "A significant proportion of candidates at the 2017 general election experienced harassment, abuse and intimidation.  There has been persistent, vile and shocking abuse, threatened violence including sexual violence, and damage to property."

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Brexit - Constitution Committee Report - Delegated Powers, Scrutiny, Devolution

After two days of debate with 190 speakers, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill received its second reading in the House of Lords on 31st January - Hansard Online.

The House of Lords Constitution Committee report published on 29th January is probably the most detailed available analysis of the Bill.  The report may be read via the Constitution Committee website - 9th Report Session 2017-19.   This follows the committee's preliminary (7th March 2017) and interim (7th September 2017) reports.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Brexit - Constitution Committee Report - Supremacy, Charter of Fundamental Rights, Interpretation

The House of Lords Constitution Committee report published on 29th January is probably the most detailed available analysis of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.  The report may be read via the Constitution Committee website - 9th Report Session 2017-19.   This follows the committee's preliminary (7th March 2017) and interim (7th September 2017) reports.

Here is the HTML version  of the Bill as introduced to the Lords and Parliament has published a tracked version showing the amendments made by the Commons.   

Previous posts on the Report are here and hereThis post looks at Chapters 5 to 7 of the report.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Brexit - Constitution Committee Report - Legal status of Retained EU Law

The House of Lords Constitution Committee report published on 29th January is probably the most detailed available analysis of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.  The report may be read via the Constitution Committee website - 9th Report Session 2017-19.   This follows the committee's preliminary (7th March 2017) and interim (7th September 2017) reports.

Here is the HTML version  of the Bill as introduced to the Lords and Parliament has published a tracked version showing the amendments made by the Commons.  

Background:

Monday, 29 January 2018

Brexit ~ Constitution Committee report + EU negotiating directives for transition

The House of Lords Constitution Committee has published its report on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - 9th Report Session 2017-19. This follows the committee's preliminary (7th March 2017) and interim (7th September 2017) reports.

The Bill as introduced to the Lords - HTML version.

The latest report states that legislation is necessary to ensure legal continuity and certainty when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. The Committee

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Birmingham Pub Bombing Inquests ~ Judicial Review

On 21 November 1974 two explosions took place in two public houses in Birmingham City Centre, the 'Mulberry Bush' and the 'Tavern in the Town' ('the Birmingham bombings').  21 people were killed and some 220 injured, many of them seriously. A third bomb placed at a Barclays Bank branch on Hagley Road, Birmingham, was defused on the same evening. It was the worst peacetime atrocity in British history to that date. The Provisional IRA ('PIRA') is generally regarded as having been responsible for it.

Inquests:

Inquests were opened in late 1974 but were adjourned in 1975

Friday, 26 January 2018

Short roundup - Various items

Rose Heilbron KC
It's Friday again and, as the daylight lengthens, January draws to its close.  Here are some of the stories of interest this week.

Following on from this post on the last executions to take place in the UK, Justice Gap reminds us of the remarkable legal career of barrister Rose Heilbron and her defence of George Kelly and Charles Connelly in what came to be called the "Cameo Cinema Murder" case - Justice Gap 26th January.  In January 1950 Rose Heilbron became the first female barrister to appear as leading counsel in a murder trial. The stakes and pressure upon her couldn’t have been higher. Her client, George Kelly, would hang if convicted.  In fact, at a second trial, he was convicted of murder and was hanged at Liverpool's Walton Jail on 28th March 1950.   The story reveals a failure by the authorities to disclose evidence to the defence.  Kelly's conviction was posthumously quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2003 - read the judgment.

Rose Heilbron became Mrs Justice Heilbron and, in that capacity, presided at the 1981 "Handless Corpse" murder trial held at Lancaster - HERE.  The costs of the trial were raised in Parliament by way of an adjournment debate - HERE.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The last executions - R v Gwynne Owen Evans and Peter Allen ~ Manchester 1964

The Student's Verdict blog drew my attention to the murder trial of Gwynne Evans (24) and Peter Allen (21).  They were executed on 13th August 1964 for the murder, on 7th April 1964, of John West (53).  Evans was hanged at Strangeways Prison, Manchester.  Allen was executed at Walton Prison, Liverpool.  (Liverpool Prison is the subject of a recent and disturbing report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons).  Interest in the case has returned because it is arguable that Gwynne Evans may have been entitled to succeed with a defence of diminished responsibility - see  BBC News 18th December 2017 and also HERE

Evans and Allen were the last to suffer capital punishment in England and Wales.  The death penalty for murder was abolished in 1965.  Any consideration of the case needs to be through the prism of the law as it was at the time. 

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Short round-up ~ Various items

Updated 19th and 20th January

Lord Chancellor sworn in -


18th January 2018 - The new Secretary of State for Justice has been sworn in as Lord Chancellor.  Previous post 9th January.  The principal speeches were:



Transforming the Court Estate -

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Poppi Worthington ~ Inquest

On 12th December 2012, Poppi Worthington died in hospital at the age of 13 months.  In late 2017, HM Coroner for Cumbria (Mr David Roberts) conducted a further inquest and announced his determination on Monday 15th January 2018.   A report on the inquest is at BBC NEWS 15th January.  The BBC has also published a useful timeline of the case.

The inquest: Review of evidence, findings and conclusion

The Coroner's conclusions (at pages 86 and 87) are

Monday, 15 January 2018

Preparing for a Customs Deal with the EU

It is now 8 years since the first post on this blog.  Interesting stories appear almost daily and many lie ahead including those arising from the on-going difficulties and uncertainty created by Brexit.  I hope to continue looking at some these stories.

One of the key features of the European Union is that it is also a CUSTOMS Union.   Article 28(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU states - "The Union shall comprise a customs union which shall cover all trade in goods and which shall involve the prohibition between Member States of customs duties on imports and exports and of all charges having equivalent effect, and the adoption of a common customs tariff in their relations with third countries."

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Payment Services - introduced by the EU

The picture is the Conservative Party claiming they have banned credit card charges.  They are "economical with the truth."

In 2015 the EU enacted a Directive - you can read it HERE.   EU Member States are required by the EU Treaties to implement Directives into domestic law.  This was done by the UK Parliament enacting The Payment Services Regulations 2017.  Those Regulations were, as the jargon goes, "laid before Parliament" on 19th July 2017 and "negative resolution procedure" applied so that a vote was only required if they were "prayed against."  There was no such objection.

"Good" things are not invariably started by the EU.  In 2017 Regulations were made to tackle "microbeads" (see BBC News) in products such as toothpaste.  Read the legislation HERE.  Another environmental problem is plastic packaging.  See what the EU has to say.



Saturday, 13 January 2018

A further EU Referendum? Do the practicalities make it impracticable?

Unless some other date is eventually agreed, the UK leaves the EU on 29th March 2019.  That is the undoubted consequence of the notice served under Article 50 TEU.


Nigel Farage is one of the Members of the European Parliament representing SE England and he is a former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).  During the EU referendum campaign in 2016 he played a very prominent pro-Brexit role and engaged in TV debates with Prime Minister David Cameron - e.g. HERE.  Farage and others (e.g. Boris Johnson, Michael Gove) waged an effective "Leave" campaign resulting in an overall result in favour of Brexit - the details are HERE

Friday, 12 January 2018

What if "no deal" Brexit. EU Commission Notice - Air Transport

Civil aviation is a strategically important sector that makes a vital contribution to the EU's overall economy and employment.  Aviation supports close to 5 million jobs and contributes €300 billion, or 2.1% to European GDP.   Global air transport over the long term is expected to grow by around 5% annually until 2030.  How would a "no deal" Brexit affect this crucial sector? 

As mentioned in the previous post, the European Commission has published its views about the impact of a "no deal" Brexit on various sectors - HERE - and, in particular, see the Air Transport Notice 11th December 2017.

What if "no deal" Brexit? Getting hold of fog.

Getting hold of fog
Prior to the recent government "reshuffle" there was some talk that the Prime Minister was to appoint a Cabinet Minister for No Deal Brexit - The Telegraph 7th January.   No such specific appointment was made but the Ministerial team at the Department for Exiting the EU has a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Mr Steve Baker MP) with responsibility for "contingency planning" though we are not enlightened further as to what exactly those plans entail. 

The reluctance of the UK government to share information is, at least in my view, a lamentable state of affairs.  Even the "Sectoral Analyses" were only shared with MPs after the 7th November Humble Address and even then they were issued with "Sectoral Views" removed and MPs were allowed to see them only in a private room - BBC News 14th December 2017.  On 21st December, the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee published 39 reports - Parliament 21st December.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Yet another Secretary of State for Justice / Lord Chancellor and other MoJ changes

The Prime Minister has appointed Mr David Gauke MP to the dual role of Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor - see Ministerial Role.

Mr Gauke is MP for South West Hertfordshire and he replaces Mr David Lidington MP who has been moved to the Cabinet Office.  It was a mere 7 months ago that Mr Lidington was appointed - post 12th June 2017.

As usual, the Bar Council and Law Society have welcomed the new appointment.  The Bar Council calls upon the Lord Chancellor to ensure that justice is properly resourced and functioning effectively.  On legal aid, the Bar Council states - "Following significant cutbacks in the provision of legal aid over several years it is vital that the Ministry of Justice completes the thorough review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act to which it is already committed, to ensure that the public interest in the provision of high quality and efficient legal services is addressed."

The Law Society comments -