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 in the UK.  In addition, note that there are certain legal proceedings before the Court of Justice of the EU and, for this, see the article by Jonathan Goldsmith in the Law Society Gazette 13th February 2018.

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.