Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Thank you and a few final thoughts

Just over a year ago I posted what I intended to be my final post on this blog - Last Post and Cheerio

 After publishing it, I was persuaded by some friends to continue blogging for a while longer but it is now time to call it a day.

The blog commenced on 14 January 2010 - (A new blog) and, over the last twelve years, many stories of legal interest have been covered. Preparing the posts has been interesting, at times challenging, and time-consuming.

2357 posts have been published with, at the time of writing, just over 3,018,000 pageviews. I am grateful to the many who have shown interest and comment.

Our nation - the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - faces

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Friday, 16 September 2022

The 'dignified' constitution and where State power lies

A right to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn.

Walter Bagehot lived from 1826 to 1877. In 1867, his book "The English Constitution" was published.

Bagehot examined the British system of government and offered his answer to the question of where real power was exercised.

Bagehot pointed to a difference between what he called the 'dignified' aspects of the constitution and its 'efficient' aspects. 

The 'dignified' part - essentially the Crown - did not exercise true power because it was the 'efficient' part which, in practice, exercised such power. The 'efficient' part was, of course, the government.

After the Reform Act 1832, the House of Commons was elected

Friday, 9 September 2022

HM Queen Elizabeth II - Events of 8 to 19 September 2022

"The Queen devoted her life to us" - Australian High Commission, London

On 8 September 2022, at Balmoral, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died. 

Only two days previously, Her Majesty appointed Elizabeth Truss as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 

The Queen's long life was marked by her unparalleled sense of duty earning her respect across the world.

A brief statement issued by the Royal Family marked the end of a reign lasting over 70 years - Announcement of the death of The Queen | The Royal Family

Her Majesty became Queen on 6 February 1952 upon the death of her father King George VI - 70 years since the accession of the Queen

Her coronation

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Custody Time Limits ~ extensions being refused


It is reported that a number of judges in the Crown Court have refused to extend Custody Time Limits (CTL).

It is further reported that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is to appeal some of those decisions - see Crimeline via Twitter.

What are CTLs and why is this happening?

CTL:

Basically, CTL are a safeguard for unconvicted defendants. The limits

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Bill of Rights Bill "unlikely to proceed in its current form" - but be cautious

With updates:

There is some welcome news for anyone interested in having strong legal protections in the UK for human rights but let us be wary. 

The government - now under Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss - has announced that the Bill of Rights Bill is "unlikely to progress in its current form." - Truss government abandons Bill of Rights | Scottish Legal News

The Secretary of State for Justice is now Brandan Lewis MP. He has replaced Dominic Raab MP, the architect of this shameful Bill - Law and Lawyers: Appointments ~ Lord Chancellor, Attorney General, Home Secretary, Northern Ireland (obiterj.blogspot.com)

The Bill was presented to Parliament by Raab even though

Appointments ~ Lord Chancellor, Attorney General, Home Secretary, Northern Ireland

Updated 26 October 2022

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6 December 2022 - Balmoral, Scotland. 

Boris Johnson tendered his resignation as Prime Minister and Elizabeth Truss was appointed by HM The Queen.

The new Prime Minister returned to London and began making Ministerial and other appointments -

 Liz Truss new cabinet in full: who is in and who is out? | Liz Truss | The Guardian

Justice / Lord Chancellor:

Brandon Lewis became Secretary of State for Justice and

Monday, 5 September 2022

Elizabeth Truss chosen appointed PM on 6 September / Resigned 24 October 2022 and Rishi Sunak appointed


Updated 25 October 2022 - Sunak appointed PM

Updated 20 October 2022 - Truss resignation

6 September - some links added at the end.

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The long, warm, dry summer is fading. Daylight is shortening. Schools are returning.

As I write, the sky is cobalt blue. It is cooler after heavy rain. There is a pleasant and gentle breeze.

On the votes of members of the Conservative Party the Rt. Hon. Elizabeth Mary Truss MP has been chosen as their new leader. Truss obtained 81,326 votes and Sunak 60,399 - i.e. 57.4% to 42.6%. The turnout was 82.6%. 654 papers were rejected.

Truss will therefore be duly appointed

Saturday, 3 September 2022

Winsor Commission ~ Cressida Dick ~ Due process is important

Cressida Dick resigned as Metropolitan Police Commissioner on 10 February 2022. A previous post looked at the resignation - Law and Lawyers: Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (obiterj.blogspot.com)

On 8 July, Sir Mark Rowley was appointed as Commissioner - Sir Mark Rowley announced as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

By a special commission from the Secretary of State for the Home Department (“the Home Secretary”) of 25 March 2022, Sir Tom Winsor was appointed to review the circumstances and implications of the stepping aside of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. 

The Home Secretary set terms of reference - 

Establish and assess the full facts, timeline of events and circumstances which resulted in the stepping aside of Dame Cressida Dick as Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis; 

Establish and assess

Friday, 2 September 2022

Boris Johnson and the Committee of Privileges ~ a legal opinion

 

A joint legal opinion by Lord Pannick QC and Jason Pobjoy has been published by No 10 Downing Street

Legal Opinion by Lord Pannick QC relating to the Privileges Committee - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The opinion begins by stating - "We are asked to advise the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, in relation to the inquiry being conducted by the House of Commons Committee of Privileges."

The actual "Instructions to Counsel" have not been released. Therefore, we do not know the precise questions asked by those instructing Pannick.

It is also unclear why the government's own legal service was not asked to provide an opinion rather than an opinion requested, at significant public expense, from barristers.

As noted in the previous post, Boris Johnson faces an investigation by the House of Commons Privileges Committee - The details of this may be seen at Committee of Privileges - Summary - Committees - UK Parliament

Events to date:

The referral to the Committee

Next week

Next week should be interesting. 

Assuming all goes to plan, a new Prime Minister will be appointed by HM The Queen. 

The Queen is currently at Balmoral in Scotland and it is reported that Boris Johnson will go there to tender his resignation. After that, his successor will attend Balmoral to be duly appointed.

Traditionally, there is always a face-to-face meeting and this has usually required just a short trip from Downing Street to Buckingham Palace.  Occasionally, a longer journey has been required. Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928) became PM in April 1908 and was summoned by King Edward VII to Biarritz where the King was on holiday. 

The full detail

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Tortoise Media and the Conservative leadership election

Tortoise Media have sent a letter before claim to the Conservative and Unionist Party. Please read the letter in full - Our case for Judicial Review – 30 August 2022 - Tortoise (tortoisemedia.com)

The letter asks the Conservative Party to answer a number of questions about the election process for the new Conservative Party leader who will, because of constitutional convention, be duly appointed by the Queen as the next Prime Minister.

If the Conservative Party provides

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

The March 2021 Clapham Common vigil and the Metropolitan Police


Murder:

On 3 March 2021, Sarah Everard was kidnapped and murdered by Wayne Couzens who, at the time, was a serving Police Officer with the Metropolitan Police. Couzens was sentenced to life imprisonment with a "whole life" order. His appeal against the whole life order was dismissed - see the judgment of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).

Vigil:

With a view to highlighting risks to women's safety, an "informal collective" Reclaim These Streets planned a "vigil" to be held at Clapham Common on 13 March 2021. 

Following communication with the Metropolitan Police, the planned vigil was abandoned.

 Subsequently, 

New Parole Board Rules and Guidance ~ Interim Relief

The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto stated -

"We will conduct a root-and-branch review of the parole system to improve accountability and public safety, giving victims the right to attend hearings for the first time, and we will establish a Royal Commission on the criminal justice process."

In March 2022, the government published - Root and Branch Review of the Parole System - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Probation Board Rules were made in 2019 by the then Secretary of State for Justice - Robert Buckland QC MP. Those Rules

Friday, 12 August 2022

Sentencing remarks

It seems a long time ago since the Ministry of Justice issued guidance about the publication of sentencing information - see Ministry of Justice - June 2011 - Publicising Sentencing Outcomes (publishing.service.gov.uk).

The document stated that - "As a general principle, there should be a presumption in favour of publicising outcomes of criminal cases because this would help to: 

reassure the law-abiding public that the CJS is fair and effective, by publicising successes; 

increase public trust and confidence in the CJS; 

improve the effectiveness of criminal justice, e.g. by encouraging victims to  report crimes and witnesses to come forward; and 

discourage potential offenders and reduce re-offending."

It was recognised

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Archie Battersbee - other thoughts ...

The previous post about the tragic Archie Battersbee case offers a basic overview of the legal process and also links to the various judgments and decisions taken - Law and Lawyers: A tragedy of immeasurable dimension - Archie Battersbee (obiterj.blogspot.com)

Barrister Blogger published an analysis of the case - Mr Justice Hayden was right to bring Archie’s futile treatment to an end. – BarristerBlogger and Joshua Rozenberg wrote Unforced errors by Archie’s lawyers - by Joshua Rozenberg.

The Rozenberg article attracted a comment by Edward Devereux QC who was leading counsel for Archie's parents (Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee).  Advice given by lawyers

Friday, 5 August 2022

A tragedy of immeasurable dimension - Archie Battersbee

"Unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case" - Mrs Justice Theis, 5 August 2022

On 7 April 2022 Archie Battersbee, aged 12, suffered a tragic accident at the home where he lived with his mother, Hollie Dance. Archie's father is Paul Battersbee.  The accident resulted in Archie suffering  "catastrophic hypoxic ischaemic brain injury."  This was, rightly, described by Mr Justice Hayden as "a tragedy of immeasurable dimension for Archie and his family."

On the 26th April 2022, the NHS Trust sought a declaration from the High Court that it was lawful to withdraw mechanical ventilation from Archie. Clinical observations revealed that he was entirely unresponsive and did not show any sign at all of being able to sustain breathing independently of the ventilator.

There were proceedings before Mrs Justice Arbuthnot. Details of those, and an appeal relating to her judgment, may be seen below. Archie's case was thereafter handled by Mr Justice Hayden.

On 15 July, Hayden J decided

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Defamation cases and access to justice

The media loves a good story:

There are some "stories" that the mainstream media simply cannot resist. That was the situation recently when footballer's wife Rebekah Vardy lost in a High Court libel action against footballer's wife Coleen Rooney - The Guardian 29 July 2022 - Rebekah Vardy loses ‘Wagatha Christie’ libel case against Coleen Rooney

One of the positive sides of a platform such as "Twitter" is that, from time to time, there are informative discussions about aspects of the law with some experienced lawyers offering their viewpoints. The Vardy v Rooney case resulted in exactly such a discussion. At the heart of the exchange was the serious "access to justice" question of whether defamation actions were beyond the financial means of the majority of the population.

Defamation:

"Defamation" is the collective word

Friday, 29 July 2022

Covid 19 and other inquiries - a roundup

UK Covid 19 Inquiry

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry is now established and will be held under the Inquiries Act 2005 and Inquiry Rules 2006.  The Inquiry is chaired by Baroness Heather Hallett, a previous Vice President of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division - (brief summary of her legal career).

Terms of Reference were finalised following a process involving public consultation. Some 20,000 responses were received - Terms of Reference Consultation . The final terms may be downloaded from UK Covid-19 Inquiry Terms of Reference - UK Covid-19 Inquiry (covid19.public-inquiry.uk)

As described in Opening Remarks from the Chair, the inquiry will take a "modular" approach to its work.  A written copy of the Opening Statement may be seen at - Baroness Hallett's Opening Statement - UK Covid-19 Inquiry (covid19.public-inquiry.uk).  

The first module will look at the resilience and preparedness of the UK for the coronavirus pandemic.

Given the wide

Monday, 25 July 2022

The House of Lords - some notes

Last week Lord Mackay of Clashfern retired from the House of Lords and made a farewell speech - My Lords, as I rise to address your...: 20 Jul 2022: House of Lords debates - TheyWorkForYou.  It is an interesting speech in which Lord Mackay looked back at the offices he had held in the law and in government.

The speech is a reminder of the days when the Lord Chancellor had an important role in all three aspects (or branches) of governance - the executive, the legislature (presided over the House of Lords), the judiciary (entitled to preside over the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords).

Lord Mackay was