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

Saturday, 23 July 2022

EU - legal proceedings against UK

Brexit has consequences:

One consequence of Brexit is that borders have become exactly that - borders  - with passport checks required to cross from the UK to France - Huge queues at Dover for people travelling to France - CBBC Newsround.

Let it be remembered that the Brexit supporters wanted UK control of "money, laws and borders." 

Attempts to place the blame elsewhere - here is an example of an attempt to blame the French interior Minister - ought to be regarded as stupidity. The hard fact

Friday, 22 July 2022

Sealing of Royal Wills

In September 2021, the High Court gave a public judgment explaining why the court had decided that the will of the late Duke of Edinburgh should be sealed for a period of 90 years -

Will of His Late Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Re The [2021] EWHC 77 (Fam) (16 September 2021) (bailii.org)

As things stand, the public will not get to know the contents of the will. 

The practice of sealing these wills

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Two Law Commission reports and a Sentencing Council consultation

Wedding ceremonies:

The Law Commission has published a report proposing major reform of "Weddings Law" in England and Wales. Details may be seen via the following links - 

Outdated weddings laws to be overhauled under new reforms | Law Commission

Celebrating Marriage: A New Weddings Law

Weddings | Law Commission

For further discussion see the Law and Religion blog - Law Commission final report on reforming weddings law in England & Wales | Law & Religion UK (lawandreligionuk.com) and also Law and religion round-up – 24th July | Law & Religion UK (lawandreligionuk.com)

It will now be  for the government to decide whether to take action over the report and, if so, what form of action.

Intimate image abuse:

Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Reference from Scotland on an Independence Referendum - an update


The Supreme Court has published an "update" on the reference from Scotland under devolution legislation - Update on the reference by the Lord Advocate - The Supreme Court

"There are two issues for the Court to consider: first, whether the Court can or should accept the reference and, second, if so, how it should answer the question the Lord Advocate has referred to it. To answer these questions, the Court will need to consider the circumstances giving rise to the reference and the substance of the Lord Advocate’s question. The Court therefore decided that it should hear argument on both issues at a single hearing in the interests of justice and the efficient disposal of the proceedings."

On 21 July this was published - Hearing date for the reference by the Lord Advocate - The Supreme Court

and the Lord Advocate's written case - Lord Advocate’s Written Case: whether the question for a referendum on Scottish Independence contained in the proposed referendum Bill relates to reserved matters - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has applied for permission to intervene in the hearing - Microsoft Word - Scottish National Party - Application for Permission to Intervene.docx

19 July 2022

Saturday, 16 July 2022

A "club" choosing the next Prime Minister?

Control over what happens behind the famous door of No. 10 (pictured) is now "up for grabs" but who gets to choose the individual who will then dominate British politics? Should there be a different system? Would a formal (or codified) constitution offer a better system.

As noted in an earlier post - Law and Lawyers: Johnson announces his departure (obiterj.blogspot.com) - the Conservative parliamentary Party effectively forced their leader (Boris Johnson) to resign and the party, and only that party, are choosing his successor.

The 2019 general election - held

Friday, 15 July 2022

National Security Bill ~ notes

National Security Bill:

In May 2022, the Home Secretary (Priti Patel MP) introduced the National Security Bill to the House of Commons. The Bill received its second reading on 6 June 2022 and is now at Committee Stage. 

See the second reading debate- National Security Bill - Hansard - UK Parliament

The Bill extends to 152 pages. There are 73 clauses divided into 4 parts and 11 Schedules.

The Bill seeks to -

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Conservative leadership ~ A Confidence Vote

Conservative Party leadership:

On Monday 11 July, the Conservative Party announced a timetable for its process for choosing a new party leader. The selection process is described at - How many votes do candidates need for Conservative leadership? Rules and timetable for Tory leadership race (inews.co.uk 11 July 2022)

By Wednesday morning 13 July, there were 8 candidates - The Guardian 12 July - Kemi Badenock, Suella Braverman, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat and Nadhim Zahawi. 

The Conservative Party's aim is to conclude the entire process by 5 September - the day Parliament resumes after the summer recess. 

If events take the course planned then the new party leader will be appointed Prime Minister by the Queen who 

Friday, 8 July 2022

Johnson announces his departure

Downing Street 7 July:

In Downing Street on Thursday 7 July 2022, the Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) stated - "It is now clearly the will of the parliamentary conservative party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new Prime Minister."

Johnson went on to say that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now. Here is Johnson's statement in full as published by the Prime Minister's Office - Boris-johnsons-statement-in-Downing-Street-7-July-2022

I never wanted to see Johnson as Prime Minister because, in ways too numerous to list here, he has demonstrated over his working-life unsuitability for office. Johnson's career

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Not "Get Brexit done" but "Make Brexit work"

Make Brexit Work - is a phrase from Sir Keir Starmer's speech delivered on 4 July 2022 to the Centre for European Reform. The full speech is HERE

This post contains an overview of the Brexit process, the current mess over the Northern Ireland Protocol, a brief look at some views as to how the British economy is performing, and what the future appears to hold. 

Starmer seeks to put "the divisions of the past behind us" and offers a plan that he claims "seizes on the challenges and opportunities of the future." But will it do that or is it just tinkering at the edges of the post-Brexit issues?

Brexit:

23 June 2022 marked the sixth anniversary of the UK's referendum

Bill of Rights Bill - further material

The British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) has published a considerable analysis of the government's Bill of Rights Bill - 

Rights Removal Bill & Human Rights Act Reform (bihr.org.uk) and also 

Rights Removal Bill: Need to Know (bihr.org.uk)

Here, in one place, is all of the BIHR's work around what the Institute has chosen to call the "Rights Removal Bill."  Their point is that the Bill of Rights Bill will repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and it represents government plans to reduce the their responsibilities to uphold those human rights protections people rely on every day across the UK.

Monday, 4 July 2022

Criminal justice ~ action by barristers

Criminal court statistics for January to March 2022 reveal 58,653 outstanding Crown Court cases at the end of March with 27% of those being open for a year or more.

The tendency within government is to blame the backlog on the coronavirus pandemic. Certainly that is part of the story but by no means the whole picture. 

The criminal justice system has suffered cuts and underfunding for years. Police numbers were reduced, Crown Prosecution Service employees cut, numerous courts across the country were closed. 

Even where courts remained,

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Scotland and an Independence referendum in 2023


On 28 June 2022, Scotland's First Minister - (Nicola Sturgeon MSP) - made a statement to the Scottish Parliament setting out plans for s further referendum on Scottish Independence to be held in October 2023. See the Scottish Parliament's 
Official Report (parliament.scot)

The referendum held in 2014 resulted in a vote against independence - Scottish independence referendum: final results in full | Scottish independence | The Guardian

Mrs Sturgeon told the Parliament that -"It is axiomatic that a referendum must be lawful, but