Thursday 31 March 2011

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 (PVSCA) received Royal Assent on 16th February 2011 and things are gearing up for a referendum on 5th May 2011 to answer the following question which is set down in the Act - (note: there is also a Welsh version):

'At present, the UK uses the 'first past the post' system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the 'alternative vote' system be used instead?'

Some of the background:

Alternative Vote is used for Parliamentary elections in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

The referendum question itself was subject to a considerable degree of analysis (see Electoral Commission Report).  Clearly the question presupposes that the voter understands what "Alternative Vote" is; what the claimed advantages and disadvantages are and how it will be applied in practice.  These matters are far from simple though one thing is very clear: "Alternative Vote" (or AV) is NOT a proportional representation (PR)  system.  Political opinion is very divided on the issue but a commitment to a referendum appeared in the Coalition Agreement (Para 24 refers) thrashed out shortly after the 2010 General Election.   The Electoral Commission must take whatever steps they think appropriate to promote public awareness about the referendum and how to vote in it and they may take whatever steps they think appropriate to provide, for persons entitled to vote in the referendum, information about each of the two voting systems referred to in the referendum question.

The question of turnout:

The Commission also has a duty to publish the most accurate estimate that it is reasonably possible to make of the turnout of voters in each of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  (See Schedule 1 of the PVSCA at para.9).  During the passage of the Bill through Parliament an attempt was made to subject the referendum to a minimum turnout requirement but this was ultimately rejected.   A number of other elections - (for local government, the Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies and the Scottish Parliament) - are to be held on 5th May and these will, in practice, have a bearing on the turnout.

The PVSCA 2011 - overview

The Act is aimed at achieving two objectives: (a) enabling the referendum about AV and (b) reducing to 600 the number of Parliamentary constituencies.  If there is a “yes” vote in the referendum the alternative vote provisions must be brought into force on the same day as the coming into force of an Order in Council giving effect to the Boundary Commissions' recommendations for altering the parliamentary constituencies.

PVSCA Part 1 deals with the referendum (section 1) and who may vote in it (s.2) - i.e. those entitled to vote in parliamentary elections and this does not include serving prisoners.  It is likely that there may be legal challenge on this point.   Section 8 deals with the coming into force (if "yes" vote) or the repeal (if "no" vote) of what are referred to as the "alternative vote provisions" which are set out in section 9 read with Schedule 10 and with Schedule 12 Part 1.  The "alternative vote provisions" are helpfully summarised in the Explanatory Notes to the Act.  

PVSCA Part 2 deals with the 600 constituency proposal.  A reduction in the number of MPs will no doubt save some money but will reduce the accessibility of the constituency MP to many in the electorate and may have an adverse impact on the ability

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Recent developments

Civil Justice Centre Manchester
Modern British governments are ceaselessly active in relation to legal matters.  Here are just some of the latest developments:

Civil Justice:  The Ministry of Justice has announced a consultation "Solving disputes in the County Courts: creating a simpler, quicker and more proportionate system."  The consultation remains open until 30th June 2011.  There are some 20 associated documents which would need to be considered for a full analysis of the proposals - see Ministry of Justice

Newlove report:  The government’s Champion for Active Safer Communities, Baroness Newlove, has detailed what residents, businesses, local agencies and central government can do to begin a generational shift in the country’s approach to activism and tackling neighbourhood crime.  That rather opaque sentence is taken from the Home Office statement about the report by Baroness Newlove - "Our vision for safer and active communities."  The full report may be read here.  It remains to be seen how the government will go about implementation.

Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme:  The Home Office stated that children "are better protected thanks to the final rollout (from 4th April) to all 43 Police Force Areas in England and Wales of the child sex offender disclosure scheme."  A phased introduction of this scheme began in August 2010 following pilot studies in four Police force areas.  The Home Office has

Monday 28 March 2011

Protest: Police Powers .... the "cuts" protest 26th March .... Brian Haw

Following a massive and mainly peaceful protest in London on Saturday 26th March (see The Independent 28th March), the government has stated that it is to review Police Powers - see Home Office "Protest: we will review Police Powers."  In excess of 250,000 people from many parts of the country joined in the protest.  Regrettably, the political impact which the protest may have had has been blunted by the unlawful conduct of some - (Cuts protest violence: 149 charged - The Guardian 28th March).  The Home Secretary - Mrs Theresa May - said:  'I am willing to consider the introduction of an order to ban known hooligans from attending rallies and marches, as happens for people found guilty of football-related violence ... I will look into the powers the police have to force the removal of face coverings and balaclavas.  If the police need more help to do their work, I will not hesitate in granting it to them.'  This may not necessarily be a bad thing if it enables genuine peaceful protest to take place.

The Guardian 28th March

Sunday 27 March 2011

Our legal heritage - No.1 - Early times and the Anglo-Saxon period

Boudicca - Queen of the Iceni
The Anglo-Saxon period dates from around the time of the end of the Roman Occupation (c. 410 AD) to the defeat of Harold at the Battle of Hastings (1066).  Of course, our history goes back long before the Anglo Saxons to the Iron Age (and before) and to the Roman Occupation.  Julius Caesar came to Britain in both 55 and 54 BC.  The Roman Occupation dated from around 43 AD to 410 AD.

Roman Britain - 

Many of our cities and towns date from the Roman period (or earlier) - e.g. London (Londinium), York (Eboracum), Chester (Castra Deva), Bath (Aquae Sulis), Manchester (Mamucium) etc.   The tribes of Iron Age Britain undoubtedly had their "law" and the Romans were governed by their own laws and attempted to stamp their authority over the inhabitants.  The brave stance of Boudicca (Queen of the Iceni) against the might of the Roman occupiers is one our earliest statements of a desire to be a people free from any foreign yoke.  The Romans built highways linking their various garrisons and this is perhaps the origin of the phrase "All roads lead to Rome."  They also created Hadrian's Wall. which features in the film "The Eagle" (based on the novel by Rosemary Sutcliff  "The Eagle of the Ninth).  However, it is more in terms of physical remains that the Roman legacy survives in Britain today.  There is little direct survival of Roman Law though, in the Middle Ages through the Church, principles of Roman Law have come to indirectly influence some aspects of our modern law (e.g. wills).  Roman Law has also been taught in our Universities and courses are still available.  Roman Law had a much more profound influence on the legal systems of other nations including Scotland. 

The Anglo-Saxon Period -

Alfred the Great 849-899
"Custom" was the basis of much of the law in this period and, for the most part, it was unwritten law handed down from one generation to the next.  By the end of the Anglo Saxon period there was an extensive, if archaic law, with various tribunals for its enforcement (e.g. Shire Courts and  Courts of the Hundred - the Court of the Salford Hundred survived up to the Courts Act 1971). It was in this period that Christianity took a hold in much of Britain (e.g. Synod of Whitby) and the Church was to become a powerful force in the land.  Early law reflected the tough conditions of the essentially agrarian society in which life existed: in the words of the legal historian Maitland, it was often "nasty, brutish and short."  Early law was therefore harsh with fierce summary justice.   However, the customary rules came to be supplemented by the Dooms of the Anglo-Saxon Kings.  These were often statements

Saturday 26 March 2011

Selecting Justices of the Supreme Court - New appointments awaited

The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 s.23 created the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.  It has to have a minimum of 12 Justices (or "members").  The court held its first sitting on 1st October 2009 and the previous Lords of Appeal In Ordinary became the first members.  The Act sets out a rather convoluted procedure for the appointment of new justices and, as part of this procedure, the Lord Chancellor has significant powers.  He convenes

Friday 25 March 2011

A Jewel Beyond Price ... the Magistracy of England and Wales ... No.2

Rochdale Magistrates Court
In December 2010 Law and Lawyers looked at the magistracy of England and Wales which was described by the late Lord Bingham as a "democratic jewel beyond price."  25th January 2011 marked the 650th Anniversary of the Justices of the Peace Act 1361 and, during 2011, a number of celebratory events are being held.  These events include a number of Court Open Days enabling the public to see the interior of a court and some of the behind the scenes activity.  The magistracy is a unique way in which members of the public have been able to participate in the administration of justice.

Regrettably, these celebratory events are marred by uncertainty.  Many Magistrates' Courts

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings

Preston Combined Court Centre
A new version of "Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings" has been issued by the Ministry of Justice.  This guidance is very important in relation to interviewing certain victims and witnesses and it contains guidance on using "special measures."  See the Ministry of Justice website.

As the Foreword to the document states - "In the last 20 years, great strides have been made in the way vulnerable and intimidated witnesses are supported before and during the trial to help them give their best evidence in what can be a traumatic and intimidating experience. The measures available in court include video-recorded statements, witness intermediaries and evidence via live link. However, every witness is different and so a more flexible tailored approach to the provision of support is required, that takes account of the witness’ needs and views."

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Expert Evidence reliability to be tested by Judges - Law Commission Report

Courts frequently receive various types of "expert evidence."  Sometimes it can have a very powerful effect and it is common knowledge that reliance on expert evidence has resulted in some serious miscarriages of justice.  Indeed, many examples could be given such as the late Sally Clark (2003) and Angela Cannings (2004). 

The Law Commission has published "Expert Evidence in Criminal Proceedings in England and Wales" (Law Com No. 325 - 21st March 2011).   The Commission's Report contains many recommendations relating to the admissibility of expert evidence in criminal proceedings in England and Wales.  There is also a Draft Bill - set out at Appendix A of the report (page 144).  The Commission has stated:  "Too much expert opinion evidence is admitted without adequate scrutiny because no clear test is being applied to determine whether the evidence is sufficiently reliable to be admitted" - see Law Commission for their fuller statement.

Admission of Expert Evidence - The Commission has proposed that expert evidence would be admissible in criminal proceedings only if certain tests were met:
  •  the court must be satisfied that it would provide information which is likely to be outside a judge or jury’s experience and knowledge, and which would give them help they need in arriving at their conclusions
  • the witness must be qualified to give the evidence;
  • the evidence is not made inadmissible as a result of clause 3 (impartiality)
  • In addition, expert opinion evidence is admissible in criminal proceedings only if it is sufficiently reliable to be admitted (see clause 4).
At first sight, the reader

Saturday 19 March 2011

Lord Neuberger - Speech to the Judicial Studies Board - "Open Justice Unbound?"

Lord Neuberger MR

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, delivered the annual Judicial Studies Board lecture on 16th March - see the full text of the speech at "Open Justice Unbound?"   The question mark in the title of the speech is important because it raises the point that "open justice" may not be "unbound."  Lord Neuberger notes that "open justice" is a long established principle.  This theme is developed over three areas: judgments; the use of modern applications such as broadcasting proceedings, internet, tweeting; and the more controversial topics of "super-injunctions" and "closed proceedings."  A full reading of the speech is recommended.

On judgments - "Judgments must be open not only in the sense of being available to the public, but, so far as possible given the technical and complex nature of much of our law, they must also be clear and easily interpretable by lawyers. And also to non-lawyers. In an age when it seems more likely than ever that citizens will have to represent themselves, this is becoming increasingly important."    Of course, the non-lawyer citizen representing himself is at a massive disadvantage.  It was once said that cases are decided by the "artificial reason and judgment of law, which law is an act which requires long study and experience, before that a man can attain to the cognizance of it" - Prohibitions del Roy 1607.    If there is one certainty, that is more true today than it must have been in the days of King James I of England (VI of Scotland).

Lord Neuberger makes the important point that there is much inaccurate reporting in relation to human rights.   He said, with superb irony - "One of the most fertile grounds for inaccurate reporting is the Human Rights Act 1998; reporting which may tempt some into thinking that it is hardly worth maintaining the State’s inability to deny you a fair trial, to kill or torture you, and to preclude you enjoying freedom of expression. "  Regrettably,

Friday 18 March 2011

Commission on a U.K. Bill of Rights

The Ministry of Justice has announced the membership of the Commission charged with examining how human rights apply to the United Kingdom.  Under the Chairmanship of former Civil Servant Sir Leigh Lewis there will be eight members, six of which are Queen's Counsel.

The names are:
The terms of reference:

  • The Commission will investigate the creation of a UK Bill of Rights that incorporates and builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensures that these rights continue to be enshrined in UK law, and protects and extend our liberties. 

  • It will examine the operation and implementation of these obligations, and consider ways to promote a better understanding of the true scope of these obligations and liberties.

  • It should provide advice to the Government on the ongoing Interlaken process to reform the Strasbourg court ahead of and following the UK's Chairmanship of the Council of Europe.

  • It should consult, including with the public, judiciary and devolved administrations and legislatures, and aim to report no later than by the end of 2012.

The first point makes it clear beyond doubt that withdrawal

Thursday 17 March 2011

Sentencing Council issues new guidelines for assault offences

English law has a range of "assault offences" which, in a general ascending order of seriousness are:  

  • common assault and battery - (common law offences but Criminal Justice Act 1988 s.39 applies)
  • assault occasioning actual bodily harm - (Offences Against the Person Act 1861 s.47)
  • unlawful and malicious wounding or infliction of grievous bodily harm - (Offences Against the Person Act 1861 s.20)
  • unlawful and malicious wounding or causing of grievous bodily harm to any person, with intent to do some grievous bodily harm to any person, or with intent to resist lawful apprehension of detainer of any person - (Offences Against the Person Act 1861 s.18).

In addition to the above there are aggravated versions of common assault and the offences under sections 47 and 20 of the 1861 Act - see (Crime and Disorder Act 1998 s.29 and also section 28 for the meaning of racial or religious aggravation).  Other offences are assault with intent to resist arrest (Offences Against the Person Act 1861 s.38) and Assault on Constables (Police Act 1996 s.89).

Sentencing - The Sentencing Council (which came into being on 6th April 2010) has issued new guidelines for sentencing assault offences.  From 13th June 2011 these will replace existing guidelines but they will apply irrespective of the date of the offence.  The guidelines apply to both Crown Court and to Magistrates' Courts but a separate guideline document has been issued for each court.  The new guidelines apply only to offenders aged 18 and over. 

The new guidelines result from a consultation carried out between 13th October 2010 and 5th January 2011 and the Sentencing Council has taken a fresh approach.  The Council went back to first principles with a view to promoting greater consistency and increasing public confidence in sentencing.  Under the older guidance, the sentencing starting point was based on the "first time offender" who had been found guilty after trial.  This approach has been abandoned for these offences and the new guidance applies the Starting Point and Category ranges to all offenders in all cases irrespective of plea of previous convictions.

An example - Magistrates Courts guideline for Common Assault

Magistrates' Court guideline  stipulates 9 steps to be followed:

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Prisoners votes: Superior Courts: Bradley Manning: European Arrest Warrants: Draft Defamation Bill

Supreme Court of the U.K.
Prisoners and Voting has been in the news a lot recently and has been covered on this blog (e.g. here).  It now appears that the British government has requested the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber to consider the case of Greens and M.T. v U.K..  This is a tactic aimed at, if at all possible, persuading the court to go back on its decision in Hirst No.2.  The UK Human Rights blog looks at this in greater depth - see "Unappealing tactic on prisoner votes?"  One suspects that the Government will be investing a considerable amount of legal energy into trying to overturn Hirst given the Prime Minister's statement that the thought of prisoner's voting made him "physically ill."

The phrase "Superior Court of Record" has been used a few times recently by Parliament - e.g. the Upper Tribunal was created by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and is designated as a "superior court of record."  The modern Court of Protection

Saturday 12 March 2011

Super injunctions: private prosecutions: domestic violence and contact with child


For those wealthy enough to be able to use the courts, a "Super-injunction" may be one way of trying to ensure that personal information is kept private.  Strictly speaking, a super injunction even bans publication of the fact that it exists.  Clearly, the use of such legal weaponry raises some important concerns relating to free speech and, arguably, the right of the public to know about at least some of the activities of prominent personalities.

The Independent 10th March 2011 reported that Sir Fred Goodwin has obtained a super injunction which, so it appears, prevents mention of his former occupation.  This was revealed, under cover of Parliamentary Privilege, by Mr John Hemming MP who has asked for a parliamentary debate on freedom of speech.  Of course, commonsense alone says that there must be more to the injunction than merely preventing mention of the former occupation.  The development, by the judiciary, of this form of injunction came to light in the Trafigura case in 2009 - see The Guardian 20th October 2009 "Trafigura: anatomy of a super-injunction."  A committee under the chairmanship of Lord Neuberger (Master of the Rolls) has been examining these injunctions and is due to report in the near future.

Private Prosecution - There is a right

Thursday 10 March 2011

Is there a case for any form of British Bill of Rights?

Law and Lawyers recently took an initial look at the report "Bringing Rights Home ...." and noted that it was the European Convention on Human Rights which has, especially since the Human Rights Act 1998, acted as a moderating influence against the tide of authoritarianism emerging from within the British Parliament.    The "think tank's" report has been criticised by Aidan O'Neill QC - see UK Supreme Court Blog "Bringing Rights Home - Again?".  Mr O'Neill argues that the UK could not abandon the European Convention and yet remain a member of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Nevertheless, the European Convention on Human Rights does not guarantee the British citizen all that he or she might desire.  For instance, there is nothing in the Convention to protect jury trial.  After all, continental legal systems developed in different ways to our "common law" system - (see Diverse Systems of Law).  All that the Convention demands

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Freedom of Information and Data - Protection of Freedoms Bill No.8


The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the FOIA) deals with access to information held by "public authorities" (as defined in the Act - s.3).  Section 1(1) creates a duty to confirm or deny - "Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled - (a) to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and (b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him."   However, the Act provides for exemptions to this duty: e.g. information relating to defence, international relations, communications with Her Majesty and Honours etc.  The 2000 Act also provides for an Information Commissioner and an Information Tribunal (s. 18).  Various Codes of Practice are issued under Part III of the Act.

The Data Protection Act 1998 replaced the earlier 1984 Act.   The Act provides for

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Is this right? Stories which make people wonder ...

Five items which make one wonder but, at this stage, specific views are not offered:-:

1. The Police may be going to protest over cuts ... The Guardian 8th March ... Should they?   See the earlier post - Peaceful Protest

2.  Does this sex discrimination claim merit £70,000 in compensation?  The Guardian 8th March. [NB: No liability was admitted]. See also Criminal Injuries Compensation

3.  Did this man merit a greater fine?  Man fined £50 for burning poppies ....  The Court's judgment is here.  See the Magistrates' Courts Sentencing Guidelines at page 88 - which the District Judge who passed sentence "must" work to.  See further the earlier post - "Rights entail responsibiltiies"

4.  Why is the government doing this?  New Statesman.  Here is a link to the draft convention.

5.  Should these places be run by private enterprise?  The Guardian 6th March.  It may be the way of the future - "Breaking the Cycle ...."

In relation to many of these stories it is all too easy to "shoot from the hip."  That is not "legal method".  As always, the considered views of readers are welcome.

An entirely different matter - Mr Chris Jefferies has been released from Police bail - The Independent
Please see the earlier post Police Powers - Bail

Monday 7 March 2011

Copyrighting Stormtroopers; Squatters; Adoption

Update 27th July 2011:  Supreme Court judgment in Lucasfilm case.   See also The Guardian 27th July.

Some interesting cases in the Supreme Court

Copyright is an important aspect of "intellectual property."  Is a Star Wars stormtrooper's helmet a "sculpture" and therefore capable of being protected by Copyright?  That is one of the questions before the Supreme Court in Lucasfilm v Ainsworth.  The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) did not think it was a "sculpture" (judgment).  Another question in the case is whether, even if it were to be a sculpture, the matter is enforceable in this country given that this is an American copyright.  A good preview of this case may be read on the UK Supreme Court blog.   A further and very different case is that of Al Rawi in which judgment is expected in the near future.  Again, the UKSC Blog has a good write up about this important and interesting matter.  The key issue

Saturday 5 March 2011

It's been an interesting week ... ebb and flow ...

 Assange is to appeal

We have had a fascinating few days.  I am indebted to CharonQC for drawing attention to a comment by Geoffrey Robertson QC (speaking for the defence) at Julian Assange's extradition hearing in February - "Sexual encounters have their ups and downs, their ebbs and flows.”    Mr Assange has lodged an appeal with the High Court - (see Telegraph) - against the decision of the judge who heard the case at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court - (see Law and Lawyers 24th February).  At the heart of the case is the thorny legal and highly political matter of European Arrest Warrants and this is discussed in some detail on CharonQC's interesting "Without Prejudice" podcast.

New Queen's Counsel

120 lawyers have been granted the coveted rank of Queen's Counsel (QC).   Joshua Rozenberg wrote about this in The Guardian 2nd March - "Queen's Counsel: the merits of giving the best advocates a badge of excellence."  The Ministry of Justice also mentioned it but were at some pains to point out that they are no longer involved in the selection process which is now done by selection panels independent of the government and the professions.  Six of the appointees are "Honoris Causa" which is awarded to those who have made major contributions to the law of England and Wales outside of the courts.  BabyBarista blog takes a somewhat light-hearted view of the appointments system.

Contempt of court and media websites

The Daily Mail and The Sun have been held to be guilty of contempt of court having published on their websites a photograph of a defendant in an ongoing criminal trial - see Attorney-General v Associated Newspapers [2011] EWHC 418 (Admin). The case is discussed on the UK Human Rights blog - "Warning for bloggers and tweeters as newspapers found guilty of contempt of court."

Fostering and religion-based views

Mr and Mrs Johns had applied to Derby City Council to be short-term foster carers.  They hold strong views,based on their religious belief, that sexual relations should be confined to male/female marriage.  The Council considered

Thursday 3 March 2011

Vetting and Barring and Criminal Records: The Protection of Freedoms Bill No.7

Vetting and Barring (VBS)

Background - In August 2002, two girls - Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman - went missing in the small town of Soham.  Two weeks later their bodies were discovered.  Ian Huntley (School Caretaker) and Maxine Carr (Teaching Assistant) were arrested.  In December 2003 Huntley was convicted of the murder of the two girls and Carr was convicted of perverting the course of justice.  Huntley received two life sentences and Carr was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment.  She is now released and lives under a new identity.  See Soham Murders.   The Home Secretary of the day (David Blunkett) set up an inquiry to be chaired by Sir Michael (now Lord) Bichard.  The inquiry reported in June 2004 and the report was very critical of the Police.  It transpired that Huntley had been investigated for a considerable number of alleged sexual offences involving young girls but he had not been charged with any.  Humberside Police thought it to be unlawful (under Data Protection legislation) to hold data regarding allegations which did not lead to convictions even though other forces were doing so.  Bichard recommended the establishment of a registration scheme for those wishing to work with children or vulnerable adults.  The outcome was the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (SVGA) which set up what is referred to as the "Vetting and Barring Scheme" (VBS) which is now administered via the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

Reviews of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act - It is interesting to note

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Peter Jackson J - sitting in the Court of Protection - has held that, in the context of Steven Neary's case, certain media outlets may be represented at hearings - see London Borough of Hillingdon v Steven Neary and Mark Neary [2011] EWHC 413 (COP).    The case is a very disturbing application of Deprivation of Liberty powers in relation to a vulnerable person.  This ruling applies just to the Neary case and is not therefore to be regarded as a precedent since the facts of individual cases will differ.   Nevertheless, it is a good result for casting light upon the workings of this court.  The Telegraph 1st March - "Secretive Court of Protection in legal reporting first over man's battle with Council."

Previous posts: 9th December 2010 and 22nd December 2010.
Other Blogs:  CharonQC 2nd March 2011  and Anna Raccoon blog and Anna Raccoon 6th December.

"Counter-terrorism powers" - The Protection of Freedoms Bill - No.6

The United Kingdom has very extensive "anti-terrorism" legislation.  The modern history of this perhaps begins with the enactment - over just two days in November 1974 - of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974.  This was presented as the government's response to the Birmingham Pub Bombings - (Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town) - on 21st November 1974 though it is now clear that the legislation had been drafted previously (here). There were public marches demanding that Parliament restore the death penalty.   In the event, six men ("The Birmingham Six") stood trial at Lancaster Castle before Bridge J (later Lord Bridge of Harwich) and a jury.  They were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.  In 1991, at their third appeal, the convictions were quashed.  In the light of this and certain other miscarriage of justice cases, a Royal Commission on Criminal Justice was set up which reported in July 1993.  Between 1974 and the end of the 20th century the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provision) Acts held sway but they were replaced by the Terrorism Act 2000.  Since then there have been the following major enactments concerning terrorism: Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and  Terrorism Act 2006 

Whilst obviously aimed primarily at terrorism, a considerable number of civil liberties concerns arose due to perhaps over-zealous application of some of the provisions especially Terrorism Act 2000 sections 43-47..  There are two "stop and search" powers - section 43 and 44.  Section 43 requires reasonable suspicion that the person stopped is a terrorist.  Section 44 enables the police to stop and search any person or any vehicle within an authorised area so as to search for articles of a kind which could be used for terrorism. The Police could seize