Wednesday 30 March 2016

Da Silva v United Kingdom ~ European Court of Human Rights 30th March 2016

The European Court of Human Rights has handed down judgment in the case of Da Silva v United Kingdom.   

Charles de Menezes was shot dead at Stockwell underground station (London) on 22nd July 2005, soon after he had been mistakenly identified as a suicide bomber just 2 weeks after the 7 July London bombings in which 52 people died.

The court's judgment was the culmination of a seven-year legal battle in a case first lodged with the Strasbourg court in 2008 by de Menezes’s cousin, Patricia Armani Da Silva, who was living with him in London at the time of his death.

Thursday 24 March 2016

Justice Committee ~ The Magistracy

On 22nd March the House of Commons Justice Committee took evidence on the role of the magistracy.  I am sure that many will find the session interesting - to say the least!  You may have to wait a few seconds for the video playback to appear.

Reference material:

Sir Brian Leveson (President of the Queens Bench Division) -Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings

Toward the end of the Justice Committee session there is some reference to the "Community Magistrates" in New Zealand - see Restorative Justice in New ZealandDistrict Court Justices of the Peace; and District Court Community Magistrates.

It's also interesting that this IPSOS MORI 2011 report was referred to - The strengths and skills of the judiciary in the Magistrates' Courts

Also, when the committee and its witnesses mentioned benches comprising a District Judge and Magistrates I could not help but think back to the Auld Report in 2001.   I am aware that such benches are convened from time-to-time but the criteria for doing so are not particularly clear.

R v Adam Johnson

Crown Court ~ Bradford
Updated - with link to sentencing remarks 

Former Sunderland professional footballer Adam Johnson will come before a judge at the Crown Court in Bradford today for sentencing on 3 counts:  Two of sexual activity with a child (Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 9) and one offence of Meeting a child following sexual grooming (Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 15).

The maximum sentence possible under section 9 is 14 years imprisonment and under section 15 it is 10 years.

The judge will hear from the prosecution and the defence.  ALL the facts of the case will be considered and also any Pre-Sentence Report and other material such as any Victim Personal Statement.  The objectives of sentencing - e.g. punishment of offenders, reduction of crime (including deterrence), reform and rehabilitation of offenders - will be in the judge's mind.  Guidance on sentencing has to come from the Definitive Guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Undercover Policing Inquiry

Pitchford LJ
Concerns about undercover policing have been rumbling on for some time - Guardian article by Helen Steel 23rd March 2016 "Under cover police spied on me.  Who else did they do it to?"

An Inquiry - being held under the Inquiries Act 2005 - is underway under the chairmanship of Lord Justice Pitchford - Inquiry website.  The Inquiry opened 28th July 2015 when the chairman made his Opening Remarks.  More details of the Inquiry are available HERE and see the Terms of Reference.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Operation Midland ends. The question of anonymity.

Operation Midland, an investigation by the Metropolitan Police into allegations of a VIP paedophile ring,  has been concluded without any charges being brought.  See the BBC News report 21st March ; Telegraph "Operation Midland: The story behind the Met's controversial VIP paedophile ring investigation" and the Statement by the Metropolitan Police.

Established in November 2014, Operation Midland was set up to examine historical claims that a VIP paedophile ring operated in Westminster, with allegations that boys were abused by a group of powerful men from politics, the military and law enforcement agencies.  The investigation was triggered by allegations made by a man referred to as "Nick" who claimed that he had been personally abused during the period 1975 to 1984.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Imprisonment for Public Protection ~ R v Roberts and others

As at 4 March 2016, there are over 4,000 still in custody under a sentence of IPP (about 5% of the total prison population) and a significant further number who are subject to the licence terms of their IPP and therefore still subject to recall to continue to serve their sentence of IPP  

Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) continues to bedevil the legal system.  In R v Roberts and others [2016] EWCA Crim 71, the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) - considered applications for an extension of time in which to apply for leave to appeal against sentences of imprisonment or detention for public protection imposed between 2005 and 2008 under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003).  All of the applications were dismissed.

It was recognised that prisoners remained in custody long after the minimum term had expired but, as far as the court was concerned, it was for Parliament to remedy the situation.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Happy Valley ~ a look at some of the legal angles

The BBC's crime drama "Happy Valley" has just completed its second series.  It was full of legal interest.  Set in and around West Yorkshire's Calder Valley, this gritty and sometimes violent story line was centred on Police Sergeant Cawood played by Sarah Lancashire and the various people she encountered as part of her work including a young man - Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) - who is the father of Cawood's grandson.  Royce is a dangerous individual who copes with life by taking control of everything and everyone around him.

Series 1 saw Royce involved

Wednesday 16 March 2016

UK and the EU (6) - Will BREXIT be a simple process?

There will undoubtedly be many members of the public thinking that a BREXIT vote on 23rd June to leave the European Union (EU) will mean that the UK is out immediately.    Nothing could be further from the truth since the legal process for withdrawal will be via Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU50) which was briefly looked at in BREXIT - Referendum - a few points (20th February 2016).  This is, as yet, an untested process and the "smart money" is on things taking a long time given the very extensive impact that the EU has had on national law.

On 8th March, the EU Select Committee of the House of Lords took evidence from Sir David Edward QC (a former Judge of the Court of Justice of the EU) and Professor Derrick Wyatt QC.  The Committee was concerned about the "What will Happens" if the UK actually does vote to leave the EU.  The session is available via Parliament's website - UK Exit Ramifications - and it well worth watching by anyone truly interested in seeing some of the problems that will be highly likely to arise as part of what will inevitably be highly difficult negotiations between the UK and the EU.  

Monday 14 March 2016

25 years ago today ~ release of the Birmingham Six ~ problems remain

25 years ago today the "Birmingham Six" were released - BBC Home On this Day 14th March 1991- after their convictions for murder were quashed.  There have been no subsequent arrests.

On 21st November 1974 two explosions in Birmingham wrecked the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town.  21 people were killed and 182 injured.  A third explosive device failed to detonate.  Six men - (Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker) - were arrested and subsequently tried in the Shire Hall of Lancaster Castle before Bridge J and a jury.  The trial commenced on 9th June 1975 and the men, having been convicted, were sentenced to life imprisonment on 15th August 1975.  Bridge J's career was to go on to the pinnacle of the judiciary.  He sat as a Lord of Appeal In Ordinary in the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords from 1980-92 - (Obituary in The Independent). The six convicted men were to spend 16 years in prison.  In November 1974 I blogged about the case and its aftermath including the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice which reported in 1993 and the subsequent setting up of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

Saturday 12 March 2016

UK and the EU (5) - Referendum - "People need facts not slogans" (Lord King)

The European Union Referendum Act 2015 stipulates that the government must publish certain information prior to the referendum.  This duty has been complied with:-

The Statement required by section 6 was announced by the Prime Minister on 22nd February - "The best of both worlds: the UK's special status in a reformed EU

Statement required by section 7 - Alternatives to membership

Second statement under section 7 (April 2016) - Rights and obligations of EU membership.

Previous "background" posts relating to the referendum are:-

Thursday 10 March 2016

The Hatton Garden Heist sentencing ~ changing role of prosecution

Six men guilty of offences in connection with the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit vault burglary in April 2015 have been sentenced - read the Sentencing remarks of His Honour Judge Kinch QC

The offences:

The relevant offences were - Count 1 Conspiracy to commit burglary; Count 2 Conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property and Count 3 Concealing, converting or transferring criminal property. Counts 1 and 2 are Statutory Conspiracies - see Criminal Law Act 1977 section 1 where conspiracy is defined.

Count 3 is a "money laundering" offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 section 327.


Tuesday 8 March 2016

UK and the EU (4) - Freedom of movement of persons

Previous posts in this series:

This post looks at freedom of movement of workers considered by the EU to be essential for a successful internal market.  Previous posts in this UK and the EU series are:

UK and the EU (1) - History and Background

UK and the EU (2) - The EU Treaties - key points

UK and the EU (3) - The Parliament, the Commission and the Court

Link to the Consolidated Versions of the Treaties.

Freedoms fundamental to the European Union:

Monday 7 March 2016

UK and the EU (3) - The Parliament, the Commission and the Court

European Commission
The earlier post - UK and the EU (2) - took a necessarily brief look at the Treaties which are, essentially, the constitution of the EU.  This post takes a closer look at three of the Institutions of the EU - the European Parliament; the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).  Europa - Links to all the EU Institutions

: The European Parliament :

The European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level. The 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEP) are directly elected for 5 year terms by voters in all Member States to represent people’s interests with regard to EU law-making and to make sure other EU institutions are working democratically.

Over the years and with subsequent changes in European treaties, the Parliament has acquired substantial legislative and budgetary powers that allow it to set, together with the representatives of the governments of the Member States in the Council, the direction in which the European project is heading. In doing so, the Parliament has sought to promote democracy and human rights – not only in Europe, but also throughout the world.

Friday 4 March 2016

Vicarious liability in tort

The Supreme Court has given judgment in two cases concerned with Vicarious Liability in Tort.  Previous posts: Vicarious liability for intentional tort (16th January 2012) and Catholic Child Welfare case (21st November 2012).

The cases:

Cox v Ministry of Justice [2016] UKSC 10 was a case brought against the Ministry of Justice by Mrs Cox in respect of injury caused to her by the negligence of a prisoner assigned to work in the prison kitchen.  Whilst the more usual case of vicarious liability involves the responsibility of an employer for the actions of an employee, this form of liability has been applied in other situations.

UK and the EU (2) - The EU Treaties - key points

The previous post looked briefly at the post World War 2 genesis of the European Union (EU) and noted the Treaties creating and empowering the EU and how Parliament has enacted legislation to give effect to them - e.g. European Communities Act 1972.

As even a brief look at the Treaties will demonstrate, the Union has enormous power and influence in so many areas of crucial importance.  The infographic published by the Delegation of the EU to the United States is a clear presentation of the economic importance of the EU.  Please also see the Europa website - The European Union.

The Treaties are the basic law of the European Union.  This post takes a necessarily brief look at them and notes some of the key features.  The law of the EU is a very extensive subject.  For detailed analysis see texts such as Professor Robert Sch├╝tze EU Treaties and Legislation, EU Law: Text, Cases and Materials (Paul Craig and Grainne de Burca) and also European Union Treaties. by Rudolf Geiger, Daniel-Erasmus Khan and Markus Kotzur.


Thursday 3 March 2016

CCRC Statement following R v Jogee

As a consequence of the decision of the Supreme Court of the UK in R v Jogee, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has issued this statement.  The statement notes that there may be a "significant impact on the number of applications received by the CCRC" but also notes that "the decision will affect other cases only in very specific circumstances."

The statement then goes on to say:  "The number of cases that end up back at the Court of Appeal will very much depend on matters such as how the individual circumstances of cases relate to the facts in Jogee  and on how the attitude of the Court of Appeal develops in relation to Jogee-type cases."

Wednesday 2 March 2016

UK and the EU (1) ~ History and Background

1945 - A Europe destroyed by war:

In 1945, a person standing almost anywhere in Europe would have found himself in a nation which was, or had until recently, been ruled by a brutal regime.  Tens of millions of Europeans were dead as a result of World War 2.  Hundreds of millions of the survivors were homeless, hungry or jobless. Europe’s economy lay in ruins.  Those grim days are becoming almost beyond living memory as the generation principally involved passes away.  Britain and its "Empire" (as it was then known) along with all its other allies had fought with extreme valour to prevent what Winston Churchill had called "a new dark age" and in those difficult times there was at least the opportunity to build political and other institutions so as to secure a brighter and better future for the peoples of Europe.  Those who had lived through two world wars had the vision of founding a Europe of peace based on the values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The path to a better future: