Friday 26 January 2018

Short roundup - Various items

Rose Heilbron KC
It's Friday again and, as the daylight lengthens, January draws to its close.  Here are some of the stories of interest this week.

Following on from this post on the last executions to take place in the UK, Justice Gap reminds us of the remarkable legal career of barrister Rose Heilbron and her defence of George Kelly and Charles Connelly in what came to be called the "Cameo Cinema Murder" case - Justice Gap 26th January.  In January 1950 Rose Heilbron became the first female barrister to appear as leading counsel in a murder trial. The stakes and pressure upon her couldn’t have been higher. Her client, George Kelly, would hang if convicted.  In fact, at a second trial, he was convicted of murder and was hanged at Liverpool's Walton Jail on 28th March 1950.   The story reveals a failure by the authorities to disclose evidence to the defence.  Kelly's conviction was posthumously quashed by the Court of Appeal in 2003 - read the judgment.

Rose Heilbron became Mrs Justice Heilbron and, in that capacity, presided at the 1981 "Handless Corpse" murder trial held at Lancaster - HERE.  The costs of the trial were raised in Parliament by way of an adjournment debate - HERE.

Failure of disclosure continues to be a serious issue and the House of Commons Justice Committee has decided to consider it - Parliament - Disclosure Procedures to be Investigated.   Previous post 20th December 2017.

The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation - Max Hill QC - has issued his first report - HERE.   Mr Hill comments - "My first Annual Report on the operation of the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006 has been presented to Parliament today. It can be accessed here.  This Report deals with the operation of the legislation during the year 2016. It is a feature of the timing of my appointment that my first Report deals with the period before I became Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on 1st March 2017. There was much to consider and review, though I recognise that many readers and commentators will be awaiting my review of the use of our legislation during 2017, in the aftermath of the atrocities commencing with the Westminster Bridge attack on 22nd March last year. With that in mind, I can confirm that I am in the final stages of completing a separate Report into Operation Classific, which was the Police investigation into the Westminster Bridge attack. I hope to present that Report to the Home Office next month."

On Thursday 25th January an Inquest commenced into the death in 1995 of Private Sean Benton - Liberty - Deepcut deaths: Fresh inquest into death of Private Sean Benton to begin.  A fresh inquest into the death of Private Sean Benton – who was found dead at Deepcut barracks in 1995 – will begin at Woking Coroner’s Court today.  His Honour Judge Peter Rook QC will hear evidence from Sean’s family on the first day of the inquest, which is expected to last at least two months and hear from around 150 witnesses.  The Inquest engages Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Judicial independence - that is, the right to decide cases according to law without fear of adverse consequences - is a vital feature of democracy.  Policy Exchange has just debated whether there are limits to judicial independence.  Watch the debate here.

Sovereignty in the United Kingdom rests with the Queen in Parliament BUT, in the light of much that actually happens in the political world, it is worth considering just how effective Parliament is when it comes to controlling / holding to account the executive (i.e. Ministers of the Crown).  Is it the case that, in practice, Ministers are mostly controlling Parliament?  See the interesting article at LSE - British Politics and Policy.

Joint Enterprise Criminal Liability has been debated by the House of Commons.  Watch the debate HERE.

Brexit - negotiation documents on the current Article 50 negotiations have been published by the EU as part of the European Commission's approach to transparency on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom.  These documents - mostly in the form of slides - show the consequences - dare one say "impact" - of Brexit on several sectors (e.g. aviation).  The consequences are not "pretty" particularly if there is a "hard" Brexit as some in politics appear to want.  Europa - Commission publications.

A Parliamentary Research Briefing has been prepared on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill which is now before the House of Lords.  Second reading is over two days- 30th and 31st January.

A Weekly Digest on Criminal Law is prepared by 6KBW.  Here is the one for 22nd January.

If it comes to clinical negligence litigation would you expect the NHS to argue that the area you lived in reduced your life expectancy?  Learned Friend is the blog of Nigel Poole QC and his latest post (25th January) is worth reading.

The stories will keep coming .... but that's it for now!  Enjoy the weekend and happy reading.

Snowdrops - life is returning to the garden

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