Thursday 28 June 2018

Grenfell Inquiry ~ Catching up

The fire:

On 14th June 2017 a fire ignited in 24-storey Grenfell Tower, Kensington, London.   Emergency services received the first report (999 call) of the fire at 00:54 BST.  The call related to a fire having broken out in Flat 16.   On receipt of the 999 call, fire engines were sent to the scene and the first arrived at 00:59 hrs.  During the earlier stage of the fire service response, the Incident Commander was Mr Michael Dowden.

The fire quickly spread through the building - see the images at BBC News 18 June 2018.   72 people died and many more were injured.

Wednesday 27 June 2018

European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 ~ Overview

Royal Assent was given on 26th June and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 is now on the statute book - Royal Assent is explained by Parliament HERE.

It is an Act to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and make other provision in connection with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.  Its progress through Parliament commenced on 13 July 2017 and is recorded HERE.  The Bill, as first introduced, is HERE.  The Act contains 25 sections and 9 Schedules.  This post is an overview of the Act.  Further articles and blogposts are inevitable and I will add links at the end of this post as and when they become available.

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Geraldine Finucane's application for judicial review - Supreme Court

"The abiding impression of this period in Northern Ireland must be of an extremely dark and violent time in which a lawyer could so callously and tragically be murdered as a result of discharging his professional legal duties" - report by Sir Desmond de Silva QC December 2012.

On 26th and 27th June, the Supreme Court hears  Geraldine Finucane's application for Judicial Review.   The judgment under appeal is HERE.

Monday 25 June 2018

Note on the Article 50 Challenge ~ High Court 12th June

Two years after the EU Referendum an interesting constitutional question lingers - How did the UK decide to leave the EU? 

Article 50.1 TEU  stipulates that - "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements."  Then Art 50.2 - A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention.  Art 50 defines the leaving process in EU law and the structure is clear enough and logical - decision followed by notification of the decision.  Also, as far as the EU is concerned, how a Member State decides to leave is a matter for the "constitutional requirements" of that State.

It is not surprising

Saturday 23 June 2018

Brexit - Two years on and the shambles continues

Two years after the EU referendum we continue to stumble onwards into the largely unknown world of post-Brexit.  Here is a woeful story of governmental incompetence.  The economic prognosis does not look good - see the analysis by the Centre for European Reform - What's the cost of Brexit so far?  - and the announcement by Airbus- and the views of BMW - BBC News 22nd June - and Siemens - Guardian 23rd June.  Complex issues regarding important sectors such as aviation remain to be solved and the almost intractable problem of the border between Ireland (in the EU) and Northern Ireland (out of the EU) has not yet achieved an agreed solution.

Thursday 21 June 2018

EU (Withdrawal) Bill ~ update (2) - meaningful vote

Commons 20th June 2018
The previous post looked at the situation regarding the promised "meaningful vote" on either a Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the European Union as part of the Article 50 process or the failure to achieve such an agreement.  As part of the the "ping pong" process relating to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill the Lords amendments returned to the Commons on 20th June.

Few objective observers could conclude that the proceedings on 20th June were satisfactory.  They are described by Metro News 21st June - "UNWELL and heavily pregnant MPs had to endure three hours of parliamentary debate to save Theresa May’s Brexit Bill — in defiance of Commons convention.   A clearly ill Labour backbencher Naz Shah was helped into Westminster in a wheelchair clutching a sickbowl after spending the last three days in hospital.   Her party colleague, Laura Pidcock, who is heavily pregnant, was also there, as was Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson despite being past her due-date, and amid protests by other MPs."

But what happened regarding the Bill? 

Tuesday 19 June 2018

EU (Withdrawal) Bill ~ update (1) - meaningful vote

The image shows the result of a House of Lords vote on 18th June 2018 on what can be called the "meaningful vote" amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.  The vote took place during the "ping pong" process.

The government had said that Parliament would have a "meaningful vote" on whether to accept or reject any Withdrawal Agreement negotiated under the Article 50 process but, even in the slippery world of politics, there has perhaps never been as meaningless a phrase as "meaningful vote."  Just what did "meaningful" mean?   It appeared to mean a vote to either accept whatever was on offer or simply leave the EU without a deal.  Some in Parliament have tried to give the phrase a more definite meaning with a view to Parliament having a greater say in the event that there are serious problems in achieving a Withdrawal Agreement.

Monday 18 June 2018

Reporting restrictions and the importance of open justice

Recently, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) was committed to prison for contempt of court in that he pleaded guilty to breaching a reporting restriction made in connection with a trial in the Crown Court sitting in Leeds.  The restriction was a "postponement order" made under Section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981.  As defendants arrived for their trial, Mr Robinson broadcast via Facebook Live.  His broadcast lasted for over an hour.  This previous post looked at the basics of the law on contempt. 

Saturday 16 June 2018

Upskirting ~ objection to a Private Members' Bill

The Voyeurism (Offences) Bill  is a Private Members' Bill aimed at the unpleasant and upsetting practice of "Upskirting" which typically involves offenders using a mobile phone to take a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks.

It appears from this announcement  that the bill is supported by the government but, on 15th June - (one of the Fridays set aside for Private Members' Bills) -it made no progress because it was blocked when Sir Christopher Chope MP (Conservative, Christchurch) objected - BBC News 15th June.  The Bill is now listed for 2nd Reading on 6th July.  

Wednesday 13 June 2018

EU (Withdrawal) Bill - back to the Commons (2) - 12th and 13th June

On Tuesday 12th June and Wednesday 13th, the House of Commons considered House of Lords amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - the "ping pong" process.  The bill is intended to prepare domestic law for the UK's departure from the European Union - ("Brexit").   See previous post 12th June.

The list of amendments as put forward by the House of Lords is HERE.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

EU (Withdrawal) Bill - back to the Commons (1)

Under the terms of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the UK will leave the EU on 29th March 2019 - that is, two years after the Prime Minister exercised the power given to her by the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill returned to the House of Commons on Tuesday 12th June for consideration of amendments made to the bill during its time in the House of Lords - the "ping pong" process.  The bill is intended to prepare domestic law for the UK's departure from the European Union.  See Parliament 12th June - a useful link offering access to the entire progress of the bill.

Monday 11 June 2018

Tommy Robinson protest highlights Judicial Independence

"The judiciary shall decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason."

The Judiciary of England and Wales has its own website.  It used to have .gov in the address (URL).  It is now

Although the change seems to be minor, it was made "to reflect the constitutionally independent position of the judiciary" and that is of massive importance to everyone. 

Thursday 7 June 2018

Abortion and Northern Ireland ~ Supreme Court 7th June 2018

This morning the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the challenge from Northern Ireland to the law on abortion.  The proceedings were brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) which was created, and has the powers give to it by, the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (as amended).  The court held, by a majority of 4 to 3, that the NIHRC did not have the legal right (standing) under the 1998 Act to bring the proceedings.  For this reason the court could not give a legally binding ruling on the substantive questions of the incompatibility of abortion law in Northern Ireland.

Nevertheless, the court had heard argument relating to incompatibility with Convention Rights and the justices undertook a comprehensive examination of the subject and expressed opinion on it.  Technically the opinion is not binding - it is obiter dicta - but, on any view, it has to be taken immensely seriously by those with power to legislate on these matters.  The court's opinion was that:

By a majority of 5 to 2 - In cases of fatal foetal abnormality - the law was incompatible with Article 8

By a majority of 4 to 3 - the law was also incompatible with Article 8 in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

A majority (4) would not have made a declaration that the law of Northern Ireland is incompatible with Article 3.  Two of the Justices would have made a declaration.  Lady Hale did not consider it necessary to decide this issue given her view on Article 8.

See the Court's Judgment and Summary.

For some discussion on this cse see Joshua Rozenberg at Law Society Gazette 18th June.

Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

Hard on heels of the revised Counter-Terrorism strategy (CONTEST) - post of 5th June - comes the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2017-19.  First reading in the House of Commons was on 6th June.  It is a Bill to make provision in relation to terrorism; to make provision enabling persons at ports and borders to be questioned for national security and other related purposes; and for connected purposes.

Text of the Bill as introduced.    Policy BackgroundLegal Background - Fact sheets

Wednesday 6 June 2018

Breach of the Peace

Our earliest Anglo-Saxon laws had an -ill-defined notion of "the peace" which gradually extended to a general peace applicable to the whole land.  Underlying the idea of "the Peace" was the notion of calm and absence of wrongdoing.

The Justices of the Peace Act 1361 refers to "Keeping the Peace."  The Courts Act 2003 created a single "Commission of the Peace" for England and Wales.  Justices of the Peace (JP) are members of the community appointed to discharge the functions of the Magistrates' Courts and other duties given to them by law.  Those functions are also discharged by a cadre of professionally-qualified District Judges (Magistrates' Courts) and, occasionally, other judges.

Tuesday 5 June 2018

CONTEST - Counter-terrorism strategy 2018

Rt.Hon.Sajid David MP - Home Secretary
On 4th June, the Home Secretary announced a revised Counter-Terrorism Strategy - referred to as CONTEST.   The speech making the announcement is HERE.

The revised strategy replaces the previous CONTEST and supersedes the Prevent Strategy, both published in 2011.  It is an updated and strengthened strategy containing 4 strands - Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare. 

The strategy notes

Monday 4 June 2018

Dispersal Orders ~ Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

Football Lads Alliance (FLA) was formed in 2017.  According to its website, FLA believes in making a safer environment and community for all of our children and grandchildren - In being inclusive and acceptable to all colours, creeds, faiths and religions - In holding our politicians accountable to bring about a change in anti-terrorist legislation in order to safeguard all communities now and in the future.  Marches have been held in London (October 2017) and Birmingham (March 2018).

A further event was held by FLA in Manchester on 19th May and a counter-demonstration, organised by "Stand Up to Racism" (SUTR), also took place and attracted a large body of people - Counterfire 22nd May.  SUTR comments - HERE - that FLA "claims to be against all extremism but in recent months it has had far right speakers on its platforms and promoted Islamophobic events such as an intimidating march by far right extremists against the East London mosque in Tower Hamlets."

Friday 1 June 2018

Contempt of Court - Tommy Robinson

See also Later post 5 July - Tommy Robinson Appeal - Observations

A common saying is "A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on."  This was illustrated recently by the Tommy Robinson case.  His case resulted in a vast amount of ill-informed comment and distortion of the truth which it is difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate.  Let's look at the situation.

Recently, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) was committed to prison for contempt of court and this resulted in enormous publicity for him personally and drew attention to the law of contempt.