Tuesday 30 April 2019

Infected Blood Inquiry

The Infected Blood Inquiry, under the Chairmanship of Sir Brian Langstaff has commenced with an Opening Statement from the Chairman, Opening Remarks from Counsel to the Inquiry (Jenni Richards QC) and oral evidence from witnesses.  The Inquiry operates under the Inquiries Act 2005.

The Inquiry was announced by the Prime Minister in 2017 - The Telegraph 11 July 2017.  The Inquiry Terms of Reference were finally issued in September 2018.  The terms are the outcome of a process which included a consultation with interested parties.

The Chairman's opening remarks

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) ~ SB, R [2019] EWCA Crim 565

SB, R [2019] EWCA Crim 565 was an interesting appeal heard in March this year.  SB was convicted of four counts of assault of a child under age 13 by penetration.    The complainant in the case is a teenage girl referred to as M and SB is her grandfather.

A person guilty of this offence is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for life.  SB was actually sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and an extended period of 1 year under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.236A.  [Note:  236A was introduced by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 but is not considered further here].

Complaints about

Saturday 20 April 2019

Abduction of the Shrigley Heiress ~ R v Edward Gibbon Wakefield and others 1827

Wakefield Trial 1827
Deceit and Abduction:

William Turner's family arrived in Blackburn at the beginning of the 19th century and they built a prosperous calico printing mill.  William was the youngest of four sons of the family and was destined to become High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1826 and Member of Parliament for Blackburn from 1832 to 1841.   He acquired the Shrigley Estate near Macclesfield and, in 1825, built the present Shrigley Hall - now a country hotel and spa.  Turner's two daughters were Ellen (born 1811) and Mary Jennett (born 1812 - died in 1817).  Ellen was therefore heiress to Turner's considerable wealth.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the son of a farmer and land agent, was born in 1796 in London.  In 1814, aged 18, he entered the diplomatic service and travelled extensively in Europe.   Within two years, he had fallen in love and eloped with Eliza Pattle, a 16-year old heiress and ward of chancery -(see here for wardship today).

Thursday 18 April 2019

European Parliament Elections - May 2019

The United Kingdom will, almost certainly*, take part in elections to the European Parliament which will be held over 23-26 May 2019.

The European Parliament is directly elected and comprises 751 Members (MEP) who serve for a 5 year term.  The UK has a total of 73 MEP.

Elections in the UK will take place over 12 REGIONS: 9 English regions plus Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The number of MEP per Region are:

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Legal Aid in the Headlines

"The legal aid system needs to be made fairer in terms of how it funds those who require it.  It's fundamentally flawed."

The law empowers the State to do many draconian things.  We can be imprisoned if convicted of criminal offences or even for non-payment of Council Tax.  Children can be removed from the family by way of care proceedings if the family court finds that they are suffering or are likely to suffer "significant harm" - Children Act 1989 s.31.  UK citizenship may be removed from individuals in certain situations - e.g. the Shamima Begum "Jihadi Bride" case.  Coroners investigate unexplained deaths including those which may have resulted from the conduct of agencies of the State itself.

Monday 15 April 2019

Assange ~ Arrest and possible extradition to USA


Wikileaks was founded in 2006 by Mr Julian Assange (born 3 July 1971).  It is an international publishing organisation which came to prominence in 2010 when it published a series of "leaks" provided by Chelsea Manning.  The publications included the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010) and the Iraq war logs (October 2010). 

In November 2010, a Swedish prosecutor issued a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for Mr Assange alleging that he had committed sexual assaults and rape.  He denied the allegations, and said that they were just a pretext for him to be extradited from Sweden to the United States because of his role in publishing secret American documents.

Saturday 13 April 2019

Brexit extension - Withdrawal Act 2019 - Exit Day

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019  (the EUWA 2019) received Royal Assent on Monday 8 April.  For the Bill leading to this Act see previous post 3 April.

Section 1(1) of the Act required - a Minister of the Crown to move a motion in the House of Commons in the form set out in subsection (2).  The motion had to be moved on the day on which the Act received Royal Assent or on the day after that day.

The required form of the motion was –

Friday 5 April 2019

Article 50 Extension to 30 June requested

The Prime Minister, in a letter to the President of the European Council (Mr Donald Tusk), has requested an extension of EU (and Euratom) membership to 30 June 2019.  Article 50(3) permits requests for extension but, for it to take effect, the European Council has to agree unanimously.

A special meeting of the Council had already been scheduled for 10 April.

The letter also states that the UK government

Thursday 4 April 2019

Queen's Consent

This previous post  tracked the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill which, on 3 April 2019, passed through all of its stages in the House of Commons.  For the Bill and other associated documents see Bills before Parliament 

The proceedings in the House of Commons raised an interesting point which is considered in this post.

Power to request extension:

The Bill requires, as a matter of law, the Prime Minister to move a motion asking the House of Commons to agree to the seeking of an Article 50 extension to a date to be specified in the motion.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Legal controversies arising with Brexit

The United Kingdom's uncodified constitution is capable of producing interesting and potentially difficult legal controversies.

A prime example was the Miller / Dos Santos litigation concerning whether the Prime Minister could, using prerogative power, give the notification under Article 50 TEU to the European Union that the UK had decided to leave.  A majority of the Supreme Court held that an Act of Parliament was required to authorise ministers to give Notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union.

Legal power to request extension:

European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill ~ Notes

With updates - (at the end of the post)

The House of Commons will today (3 April) debate a "Business of the House Motion" which, if successful, will permit the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill - (the bill) - to go through all of its House of Commons stages very quickly - by 10pm today.

The Bill is aimed at  requiring, as a matter of law, the Prime Minister to bring a motion to the House of Commons seeking an extension of Article 50 to a date to be specified in the motion.  It would be possible for the Commons to reject the motion.  If the House approved the motion then the PM would be legally required to request an extension to the specified date.

Prime Minister ~ Statement on Brexit 2 April 2019

After a seven hour session of the Cabinet held on 2 April 2019, the Prime Minister made a statement about Brexit - see No. 10 Downing Street - Statement on Brexit.

The PM remained of the view that leaving with a deal was the best solution and a further extension of Article 50 was therefore needed - "one that is as short as possible and which ends when we pass a deal."   The PM recognised that