Sunday, 17 October 2021

Dominic Raab MP - the Lord Chancellor - on judicial review and human rights


On 15 September 2021, the Prime Minister moved Dominic Raab MP from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Ministry of Justice to replace Robert Buckland QC MP as Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor. Raab was "sworn in" as Lord Chancellor on 23 September 2021. 

The reasons for moving Raab to Justice were not made entirely clear but we might surmise that Buckland was considered to be not going far enough with his reforms to judicial review which I wrote about earlier.

Raab was at Justice previously. He was Parliamentary

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Coronavirus - lessons learned - Parliamentary report


The House of Commons and Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee have published their Report, Coronavirus: lessons learned to date, examining the initial UK response to the Covid pandemic.

 Coronavirus: lessons learned to date report published - Committees - UK Parliament

Covid vaccine programme “one of most effective initiatives in UK history” but delay to first lockdown a “serious error” that should have been challenged.

Monday, 4 October 2021

Arrest - some basic notes on a difficult topic


"You have eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police forces of England and Wales. It is critical that every subject in this country can trust police officers when they encounter them and submit to their authority, which they are entitled to believe is being exercised in good faith"
- Sentencing remarks - Lord Justice Fulford - 30 September 2021 - R v Couzens. 

Powers of arrest are a difficult legal topic but they have come to greater public prominence due to the actions of Wayne Couzens who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard. Couzens was a serving Police Officer who purported to arrest Sarah as she was walking home having visited a friend. 

What does the law say about arrest and use of force?

Arrest with a warrant

An arrest may be authorised by the warrant of a Justice of the Peace - Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 section 1 which enables a JP to issue either a summons or issue a warrant to arrest an individual and bring him before a Magistrates' Court.. 

Arrest without warrant:

The Police

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Wayne Couzens - Whole Life order for the murder of Sarah Everard


Sarah Everard (33) was murdered by Wayne Couzens who, at the time, was a serving Police Officer. He was sentenced on 30 September 2021 to a Whole Life Order.

The sentencing remarks are published on the Judiciary website. The remarks are essential reading for anyone who wishes to find the facts and understand the sentencing process.


Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Last Post and Cheerio

This blog commenced over 11 years ago on 14 January 2010 - (A new blog).  The aim was that the blog would throw at least a little light on the laws which govern us and the lawyers who implement those laws. I hope that, at least in some way, that objective has been achieved and that I have spoken for fairness (Pro Aequitate Dicere). As I write, the blog has published 2234 posts and has received 2,877,077 pageviews. I think those are reasonably respectable figures for an individual blog and I am grateful to the many who have shown interest and offered comment.

There is much to be done in the legal world and

A Codified Constitution?

It is frequently argued that the United Kingdom ought to have a codified ("written-down") constitution. For example, here is an earlier look at this question (post 28 November 2019).

The UK's constitutional arrangements are a product of history and the arrangements have to be divined from a complex mixture of common law, legislation, and practices (or conventions) generally accepted by those who exercise powers within the system. There is no single starting-point document labelled "The Constitution".

In Cherry / Miller 2 [2019] UKSC 41, Lady Hale said (para 39) - "Although the United Kingdom does not have a single document entitled "The Constitution", it nevertheless possesses a Constitution, established over the course of our history by common law, statutes, conventions and practice."

That is all very well but, for the majority of citizens, the arrangements are shrouded in mystery rather like the arcane learnings and rituals of some ancient religion.

A codified

UK constitutional arrangements - the legislative power of Parliament


Parliament is the UK's supreme legal authority. Parliament's website sets out the principle -  

"Parliamentary sovereignty is a principle of the UK constitution. It makes Parliament the supreme legal authority in the UK which can create or end any law ....."

The word "sovereignty" has different meanings - (discussed at Watching the Law October 2020).  The term "Parliamentary Sovereignty" refers to the point that Parliament has legislative supremacy - that is, the power to make any law whatever. Further, no person or body is recognised by the law as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament.

The law textbooks

Monday, 16 August 2021

UK constitutional arrangements ~ House of Lords


"For Parliament to have legitimacy, it must be elected. The House of Lords should be a fully elected second chamber" -
Unlock democracy

During the Brexit campaign there was a common complaint that the European Union had a democratic deficit - see, for example, EU facts behind claims: democracy and Civitas - Democracy in the EU (pdf). 

Such concerns are usually levelled at either the "unelected" Commission in Brussels or at the European Parliament which is elected by the voters in the Member States but only has the powers given to it by the European Treaties. 

Critics of the EU

Sunday, 15 August 2021

A villain in the constitution


103 years ago, Parliament enacted the Representation of the People Act 1918.  The Act extended the franchise in Parliamentary elections to men over age 21, whether or not they owned property, and to women aged over 30 who resided in the constituency or occupied land or premises with rateable value of £5 or above, or whose husbands did.

The Act (section 20) also contained provision for Commissioners to prepare a scheme under which "as nearly as possible one hundred members shall be elected to the House of Commons at a general election on the principle of proportional representation ..."  A single transferable vote system was envisaged. In the event, the scheme was never set up and, ever since, the UK has continued with "first past the post" (FPTP) elections for the House of Commons.

First past the post undoubtedly has its supporters

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

The Mark Duggan case ~ a recent report by Forensic Architecture

Questions continue to be raised about the August 2011 shooting in London of Mark Duggan. On 26 May 2021, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), refused a request by "Forensic Architecture" to reopen the investigation by its predecessor (the Independent Police Complaints Commission - IPCC) into the shooting of Mark Duggan on 4 August 2011 - see IOPC letter to Forensic Architecture.

Brief facts:

On the evening of 4 August 2011,

Sunday, 8 August 2021

On-going Inquiries ~ catch up


Here is a "catch-up" on a number of ongoing inquiries - 

Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abusewebsite - set up 7 July 2014 but reconstituted in February 2015 as a statutory inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 - Since 11 August 2016, chaired by Professor Alexis Jay. The inquiry has issued several investigation reports as well as an Interim Report to Parliament (April 2018).  The Inquiry website states 'although our programme of public hearings is now complete, work is ongoing and all information gathered with inform the Chair and Panel's recommendations in the Inquiry's Final Report.'

Undercover Policing - website - set up 12 March 2015 - first Chairman

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Recent articles: Dissolution of Parliament ~ Judicial Review ~ Constitutional failings


A number of interesting articles have been published recently about the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill and the Judicial Review and Courts Bill. 

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill:

This is a government bill introduced to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 and to "revive" the former prerogative power to dissolve Parliament so that a Prime Minister will be able to "call" a general election at any time. It appears that the revived power will exist in law only because of the new Act. The power will not be justiciable in the courts.  See the House of Commons Library briefing 

Two earlier posts

Saturday, 31 July 2021

Justice Committee - Report on the Future of Legal Aid


The House of Commons Justice Committee has published a report - "The Future of Legal Aid" - 3rd Report of Session 2021-22.The Committee noted that - "... , on the evidence submitted to this inquiry, we are concerned that there are not enough legal aid providers in certain areas, and without urgent action, that situation is certain to worsen over the next decade."

After a decade

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Judicial Review and Courts Bill ~ Criminal Courts and Coroners


Crown Court Exeter
The Judicial Review and Courts Bill was published on Wednesday 21 July 2021.  The House of Commons is in summer recess from 22 July to 6 September. A further recess will take place for party conferences - 23 September to 18 October.

This post highlights some of the features of the Bill in so far as criminal justice and Coroners are concerned.

Judicial Review and Courts Bill - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Explanatory Notes

: Criminal Justice :

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Judicial Review and Courts Bill ~ proposed changes to judicial review

The Judicial Review and Courts Bill was published on Wednesday 21 July 2021.  The House of Commons is in summer recess from 22 July to 6 September. A further recess will take place for party conferences - 23 September to 18 October.

Judicial Review and Courts Bill - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Explanatory Notes

Overview of the Bill:

The Bill divides

Friday, 16 July 2021

Northern Ireland ~ important developments

This post notes two significant developments relating to criminal justice and legal process in Northern Ireland. 

Extension of non-jury trial:

An Order extending the possibility of non-jury trial in Northern Ireland to 31 July 2023 was approved. Non-jury trial is available in situations provided for in The Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 and the power to extend the 'effective period' is in section 9.

The Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (Extension of Duration of Non-jury Trial Provisions) Order 2021 (legislation.gov.uk)

Legacy of Northern Ireland's past:

A statement was made in the House of Commons on 14 July by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Brandon Lewis MP).

Coronavirus Restrictions ~ Changes from 19 July

On 14 and 15 July, with a stroke of his Ministerial pen, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Mr Sajid Javid MP) "made" two important Statutory Instruments. The changes apply only to England. The law is different in Wales, Scotland, and in Northern Ireland.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps etc.) (England) (Revocation and Amendment) Regulations 2021 - [SI: 2021/848] - in force 11.55 pm on 18 July 2021. 

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 - [SI: 2021/851] - in force partly on 19 July 2021 but fully in force from 16 August 2021. 

For both sets of new Regulations, the government has

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Overseas Development Assistance (ODA)

Has the statutory duty on Ministers to apply 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) to Overseas Development Aid (ODA) been superseded by a vote in the House of Commons? This may appear to be the case but this post argues that under the statutory scheme it is lawful even if, politically, a reduction in ODA is considered to be undesirable.

The statutory scheme:

The International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015 places a duty on the Secretary of State to "ensure that the target for official development assistance ... to amount to 0.7% of gross national income ... is met by the UK in the year 2015 and each subsequent calendar year" - section 1.

The Secretary of State has to report to Parliament if the target is not met - section 2 - and to explain why the target has not been met. 

The Act plainly envisages that it may not be met if, for example, economic circumstances reduce gross national income.

Section 3 provides

Friday, 2 July 2021

Challenge to Northern Ireland Protocol dismissed by the High Court of Northern Ireland

" ... comparing Northern Ireland to a colony or the Vichy government in France under the Nazi regime during the Second World War are wide of the mark and unhelpful" - Mr Justice Colton.

The Brexit negotiations were a long and tortuous road but resulted in the UK leaving the EU on 31 January 2020. A transition period followed up to 31 December 2020. The UK left under the terms of a Withdrawal Agreement (WA) dated 17 October 2019.  

Article 182 of the WA provides that an integral part of the Agreement is the Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol. (NIP). 

In March 2021, an application for judicial review

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Probation ~ return to a unified service

Amid the fuss surrounding the resignation of the Health Secretary (Matt Hancock MP), a key reform of Probation Service has received minimal media attention.

UK Government - Bigger, better Probation Service to cut crime

With effect from 26 June 2021, a "unified" Probation Service has been created in what is a reversal of the reform introduced by Chris Grayling during his time as Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor.

A House of Commons Library Research Briefing (7 June 2021) notes -

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Colin Pitchfork ~ Government requests reconsideration of Parole Board decision

Updated 13 July 2021

22 November 1983, Narborough, Leicestershire. The body of 15 year old Lynda Mann was found. She had been strangled and raped. Her body was naked from the waist down and her face bloodied. Biologists established that a semen sample taken from her body belonged to someone with Type A blood, and a particular type of enzyme secretion, a combination shared by around 10% of men. (Note 1).

31 July 1986, Dawn Ashworth (aged 15) went missing and her body was found near to the same spot where Lynda has been found. Dawn had also been strangled, raped and left naked from the waist down.

There was a suspect - a 17 year old hospital porter called Richard Buckland. He had been seen near the crime scene. When interviewed he revealed details about Dawn's murder and about her body. Those details were not available publicly at the time. Before long he confessed to the murder of Dawn but denied killing Lynda.

The Police

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

The Lord Chancellor role may be reformed. Again !

The Secretary of State for Justice and and Lord Chancellor - Mr Robert Buckland QC MP - has recently delivered two notable speeches -

25 March 2021 - Speech at Queen Mary University, London - Law and Politics: the nightmare and the noble dream

17 June 2021 - Speech at University College, London

For an early commentary see Law Society Gazette - Joshua Rozenberg 21 June - A constitutional 'linchpin' that came loose

At the outset, it is worth reminding ourselves that much (not all) of what Mr Buckland talked about was included in the Conservative Party's 2019 election manifesto. The government

Russian Interference ~ High court rejects application for judicial review

The High Court has refused permission for a judicial review of the government's decision not to act on the findings of the Intelligence and Security Committee (the ISC) of Parliament that Russia has interfered in UK electoral processes (including the 2016 EU referendum held 5 years ago today) - Leigh Day (Solicitors - 22 June 2021).

The ISC report - published (with redactions) in July 2020 - found credible evidence that there had been attempts to interfere with electoral processes in the UK from at least the time of the EU referendum in 2016 - (see previous post 23 July 2020). 

Despite the concerns expressed by the ISC, there has been no

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Independent Review of the Human Rights Act 1998 ~ responses

An Independent Review of the Human Rights Act 1998 was announced in December 2020 - see previous post 8 December 2020.

The government claimed that it is committed to "upholding the UK's stature on human rights" and that, after 20 years, "it is timely to undertake a review" of the operation of the Human Rights Act 1998,  

The government has also stated that it is committed to remaining a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. The review was set up to consider the relationship between domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights and also the impact of the Human Rights Act on the relationship between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature.

The Review undertook a "Call for Evidence" from 13 January 2021 to 3 March 2021 and that was

Friday, 18 June 2021

Manchester Arena Inquiry - Report Volume 1 - Security Arrangements / Protect Duty consultation

Do YOU know what the Terrorism Threat Level for the UK is at the moment? It is published HERE and, at the time of writing, is SUBSTANTIAL. On 22 May 2017 - the day of the Manchester Arena attack - it was SEVERE.

In a previous post - HERE - I referred to the events of that day as an atrocity. I believe that is a fitting word.  22 innocent people were murdered and hundreds more suffered life-changing physical injuries or psychological harm. Salman Abedi intended to kill or injure as many people as he could. It was a wicked act, inspired by the distorted ideology of the so-called Islamic State.

On 17 June 2021, Sir John Saunders, the Chairman of the Manchester Arena Inquiry, published Volume 1 of his report into the deaths of the 22 victims of the bomb attack. 

The report - Volume 1: Security for the Arena - is the first of three volumes and examines the security arrangements that were in place at the Manchester Arena at the time. The report is available HERE.

In a Statement of 17 June 2021, the Chairman noted that, at the time, the threat level set by the Joint 12 Terrorism Analysis Centre was severe. A terrorist attack

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Jermaine Baker Inquiry

On 12 February 2020 the Home Secretary announced an inquiry into the fatal shooting (on 11 December 2015) by the Metropolitan Police of Jermaine Baker (then aged 28).

This inquiry is being held under the Inquiries Act 2005.

In April 2019, Clement Goldstone QC was appointed as Coroner to conduct the inquest into Jermaine Baker's death. The inquest has been converted to an inquiry.

Inquiry website

The inquiry

Daniel Morgan Independent Panel Report

On 10 March 1987, Daniel Morgan's body was found in the car park of a public house in south London. By any standards it was a brutal murder - Wikipedia. Prosecutions against a number of individuals were abandoned in 2009.

The Daniel Morgan Independent Panel was established in 2013 by the Home Secretary - (at the time, Theresa May MP) - to "shine a light" on the circumstances of Daniel Morgan's murder in 1987 and the handling of the case over the period since 1987. The Independent Panel was chaired by Baroness O'Loan DBE and issued its three volume report on 15 June 2021.

A debate concerning publication

Friday, 11 June 2021

Government "Covid" contracts ~ a finding of Apparent bias

The High Court has granted a declaration that the government's decision of 5 June 2020 to award a contract to Public First gave rise to apparent bias and was therefore unlawful. The contract in question was for the provision of focus group and communications support services and was issued without public notice or competition. The government sought to rely on Regulation 32(2)(c) of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

The Good Law Project put forward three grounds of challenge but was successful only on Ground 3 (Apparent Bias). It was claimed that "the fair minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias, having regard to the personal connections between the decision-makers and the directors of Public First."

The High Court's judgment (Mrs Justice O'Farrell - pictured) is at R (Good Law Project) v Minister for the Cabinet Office and Public First Ltd [2021] EWHC 1569 (TCC).

"Consequential matters" (including any applications for permission to appeal) have been adjourned to a further hearing.

Comment by Good Law Project

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill - No.2 ~ What is in the Bill

"The bill is a missed opportunity to place the role of the Crown in relation to Parliament on a modern footing ....."

Following the State Opening of Parliament on 11 May, the government introduced a new bill to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 - Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill - and see Explanatory notes

An earlier post summarised the background to the bill. This post looks at the bill in greater detail. 

: The Clauses in the Bill : 

Clause 1 - The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 is repealed.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill - No.1 Background


Following the State Opening of Parliament on 11 May, the government introduced a new bill to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 - Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill - and see Explanatory notes

This post summarises the not entirely straightforward background to this bill. A further post will look at the bill in more detail. 

It is useful to begin with a brief look at the two powers which of the Crown in relation to Parliament.

 First, a power to prorogue Parliament. This power continues to exist unaffected by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA). 

Secondly, a power to dissolve Parliament. This power was replaced by the FTPA with the result that a general election may now only come about either by using the mechanisms provided for by the FTPA or, alternatively, by Parliament enacting specific legislation to bring about an election. The latter happened in 2019. 

Prerogative power to prorogue Parliament:

Prorogation marks the end of a Parliamentary session. The next session begins, usually a short time later, with the Queen's Speech.

In practice, Her Majesty the Queen - has the legal power to prorogue Parliament.

The power to prorogue is exercised "on the advice" of the Privy Council. 

In practice, this means that the government of the day advises the Crown to prorogue Parliament and the request is accepted. 

Prerogative power to dissolve Parliament:

Until the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA), the Crown also had the legal right to dissolve Parliament. 

Dissolution is the official term for the end of a Parliament. A dissolution is followed by a general election to elect a new House of Commons. The government remains in office during a dissolution but, by convention, there are some constraints on what it may do during that period.

Votes of Confidence / No Confidence before the Fixed-term Parliaments Act:

A government depended on being able to command the confidence of the House of Commons. The Opposition could bring about a Vote of No Confidence or an incumbent government could let it be known that a particular matter would be regarded as a matter of confidence. The latter was a potent weapon in the hands of a Prime Minister when dealing with perhaps awkward MPs. See Institute for Government 2019 - Confidence Motions and Parliament.

Before the 2011 Act:

Prior to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the Prime Minister was able to secure a general election at a time of his or her own choosing. Basically, all that was necessary was that the Prime Minister "advised" the Queen to dissolve Parliament.

The Queen could, as a matter of strict law, have refused a dissolution but it was never fully clear in what situations that would have been a proper course for the monarch to take. 

Between 1950 and 2011 the "Lascelles Principles" were said to apply. Under those principles the Queen could refuse a dissolution if three conditions applied -

  1. if the existing Parliament was still "vital, viable, and capable of doing its job",
  2. if a general election would be "detrimental to the national economy", and
  3. if the Sovereign could "rely on finding another prime minister who could govern for a reasonable period with a working majority in the House of Commons".

Any attempt to apply principles such as these would place the monarch in an invidious position. In any event, how is the Queen to assess whether a general election would be detrimental to the national economy?

Whatever their status prior to 2011, the Lascelles principles are no longer applicable because the 2011 Act alone governs dissolution.

Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011:

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act provides for general elections to be held every 5 years and for an earlier general election to be held in only two situations - (1) the House of Commons votes by a two-thirds majority to hold an early election or (2) the House of Commons votes no confidence in Her Majesty's government and there is no-one able to form a government in which the House does have confidence within 14 days. 

Parliament may not be dissolved in any other way - section 3(2).

The Act provides expressly that the power to prorogue Parliament is not affected - section 6(1).

In September 2020, the 2011 Act was the subject of a report by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (6th report of session 2019-21) - see  The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (HC 167) - and see the government's response of December 2020.

Political events: 

The coalition government - The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 was enacted during the time of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government (2010-15).  The two parties agreed, as part of their coalition agreement, to legislate for fixed-term Parliaments.

2017 - The 2017 General Election, held on 8 June 2017, resulted in a House of Commons made up of 318 Conservatives MPs, 262 Labour, 35 Scottish Nationalists and 35 others. Even with the support of the 10 Democratic Ulster Unionist (DUP) MPs this was bound to be a difficult result for any government wishing to push forward with its "Brexit means Brexit" agenda.

2019 - In July 2019, Boris Johnson replaced Theresa May as Prime Minister. Suffice to say that Johnson had positioned himself as a leading Brexiteer (or, as some prefer, Brexiter). A key problem for him, and other Brexiteers, was his party's situation in the House of Commons. Three attempts to bring about an early general election using the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 were unsuccessful - (4 September 2019; 9 September 2019; and 28 October 2019). The government failed to secure the required two thirds majority to trigger an early election.

On 28 August 2019, at a Privy Council meeting held at Balmoral, the Queen was advised to prorogue parliament from a date between 9 to 12 September until 14 October - (House of Commons - The Prorogation Dispute of 2019: a year on), 

This was presented by the government as a routine event closing down one parliamentary session and starting the next even though the surrounding circumstances were far from routine given that, as things then stood, UK membership of the EU was to end on 31 October with the distinct possibility that there might have been no withdrawal agreement - (previous post 29 August 2019).  

On 4 September 2019, MPs passed the EU Withdrawal (No.2) Act (previous post), known as the ‘Benn Act’, which forced the government to act to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. The Bill passed the House of Lords on 6 September and received Royal Assent on 9 September - see this explainer published by the  Institute for Government.

Judicial review:

The August 2019 use of the prerogative power of the Crown to prorogue parliament was challenged by judicial review in both Scotland and England. In Scotland, the Court of Session Inner House ruled that the matter was justiciable and that it was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying parliamentary scrutiny of the executive. It was therefore unlawful. In England, the High Court ruled that the matter was non-justiciable - see the judgment. Both the Court of Session and High Court judgments were appealed to the Supreme Court.

On 24 September, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that this purported prorogation was justiciable but was also unlawful - Supreme Court judgment.  The Supreme Court maintained that this long prorogation significantly interfered with the constitutional principles of parliamentary sovereignty and parliamentary accountability. Such an interference required a “reasonable justification”. On the facts, the Court concluded the Government had not offered any justification for the prorogation’s length, let alone a “reasonable” one, and accordingly the decision to prorogue was unlawful.  See the judgment at paras 58-61.

2019 Election:

The Government subsequently secured the support of Parliament for the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019.  The Act received Royal Assent on 31 October 2019. 

The 2019 general election was held on 12 December 2019  with the result that the Conservatives won 365 seats, Labour 203, Scottish Nationalist Party 48, and others 34. This gave the Conservative Party a large majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons. 

The Conservative Party 2019 manifesto included their plan to - "Get rid of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011" which, it was claimed, "had led to paralysis at a time the country needed decisive action."

Since the 2019 election the electoral position of the Conservative Party appears to be very strong in England though not in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. This is despite matters such as the problematic handling of the coronavirus pandemic (including around 128,000 deaths) and continuing difficulties associated with Brexit.

Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (Repeal) Bill:

A draft Bill to repeal the 2011 Act was presented for pre-legislative scrutiny - the Draft Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (Repeal) Bill (pdf) and previous post 1 December 2020

This Bill was the subject of a report issued on 24 March 2021 by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament - see HERE for links to the report. This Bill lapsed at the end of the 2019-21 session of Parliament.

The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill:

The government has now introduced a new bill to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 - Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill - and see Explanatory notes

See the government statement ate the time of introducing the new bill - Statement 12 May 2021.

This Bill provides that the prerogative powers relating to the dissolution of Parliament, and the calling of a new Parliament, will be exercisable again, as if the 2011 Act had never been enacted. This means that, as was the case prior to the 2011 Act, Parliament will be dissolved by the Sovereign, exercising the revived prerogative power, on the request of the Prime Minister.

..... No. 2 ~ What is in the Bill .....

Friday, 4 June 2021

Hillsborough ~ the Police "cover up" ~ compensation for relatives

An agreement has been reached under which South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police will fund compensation payments for the police "cover up" which followed the Hillsborough football stadium tragedy of 15 April 1989 - The Guardian 4 June 2021.

More information is available in this statement by Garden Court Chambers. The settled civil claims were for misfeasance in public office and relate only to damage caused by the cover-up and not the disaster itself. As the statement points out - "the cover up was deliberate, orchestrated and thoroughly dishonest" and was "maintained for nearly 30 years."

The Garden Court statement concludes

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

"Legal system broken" - an article by the Mayor of Greater Manchester


Mr Andy Burnham is the Mayor of Greater Manchester and a former MP.  He held office in the Gordon Brown Labour government as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport from January 2008 to June 2009.

Mr Burnham's article:

On 30 May The Guardian published an article by Mr Burnham - The collapse of the last Hillsborough trial shows our legal system is broken . A sub-heading follows - "It's time to pass a law to make sure no bereaved family is ever again made to relive their trauma in court."

Ever since his appearance

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Hillsborough ~ a duty of candour?

Hillsborough today

 

The aftermath of the Hillsborough stadium disaster of 15 April 1989 continues 32 years after the disaster.

The trial of two former Police Officers and a former solicitor ended when the trial judge - Mr Justice William Davis - ruled that there was no case to answer. The reasons for that decision are set out in the judge's own Ruling on submissions of no case to answer and were considered in this previous post.

CPS:

Although the prosecution

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Justice Committee ~ Report on Coroners


On 27 May 2021, the House of Commons Justice Committee published a report on Coroners - The Coroner Service - 72 pages pdf. 

Quite a lot to read but, at first glance, one comment stood out for me -

 "The Ministry of Justice's work with other departments has not yet resulted in any funding for legal representation for bereaved people at inquests."

The committee is of the view that - " ... it is unfair that public funding is available for bereaved people to be legally represented at inquests only in exceptional cases and subject to a means test. This is the case even at inquests that involve many public bodies each of which are legally represented at public expense. Non-means tested legal aid should be automatically available at the most complex inquests such as those following public disasters. In all inquests where public bodies are legally represented bereaved people should be entitled to public funded legal representation."

It is high time that the government acted to properly and adequately rectify this unjust situation.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Hillsborough ~ Trial judge decides no case to answer at trial of two former Police Officers and a former Solicitor

Addendum - 4 June 2021 - The Guardian 'Judicial' Hillsborough inquiry questionnaires cast doubt on trial ruling

In the Crown Court sitting at a "Nightingale Court" at the Lowry Centre, Salford, Mr Justice William Davis decided a point of law which ended the trial of three men charged with perverting the course of justice in connection with Lord Justice Taylor's inquiry relating to the 15 April 1989 Hillsborough disaster. where 96 people lost their lives. 

The families of Hillsborough victims have condemned the decision as "ludicrous" - The Guardian 26 May.

In another article, The Guardian 26 May 2021 commented that - "

"Two ex-South Yorkshire police officers,

Lord Chief Justice evidence to the Constitution Committee (26 May 2021)


Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, gave evidence to the Constitution Committee today - 26 May 2021.

The session may be viewed HERE.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Coronavirus Restrictions in England ~ Changes from 17 May 2021

This post has been retained for historical purposes. The law changed with effect from 19 July 2021 - see post of 16 July 2021.

Steps Regulations:

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 - SI 2021/364 ("Steps Regulations") - have been amended to move England from the Step 2 area to the Step 3 area, so that the restrictions set out in Schedule 3 to the Steps Regulations apply in England from 17 May 2021.

The amendment was achieved by The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps and Other Provisions) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 - (SI: 2021/585).

Certain other legislation has been amended in addition to amendment of the Steps Regulations.

The Cabinet Office has published a useful summary of the changes - Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do

Update June 2021:

The Steps Regulations will continue in force until 18 July 2021 - The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps and Other Provisions) (England) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2021 - SI: 2021/705.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Covid ~ announcement of an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005

An inquiry:

On 12 May 2021, the Prime Minister announced in a House of Commons statement that there is to be an inquiry relating to the Coronavirus Pandemic - Hansard 12 May 2021.

After referring to the tragic loss of life due to coronavrius (including over 127,000 deaths in the UK), the PM said - "... , the state has an obligation to examine its actions as rigorously and as candidly as possible and to learn every lesson for the future, which is why I have always said that, when the time is right, there should be a full and independent inquiry. I can confirm today that the Government will establish an independent public inquiry on a statutory basis, with full powers under the Inquiries Act 2005, including the ability to compel the production of all relevant materials and take oral evidence in public under oath."

In response to

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Queen's Speech 11 May 2021

HM The Queen has delivered the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of the new Parliamentary Session.

The text of the speech is HERE and Background Briefing Notes issued by the government.

BBC News 11 May 2021 - Queen's Speech 2021: Key points at-a-glance

The Guardian 11 May 2021 - What made it into the Queen's speech, and what was left out


Monday, 10 May 2021

Scottish Parliament Election 6 May 2021 ~ Scottish Independence Referendum

The Scottish Parliamentary election was held on 6 May. The Parliament comprises 73 constituency seats and 56 regional list seats – (previous post 29 March). The Scottish National Party (SNP) won 64 of those seats and is therefore just one seat short of an overall majority. The Conservative Party won 31 seats, Labour 22, Greens 8 and Liberal Democrats 4.  The new Alba Party under the leadership of former First Minister Alex Salmond failed to secure a seat.

One way of reading the result is

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Removal of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) - who pays?

The Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry issued its Phase 1 report in October 2019 and confirmed what was perhaps obvious - "The principal reason why the flames spread so rapidly up, down and around the building was the presence of the aluminium composite material (ACM) rainscreen panels with polyethylene cores, which acted as a source of fuel." - (see Executive Summary of Phase 1 report at para 2.13).

Further, at para 33.6, the Executive summary noted that - "It is clear that the use of combustible materials in the external wall of Grenfell Tower, principally

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Parliament prorogued until 11 May 2021


Parliament is now prorogued until the State Opening on 11 May 2021. The prorogation marked the end of the 2019-21 Session - UK Parliament's working year comes to a close:2019-21 session ends.

The State Opening of Parliament will take place on Tuesday 11 May.

The State Opening of Parliament marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and the Queen's Speech sets out the government's agenda for the coming session, outlining proposed policies and legislation.

16 Bills received Royal Assent -

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) ratified by EU

The European Union (EU) Parliament has approved the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) of December 2020. The agreement has been applied provisionally since the end of the Brexit transition period. 

The EU Parliament notes in a Statement of Wednesday 28 April 2021 - "The consent decision was adopted by 660 votes for, five against and 32 abstentions, while the accompanying resolution, setting out Parliament’s evaluation of and expectations from the deal, passed by 578 votes, with 51 against and 68 abstentions. The vote took place on Tuesday (27 April), with results announced on Wednesday (28 April).

On 24 December 2020, EU and UK negotiators had agreed on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement establishing the terms for future EU-UK cooperation. ..."

An

Friday, 23 April 2021

Prosecutions brought by the Post Office ~ Shameful prosecution practice

The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Holroyde LJ, Mr Justice Picken and Mrs Justice Farbey has handed down judgment in a reference by the Criminal Cases Review Commission - R v Hamilton and others v Post Office Ltd [2021] EWCA Crime 577.  A summary of the judgment is available.

The court heard the appeals of 42 former sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses (SPMs) who, between 2003 and 2013, were convicted of crimes of dishonesty. Their employers - Post Office Ltd - was also the prosecutor. This is an example of a private prosecution but, in this instance, brought by a public body. (The current ownership of Post Office Ltd is explained in this UK government document).

All

Thursday, 15 April 2021

On borders ~ a divided UK

"The course of the English-Welsh border in front of The Bridge Inn has changed little since it was first defined by an Anglo-Saxon king in the eighth century" -  How the pandemic resurrected ancient border - Atlas Obscura 2 April 2021.

Borders have been problematic throughout human history.

In Public International Law, the State is defined by three constituent elements: a population, a territory and a governmental organisation.  A territory obviously implies the existence of borders.

Borders between States are

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Sturgeon claims that UK government's reference to Supreme Court is "morally repugnant"

The Guardian 12 April - "Nicola Sturgeon (First Minister Scotland) has condemned the UK government’s decision to refer two bills passed by Holyrood unanimously to the supreme court as “morally repugnant” amid an outcry from MSPs." - The Guardian - Nicola Sturgeon blasts decision to refer Holyrood Bills to Supreme Court.

Does this claim withstand scrutiny? Here, I respectfully argue that it does not.  It is a technical question of legal competence.

What is Scotland wishing to do?

The Scottish Parliament is seeking to incorporate into Scots Law (a) the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and (b) the Council of Europe's European Charter of Local Self-Government

The UNCRC has bound