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.

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.

The Crown

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