liadnan: (Default)

For the love of Christ... If at first you fuck it up, have another go. And another. Repeat for the duration of your 9 years in office and claim you're successfully implementing policies.

Mr Reid said he wanted [...] to "move away from the traditional view that justice has to involve going to court [...]. The problem we face is what I call the justice shortfall. That is, the difference - sometimes big - between what you and I think is justice, and what a lawyer or legal academic might think it is. My kind of justice is swift, effective and matches the crime," said the home secretary."

The problem is, Reid appears to have no conception at all of the notion that those accused of crime, or wrongdoing in general, might be innocent, or even that there might, just possibly, be another side to the story. Accused=Guilty=Deserving of Punishment. Look at what a brilliant success ASBOs are. (Incidentally, I've seen more than one neighbour dispute where people have gone off and obtained ASBOs on no real grounds at all, simply for the asking, as a weapon in the usual war of attrition. Somehow, getting rid of them is more difficult, however ludicrous they may be.) As for lawyers, particularly criminal litigators, well, what the hell do they know. They all sit in ivory towers all day, not as though they go to a court and hear the nuts and bolts of criminal cases, the nasty little realities and allegations that all this is based on, the evidence about what was done by whom, day in day out.... um. (I actually do sit in an ivory tower a small basement office most of my days, but then I don't practice criminal law, preferring to be paid more than a pittance, that, by the standards of most people educated to degree level, being what junior criminal practitioners receive, contrary to popular belief). For the same reason he's returning to the idea of capping compensation for those wrongly accused: apparently "it is unfair that they in some cases get paid more than people who are victims of crime". But what do the wrongs of the two groups have to do with one another? It's a complete non-sequitur. Unless, of course, they were guilty all along and only got off "on a technicality". Ah those pesky technicalities. You'd think, if there wasn't a good substantive reason for them they wouldn't be there.

Ah fuck off you fascist thug.

EConvHR: Article 6 – Right to a fair trial

1 In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgment shall be pronounced publicly but the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interests of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

2 Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

3 Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:
a to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;
b to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence; (etc.)

(Those like Mr Cameron who prefer this stuff to be British (whatever that means) can go read a little bit about the history of civil liberties and the conceptual foundations of the ECHR -quite heavily influenced by Anglo-American concepts, in sharp contrast to the EU treaties-, before saying anything stupid themselves.)

liadnan: (Default)

The Guardian writes that:

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, last night ordered an urgent review of a policy that allows officers to refuse certain duties on moral grounds after a decision to excuse a Muslim policeman from guarding the Israeli embassy.

PC Alexander Omar Basha, who is attached to the force's Diplomatic Protection Group, objected to being posted to protect Israel's embassy in central London from possible terrorist attack because he disagreed with the country's bombing of Lebanon. The officer had reportedly attended a recent anti-war protest.

For once in my life I find myself thinking "good for Ian Blair". If personal opinions, on politics, social mores, or whatever, cause a police officer to pick and choose who they will and will not protect, then they are not capable of being a police officer. And god knows the last thing we need right now, at a time when fracturing between socio-cultural/religious/ethnic groups, particularly Jews and Muslims, is a particularly serious issue in this country, is the factionalisation of the police. And yes, I personally think it's good he went on an anti-war protest, and he should certainly be able to do so. But he has to be able to turn up to protect the Israeli Embassy the next day, or the job isn't for him. Incidentally, yesterday was, as many pointed out, the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street: a great moment in the opposition against fascism in this country. And hurrah to the protestors and boo to Moseley (even though, as I understand it, the practical significance of the event at the time may have been rather less than that of the myth, many marches etc happily took place in the following weeks in the area). But what of the police ordered to protect the march? If any one of them had refused to obey orders they would have been sacked forthwith. And I think that would have been right. (The usual point about "only following orders" not being a defence doesn't apply because they weren't taking an active role, merely a defensive one to a legal march. Equally, any action by those police outside their proper duties on the march -such as beating protestors up- is a separate point from them being there.)

(ETA: it appears that the real story here is somewhat more complicated, several different versions of events have come out, particularly that he merely requested a different duty because he feared for his family in Lebanon if seen guarding the Israeli embassy. That certainly does, to my mind, put a different spin on this incident.)

I don't actually have much more to say about that, but it reminded me of a disciplinary case concerning my own profession I saw recently. I have a habit of occasionally reading the disciplinaries: most of them are about failure to do enough CPD hours (oops) or be insured, etc, but sometimes they have a certain black humour, or at least mild interest (like the irritated barrister who appears to have shouted at the poor paralegal attending him (who was probably inexperienced and well out of her depth) in terms involving the words "complete twat", outside court but unfortunately in the hearing of a judge who promptly wrote to the Bar Council: counsel was, I'm glad to say, heavily bollocked, bullying is never pleasant and nor does making an arse of yourself in public do wonders for the profession). This one was rather more significant than most. One of the fundamental rules of the Bar, rule 1 (well, actually, rules 601 and following and see also rule 303, but never mind the trivialities) runs as follows:

Read more... )
liadnan: (Default)
Hundreds of sole protestors.

But the protest has had its critics, with Tory London Assembly member Brian Coleman calling them "sad, mad and bad".

"Is this really the image we want to give of London - tourists whose income we rely on for the jobs and prosperity of our city?"'

"Bugger civil liberties, think of the tourist trade?" And in what universe would the tourist trade be adversely affected?

What a tedious cock.

"It's not a matter of free speech - it's a matter of a proper way of running a world city."

Wrong.

liadnan: (Default)

Police call for more "instant justice" powers. Via Eddie on an email list, describing it with some accuracy as "Report calls for police to be more like Judge Dredd".

Craig Murray on last week's terrorist alarms: "Be very, very, sceptical."

Chicken Yoghurt on the historical revisionism implicit in John Reid's recent speech.

ID

Aug. 8th, 2006 02:53 pm
liadnan: (Default)

Intriguing article in El Reg picking up on a story in the Observer that people around Gordon Brown are seriously floating what has been thought of as the paranoid nightmare of ID cards: ultimate function creep whereby every electronic transaction in the UK would be linked to ID - and thence to loyalty card schemes.

With any luck this will be what kills the whole idea.

liadnan: (Default)

Government to target crime at birth. Literally. In fact before birth, focussing on midwives identifying "chaotic" families. Hang on, I have a chaotic family... As The Register puts it:

Systems built on junk science sharing junk data in pursuit of imaginary concerns and a pre-defined criminal underclass, while the rest of us hide. Welcome to virtual reality social work, welcome to Project Blair.

(Via Sbp).

Brian Haw

May. 24th, 2006 12:22 pm
liadnan: (Default)

Though the Court of Appeal have now held that despite the appallingly shoddy drafting of the legislation preventing unauthorised protests in Parliament Square, the section does indeed apply to Brian Haw, for the moment he remains (unless things have developed further since last night's raid).

The response from the Police and Government seems pretty ridiculously pathetic - see here for last night's antics.

liadnan: (Default)

I was going to write yesterday about Charles Clarke's decision to cap compensation for those wrongly convicted at £500,000. Do eleven, fifteen, twenty years in the Scrubs for a crime you didn't commit, waking up every morning to being Big Frankie's Bitch... doesn't matter. Still only worth half a million. Less bed and board. Christ, is there some immutable law that every Home Secretary is more illiberal and obnoxious than the one before or something?

But Tim Worstall does it better in The Times

liadnan: (Default)

Judgment has come down from the Lords in the Begum case: whether it is a disportionate interference with the right to freedom of religion for a state school to ban wearing the jilbab (though not less extreme forms of Islamic dress)

from the judgment )

I have a vague personal interest in the case in that one of the junior counsel being led by Ms Cherie Booth QC for the applicant throughout the case was a friend at Corpus: one of the most brilliant people I have ever met.

liadnan: (Default)

.. and finally, before I actually do some work, this, via Psychonomy on an email list: "Families to Speak Out In Court:

Relatives of murder and manslaughter victims are to be given the right to be represented in court as part of a pilot project in five areas of the UK.

[...]

From April, the scheme will see a "victim's advocate", a family member for example, making a statement in murder and manslaughter trials.

I really don't think this is a great idea. Criminal justice is supposed, in my view, to be about actions being judged and condemned by the state. It is by design that the crown prosecutes, not usually someone acting for the victim or their family, because it is thought right to put some distance between the judgment and punishment of the accused, where society says "this is wrong" and the emotional involvement of those who have suffered, as part of the checks designed to ensure a fair trial for someone potentially facing a serious penal sentence. And what if the victim has no one to speak for them, as someone on the list pointed out? Does the accused get an easier ride? Criminal law is the assertion of the authority of the state and of the society that state represents, not the retribution of the injured: the latter is what the civil courts are for. The distinction between tort and crime evolved for a reason.

liadnan: (Default)

In a repeat performance of their judgment in A v. Home Secretary of last year, which I remember cheering at the time, the Lords have now ruled (in the same case) that that evidence procured by torture is inadmissable in the courts of this country. Praise be.

Interesting and possibly quite important divide between Bingham, Nicholls and Hoffman on the one side (the right one in my view) and the majority on the other on where the burden lies when considering whether information was acquired by torture though. Read more... )

Incidentally, I think it's clear from the judgments that should the point arise the Lords will be singularly unimpressed with the narrow definition of torture which the CIA appear to be using, see eg para 53.

Bah humbug

Dec. 8th, 2004 08:59 pm
liadnan: (Default)

I realised today that Christmas lurches ever closer - Chambers' Christmas Dinner this week and not a single card bought, let alone sent. As for presents, well, I did buy some but, um, now I want them.

My head still hurts from Sunday's thumping, and, to be honest, I'm still reluctant to walk that way home. Which is terribly inconvenient, as Primrose Hill is somewhat locked off -there aren't that many different ways in. I had a surge of quite seriously thinking about moving out of London, preferably to the middle of nowhere, but it seems to have died down, for the present. Which is a good thing, as it's entirely impractical.

Half-day trial tomorrow. Anyone care to guess when I received the papers. Mind you, since a crucial order in the case took two months to travel from the judge to my instructing solicitors it's par for the course really.

In other news, "Is there room on your populist ill-conceived bandwagon for two, Michael," Blair asks.

liadnan: (Default)

"The argument that there is no power to enforce the law by injunction or contempt proceedings against a minister in his official capacity would, if upheld, establish the proposition that the executive obey the law as a matter of grace and not as a matter of necessity, a proposition which would reverse the result of the Civil War."

(per Lord Templeman in M v. Home Office [1994] AC 377).

And see a variety of other cases going back to the run of "no you can't get any money that way either Charlie" cases that, along with a few other bits and pieces, eventually brought down Charles I's personal rule, forced him to summon first the Short Parliament and then the Long Parliament, and finally precipitated the Civil War.

Civil Contingencies Act 2004

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:— [...]

s.20
Power to make emergency regulations
(1) Her Majesty may by Order in Council make emergency regulations if satisfied that the conditions in section 21 are satisfied.
(2) A senior Minister of the Crown may make emergency regulations if satisfied—
(a) that the conditions in section 21 are satisfied, and
(b) that it would not be possible, without serious delay, to arrange for an Order in Council under subsection (1).
(3) In this Part “senior Minister of the Crown” means—
(a) the First Lord of the Treasury (the Prime Minister),
(b) any of Her Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State, and
(c) the Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury.

[...]

s.22
[...]
(3) Emergency regulations may make provision of any kind that could be made by Act of Parliament or by the exercise of the Royal Prerogative[*].

(Quoted from Bills Before Parliament as although the Bill passed it has not yet made it onto Public Acts of the UK Parliament 2004. The form of the Act as passed may differ in some details from this, though the substance remains, I believe, the same.) (Edited to add now here.)

Yes, it's fair to point out that the executive of 2004, unlike that of 1642, does itself have a degree of democratic legitimacy. It should also be conceded that the Civil Contingencies Act contains many limitations on itself.

I am, nonetheless, far from convinced that these are sufficient.

(*ie about anything at all)

Edited to add: oh and the double "satisfied" in ss.20(1) and 20(2)(a), while comprehensible, is bloody awful stylistically.

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