The Redfern Inquiry: the latest investigation into the removal and retention of human tissue

November saw the publication of the report of the Redfern Inquiry into human tissue analysis in UK nuclear facilities (read the report, here).

The inquiry was the latest in a number of investigations looking at the post mortem removal, retention and disposal of human body parts by medical and other bodies, and the extent to which the families of the deceased knew of and consented to such practices. The Inquiry chairman, Michael Redfern QC, also chaired the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital (Alder Hay) Inquiry.
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Criminals have human rights too, says Court of Appeal

Al Hassan-Daniel & Anor v HM Revenue and Customs & Anor [2010] EWCA Civ 1443 (15 December 2010) – Read judgment

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the family of a drug smuggler who died after being poisoned by 116 swallowed cocaine packages can bring a human rights claim against the state, despite his criminal behaviour.

The decision will anger those who say that the Human Rights Act is no more than a villains’ charter, doing more to protect the rights of “asylum seeker death drivers” and the murderers of headmasters. However, the court has done no more than confirm the basic principle that human rights are for all, not just for people we like.

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Ireland abortion ruling – the aftermath

With the Pope giving his first “thought for the day” on this morning’s Today program, it seems a good opportunity to revisit the European Court of Human Right’s recent decision on abortion in Ireland. The emerging consensus is that the European court went no further than it needed to, and did little more than reasserting the status quo in Irish law.

The Pope, and the Roman Catholic Church which he heads, is against abortion. One of the effects of this is that states in which the Church is influential tend to have less liberal abortion laws. Ireland is such a state, and abortion is mostly illegal, except in certain very limited circumstances where the mother’s life is threatened.

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Defamation again: Mrs Clift wins in the Court of Appeal

Don't step on them

Last year I blogged about Mrs Clift winning a claim for defamation against Slough Borough Council. The facts are in the earlier post. Slough’s appeal was rejected by the Court of Appeal in Clift v Slough Borough Council [2010] EWCA Civ 1171.

While the point in issue was whether Slough could rely on a defence of qualified privilege against Mrs Clift’s claim, I think the decision has wider implications and is therefore relevant to housing practice. The court’s reasoning on Article 8 of the ECHR should be familiar to housing lawyers. In the court’s view, the publication of damaging allegations about Mrs Clift interfered with her rights under Article 8(1) and the council was therefore bound not to pass those allegations on unless in doing so Article 8(2) was satisfied – which it manifestly was not in Mrs Clift’s case. Via some relatively complex reasoning related to the ways in which qualified privilege has been analysed by the courts, this meant the council could not raise the defence and so their appeal was lost.

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Please release me

Stellato v Ministry of Justice  [2010] EWCA Civ 1435 – Read judgment

The court of appeal has ruled that when a court set a deadline for a prisoner’s release, that deadline could was not lawfully extended simply because a court needed time to hear an appeal against the decision to release him.

In other words, prisoners must be released on time unless a court explicitly rules otherwise. Absent such a ruling, any additional time spent in custody waiting for a hearing will be unlawful detention and could trigger damages.

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A welcome clarification for relatives of the dead

Legal Services Commission v Humberstone, R.( On the application of) [2010] EWCA Civ 1479 (21 December 2010) – Read judgment

The high court was right to quash the decision of the Legal Services Commission not to recommend public funding for a mother to be represented at the inquest into the death of her 10-year-old son. However, the court of appeal has ruled that the judge’s conclusions on when the state was obliged to conduct an expanded inquest into a death were confused.

The court of appeal has upheld the decision of Mr Justice Hickinbottom in the high court, although Lady Justice Smith came to her decision by a different route and criticised his reasoning. The case is important as it lays down guidelines for when legal representation for relatives of the dead should be funded at inquests, an often controversial issue, and how this fits with the state’s duties to investigate deaths under the European Convention on Human Rights. These duties have, partly as a result of Mr Justice Hickinbottom in this case, fallen into confusion, and the court of appeal has given a welcome clarification.

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