Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular booster shot of human rights news. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.
In the news
Survey on LASPO impact
ilegal founders Patrick Torsney and Colin Henderson have launched a survey in collaboration with Centre for Human Rights in Practice researchers at the University of Warwick, focused on discerning the impact of LASPO legal aid cuts to professionals working in relevant sectors and their clients. Participation has been encouraged by both the Legal Voice and Pink Tape blogs, and the survey itself may be found here.
The Ministry of Justice is looking for applicants for the position of UK Member of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. See here for more information, and to apply. Meanwhile, the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution is looking for expert constitutional lawyers to work part-time as a legal adviser. See here for details. Finally, the writers of the Freemovement immigration law blog have arranged a training course on the subject of urgent immigration injunction applications to prevent unlawful removals.
Home Secretary attacks immigration judges
Coroner appointed for Hillsborough inquest
As I’m sure you are all aware, new inquests into the victims of the Hillsborough football disaster were ordered in December 2012 after the publication of a report revealing a police cover-up in September of that year. The new inquest will be conducted by Lord Justice Goldring, as reported here on the BBC News website.
Work Experience Unlawful?
The regulations providing for the mandatory work experience scheme for JSA claimants have been ruled unlawful as not meeting the requirements of the governing statute, the Jobseekers Act 1995. The decisive factor was that the schemes that the applicants were required to embark on or lose their unemployment benefit did not meet the statutory requirements of advancing career prospects. The court specifically rejected arguments based on Article 4 ECHR (no forced labour) provided the work experience served the statute’s actual purpose of advancing career prospects. For more in-depth discussion of this case, see Rosalind English’s post on UKHRB. Adam Wagner has also commented on the case, both on Newsnight (from the start) and in The Times (£). See also this piece by Isabel Hardman in The Spectator.
ECHR ruling on IPP cases stands
Strasbourg judges have refused a UK request for a Grand Chamber hearing on the James, Wells and Lee case, which saw the court rule that sentences of imprisonment for the public protection (IPP sentences) breached Article 5 (1) ECHR (right to liberty and security) given that the applicants did not have access to the courses they would need to demonstrate to the Parole Board their eligibility for release following the expiry of their minimum prison terms (tariffs). For more detailed analysis of the implications of this decision, see this post by Pete Weatherby QC on the Garden Court North Chambers blog; see also this post on the Human Rights Europe website which explains IPPs and why they were held to breach the ECHR in greater depth.
GCSE Judicial Review rejected
The High Court has dismissed the claims for judicial review of the award of English GCSE qualifications in the summer of 2012, which provoked controversy as pupils got grades that were lower than expected. Lord Justice Elias conceded that there was some unfairness demonstrated, but that this was a consequence of the structure of the qualification itself, not any unlawful action by exam regulator Ofqual or any exam boards. This decision has been analysed on 11KBW’s Education Law Blog; see also BBC News’s coverage of the case.
Employer guidance on religious expression
New guidance has been issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission following the decision by the European Court of Human Rights in the Eweida and Others case on religious expression in the workplace, which was discussed on this blog last month by Rosalind English. When the decision was handed down, many commentators were concerned over the lack of certainty for employers in dealing with questions of religious expression in the workplace. This guidance is therefore likely to be welcome – though as the Commission points out, the case may yet be referred to the Grand Chamber.
Obituaries for Ronald Dworkin
Ronald Dworkin, renowned legal scholar, died of leukaemia this week aged 81 in London. Dworkin is probably best known for his theory that law should be founded on integrity – that the rule of law has a moral foundation – and is widely regarded as one of the greatest legal philosophers of the age. The New York Times has run a two-part obituary (first part here, second part here); see also this piece in the Guardian and this piece on the European Courts blog.
In the Courts
Reilly & Anor, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWCA Civ 66 Regulations underlying Government’s back to work schemes quashed as they were not laid before Parliament in sufficient detail and therefore fell without the discretion granted to the Secretary of State by Primary Legislation. Human rights ground (article 4) fails.
KS (Burma) & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 67 Court of Appeal considers cases of two Burmese who protested here purely to prevent their return. Court held notwithstanding motives, still a risk of being returned to Burma & Country Guidance case had been flawed.
London Borough of Lewisham & Ors), R (on the application of) v Assessment And Qualifications Alliance (AQA) & Ors  EWHC 211 (Admin) Judicial Review challenge to grading of English GCSEs fails.
RCW v A Local Authority  EWHC 235 (Fam) Foster mother obtains injunction under Human Rights Act to keep baby despite fact that she was recently blinded.
The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis -v- ZH and Liberty and Equality and Human Rights Commission  EWCA Civ 69 Human rights and disability discrimination damages awarded against police for “wholly inappropriate” restraint of autistic, epileptic boy at swimming pool upheld by CoA.
Tamiz v Google Inc  EWCA Civ 68 Arguable that Google is a “publisher” of Blogger comments within meaning of Defamation Act, but in any event the comments in this case would only have a trivial effect so appeal dismissed.
To add events to this list, email Adam Wagner. Please only send events which (i) have their own webpage which can be linked to, and (ii) are relevant to topics covered by the blog.
- The Kurdish population in Turkey. Time for Justice and a roadmap towards reconciliation 20 February 2013 17:30 – 20:00, The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane
- “Freedom from Hunger: Realising the Right to Food in the UK” A lecture by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Professor Olivier de Schutter. (18 February 2013, Doughty Street Chambers, 18:00-19:30)
- Public Law Project Wales Conference 2013 Thursday 11th April 2013, 09:30 – 17.30. Venue: Cardiff University
- International Graduate Legal Research Conference King’s College London, April 8-9, 2013 (including 2 human rights panels and one on environmental law).
- Justice and Security Bill – Closed hearings in civil cases – ALBA 05 March 2013, Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP and Shami Chakrabarti, chaired by Lord Justice Lloyd Jones – ALBA members only, booking required
- Liberty and Security in the World Today: why we are all neo-democrats and what we should do about it. Professor Conor Gearty speaks about his new book Liberty and Security with Dr Devika Hovell at LSE Date: Tuesday 19 February 2013 Time: 6.30-8pm
- The Power of Literature and Human Rights Saturday 2 March 2013, 11am-12.30pm Venue: LSE Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building
- Why the Home Secretary’s attack on human rights judges is like a Bakewell tart, 17 Feb 2013, Adam Wagner
- Can Google be sued for the content of blogs on its platform?, 17 Feb 2013, Rosalind English
- Triumph for canal boat litigant in person 15 Feb, 2013 Rosalind English
- European Court awards damages to prisoner after Parole Board backlog Feb 15, 2013 Amy Mannion
- Lost renewables subsidies successfully claimed as human rights damages Feb 13, 2013 David Hart QC
- Government’s back to work schemes ruled unlawful without rights to refuse Feb 13, 2013 Rosalind English
- Victory to the (Pharmacy) Workers! Feb 12, 2013 Martin Downs
- Extradition injustice remains despite European ruling in Radu – Alex Tinsley Feb 12, 2013 1 Crown Office Row
- Shouting is a lawful interrogation technique, says High Court Feb 11, 2013 Rosalind English