Film those pesky judges?.. The Human Rights Roundup

6 June 2011 by

It’s time for the human rights roundup, a regular bulletin of all the law we haven’t quite managed to feature in full blog posts. The full list of links, updated each day, can be found here.

by Graeme Hall

In the news:

Joshua Rozenberg, critical of the decision to appoint Jonathan Sumption QC to the Supreme Court, reports that Parliament is consulting on whether it should intervene in judicial appointments. Indeed, a guardian.co.uk Editorial has suggested that the best way for the judiciary to defend itself against accusations by Parliament of over-stepping its authority, is to make itself more diverse. Adam Wagner has previously blogged about the (lack of) diversity in the upper echelons of the judiciary and has also published a two-part series on the power of unelected judges here and here.

This comes against the backdrop of the First Minister of Scotland appointing a panel of experts to consider the future role of the Supreme Court within Scots law. Whilst The Economist has stated that Alex Salmond may have ulterior motives, a conclusion also remarked upon by blogger Charon QC, the decision to review the Supreme Court’s position comes in response to judgments which will substantially affect suspects’ access to lawyers (see Adam Wagner’s post), as well as the quashing of Scottish convictions (see Rosalind English’s post).

Further, in a detailed discussion of the Court of Appeal’s decision which found that Sharon Shoesmith was unlawfully dismissed, the Law and Lawyers blog also picks up on the current tension between Parliament and the judiciary, arguing that the judiciary must reaffirm its place as a reviewer of ministerial decisions. The Fighting Monsters AMHP blog offers a social worker’s opinion on Shoesmith’s sacking which, whilst supportive of the Court’s decision, is not necessarily supportive of Shoesmith, herself.

Judith Townsend, writing on Inforrm’s blog, attempts to get to the bottom of the number of Super-Injunctions granted by the courts. James Wilson, writing for the Halsbury’s Law Exchange blog, concludes that whatever our feelings about the protection of celebrities’ private lives, the deliberate disregard of court injunctions is ultimately damaging to the rule of law. A further piece on Inforrm’s blog, develops the privacy debate by considering the justifications for State surveillance.

At a time when the UK Border Agency has reportedly granted an amnesty to thousands of asylum seekers, the Free Movement blog summarizes the “depressing” ‘Lives in the Balance’ Report by the Refugee Council. As well as highlighting dubious practices by legal advisors, the report concludes that separated children in asylum cases receive legal representation of, at best, questionable quality.

Finally, Guardian.co.uk has published some interesting articles questioning whether, following the roll out out Supreme Court Live (currently in recess until Wednesday), more court hearings should be broadcast live: See Should TV cameras be allowed inside UK law courts?by James Robinson  and Cameras in court: trial by boredom? by David Banks.

Another succinct roundup of legal news can be found on ObiterJ’s blog: Law and Lawyers.

In the courts:

RG v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and North Wiltshire District Council (HB) [2011] UKUT 198 (AAC) (05 May 2011): Failure to provide family with enough housing benefit to give disabled daughters separate bedrooms not breach of human rights

Parker Rhodes Hickmotts Solicitors v The Legal Services Commission [2011] EWHC 1323 (Admin) (25 May 2011): Immigration solicitor fails in challenge to Legal Aid contract – “sad” but could have done more to get application points

R v Lord John Taylor (MP expenses) – Sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Saunders

R. AND H. v. THE UNITED KINGDOM – 35348/06 [2011] ECHR 844 (31 May 2011): Order that Northern Irish child be “freed” from family for adoption not breach of parents’ human rights. 2-stage process where child first freed & then adoptive parents found was appropriate.

E.G. v. THE UNITED KINGDOM – 41178/08 [2011] ECHR 846 (31 May 2011): Asylum seeker’s political affiliations and war scarring not likely to lead to detention & ill-treatment if sent back to Sri Lanka

Shoesmith, R (on the application of) v OFSTED & Ors [2011] EWCA Civ 642 (27 May 2011): Direction under Education Act 1996 to remove Director of Children’s Services was unlawful as did not follow fair procedure

Bashir, R (on the application of) v The Independent Adjudicator [2011] EWHC 1108 (Admin): Prison rules conviction for failure to provide urine sample quashed as Muslim prisoner legitimately fasting before court appearance. Article 9 breached

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4 comments


  1. James Wilson says:

    All very spirited responses. Had each taken the time to read in full what I have written on the subject of privacy law they would know I am not much of a fan of the state of the present law, and believe that too little emphasis is given to freedom of speech.

    I also agree, as it happens, that there is a place for civil disobedience (a very learned commentator has put something to this effect under an earlier injunction blog I wrote (http://timesandotherthings.blogspot.com/2011/05/injunction-breakers-v-privacy-brokers.html), though the celebrity injunction saga isn’t exactly of a piece with the civil rights movement in the US in the 1960s. Public figures seeking injunctions about their own freely chosen actions raise rather different issues to private individuals in family court proceedings too …

  2. We couldn’t agree more with Norman Scarth.

    Law and order in Britain is now a matter of process and procedure; court officials are allowed to flout the laws; the CPS, with dirty hands, collude with government departments; witness tampering and threatening is allowed to carry on; court assigned management receivers when caught stealing funds from liquidated assets are not pursued.

    Judges are simply blokes in a wig that sit on the fence trying to get through the day without any controversy; they work hand in hand with other government agencies to deny justice to the common man and if you can’t afford to buy justice for yourself then you are in deep trouble because there is no one there to help you when the machine is set in motion against you.

    Lawful rebellion has been enabled by the actions of peers and a great many people are regularly becoming aware of what this really means to them; the Magna Carta is alive and well, Common Law still exists despite the piles of legislation that has tried to hide it from sight; human rights issues remain important and when our courts seek to circumnavigate those rights, they can expect only one reaction from the people … lawful rebellion.

  3. maggiee tuttle says:

    As a grandmother fighting for the rights of my grandsons rights and to have his voice heard, I have come up against ??? council and social services, who are investergating my 36 years as a voice for people and as a campaigner, also having been the founder of a very big charity, they are running scared because they know I will bring out the truth of their lies and deceit, in taking children from loving homes and selling them to the adoption and foster agencies.
    Now the court has placed a Gagging order on me, and stated I must speak to no one, not even John Hemming or my MP. They are all desperate to shut me up, and from the sounds of all the public to.
    I have written to Mr Cameron and to the Queen stating that as I have written to them, I am now in contempt of court and face a prison sentence.
    So our courts now have all rights over the MPs Lords and the two heads of state.
    I could become a catholic and speak to the preist.

  4. “… the deliberate disregard of court injunctions is ultimately damaging to the rule of law” says the piece above.
    Like Hell it is! What IS damaging to the ‘Rule of Law’ is that arrogant judges think they are God Almighty, the legal profession & so-called ‘News Media’ promoting them as such. A little humility from these ‘Gods’ would not come amiss. It is our DUTY to disobey bad laws. Equally so bad gagging orders. It is great that John Hemming, Twitterers & others have the courage to do so. The gagging of procedings in the Family Courts is SUPPOSEDLY ‘to protect the Children’. Poppycock! On the contrary, the secrecy allows great harm to be done to them by people who have ulterior motives & abuse their power. The sexual pecadillos of ‘Celebrities’ are of no consequence whatever, but their ‘Super-Injuctions’ have given the opportunity for brave people to tell these arrogant judges ‘Get Stuffed’. Let’s have more of it. Twice when in court I have been threatened with ‘Contempt’. On each occasion I said loudly & clearly “I have the utmost contempt for you AND this court”. Neither judge did anything about it – apart from underlining the black mark against my name!

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