Beanstalks, bad press and the death of juries? – The Human Rights Roundup
21 June 2011
Welcome back to 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:
Continuing with their assessment of the UK’s law and legal system, the Law and Lawyers’ blog has produced the latest in its series, No. 4: Juries. This comes at an opportune moment given the recent jailing of a juror for contempt of court after using Facebook to contact an acquitted defendant. This case has seen a possible dichotomy of opinion arise: passionate supporters of trial by jury, such as barrister Felicity Gerry and Tory politician David Davis; or that of Joshua Rozenberg who poses the thorny question; “Whom would you prefer to be judged by – a highly trained, publicly accountable circuit judge? Or 12 people like [jailed juror] Joanne Fraill?”.
Two articles concerning human rights at the European level from The Guardian this week. First, in relation to the EU legal system, Simon Crowther reports on the Court of Appeal’s decision to refer the case of ZZ v Home Office to the Court of Justice of the European Union asking whether EU citizens are entitled under EU law to see the “essence of the grounds against them” when facing exclusion in the name of national security. It has already been ruled in a different case that Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights does not require an “irreducible minimum of information” (akin to the ‘essence of the grounds’) against someone to be provided where they are to be excluded or deported on the grounds of national security: see Rosalind English’s previous post.
Second, in relation to the European Convention system, Antoine Buyse concludes that the European Court of Human Rights is well-regarded by judges, lawyers and citizens of the states it serves, and that it is a trend-setter when it comes to championing and progressing human rights.
The role of the European Court was also considered by Lady Hale, Justice of the UK Supreme Court, in her speech comparing the evolution of the common law and the European Convention on Human Rights. Some choice quotes include; when thinking of the Convention, “the image of a ‘living tree’ may be more helpful than the image of a ‘living instrument’”; “Divining the intention of Parliament is mostly an illusion, because on most points which come before us Parliament did not have any intention at all“; and, “Is it the right of the democratically elected Parliament to decide who their electorate should be? Or is the whole point of the Convention to protect certain values independently of the will of the majority?”
Domestically, human rights continue to get a bad press. In response to the Home Office’s announcement to allow convicted sex offenders to appeal against their inclusion on the sex offenders register, The Telegraph reports that human rights are a “victory for rapists and paedophiles”; although the title is more provocative than the content. See Adam Wagner’s previous posts for background to this news item here and here; the latter focusing on the journalistic reporting styles to this case.
Finally, if our roundup doesn’t satiate your legal appetite, why not try the UKSC blog’s The Week That Was; Law Think’s Latest human rights developments in the UK; and, Charon QC’s snappy summary of legal news from across the blogosphere and elsewhere.
In the courts (also see the Case Table):
BB & Ors v The Home Office  EWHC 1446 (QB) (08 June 2011): Master was wrong to strike out private claims for unlawful detention brought by 4 detainees in Yarlswood detention centre: No need to bring such claims as judicial review
SG v St Gregory’s Catholic Science College  EWHC 1452 (Admin) (17 June 2010): School’s ban on “cornrows” hairstyle was indirect race discrimination, therefore unlawful. See 11 KBW’s Education Law Blog for a concise overview or Adam Wagner’s post on the case.
Sinclair Collis Ltd, R (on the application of) v The Secretary of State for Health  EWCA Civ 437 (17 June 2011): Court of Appeal: By 2-1 majority (Lord Justice Laws dissenting) Ban on tobacco sales through automatic vending machines was lawful. See David Hart QC’s post.
Gaunt, R (on the application of) v The Office of Communications  EWCA Civ 692 (17 June 2011): Ofcom right to find John Gaunt “health Nazi” radio interview breached broadcasting code, rules court of appeal – see David Hart QC’s post.
Department of Health, R (on the application of) v Information Commissioner  EWHC 1430 (Admin) (20 April 2011): Department of Health must disclose late term abortion statistics under freedom of information law, rules High Court. See 11 KBW’s Panaopticon Blog for a summary.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council v The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice  EWHC 1532 (Admin) (16 June 2011): Council fails in challenge to closure if Barry Magistrates Court in Wales – wider victory for court closures plans.
Y, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Hillingdon  EWHC 1477 (Admin) (15 June 2011): Hillingdon Borough Council got age assessment wrong, decision quashed by high court.
Goodwin v NGN Ltd  EWHC 1437 (QB) (09 June 2011): Identity of Fred Goodwin’s alleged mistress to remain secret but her occupation to be revealed. See Inforrm’s detailed analysis.
D (A Child)  EWCA Civ 684 (14 June 2011): Mother who changed her story re father’s role in child abuse fact-finding hearing forced to disclose notes of lawyers’ advice. See the Family Lore blog’s succinct summary.
Ruhul ANAM v the United Kingdom – 21783/08  ECHR 940 (7 June 2011): Bangladeshi with series of criminal convictions fails to halt deportation in European Court of Human Rights on family life grounds.
…and remember to take a look at our recent posts:
- The last tango of the fag packet machine? June 20, 2011 David Hart QC
- Hey, teacher! Leave those cornrows alone June 20, 2011 Adam Wagner
- Beanstalks and golden eggs June 20, 2011 Rosalind English
- “Fags didn’t stop my foster mum caring for me” June 19, 2011 David Hart Q.C.
- A young autistic man, Magna Carta, human rights and unlawful detention June 16, 2011 Alasdair Henderson
- Should male circumcision be banned? June 15, 2011 Adam Wagner
- When to prosecute children for sexual abuse June 15, 2011 Matthew Flinn
- Abduction and the child’s “best interests” – analysis June 14, 2011 Rosalind English
- News: Joshua Rozenberg Interviews Mr Justice Eady June 14, 2011 1 Crown Office Row
- Nature: give it a right or put a price on it? June 13, 2011 David Hart QC
- Facebook contempt trial begins tomorrow June 13, 2011 Adam Wagner
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