Celebrities, legal aid reform delays and contempt – The Human Rights Roundup

5 December 2011 by

Welcome back to the human rights roundup. Our full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.

by Melinda Padron

In the news

The Government’s Green Paper on secret evidence

In my previous roundup, I mentioned that the government had published a Green Paper which proposed the extension of “closed material procedures”. Last week, the blogger Obiter J wrote a three-part detailed piece about the Green Paper and its proposals, which you can read here and here. In our blog, Adam Wagner pondered whether more trials should be held in secret, whilst Angus McCullough QC expanded on Adam’s piece, offering his comment from the perspective of an experienced Special Advocate.

Legal Aid reforms on hold

As reported by the JCWI Blog and in other places, the Justice Minister, Kenneth Clarke has announced that, subject to parliamentary approval of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, the Act is due to take effect 6 months later than originally planned. The blog also reported that the decision to delay implementation is the result of the MOJ not having fully thought through the implications of the Bill and the time needed for the significant changes it seeks to introduce.

The Leveson Inquiry and more celebrity evidence

The Leveson Inquiry into the Culture Practice and Ethics of the Press has been ongoing for a couple of weeks now, and the Guardian has offered a (at times humourous) roundup of the lessons learned so far.

And whilst the Inquiry has been broadcast successfully via its website, the Law Think blog questioned whether the use of cameras in court is justice’s loss or gain.

The Inquiry is also leading many commentators to discuss potential solutions to the problem of how to regulate news-gatherers’ activities. Two weeks ago, Hugh Tomlinson QC wrote a piece for the Inforrm’s Blog about whether journalists should have privileges, and suggested that an accreditation system could be used to clearly identify those who would be entitled to such privileges. In response to his article, Damian Tambini, in an article reproduced in the Inforrm’s blog, responds to Tomlinson’s article and highlights some of the challenges posed by implementing such a scheme.

Meanwhile, if you are still craving some celebrity evidence, you can watch Steve Coogan, Max Mosley, Zac Goldsmith MP and Hugh Grant give evidence to the Parliamentary Privacy and Injunctions Committee (remember them?) this afternoon at 2:15.

Contempt – a balancing act

In related news, last week the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve gave a speech at City University entitled “Contempt – a balancing act”. Law Think offered a commentary to the speech, and a useful document viewer document where you can find the blogger’s notes on some of the most important additions and changes made to the original speech, as well as commentary on specific passages of it.

Developments on Immigration Law

The Free Movement blog assessed whether the courts are being lenient in immigration cases. Supported by a number of case-law examples, the post argued that “in the face of over-complex legislation, and poorly-handled applications at the Home Office, the courts are finding alternative routes to success for worthy applicants.”

The same blog also reported that the Iraq Country Guidance was overturned last week.

Additionally, two of the main Immigration Law blogs have posted the following case commentaries:

Meanwhile, in Strasbourg…

Last week a new version of the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) website was launched. The programme is designed to assist the training of national legal practitioners at the domestic level.

Meanwhile, Carl Gardner wondered whether the UK government is really “on the brink” of success in Strasbourg, as claimed in an article featured in the Telegraph. If you feel your knowledge of the rights contained within the European Convention of Human Rights is not up to scratch, the human rights organisation Liberty can help you out. Liberty’s website provides a brief introduction to some of the Convention’s articles which can be found here.

More inquiries?

A couple of weeks ago in the case of Ali Zaki Mousa, the Court of Appeal decided that the Ministry of Defence’s current investigations into alleged systemic abuse in Iraq were insufficient to satisfy human rights obligations, and that a public inquiry may be the only way forward. With many inquiries being carried out into “War on Terror”-related situations, both the Human Rights in Ireland and the Law Think blogs question why the same efforts are not generally being made in relation to situations which occurred during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Judges speak on law reform

The President of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas Wall, gave a speech to the Law Reform Committee of the Bar Council last week. The Family Lore blog reported that in his speech, Sir Nicholas Wall made a number of important points, in particular relating to recommendations made by the Family Justice Review, family lawyers and his opinion on the proposed legal aid reforms in the context of private family law. The full speech can be found here.

In a speech entitled “General, Equal and Certain: Law Reform Today and Tomorrow”, given at the Lord Renton Lecture 2011, Lord Neuberger made the case for reconsidering codification in order to achieve clearer statute law.

Have you ever been invited for a “chat” at the police station? Find out that 
what you are actually doing at the police station

 is far from a simple “chat”.

In the courts:

Staff Side of the Police Negotiating Board & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions & Anor [2011] EWHC 3175 (Admin) (02 December 2011) December 2, 2011

Change in police pension inflation index, partly done to save money, ruled lawful by High Court. Permission to appeal granted on first 2 grounds.

Preston, R (on the application of) v Wandsworth Borough Council & Anor [2011] EWHC 3174 (Admin) (01 December 2011) December 1, 2011

High Court: Removal of voting rights for people who leave UK for over 15 years not contrary to EU freedom of movement law, although could in principle if rules “unjustifiably interfere with the freedom of movement”.

Birmingham City Council v Abdulla & Ors [2011] EWCA Civ 1412 (29 November 2011) November 29, 2011

Major equal pay claim against Birmingham City Council can be brought in High Court rather than Employment Tribunal. Court of Appeal refuses to strike out case as would be “extreme exercise of judicial discretion”.

H, R. v (Rev 2) [2011] EWCA Crim 2753 (24 November 2011) November 29, 2011

Guidance from Court of Appeal on sentencing for sexual offences which occurred many years ago. Not necessary to assess what would have been sentence at time, but ECHR art 7 prohibits harsher sentence than would have been available.


Former aid of Michael Hanckock MP wins deportation appeal, on balance was not and is not a Russian spy, although there were ample grounds for suspicion.

Harvey v Director of Public Prosecutions [2011] EWHC B1 (Admin) (17 November 2011) November 25, 2011

Admin court: Swearing at the police did not constitute harassment, alarm or distress within the meaning of 5 (1)(a) of the Public Order Act 1986, but could in principle. See our commentary to this case here.
…and don’t forget out recent posts:

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