Keeping it controversial: Religion, deportation and open justice – The Human Rights Roundup

20 February 2012 by

Welcome back to the human rights roundup, your recommended weekly dose 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

Religion and the State

Following on from last week’s ruling from the High Court that Christian prayers held before a council meeting were unlawful, the Court of Appeal this week upheld a ruling that two Christian hotel owners had discriminated against gay clients by not offering them a double room.

In yet other news, the Education Secretary Michael Gove is embroiled in a row concerning the distribution in schools of a booklet containing homophobic material. In response to complaints, Gove has insisted that the education provisions of the Equality Act 2010 do not extend to the content of the curriculum. For an analysis of why Gove is incorrect on this score, see Adam Wagner’s post.

by Wessen Jazrawi

Justice and Security?

The Guardian reports on the mostly critical responses to the Justice and Security Green Paper – which, as Adam Wagner suggests in the UKHRB, are fewer in number than they ought to be, given the significant erosion of open justice that the green paper heralds. Amongst the responses mentioned by the Guardian is that from Northampton Police which warns that the UK’s reputation as a “free and fair democracy” could be damaged by excessive use of secret court procedures.

Licence to kill

Also from the Guardian, an article discussing the civil proceedings being brought by the families of those of Libyan dissidents against Sir Mark Allen, the former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, accusing him of complicity in their extraordinary rendition, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment (proceedings against the government, MI6 and MI5 are to follow). Whitehall sources had stated that the operations were part of a “ministerially authorised government policy”; in other words, see Section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act which prevents UK law being brought to bear – regardless of the crime – if the secretary of state had authorised it in writing.

Children and deportation

In a two-part blog post, the UK Immigration Law Blog first sets out the facts of the appellants’ cases and second analyses the comments of the Upper Tribunal concerning the deportation of individuals with British children and the role that these children will play in the determination. This case was summarised by me on UKHRB here.

Foreign nationals and the justice system

The Justice Gap challenges the familiar press line that the rights of foreign criminals are routinely privileged over those of the individuals they have offended against and the wider public interest. In particular, it draws attention to the language barrier faced by foreign nationals and the fact that the government’s proposed cuts to legal aid will take removal and deportation cases out of the scheme.

The Jury Delusion

Francis Fitzgibbon QC’s Nothing like The Sun blog defends the concept of trial by jury against Professor Richard Dawkins’s attack in the New Statesman. Professor Dawkins had focused on the “beyond reasonable doubt” requirement which the blog points out is no longer part of the guidance issued by the judge, and has no been for a long time: now the judge must direct the jury to find the defendant guilty if they are “sure” of guilt.

Smacking, intervention and social welfare services

Lucy Reed’s Pink Tape blog has an interesting post on the role of class in intervention by social welfare services. This follows on from Zoe William’s response to David Lammy’s suggestion last summer that smacking laws be relaxed.

More Hacking

And finally, because no roundup would be complete without an update on the phone-hacking scandal, the Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal to Mr Glenn Mulcaire in the voicemail interception case of Phillips v Mulcaire.  The appeal relates to the extent of common law privilege against self-incrimination. Watch this space.

In the courts

Hurley & Moore, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills [2012] EWHC 201 (Admin) (17 February 2012). Two students fail in judicial review of tuition fee rises. Human rights (right to education under A2/P2) challenge failed outright while the public law challenge failed despite finding that Secretary of State “did not carry out the rigorous attention to” Public Sector Equality Duties.

Spelman v Express Newspapers [2012] EWHC 239 (QB). The High Court handed down a judgment which highlights the potentially nuanced approach which the courts will take when considering the privacy rights of minors. For further analysis, see the Panopticon blog post and the Inforrm blog post.

Sugar v British Broadcasting Corporation & Anor [2012] UKSC 4 (15 February 2012). The Supreme Court held that the BBC need not disclose Israel-Palestine coverage bias report as it falls under the “journalistic material” exemption to the Freedom of Information Act. Panopticon has also blogged on this.

Hardy and Maile v. The United Kingdom – 31965/07 [2012] ECHR 261 (14 February 2012). The applicants’ Article 8 challenge to construction of liquefied natural gas terminals in Milford Haven harbour fails. For an analysis, see David Hart QC’s post on the UKHRB.

A Local Authority v H [2012] EWHC 49 (COP). The Court of Protection has ruled that an autistic woman with an IQ of 64 does not have the mental capacity to engage in sexual relations. See Leanne Buckley-Thomson’s analysis in the UKHRB.

Bull & Bull v Hall & Preddy [2012] EWCA Civ 83. The Court of Appeal upheld the ruling that a Christian couple, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, had discriminated against Martin Hall and Steven Preddy on grounds of sexual orientation when they refused them a double-bedded room at their hotel near Penzance. This judgment has been analysed by Marina Wheeler in the UKHRB .

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