Phone-hacking, squatters’ roadmap and the five million hit blog – The Human Rights Roundup

8 July 2012 by

Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly bulletin 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.

by Wessen Jazrawi

In the news

Glenn Mulcaire lost his appeal before the Supreme Court in the phone-hacking scandal this week. He was appealing orders that he answer questions relating to his activities, including questions concerning the identity of the person instructing him to intercept the messages, on the basis of privilege against self-incrimination. In other news, the CPS has issued new guidance in rape and murder cases, and 1 Crown Office Row is recruiting to fill one third-six pupillage vacancy.

1 Crown Office Row recruiting

1 Crown Office Row is recruiting to fill one third-six pupillage vacancy – the deadline is Wednesday 11 July at 4 pm. See here for further details, including how to apply.

Mulcaire loses phone-hacking appeal

Glenn Mulcaire has lost his appeal against orders that he answer questions relating to his activities in the phone-hacking scandal (read judgment / summary). This was reported on by the BBC, who noted that the lawyer for the respondent said the ruling was a “significant milestone” and would affect others who had sued the News of the World publisher. In his statement, Mulcaire said that he would consider with his lawyers what the wider implications of this judgement were if and when he was asked to answer questions in other cases.

The Inforrm blog has also posted on this here, in a post that sets out the issues on the appeal and the crucial part of the judgment.

Differing assessments of the US Supreme Court judgment on healthcare (or: how CNN and Fox got it wrong)

In a rather thrilling blog post, the SCOTUSblog sets out in minute detail the reporting of the US Supreme Court judgment upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, covering what happened between 10.06 and 10.15 that day. It explains how CNN and Fox got it so wrong and were forced to correct their reports in an embarrassing climbdown. In a post that wouldn’t look out of place in a West Wing script, it even covers what was happening in the White House at the time. Recommended.

In a post that may be of more interest to those running blogs than those reading them, PC Advisor has written a piece discussing how the SCOTUSblog survived a wave of visitors that peaked at 5.35 million that day when it is accustomed to receiving only 30,000.

UKSC live blogs the Rahmatullah case

Inspired by the success of the SCOTUSblog, the UKSC blog tried to follow in its footsteps by live blogging the proceedings in the Yunus Rahmatullah case (see our post on the Court of Appeal judgment). The individual in this case,  a Pakistan national, was captured by UK forces in a US controlled area of Iraq in February 2004 and transferred to the custody of US forces who transferred him to Afghanistan where he has been held at Bagram Airbase without trial since June 2004. His lawyers applied for a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that his detention was unlawful and that the British government enjoyed sufficient (or arguably sufficient) control over his to bring about his release in accordance with an MOU in place between the US and the UK.

The application was granted by the Court of Appeal and a writ was issued but it failed to secure the release of Rahmatullah. In response to the writ the UK government wrote a formal letter of request to the US requesting the release of Mr Rahmatullah but they refused the request. The letter was deemed to be an adequate discharge of the government’s habeas corpus obligations – this is one of the issues considered on appeal to the Supreme Court. The other was the cross appeal by the government who argued that the Court of Appeal erred in finding that a writ of habeas corpus could be issued at all where a respondent has sufficiently arguable control of an applicant, and failed to have proper regard to the implications for foreign relations in requiring a request for release to be made to a foreign sovereign state. The live blog is recommended reading for those with an interest in habeas corpus or extraordinary rendition cases.

Camden ‘squatters roadmap’ decision overturned

The Panopticon blog has posted on the overturning by an upper tribunal of the FTT decision that a list of vacant properties should be disclosed. The FTT had reached this decision on the basis that, despite the risk that this list would be exploited by organised squatters and professional criminals, the public interest balance lay in favour of disclosure because (inter alia) it would otherwise incentivise owners to put their properties back into use. The blog reports that the upper tribunal held that the FTT had erred in its approach to the case particularly because it had adopted an unduly limitative approach when considering the ramifications of the criminality which it had found would be likely to occur.

New guidance from the CPS 

Liberty has posted on the publication of new guidance by the CPS with regards to rape and murder cases, following on from the sad case of Jane Clough who was violently murdered by her former partner. Because he pleaded guilty to murder at trial, the prosecution opted to let the outstanding rape charges lie on file. Liberty reports that the new guidance includes a very strong presumption in favour of prosecuting rape and rightly stresses the important reasons why prosecution for rape will nearly always be in the public interest.

Understanding the judiciary 

Cheryl Thomas, professor of judicial studies at University College London’s faculty of laws, has written a piece in the Guardian on the reasons why the lack of understanding about the judiciary is both unacceptable and dangerous. She discusses the danger that myths will abound and that reform agendas will be set by unsubstantiated anecdotes, out-of date perception of judges and courts, and perceptions based on media interest in certain issues – all of which sound very plausible to me. An interesting read.

Extradition and the rights of the child

For those interested in extradition and deportation issues, the Free Movement blog has posted on the recent Supreme Court decisions in the cases of HH, PH & BH [2012] UKSC 25 (see our post), setting out the reasoning of the Court and in particular its approach to the Norris [2010] UKSC 9 case. It sets out the salient parts of Lady Hale’s leading judgment which advised courts to follow the Strasbourg approach to Article 8 questions and endorsed the approach of Huang v SSHD [2007] UKHL 11 – which rejected the use of an ‘exceptionality’ test.

Refusing irrationality

Nearly Legal blog has written a piece on a judicial review of Birmingham City Council’s decision to refuse a homeless application in the case of R (on the application of May) v Birmingham City Council [2012] EWHC 1399 (Admin). In quashing the decision by Birmingham City Council, the blog reports that the judge described it as “irrational for the defendant authority to take the view that the circumstances of the claimant when she made her further application were exactly the same as when she first made an application as a homeless person”.

Another roundup

As ever, the Law Think blog sets out an excellent summary of what happened in the human rights world between 25 June and 1 July

In the courts

A and S (Children) v Lancashire County Council [2012] EWHC 1689 (Fam). Local authority caused “irreparable harm” & breached human rights (arts 3, 6, 8) of children in the adoption/fostering system.

R (on the application of ) S and KF -v- The Secretary of State for Justice [2012] EWHC 1810 (Admin). Challenge to Prison Service Instructions allowing deduction from prisoner earnings from private employers to raise funds for Victim Support fails, no breach of human rights or equality duties. Rosalind English has blogged about this here.

G1 v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWCA Civ 867. Court of Appeal ruled that a man who fled the UK after 2009 Gaza protest charges was not entitled to in-country appeal against removal of citizenship.

Phillips v Mulcaire [2012] UKSC 28 (24 May 2012). The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses appeal of Glenn Mulcaire against orders that he answer questions relating to his “phone hacking” activities in hacking litigation.

FGP v Serco Plc & Anor [2012] EWHC 1804 (Admin) (05 July 2012). High Court has ruled that restraint at end of chain of immigration detainee for 8 day medical treatment breached his Article 3 rights.

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