Gary McKinnon, Prince Charles’ letters and free speech – The Human Rights Roundup

22 October 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.

In the news

This week, free speech and social media has again created a lot of online commentary, with UKHRB founder Adam Wagner chairing a panel discussion on the subject. Also hitting the blogosphere this week: the government’s proposal to opt out of 130 EU criminal law measures; the progress of the Azelle Rodney Inquiry; comments on the Gary McKinnon case and Prince Charles’ letters to government ministers.

Free Speech and Twitter

The recent spate of criminal sentences under the Communications Act 2003 for “offensive” comments published on social media sites has alarmed many in the legal profession (and outside it). Benjamin Ward of Human Rights Watch, writing in the New Statesman, considers the inconsistencies in the attitude to free speech in the UK. Firstly, the UK protects free speech in the “real world” through such traditions as Speaker’s Corner (though one can be arrested for calling a police horse “gay”), while those who offend through social media may fall foul of the criminal law; secondly, the Communications Act under which these prosecutions are brought pre-dates the invention of Twitter, bringing up questions around whether the law is fit for purpose.

The suitability of the Communications Act was one of the major issues considered at the panel discussion on free speech and Twitter chaired by UKHRB’s Adam Wagner this week. For those who missed the event you can read all of the tweets collated here. Alex Aldridge has posted a summary of the (rather divergent) views of the main speakers in this post. He concludes with the opinion that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, is likely to suggest with a more relaxed, US-style set of guidelines on when prosecutions will be brought. See also this post by Adam Wagner linking to his interview on the BBC’s Law in Action.

Finally on the subject of social media and free speech, this week Twitter has exercised its local censorship policy to block neo-Nazi tweets in Germany from a German organisation at the request of the German government – see this BBC article for more information.

EU Opt-Out

This week Theresa May delivered a statement in the House of Commons on the UK’s position on opting out of EU criminal law measures introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, in which she explained that because the UK can only opt out of all 130 measures or none of them, the government’s current thinking is that they will opt out of all and opt back in to certain measures that are in the national interest. The BBC has published an article on this speech, which includes reactions from critical Labour MPs and congratulatory Eurosceptic Conservatives.

Alan Travis, writing in the Guardian, expresses surprise that the previously pro-EU Home Secretary is deciding to opt out, given that this may harm the UK’s ability to prosecute international crime and terrorism, and in particular to secure extradition to and from other EU states, and thinks that the decision is a political decision to reclaim far-right voters from UKIP for the Tories. ObiterJ has also weighed in on this issue, observing that if the UK wants to remain in the EU (as it seems to) it will need to opt back in to at least some of the measures on a practical level, as criminality respects not national boundaries. See also Jodie Blackstock’s guest post on UKHRB, which explains why the opt-out decision is all-or-nothing, explores the potential consequences of opting out and offers some insight into which measures the UK may decide to opt back into. Finally, see Fair Trials International’s useful Q&A document on the topic.

Gary McKinnon will not be extradited

As was widely reported last week, Gary McKinnon will not be extradited to the US for hacking into the Pentagon on human rights grounds, as the Home Secretary decided that the evidence showed a real risk of suicide if McKinnon were extradited. David Allen Green, writing in the New Statesman, has sought to explode what he sees as the mainstream media’s misleading of the public as to the actual facts of the case. He discusses the seriousness of the allegations against McKinnon, the strength of the US case against him and the fact that the US was prepared to accommodate his Asperger’s syndrome. Green does agree that if the evidence bore out the Home Secretary’s decision, then she was right to make it.

Another interesting angle on the case was provided by Joshua Rozenberg in the Guardian. Rozenberg sees the Home Secretary as having been forced to resort to human rights grounds to block McKinnon’s extradition under political pressure from the “Free Gary” campaign (which Theresa May is seeking to avoid in future by delegating this type of human rights decision to the courts).

Azelle Rodney Inquiry

This week, the High Court refused to quash the earlier decision by Sir Christopher Holland (chairman of the Azelle Rodney Inquiry) that the Inquiry legal teams should be able to access covert aerial surveillance footage. Rosalind English’s post analyses the legal issues around Sir Christopher’s decision – in short, derogation from full disclosure is to be avoided unless strictly necessary in the public interest, which was not the case here, despite the Met’s argument that the footage should remain secret to avoid jeopardising future operations.

Prince Charles’ Letters

Following the judicial decision to allow publication of letters sent to government ministers by the Prince of Wales, the Attorney-General Dominic Grieve has exercised his discretion to veto the publication under section 53 of the Freedom of Information Act, arguing that “exceptional circumstances” justified non-disclosure. See also this BBC article, which provides some more context and analysis from the BBC’s royal correspondent. The Attorney-General’s statement of reasons can be found here; he justifies his decision as safeguarding the Prince’s political neutrality, helping prepare him for kingship and because there is nothing objectionable in the letters.

James Wilson of A(nother) Lawyer Writes is unconvinced of the constitutional value of Prince Charles’ letters to government ministers, describing him as a “semi-professional gadfly”, and unimpressed by the Attorney-General’s reasoning. He considers that it is a “stretch” to see lobbying the government as educating the Prince in its business, and that if disclosing his letters would harm his constitutional political neutrality (which is doubtful due to the Prince’s opinionated nature) then the letters should not have been written in the first instance. Finally, he concludes that if there was indeed “nothing improper” in the letters then that would be a point in favour of, not against, their release.

In the courts

Kent County Council, R (on the application of) v HM Coroner for the County of Kent (North-West District) & Ors [2012] EWHC 2768 (Admin) Scope of inquest into 14-yr-old methadone addict’s death shouldn’t have been expanded by art 2 ECHR, rules High Court.

Metropolitan Police Service, R (on the application of) v Chairman Of The Inquiry Into The Death Of Azelle Rodney [2012] EWHA 2783 (Admin) Azelle Rodney Inquiry: High Court rejects Met’s challenge to disclosure of sensitive 2-hr aerial surveillance footage.

EM (Eritrea) & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWCA Civ 1336 Home Office can continue returning asylum claimants to Italy under “safe 3rd country” system. Court of Appeal (Sir Stephen Sedley) finds no systemic deficiency in Italy’s asylum/reception procedures.

Michael Black and John Morgan -v- Susanne Wilkinson [2012] Michael Black and John Morgan won discrimination case against Christian proprietors of a Berkshire Bed and Breakfast who refused them a double room because of religious objections to homosexuality.

Smith & Ors v The Ministry of Defence [2012] EWCA Civ 1365 Court of Appeal strikes out claim of two soldiers killed in Snatch Land Rovers on human rights grounds but allows negligence claims to proceed

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

UKHRB Posts

by Sam Murrant

1 comment;


  1. goggzilla says:

    Free speech will come under the spotlight soon, North Wales Police are charging folks in the Ched Evans Twitter trial case. As for the EU, just another rich men’s club, opt in or out, the UK does as it pleases (still no implementation of Marper after 4 years). As to McKinnon, good news but O’Dwyer is next to face Uncle Sam’s justice.

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the UKHRB


This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.

Subscribe

Categories


Tags


7/7 Bombings 9/11 A1P1 Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology birds directive blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity circumcision citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Cologne Commission on a Bill of Rights common buzzard common law communications competition confidentiality confiscation order conscientious objection consent conservation constitution contact order contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs costs budgets Court of Protection crime criminal law Criminal Legal Aid criminal records Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty declaration of incompatibility defamation DEFRA Democracy village deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention devolution Dignitas dignity Dignity in Dying diplomacy director of public prosecutions disability Disability-related harassment disciplinary hearing disclosure Discrimination Discrimination law disease divorce DNA doctors does it matter? domestic violence Dominic Grieve don't ask don't ask don't tell don't tell Doogan and Wood double conviction DPP guidelines drones duty of care ECHR economic and social rights economic loss ECtHR Education election Employment Environment environmental information Equality Act Equality Act 2010 ethics Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice european disability forum European Sanctions Blog Eurozone euthanasia evidence Exclusion extra-jurisdictional reach of ECHR extra-territoriality extradition extradition act extradition procedures extradition review extraordinary rendition Facebook Facebook contempt facial recognition fair procedures Fair Trial faith courts fake news Family family courts family law family legal aid Family life fatal accidents act Fertility fertility treatment FGM fisheries fishing rights foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Association Freedom of Expression freedom of information Freedom of Information Act 2000 freedom of movement freedom of speech free speech game birds gangbo gang injunctions Garry Mann gary dobson Gary McFarlane gay discrimination Gay marriage gay rights gay soldiers Gaza Gaza conflict Gender General Dental Council General Election General Medical Council genetic discrimination genetic engineering genetic information genetics genetic testing Google government Grenfell grooming Gun Control gwyneth paltrow gypsies habitats habitats protection Halsbury's Law Exchange hammerton v uk happy new year harassment Hardeep Singh Haringey Council Harkins and Edwards Health healthcare health insurance Heathrow heist heightened scrutiny Henry VII Henry VIII herd immunity hereditary disorder High Court of Justiciary Hirst v UK HIV HJ Iran HM (Iraq) v The Secretary of state for the home department [2010] EWCA Civ 1322 Holder holkham beach holocaust homelessness Home Office Home Office v Tariq homeopathy hooding Hounslow v Powell House of Commons Housing housing benefits Howard League for Penal Reform how judges decide cases hra damages claim Hrant Dink HRLA HS2 hs2 challenge hts http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2011/04/11/us-state-department-reports-on-uk-human-rights/ Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority human genome human rights Human Rights Act Human Rights Act 1998 human rights advocacy Human rights and the UK constitution human rights commission human rights conventions human rights damages Human Rights Day human rights decisions Human Rights Information Project human rights news Human Rights Watch human right to education human trafficking hunting Huntington's Disease HXA hyper injunctions Igor Sutyagin illegality defence immigration Immigration/Extradition Immigration Act 2014 immigration appeals immigration detention immigration judge immigration rules immunity increase of sanction India Indonesia Infrastructure Planning Committee inherent jurisdiction inherited disease Inhuman and degrading treatment injunction Inquest Inquests insult insurance insurmountable obstacles intelligence services act intercept evidence interception interests of the child interim remedies international international conflict international criminal court international humanitarian law international human rights international human rights law international law international treaty obligations internet internet service providers internment internship inuit investigation investigative duty in vitro fertilisation Iran iranian bank sanctions Iranian nuclear program Iraq Iraqi asylum seeker Iraq War Ireland irrationality islam Israel Italy iTunes IVF ivory ban jackson reforms Janowiec and Others v Russia ( Japan Jason Smith Jeet Singh Jefferies Jeremy Corbyn jeremy hunt job Jogee John Hemming John Terry joint enterprise joint tenancy Jon Guant Joseph v Spiller journalism judaism judges Judges and Juries judging Judicial activism judicial brevity judicial deference judicial review Judicial Review reform judiciary Julian Assange jurisdiction jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Act Justice and Security Bill Justice and Security Green Paper Justice Human Rights Awards JUSTICE Human Rights Awards 2010 just satisfaction Katyn Massacre Kay v Lambeth Kay v UK Ken Clarke Ken Pease Kerry McCarthy Kettling Kings College Klimas koran burning Labour Lady Hale lansley NHS reforms LASPO Law Commission Law Pod UK Law Society Law Society of Scotland leave to enter leave to remain legal aid legal aid cuts Legal Aid desert Legal Aid Reforms legal blogs Legal Certainty legal naughty step Legal Ombudsman legal representation legitimate expectation let as a dwelling Leveson Inquiry Levi Bellfield lewisham hospital closure lgbtq liability Libel libel reform Liberal Democrat Conference Liberty libraries closure library closures Libya licence conditions licence to shoot life insurance life sentence life support limestone pavements limitation lisbon treaty Lithuania Litigation litvinenko live exports local authorities locked in syndrome london borough of merton London Legal Walk London Probation Trust Lord Bingham Lord Bingham of Cornhill Lord Blair Lord Goldsmith lord irvine Lord Judge speech Lord Kerr Lord Lester Lord Neuberger Lord Phillips Lord Rodger Lord Sumption Lord Taylor LSC tender luftur rahman machine learning MAGA Magna Carta mail on sunday Majority Verdict Malcolm Kennedy malice Margaret Thatcher Margin of Appreciation margin of discretion Maria Gallastegui marriage material support maternity pay Matthew Woods Mattu v The University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust [2011] EWHC 2068 (QB) Maya the Cat Mba v London Borough Of Merton McKenzie friend Media and Censorship Medical medical liability medical negligence medical qualifications medical records medicine mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Capacity Act 2005 Mental Health mental health act mental health advocacy mental health awareness Mental Health Courts Mental illness merits review MGN v UK michael gove Midwives migrant crisis Milly Dowler Ministerial Code Ministry of Justice Ministry of Justice cuts misfeasance in public office modern slavery morality morocco mortuaries motherhood Motor Neurone disease Moulton Mousa MP expenses Mr Gul Mr Justice Eady MS (Palestinian Territories) (FC) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department murder murder reform Musician's Union Muslim NADA v. SWITZERLAND - 10593/08 - HEJUD [2012] ECHR 1691 naked rambler Naomi Campbell nationality National Pro Bono Week national security Natural England nature conservation naturism Nazi negligence Neuberger neuroscience Newcastle university news News of the World new Supreme Court President NHS NHS Risk Register Nick Clegg Nicklinson Niqaab Noise Regulations 2005 Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance nursing nursing home Obituary Occupy London offensive jokes Offensive Speech offensive t shirt oil spill olympics open justice oppress OPQ v BJM orchestra Osama Bin Laden Oxford University paramountcy principle parental rights parenthood parking spaces parliamentary expenses parliamentary expenses scandal Parliamentary sovereignty Parliament square parole board passive smoking pastor Terry Jones patents Pathway Students Patrick Quinn murder Pensions persecution personal data Personal Injury personality rights perversity Peter and Hazelmary Bull PF and EF v UK Phil Woolas phone hacking phone taps physical and mental disabilities physician assisted death Pinnock Piracy Plagiarism planning planning human rights planning system plebgate POCA podcast points Poland Police police investigations police liability police misconduct police powers police surveillance Policy Exchange report political judges Politics Politics/Public Order poor reporting Pope Pope's visit Pope Benedict portal possession proceedings power of attorney PoW letters to ministers pre-nup pre-nuptial Pre-trial detention predator control pregnancy press press briefing press freedom Prince Charles prince of wales princess caroline of monaco principle of subsidiarity prior restraint prison Prisoners prisoners rights prisoners voting prisoner vote prisoner votes prisoner voting prison numbers Prisons prison vote privacy privacy injunction privacy law through the front door Private life private nuisance private use proceeds of crime Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecution Protection of Freedoms Act Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest protest camp protest rights Protocol 15 psychiatric hospitals Public/Private public access publication public authorities Public Bodies Bill public inquiries public interest public interest environmental litigation public interest immunity Public Order Public Sector Equality Duty putting the past behind quango quantum quarantine Queen's Speech queer in the 21st century R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Ors [2011] EWCA Civ 895 R (on the application of) v The General Medical Council [2013] EWHC 2839 (Admin) R (on the application of EH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 2569 (Admin) R (on the application of G) v The Governors of X School Rabone and another v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust [2012] UKSC 2 race relations Rachel Corrie Radmacher Raed Salah Mahajna Raed Saleh Ramsgate raptors rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion resuscitation RightsInfo right to die right to family life right to life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials security services sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa south african constitution Spain special advocates spending cuts Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance swine flu Syria Tax Taxi technology Terrorism terrorism act tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine unfair consultation universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vaccination vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe

Disclaimer


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: