Caesarean Escalation, Judges on Human Rights and Happy Birthday – the Human Rights Roundup

8 December 2013 by

Birthday HRRWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular seasonal sack-load of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Sarina Kidd. 

This week, bloggers tried to get to the bottom of the ‘forced caesarian’ case, a Supreme Court judge weighed in on the relationship between the UK and European law, and on Tuesday it’s the 65th birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the News

Human Rights Day – this Tuesday 

This Tuesday 10 December is Human Rights Day, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrating its 65th birthday.

The ‘forced caesarean section’

It’s likely that you’d have read the provocative news about a woman who was given a c-section whilst unconscious, and then had her baby put into care, first reported by the Telegraph’s Christopher Booker – his latest article is here.

Lucy Reed, of the PinkTape, examines the escalation of the story, expressing her concern that its essence ‘was not apparently based on fact at all…the crucial distinction between the justification for a medical procedure and the justification for a removal of a child into care is what has been blurred and subsequently lost in the reporting of this case’.  She has a later post updating the matter, in which 2 of the 3 relevant judgments have been made available, noting that the affair is still ongoing. She also states that although it was the media furore that led to the judgments being made available, ‘it is spurious to suggest that this sort of headline led reporting is some kind of public service.’

On a similar vein, Carl Gardner likens the escalation to ‘flat earth news’ in which ‘a story appears to be true. It is widely accepted as true. It becomes a heresy to suggest that it is not true – even if it is riddled with falsehood, distortion and propaganda’. He  then proceeds to analyse some of the agendas of the Telegraph journalist Christopher Booker and MP John Hemming, who were two of the original commentators. Both Gardner and Reed also emphasise the damage that has been caused by this reporting, unfairly smearing the social workers, NHS doctors, mentally ill people and vulnerable children. Also see Adam Wagner’s UKHRB post here.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Prochaska at Birthrights examines the available judgments and expresses a number of concerns about the whole affair. For example, during the hearing of the judgment, the mother’s views do not seem to be considered in the court’s discussion. Also, there is no explanation in the judgment as to why the medical evidence that proposed that both mother and baby should be placed in a baby unit did not happen.

Finally, here’s a useful resource: Suesspicious Minds offers a beginner’s guide to the Court of Protection, which, as the Caesarean case demonstrates, regularly makes difficult and controversial decisions in cases involving people without mental capacity.

A gaggle of judges

To quote Mark Elliot at ‘Public Law for Everyone’, ‘lectures by senior judges on the relationship between the UK and European law are rather like the proverbial bus: you wait around for one, and then several arrive almost simultaneously.’

First up is Lord Judge, who retired last year as Lord Chief Justice. He has told the UCL Constitutional Unit that the Human Rights Act need to change to make it explicit that the British courts are not obliged to follow the rulings of Strasbourg. You can read his lecture in full here. He criticised Theresa May’s suggestion that ‘some judges choose to ignore Parliament and go on putting the law on the side of foreign criminals instead of the public’ and emphasised that a UK Court cannot ignore an Act of Parliament.

Dr Elliot analyses the speech in detail, explaining that for there to be an honest and effective debate on the issues at hand, ‘both sides must first acknowledge that, for the time being at least, European law has a constraining effect upon the United Kingdom that cannot be neutralised by reliance upon constructs of purely domestic constitution law. Only then can the appropriateness of that constraining effect be properly challenged or defended as the case may be’.

Meanwhile, Obiter J examines Lord Sumption’s lecture, ‘The Limits of Law’. Lord Sumption stated that, ‘Personally, if I may be allowed to speak as a citizen, I think that most of the values which underlie judicial decisions on human rights, both at Strasbourg and in the domestic courts of the United Kingdom, are wholly admirable. But it does not follow that I am at liberty to impose them on a majority of my fellow citizens without any democratic process’. The crux of Sumption’s argument seems to be that the current human rights protection system has had a detrimental effect on there being political solutions to rights problems. Obiter J argues against the notion that human rights should be addressed by political processes for, ‘political processes are not always minded to address matters of concern, especially where the matter affects a relatively small number of individuals.’

One can also read Lady Hale’s lecture ‘What the point in Human Rights?’ here in which she asks, ‘So what has gone wrong? Why is the [Human Rights] Act apparently so unpopular with politicians, the press and the public? Are they right?’ Hale explains that they aren’t and looks at the positive ways in which human rights law has impacted on people’s lives and buttressed against injustice. She concludes by considering what the consequences would be if the Human Rights Act were to be repealed.

And, finally, you can check out Lord Justice Laws’ Hamlyn Lecture, ‘The Common Law and Europe’ here, and Obiter J’s comments on it here.

In Other News

In the Courts

Upcoming Events

To add to this list, email Adam Wagner.  Please only send events which i) have their own webpage which can be linked to, and ii) are relevant to the topics covered by this blog.

UK Human Rights Blog Posts


  1. rose white says:

    British judges may try to ignore Strasbourg but they cannot ignore the UN Declaration?

  2. jonholbrook says:

    On spiked I have argued that Lord Sumption is right: legal activism devalues the demos:

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.




Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals Anne Sacoolas 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 blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board care homes Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Commission on a Bill of Rights common law communications competition confidentiality consent conservation constitution contact order contact tracing contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus coronavirus act 2020 costs costs budgets Court of Protection covid crime criminal law Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation DEFRA deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention Dignitas diplomacy diplomatic relations disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Equality Act 2010 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 evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Facebook Facial Recognition Family Fatal Accidents Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage gay rights Gaza Gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Gun Control hague convention Harry Dunn Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Human Rights Watch Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests insurance international law internet inuit Iran Iraq Ireland islam Israel Italy IVF ivory ban Japan joint enterprise judaism judicial review Judicial Review reform Julian Assange jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legal aid cuts Leveson Inquiry lgbtq liability Libel Liberty Libya lisbon treaty Lithuania local authorities marriage Media and Censorship mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery morocco murder music Muslim nationality national security naturism neuroscience NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury physician assisted death Piracy Plagiarism planning planning system Poland Police Politics Pope press prison Prisoners prisoner votes Prisons privacy procurement Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecutions prostituton Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries quarantine Radicalisation refugee rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania round-up Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials sexual offence shamima begum Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance sweatshops Syria Tax technology Terrorism The Round Up tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal credit universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Weekly Round-up Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe


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: