Operation Cotton, War Crime and the Right to be Forgotten – the Human Rights Roundup
22 May 2014
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular lightening rod 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 Celia Rooney.
In recent human rights news, the ECJ finds against Internet giant Google, strengthening the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’. In other news, the UK awaits to see if it will be prosecuted before the ICC in relation to allegations of war crimes in Iraq, while the Court of Appeal confronts the issue of legal aid cuts in serious fraud cases as the Operation Cotton scandal continues.
In the News
Google and the Right to be Forgotten
In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice has ruled that the search engine Google must amend Internet search results in order to respect the privacy of individuals. The decision of the Court, in Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) and Mario Costeja González,
was given after a Spanish citizen complained that the inclusion of an auction notice for his home, which had once been threatened with repossession, on an internet search violated his right to privacy. Essentially, it was suggested that there is a ‘right to be forgotten’ – language borrowed from a 2012 report on the matter by the EU.
Lorna Woods, writing for the Inforrm blog, gives an excellent summary of the ECJ’s decision and its interpretation of the EU Data Protection Directive here. On behalf of the Justice Gap blog, Paul Bernal, has considered the pros and cons of the decision – which he suggests strongly favours the rights of individuals over both businesses and freedom of expression – and looks at the possible implications of the judgment on the current EU process of data protection reform.
Rosalind English’s post is here
UK “War Crimes”
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has reopened preliminary examinations into the allegations that UK troops abused detainees in Iraq. The investigation follows a complaint to the ICC prosecutor lodged by Public Interest Lawyers and a the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights which claims to document evidence of abuse between 2003 and 2008.
The UK government, however, have suggested that ICC involvement is inappropriate and unnecessary in light of the fact that it is already investigating the claims. Writing for the Guardian, Joshua Rozenberg has suggested that the outcome of the ICC’s examinations will depend on the extent to which it is satisfied that the UK’s own investigations are sufficient.
Operation Cotton Spillover
The last roundup summarised the Operation Cotton affair, in which a Crown Court judge halted a high profile fraud trial after the defendants found themselves without representation due to recent legal aid reforms. The incident generated particular media attention because the lawyer advocating that the trial was unfair was none other than the Alexander Cameron QC – brother of the Prime Minister.
In Other News
- David Miranda, partner of former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, has been given permission to appeal against a decision of the High Court which found that his detention at Heathrow airport, connected to the Edward Snowden affair, was lawful. The Guardian reports here.
- A man in Cambridge has been visited by two police officers, after tweeting about the UK Independence Party (UKIP), despite having committed no crime. Tamsin Allen, writing for the Inforrm blog, has highlighted the concerns that this incident raises in terms of free speech.
In the Courts
- LV, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Justice & Anor  EWHC 1495 (Admin) (15 May 2014)
Delay in reviewing the detention of someone convicted of arson, post-tariff in an indeterminate sentence, was not excessive or unlawful. Judicial review dismissed.
- Waryoba, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1496 (Admin) (13 May 2014)
2+ years of immigration detention was lawful, rules High Court.
- A & Anor, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Health  EWHC 1364 (Admin) (08 May 2014)
Lack of access to state-funded abortion in England for woman ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland was lawful under statute and no human rights (Art 14+8) breach.
- P v Cheshire West and Chester Council  UKSC 19
This year, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Cheshire West case – requiring that the living arrangements of those without capacity by local authorities. Jon Holbrook, writing for the New Law Journal, critiques the decision of the Court here. He suggests that the Justices asked themselves the wrong question, came to the wrong answer, and adopted the wrong approach in this case. In doing so, he argues that human rights are having a distorting effect on social policy in the UK – allowing judges to make decisions that should be taken by Parliament.
- A v BBC  UKSC 25
In this case, a foreign national had been given notice of his deportation following his conviction for a sexual offence against a child. The BBC sought to set aside directions by the Court of Session to protect the anonymity of the man, as he challenged a decision to refuse him permission to appeal by way of judicial review. The Supreme Court upheld the man’s anonymity. Writing for 11KBW’s Panopticon blog, Christopher Knight has outlined the Supreme Court’s decision, explaining its implications for the principle of open justice.
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.
- Media Standards Trust and King’s Policy Institute – “Inhuman Rights”: Is the Sun Right about the Human Rights Act? – 20th May (6.30-8), King’s College London (Strand Campus)
- The Justice Gap: Can the Rule of Law Survive Without Legal Aid? – 21st May (7-9pm), Law Society
- Law Society: Where Now for Civil Legal Aid? – 22nd May (6-7.30pm), Law Society
- Human Rights Collegium (Queen Mary University): The Duty to Give and the Right to Receive – Jewish Law and Poverty Alleviation – 22nd May, invite only
- Oxford Pro Bono Publico Symposium: Public Interest Lawyering in the 21st Century – 24th May (10am-6pm), Pembroke College, Oxford
- UK Constitutional Law Association: Prisoner Voting and the Constitution – 18th June (6-7.30pm), University College London
Human Rights Blog Posts
- Eastenders in Supreme Court: A1P1 filling in the gaps – May 15, 2014 by David Hart QC
- Bad and Very Bad Judges – May 15, 2014 by David Hart QC
- Video: Human Rights Debate at NYU – May 14, 2014 by Adam Wagner
- Press has no direct role in welfare proceedings in Court of Protection – May 12, 2014 by Rosalind English