The Round-Up – free abortions, no adoption for Sikh couple, and school uniform headscarves

4 July 2017 by


Women from Northern Ireland who travel to the UK seeking abortions will now be able to access the procedure without charge on the NHS. See the Supreme Court decision on this, posted by Rosalind English, which brought the whole matter to light. You can hear a discussion of the various issues in this case on our new podcast series.

The government changed its policy on the matter amid fears that Conservative MPs were planning on supporting an amendment to the Queen’s speech, put forward by Labour MP Stella Creasy, to provide Northern Irish women with access to free abortions in England; with the new Conservative government’s much reduced majority, Prime Minister Theresa May could not afford to risk a rebellion from her own MPs.

Currently, a woman in Northern Ireland will not be allowed access an abortion unless her life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her physical or mental health. These conditions are restrictive, such that even a woman who has been raped will not be granted an abortion. Moreover, only last year the Northern Ireland Assembly voted against permitting abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality. This means that a woman may be forced to give birth to a child which will never survive.

Northern Irish women in urgent need of an abortion have thus been left with few viable options. Until last Thursday those who travelled to the UK for an abortion found themselves having to pay £900 to undergo the procedure privately. Moreover, women across the UK who procure abortions for themselves, such as from drugs bought online, can still be prosecuted under an archaic Victorian law.

The dissenting speeches from the Supreme Court earlier this month would seem to be vindicated.  Lord Kerr in particular considered that the Northern Ireland Assembly had expressed no view on the ability of Northern Irish women to travel to England to obtain abortions, and that neither democratic deference to the Northern Ireland Assembly nor cost could be considered legitimate aims for an interference in the Northern Irish women’s Article 8 rights.

The policy has so far been adopted with alacrity by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which plans to provide for such women without delay. BPAS has even promised a refund to those Northern Irish women who used its services last Friday.

Yet although this should certainly be heralded as a positive step, access to abortions in England may not be so readily available for all Northern Irish women. While the procedure itself may now be free, women will still have to pay themselves for travel, accommodation and time away from work in order to seek out the procedure. Mara Clarke (the director of the Abortion Support Network, which offers financial assistance to women in need of abortions) acknowledged the move as “an incredible step”, but nonetheless warned that “the work will still be here tomorrow”. For example, Ms Clarke has highlighted the plight of any women caring full-time for children or in controlling relationships who will be unable to travel and therefore unable to benefit.

Moreover, the legal restrictions on abortions still remain firmly in place in Northern Ireland itself. Only last week, on the very day that the UK government announced its policy change on abortion for Northern Irish women, the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland overturned a High Court judgment from 2015 and refused to declare the restrictive abortion laws incompatible with obligations under the UK’s Human Rights Act. Rather, the court considered that it was not appropriate for it to intervene and any change in the law should be left as a matter for the Stormont Assembly to decide. Although leave has been given to appeal to the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court may well be inclined cite democratic deference to Stormont, and refuse to intervene.



A Sikh couple are bringing a discrimination claim against Adopt Berkshire, the official adoption agency of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, after being denied the opportunity to adopt a white child because of their “cultural heritage”. Sandeep and Reena Mander, who were born in Britain and live in Berkshire, were hoping to adopt a child of any ethnicity, but were informed by the adoption agency that they were unlikely to be selected to adopt, given that only white children were in need and white British or European parents would instead be given preference. The couple claim that the adoption agency advised that they seek to adopt a child from India – a country with which they have no close links. While adoption agencies are allowed to consider race when matching parents with a child, the Children and Families Act 2014 had removed the requirement that due consideration be given to religion, race and cultural background which resulted in ethnic matches, since a child’s ethnicity should not constitute a barrier to adoption. Regarding the Manders’ case, despite intervention by their MP and Prime Minister Theresa May, and despite support from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the council has so far refused to retreat from its position.

Sir John Thursby Community College in Burnley, Lancashire, has come under fire after introducing a uniform headscarf for Muslim female students. The rationale for the new uniform requirement arose from concerns that students were not wearing their headscarves appropriately. It was, however, criticised in an online petition launched by parents, who have lamented the lack of consultation with parents and students prior to its introduction. The main concerns arise from the tightness of the cap-like headscarf, which parents are concerned may be suffocating for students or may fail to cover their hair at all, which would defeat the point of the headscarf to protect the wearer’s modesty. The petition has even suggested that the uniform headscarf may have been introduced to deter Muslim female students from wearing headscarves altogether; head teacher David Burton has denied any such motive, and has pledged to discuss parents’ views with governors.


Dean (Zain Taj) v Lord Advocate: the Supreme Court has ruled that the prison conditions in Taiwan are such that any extradition would breach the Human Rights Convention.  The respondent, convicted with driving under the influence, negligent manslaughter and leaving the accident in Taiwan, was sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment.  He absconded to Scotland.   The Appeal Court found that, despite assurances from the Taiwanese government, he remained at real risk of ill-treatment at the hands of third parties who might seek to harm him since he had become well-known for his crime or given the special treatment he would receive because of the assurances.  The Supreme Court held that the Appeal Court had not applied the correct test from R (Bagdanavicius) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, which for threats from third parties is whether the state has failed to provide reasonable protection against harm inflicted by non-state agents. The Supreme Court held that the assurances from the Taiwanese government that he could elect to remain alone constituted sufficient reasonable protection, and his election to be so isolated would not amount to a breach of Article 3.

Lorefice v Italy: the European Court of Human Rights considered the applicant’s complaint concerning the fairness of criminal proceedings which had resulted in his conviction by a court of appeal and held that there had been a breach of the applicant’s Article 6 right to a fair trial. Mr Lorefice had been charged with extortion, possession of explosive devices, damage to other people’s property, collusion and attempted robbery, but was initially acquitted by the Sciacca first-instance court given the lack of credibility, incoherence, illogicality and imprecision of the evidence from two witnesses. The Palermo Court of Appeal however, overturned this judgment; in doing so it had reassessed the witnesses’ evidence and found it credible, despite the fact that it had not ordered a fresh rehearing of the witnesses’ evidence and merely relied upon. In light of the seriousness of the charges against Mr Lorefice, the Court found that the relevant issues could not, as a matter of fair trial, be properly determined without a direct assessment of the evidence given by the prosecution witnesses. It emphasised that in order to assess the credibility of witnesses, it should do so in person and not merely by reading statements as recorded in hearing transcripts.

by Poppy Rimington-Pounder

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.




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 deficit DEFRA Democracy village Dennis Gill dentist's registration fees deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention devolution Dignitas dignity Dignity in Dying diplomacy director of public prosecutions disability Disability-related harassment disabled claimants 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 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 justification 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


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: