The Weekly Round-Up: “undue lenience” and unpopular social care proposals

7 September 2021 by

In the News: 

In the relatively quiet period before the courts reopen for Michaelmas term, a suspended sentence handed down by a judge at Leicester Crown Court has attracted relatively loud censure. 

Timothy Spencer QC, Leicester’s senior resident judge, sentenced 21-year-old former Leicester student Ben John to two years in prison, suspended for two years. John had been found guilty of a terror offence under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act after downloading almost 70,000 white supremacist documents and bomb-making instructions.

The judge characterised John’s crime as an “act of teenage folly” and instructed him to return to court every four months to be “tested” on classic literature by Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare and Hardy.

The decision has been held up as an example of racial and religious bias in sentencing. A letter to The Guardian dated 2 September described it as “a clear example of how white privilege works at an individual level.” Activist Mariam Khan doubted that “someone convicted of reading Islamist terror material [would be] told to read Pride and Prejudice”. 

Campaign group Hope Not Hate has called for the case to be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office on the basis that the sentence was unduly lenient and may “risk encouraging other young people to access and share terrorist and extremist content.” The law officers have 28 days from sentencing to consider the case and make a decision. 

The courts remain closed, but Parliament returned today to a clamour of political problems, starting with Afghanistan, social care and universal credit. 

On the UKHRB: 

  • Joanna Curtis comments on a judgement of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the foreseeability of the offence of misconduct in public office in its current form and its compliance with Article 7 and Article 10 ECHR. 

Upcoming Events:

  • At 12pm on 21st September join the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) and the All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) for a discussion on ‘A Diminishing Democracy? Human Rights and the Rule of Law in India Today.’ Find out about their incredible line-up of speakers and book your ticket here.

    For a refresher, revisit our webinar on the Rule of Law in India held in January 2021 here.
  • On 11th – 12th October join the Annual JUSTICE Human Rights Conference, a highlight of the CPD calendar. Taking place over Zoom, hear from keynote speaker Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School, expert speakers debate ‘Covid-19 and Human Rights’ as well as join two breakout sessions on ‘Crime, Housing and Homelessness, Immigration and Asylum (on 11 Oct) and Protest as a Human Right, Family and Child Rights, and Judicial Review (on 12 Oct).

    Tickets are £100 for JUSTICE members / £150 for non-members. A recording will be available to attendees after the event. Read the full programme and book your place here.

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