The Weekly Round-Up: Deprivations of citizenship, the state of the union and prison over Pride and Prejudice

24 January 2022 by

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In the news:

On Friday, the Guardian reported on the earlier Freemovement.org quantitative analysis relating to deprivations of British citizenship. While it has been known and reported upon for some time, the analysis demonstrates a continued trend of increased deprivations, with a significant peak in 2017, when the number of people whose citizenship was removed soared by 600%.

Protected by Article 15 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights following the Second World War, the right to a nationality was described by Hannah Arendt as the very ‘right to have rights’.  Nationality underpins individuals’ belonging to states, which can be the only true guarantors of individual self-governance through the medium of inalienable rights.

Prior to 2006, the power to remove citizenship had not been used since 1973. Now, strengthened by the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, which allowed the UK government to order deprivation of citizenship against its citizens where it believes it is ‘conducive to the public good’, 175 people have had their citizenship removed on national security grounds, and 286 due to fraud (even though the latter power relating to fraud was already enshrined in s.40 of the British Nationality Act 1981). The additional power to render individuals stateless was introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, under which the Secretary of State may remove citizenship where she has reasonable grounds for believing that the person deprived ‘is able’ to become a national of another country. This was most visibly achieved in the case of Shamima Begum, considered extensively on the UK Human Rights Blog.

The latest figures demonstrate the government’s continued commitment to using powers which are now sought to be expanded yet further by the Nationality and Borders Bill. Clause 9 of the new Bill will remove even the right of an individual to have notice of the government’s decision to remove their citizenship.

In other news:

  • The BBC reported on Friday that the average delays to criminal prosecutions has hit a new record of 708 days. The backlog of criminal cases remains around 60,000. The rights of defendants and victims to swift justice and trial within a reasonable time in the UK remains tenuous.
  • Ben John, the 22-year-old who was convicted of ‘possessing a record likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’ after he was found with a copy of the Anarchist’s Cookbook and was (unconventionally) sentenced to read Jane Austen, Shakespeare and other works of literary canon, has had his suspended sentence overturned by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday. After the court heard how he had continued to ‘like’ far-right material on the internet after his sentence, John will now face time in prison. On the same day, a 14-year-old boy became the youngest person in the UK to be convicted on terror charges.

In the courts:

  • In Tindall & Anor v Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police & Anor [2022] EWCA Civ 25, the Court of Appeal confirmed that public bodies would not be liable in tort for ‘merely acting ineffectually’. While the public may expect authorities to intervene in a dangerous situation, their mere arrival or presence will not render them liable for negligence where members of the public are harmed by things that are not their fault. In this case, the police left a sign and then abandoned a dangerous stretch of road after an earlier accident, shortly before a second accident resulted in the death of the Claimant. See, by contrast, Owain Thomas QC’s post on the 2018 Supreme Court decision in Darnley v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, a case where a hospital was found to be vicariously liable for the negligent advice of a (non-medically trained) receptionist in A&E. Philip Havers QC of One Crown Office Row acted as lead counsel to the Defendant in that case.
  • On Tuesday, The High Court in ZLL, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2022] EWHC 85 (Admin) rejected the Claimant’s application for judicial review of the Government’s policy on rough-sleepers, in light of the ‘Everyone In’ initiative during the covid pandemic. After being rejected by Camden LBC which judged the Claimant not to meet its risk-based requirements for being taken in. Stuart-Smith LJ determined in essence that the Government’s publications in relation to the ‘Everyone In’ initiative did not amount to open-ended, prescriptive, public-policy guidance and so there was no conflict between an authority’s ‘published policy’ and an unpublished policy.

On the UKHRB:

  • crashwigley discusses the Welsh government’s devolved approach to covid regulations in relation to police powers.
  • 1COR’s Henry Tufnell analyses the dismissal of the appeal against the lawfulness of the Self-Employment Support Scheme, which was accused of discrimination against self-employed mothers who had taken maternity leave shortly before the introduction of the scheme, which purportedly affected the calculation of their income support during the coronavirus pandemic.

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