The Weekly Round-up: Covid Inquiry, Abortion law, Sue Carr as Lord Chief Justice

19 June 2023 by

In the news:

The inquiry into the government’s handling of Covid has begun hearing evidence in public. The first topic of discussion, Chair Baroness Hallett’s Module 1, is pandemic preparedness. Hugo Keith KC, Lead Counsel to the Inquiry, told the hearing that the impact of lockdowns on society had not been planned for, while arrangements for a no-deal Brexit had ‘drained resources and capacity’ in Whitehall. Subjects which reportedly had not been considered include the impact on education and employment support. Lady Hallett said three central questions need to be answered by the probe: Was the UK properly prepared for a pandemic? Was the response appropriate? And what can we learn for the future? Those invited to give evidence include David Cameron and George Osbourne, who will speak to the effects of public sector cuts on pandemic preparedness.

A mother-of-three has been imprisoned for over two years for inducing her abortion after the 24-week limit. Carla Foster ordered medication under the Lockdown ‘pills by post’ scheme, having lied that her pregnancy was within the 10-week category that would qualify for her for at-home abortion treatment. The prosecution argued that Foster’s online searches, which included the request ‘how to lose a baby at six months,’ indicated comprehensive premeditation. The judge recognised the defendant’s sense of remorse, her depression and that three children, one of whom has special needs, depended on her, but regretted that a guilty plea had not come earlier and passed a sentence of 28-months (including 14 to be spent on licence). A number of women’s organisations signed a letter imploring the judge to pass a lenient sentence, while Labour MP Stella Creasy has called for a reform to the law. Some commentators have argued the sentence may discourage other women who miscarry from seeking medical help and that custodial sentences in these cases are of no benefit to the public.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, has apologised on behalf of the staff seen partying during lockdown at Conservative Party HQ in newly-released video. The footage shows members of staff drinking wine and wearing Christmas-cracker hats. Someone off-camera jokes to the person filming, ‘… as long as we don’t streaming that we’re like, breaking the rules,’ while a dancing man spins into a table in the background. Those in attendance included campaign manager Ben Mallet, recently awarded an OBE in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list, and former mayoral-candidate Shaun Bailey, granted a peerage in the same list. Gove remarked that Mallet and Bailey should retain their new honours, affirming the ex-prime minister’s right to confer such distinctions. The Conservative Party has announced disciplinary action would be taken against staff members for breaching the rules. Scotland Yard has already investigated the incident and decided to take no action against those in attendance when a photo of the event had been published last year, having announced that ‘the photo by itself is not sufficient evidence on which to assess that an offence had been committed.’

In other news

Dame Sue Carr has been announced as the first female Lord Chief Justice in England and Wales. Due to the lack of precedent, there is uncertainty over the title to be used. Called to the bar in 1987, Carr specialised in general commercial law and took silk in 2003, being appointed as a Lady Justice of Appeal in 2020. In April 2022, 35% of court judges and half of tribunal judges were women; of senior court appointments, the proportion was 30%.

Michael Lockwood, former head of the Independent Office for Police Conduct, has been charged with raping a girl under 16. Nine offences allegedly took place in the mid 1980s: six counts of indecent assault and three rape offences. Through his lawyers, he has denied the claims.

The Law Commission has been invited to review the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 and the Friendly Societies Act 1992 by the Treasury. Their brief is to determine whether the legislation supports community benefit societies in a modern business environment: ‘[whether the law] is fitting to their nature and needs, and whether the current form of regulation is proportionate.’

In the courts

In Iquioussen v. France, the European Court of Human Rights refused an application to suspend his removal from Belgium to Morocco. The applicant had invoked Article 3 to claim the removal would expose him to torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as Article 8 regarding his right to respect for private and family life. The Court upheld neither claims because the claimant had voluntarily left France for Belgium where the Aliens Office of the Kingdom of Belgium had ordered the removal to Morocco, meaning the respondent state could not be held responsible.

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Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice administrative court adoption ALBA Allison Bailey Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Appeals Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 7 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders charities Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus Coroners costs court of appeal Court of Protection covid crime Cybersecurity Damages Dartmoor data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention diplomatic immunity disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of candour duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Employment Law Employment Tribunal enforcement Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance football foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza gender genetics Germany gmc Google Grenfell Health healthcare high court HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Jalla v Shell Japan Japanese Knotweed Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Land Reform Law Pod UK legal aid legality Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage Maya Forstater mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery monitoring murder music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal Parole patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Private Property Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries public law Regulatory Proceedings rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo Right to assembly right to die right to family life Right to Privacy Right to Roam right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence sexual orientation Sikhism Smoking social media Social Work South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness Statutory Interpretation stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine UK Supreme Court unduly harsh united nations unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks Wild Camping wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
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