Three convicted murderers are challenging their sentences in the European Court of Human Rights. They claim that the rare “whole life” tariffs which have been imposed in their cases is contrary to their human rights.
Jeremy Bamber, Peter Moore and Douglas Vinter were all convicted for murder and therefore sentenced to life imprisonment, which is the mandatory sentence for the crime. It has been so since death penalty was abolished in 1969. However, as is well-known, life does not always mean life, and when a judge passes sentence he also sets a tariff, which is the number of years before which the prisoner will be eligible to be considered for early release on licence. The rules have already been altered to make them compatible with fair trial rights. Will they have to be altered again?
The judicial authority in Sweden -v- Julian Paul Assange – Read judgment
Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, must face charges of sexual assault and rape in Sweden, the chief magistrate Howard Riddle has ruled.
The case will almost certainly be appealed, so in reality there may not be a final decision for many months. Assange has a right of appeal on law or fact to the High Court under section 26 of the Extradition Act 2003. Assange has 7 days to appeal, but otherwise the extradition would usually take 10 days to execute.
Assange’s skeleton argument, that is a summary of his legal arguments during the hearing, can be found here. You can find my previous post on the subject here, including an explanation of the law surrounding his potential extradition. Carl Gardner, of the Head of Legal blog, also provides an excellent post here.
The Supreme Court has given important guidance as to when eviction from local authority housing amounts to a breach of a tenant’s human rights. It has also confirmed that courts should have the power to consider the proportionality of previously automatic possession orders relating to council properties.
The judgment forms a double act with the recent decision in Manchester City Council (Respondent) v Pinnock (Appellant), a path-breaking ruling in which the Supreme Court held that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to private and family life) requires that a court, when asked by a local authority to make an order for possession of a person’s home, must have the power to assess the proportionality of making the order (see Nearly Legal’s excellent discussion of that decision).
Garry Norman MANN v Portugual and the United Kingdom – 360/10  ECHR 337 (1 February 2011) – Read judgment
Garry Mann, a football fan who was convicted to two years in a Portuguese jail for rioting after an England match in 2004, has lost his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against his conviction and extradition.
Mann has always denied taking part in the riot. The full background to the case is set out here. The case has been subject to a number of court hearings in the UK, including two judicial review hearings against his proposed extradition to Portugal to serve his prison sentence. He has also already had a claim in the European court rejected.
There is little we can do to prevent the cuts. But a shrinking justice system could have an unintended consequence: it may inspire lawyers to take a more activist approach in promoting access to justice, and to find creative ways of bringing the public closer to the law.
Last night, 35 legal bloggers, tweeters and journalists descended on 1 Crown Office Row chambers to debate the future of legal blogging. Twitter was abuzz with the event, and you can read the tweets even if you are not signed up to a Twitter account.
The event was a great success. I will write about it in more detail soon, as I hope will others. The one and a half hour discussion was always interesting and animated, and continued in earnest over drinks and substantial nibbles afterwards. There was also a complete reversal of the usual protocol that mobile phones should be turned off, and many people tweeted from the event. One of our editors even made a successful eBay bid.
My hon. Friend speaks for many people in saying how completely offensive it is, once again, to have a ruling by a court that flies in the face of common sense. Requiring serious sexual offenders to sign the register for life, as they now do, has broad support across this House and across the country. I am appalled by the Supreme Court ruling. We will take the minimum possible approach to this ruling and use the opportunity to close some loopholes in the sex offenders register.
It is being reported this morning that sex offenders will be given the right to appeal their placement on a police register. The change follows a Supreme Court ruling that the lifelong restrictions were contrary to human rights law.
As I posted in April last year, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that lifelong requirements for sex offenders to notify the police when they move house or travel abroad are a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to privacy and family life.
The comments system works just like a blog post. Any member of the public can leave comments on any particular provision of the draft law. The deadline for comments is 7th March.
The Prime Minister says that the Public Reading Stage, which is touchingly in “beta”, will “improve the level of debate and scrutiny of bills by giving everyone the opportunity to go online and offer their views” on new laws.” “That”, he suggests “means better laws – and more trust in our politics.”
1 Chancery Lane chambers along with piCalculator has recently launched a new legal blog, piBlawg.
is a collaboration between piCalculator and 1 Chancery Lane. It is intended to give you up to date commentary on all legal aspects of personal injury and clinical negligence case law, whilst adding in a little extra.
piBlawg isn’t of direct relevance to human rights, although they do have one post currently listed under that category. In any case, the blog looks very useful and at the moment very regularly updated. Welcome!
Controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik has addressed the Oxford Union by satellite link, despite being banned from visiting the UK by the home secretary.
The Home Office has wide discretion to exclude radicals which it considers have displayed ‘unacceptable behaviours’ , and the preacher was excluded under this policy in June 2010. The exclusion is currently being challenged in the courts. The home office successfully defended the ban in the high court (see our post), but that judgment is being challenged by the preacher in the court of appeal.
Similarly, the Daily Mail says “the time has come for Britain to tell unelected Strasbourg judges that they have overstepped their authority“, and the Daily Express poses a dilemma between “democratically elected Commons or an unelected and alien tribunal in Strasbourg“.
Just to set the record straight, unlike our own judges, judges the European Court of Human Rights are elected.
Former Labour MP Eric Illsley has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to £14,000 of expenses fraud in regard of second home claims. The expenses cases have taken a fascinating route through the courts to reach this stage.
I recently posted on the case of David Chaytor, who was sentenced to 18 months after pleading guilty to similar, and the case of Lord Taylor, who has been convicted by a jury but is yet to be sentenced. He will now be looking to the sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Saunders in Illsley’s case for clues as to his fate. The judge has been taking a tough line due on the men due to the breach of public trust aspect of the cases:
Updated | Parliament is currently debating on whether prisoners should be given the vote. The motion can be found here and you can watch the debate on Parliament TV.
A Washington Post correspondent recently said US President Barack Obama had been “bounding around like a ping-pong ball in a wind tunnel” on to the situation in Egypt. In many ways, the UK government has been doing the same on the 5-year-old judgment in Hirst v UK, in which, as has been endlessly repeated in the media, the European Court of Human Rights’ grand chamber ruled that the indiscriminate ban on prisoners voting breached Article 1 of Protocol 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
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