Media By: Conor Monighan


The Round Up: Saudi Arabia, durable relationships, and the Telegraph judgment

29 October 2018 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

Khashoggi

Credit: The Guardian

In the News:

Saudi Arabia has admitted that the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. The man was last seen entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul.

At first Saudi Arabia refused to admit the journalist was dead, then claimed he was killed in a fist fight, before suggesting he was killed by a rogue operation. A man posing as Khashoggi left the consulate the same day and walked around the nearby area.

The country’s public prosecutor has launched an investigation. King Salman announced a restructuring of the kingdom’s intelligence services. He has also dismissed deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al Assiri and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s nearest adviser, Saud al-Qahtani. 18 other suspects have been arrested and remain under investigation. The location of the journalist’s remains is unclear.

Donald Trump called the Saudi’s response ‘credible’, and senior US officials met with the Crown Prince last week. Trump has promised a robust response, but has said he does not want to damage American jobs by cutting arms sales.

Much of the information was initially leaked by Turkey, which sees Saudi Arabia as a rival in the region. President Erdogan has claimed the murder was planned days in advance.
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Round Up- Civil Partnerships for all and the Unlawfulness of Hardial Singh.

8 October 2018 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

Marriage-009

Credit: The Guardian

In the News:

The Government has announced that civil partnerships will be available to all couples, not just those which are same-sex. The government has said the move will address the “imbalance” of the current system. It will also provide a way of giving couples and their families greater security.

Concerns have previously been raised about the precarious state of cohabiting couples, many of whom incorrectly believe they possess similar rights to married couples. Widening access to civil partnerships may go some way to solving this issue.

Civil partnerships were originally created in 2004, and offer homosexual couples legal and financial benefits resembling those available under a marriage. Marriage for same-sex couples was subsequently legalised by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, giving them a free choice between the two.

The proposed change comes in response to R (on the application of Steinfeld and Keidan) (Appellants) v Secretary of State for International Development, which was decided by the Supreme Court in June. There, the court ruled that precluding mixed-sex couples from entering into a civil partnership was incompatible with Article 14 ECHR (when read in conjunction with Article 8). The Civil Partnership Act 2004 will, therefore, need to be amended or replaced.
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ALBA Summer Conference 2018: A Review (Part 3)

24 September 2018 by

albaConor Monighan reviews the Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA) Summer Conference 2018

Brexit update – Chair: Mr Justice Lewis; Speakers: Professor Alison Young (Sir David Williams Professor of Public Law, University of Cambridge) and Richard Gordon QC

Professor Alison Young

Is it inevitable that domestic law will alter drastically after Brexit? According to Professor Young, it is entirely possible that little change will occur.

First, the CJEU will continue to have an influence on domestic law. This is because section 6(2) of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 states courts/ tribunals ‘may have regard’ to CJEU decisions (including those made after exit day) if they think it appropriate.

Second, the fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights will probably not disappear. Although Section 5(4) of the Act states that the Charter will no longer be part of domestic law, paragraph 106 of the Explanatory Notes says “those underlying rights and principles will also be converted into UK law”. Arguably, this means lawyers will still be able to use case law in which these general principles were referred to. However, a limitation to reliance on fundamental principles is set out by s.3(1) of the Schedule to the Act. This states no court/ tribunal may disapply law because it is incompatible with any of the general principles of EU law.
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ALBA Summer Conference 2018: A Review (Part 2)

18 September 2018 by

Conor Monighan reviews the Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA) Summer Conference 2018

alba

‘The relevance of unincorporated international law’. Speakers: John Larkin QC (Attorney General for Northern Ireland) and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC

The relevance of unincorporated international law (John Larkin QC):

Mr Larkin suggested that the courts’ approach towards international law may be split into three parts:

  1. International law is determinative if it is incorporated.
  2. It ‘may have a bearing’ on the common law.
  3. It may be relevant to the application of Human Rights, via the Human Rights Act 1998.

The HRA 1998:

The orthodox view of unincorporated treaties is that they have no substantive effect. This approach was supported in SG & Ors [2015] UKSC 16, albeit by the ‘narrowest majority’. Lord Reed’s lead judgement held that courts ought to respect the considered opinion of democratically elected institutions, who are best placed to make judgements about proportionality. Miller [2017] UKSC 5 gave further weight to the traditional view that unincorporated human rights treaties have no effect.

However the matter is not entirely clear cut, especially where the HRA 1998 is concerned. In SG & Ors Lord Hughes suggested such treaties may be relevant in a number of situations, including those in which the court applies the ECHR (via the HRA 1998). Support for this view has also been given by Lady Hale and Lord Kerr in the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission [2018] UKSC 27 case [328]. The Vienna Convention states at Article 31(3)(c) that account should be taken of “any relevant rules of international law applicable in relations between the parties”. It is clear, then, that even unincorporated international law still has relevance for human rights.

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The Round Up: attempted murder, mass data collection, and what the Vote Leave judgement really said.

17 September 2018 by

Skripal

Credit: The Guardian

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

In the News:

The CPS has said there is enough evidence to charge two Russian men with conspiracy to murder Sergei and Yulia Skripal.  Although the Skripals survived, another lady called Dawn Sturgess later died of exposure to Novichok.

The two men visited Salisbury last March, at the same time the nerve agent attack took place. It is believed the two men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are military intelligence officers for GRU, the Russian security service.  The CPS has not applied for their extradition because of Russia’s longstanding policy that it does not extradite its own nationals. A European Arrest Warrant has been obtained in case they travel to the EU.

In response, the two men have claimed they were merely tourists. In an appearance on Russia Today (RT), they said the purpose of their visit to Salisbury was to see its cathedral. Arguing that their presence was entirely innocent, the two men said they were following recommendations of friends. Petrov and Boshirov went on to say that, whilst they had wanted to see Stonehenge, they couldn’t because of “there was muddy slush everywhere”. The men insisted they were businessmen and that, whilst they might have been seen on the same street as the Skripals’ house, they did not know the ex-spy lived there. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has said they are “civilians” and that “there is nothing criminal about them”.
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ALBA Summer Conference 2018: A Review (Part 1)

13 September 2018 by

alba

Conor Monighan reviews the Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA) Summer Conference 2018

This year’s ALBA conference featured an impressive list of speakers and they did not disappoint. Delegates heard from a Supreme Court judge, an Attorney General, top silks, and some of the best legal academics working in public law.

The conference dedicated much of its time to public international law, a discipline which is often thought to have little relevance for most public lawyers. In fact, the conference showed that domestic public law is heavily intertwined with international law. This post summarises the key points from the conference, with a particular focus on human rights.
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Round Up- Sir Cliff, stop and search, and the definition of fatherhood

23 July 2018 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

Sir Cliff 2.jpg

In the News:

Sir Cliff Richard won his privacy case against the BBC, prompting a wide-ranging debate about press freedom.

Following an allegation of historic child sexual abuse, South Yorkshire Police raided Sir Cliff’s home in August 2014. The BBC decided to broadcast live footage of the raid which it filmed from a helicopter. Sir Cliff was interviewed under caution, but never charged.

The singer argued that the BBC’s coverage of the raid amounted to a ‘serious invasion’ of his right to privacy for which there was no lawful justification. In particular, he said his right to privacy under Article 8 ECHR had been undermined, and that the Data Protection Act 1998 was breached. The BBC submitted that it was tipped off about the police investigation, and felt it had a duty to pass the information to the public.

The High Court held that a suspect in a police investigation was capable of having a “reasonable expectation of privacy”, depending on the facts of his/ her situation. There was no “genuine public interest” in the police investigation. It further held that damage to reputation may form part of a breach of the right to privacy. Mr Justice Mann awarded initial damages of £210,000. The BBC must pay 65% of the damages, with South Yorkshire police paying the remainder.

Sir Cliff’s solicitor said his client had offered to settle for “reasonable” damages and an apology, but this gesture had been rebuffed.

The BBC is considering whether to appeal. Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director of news and current affairs, apologised to Sir Cliff outside court by saying “in retrospect, there are things we would have done differently.” South Yorkshire Police also apologised for its mistakes.

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Round Up: detainees, Grenfell, and discrimination in UK pension law.

2 July 2018 by

In the News:

The Intelligence and Security Committee found that the UK had allowed terrorism suspects to be treated unlawfully.

Following a three-year investigation, it published two reports examining the extent to which Britain’s intelligence agencies were aware of the mistreatment of suspects. The reports found no evidence that British officers took part in the torture themselves. Neither was there clear evidence of a policy which sought to deliberately overlook mistreatment.

However, the Committee found that British intelligence officers had witnessed prisoners being tortured. They had seen detainees being mistreated at least 13 times, were told by prisoners that they were being abused at least 25 times and were informed of ill-treatment by foreign agencies 128 times. British agents also threatened detainees in nine cases.

Despite being aware of the mistreatment from an early stage, UK agencies continued to provide questions for interrogations. The Committee chairman, Dominic Grieve, said that the UK had tolerated ‘inexcusable’ actions.

Furthermore, British agencies assisted in the rendition of suspects to countries with ‘dubious’ human rights records. MI5 and MI6 subsidised, or offered to subsidise, the rendition of individuals on three occasions. They also provided information for the rendition of 28 people, proposed/ agreed to rendition in 22 cases and failed to stop the rendition of 23 others (including cases involving British nationals).
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The Round Up: Grenfell, lost DVDs, and a Deputy Judge who erred in law.

21 May 2018 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law.

Grenfell

Credit: The Guardian

In the News:

An independent report into building regulations, commissioned by the government in the wake of the Grenfell disaster, has called for the current regulatory system to be overhauled.

However, the report surprised some because it did not recommend a ban on flammable cladding. It also declined to recommend stopping so-called ‘desktop studies’, where materials are tested without setting them on fire. The chairman of Grenfell United expressed disappointment at this conclusion. The Royal Institute of British Architects expressed support for banning inflammable cladding and the government has said it will consult on the issue. The Prime Minister has also pledged £400 million to remove flammable cladding from tower blocks.

The author of the report, Dame Judith Hackitt, said that banning the cladding was insufficient. Instead, she stated that a ‘whole system change’ is needed. Dame Hackitt warned that cost was being prioritised over safety and that ‘banning activities and particular materials […] will create a false sense of security’.

The report recommended fundamental changes to building regulations, saying that the process which drives compliance with the regulations are ‘weak and complex’. Dame Hackitt found that there was a ‘race to the bottom’ in the building industry that was putting people at risk. She also wrote that product testing must be made more transparent, and that residents’ voices were not being listened to.

The Grenfell Inquiry will open this week. For the first two weeks, the lives of those who died will be remembered in a series of commemorations.
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The Round Up: An anonymity injunction, the role of assurances in extraditions, and when a person’s refugee status can end.

8 May 2018 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

Blog James Bulger

Credit: The Guardian

In the News:

In the matter of the person previously known as Jon Venables, Application by Ralph Stephen Bulger and James Patrick Bulger: Sir James Munby, sitting in the High Court, rejected a legal challenge to release the new identity of one of James Bulger’s killers.

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss issued an injunction in 2001 conferring lifelong anonymity on Bulger’s killers. A number of Bulger’s relatives subsequently issued an application seeking to vary the injunction, though Bulger’s mother was not a party to it.

The application was considered by Edis J earlier this year, who made an order that it be considered by the President of the Family Division at the first available opportunity. The application requested that the court “consider that over 17 years on and with serious offending the experiment of ‘anonymising’ Jon Venables has not worked”. The application was made in light of child sex offences committed by Venables since 2001.

However, the bundle prepared for the hearing by the applicants did not comply with the relevant Practice Direction’s mandatory requirements. In particular, the applicants did not outline how the injunction should be varied or discharged. Compliance, the court held, was important to achieve the aims of bringing down waiting times and delays in hearing cases. Sir James Munby expressed regret that the Practice Direction was still not being adhered to 18 years after it was first issued. Secondly, a witness statement did not comply with Family Procedure Rule 25.4(2). If the applicants wished to reply on expert evidence, they should have made an application to do so. The court recognised that the application had been prepared in haste but noted that deficiencies remained three months later.

In light of this, counsel for Mr Venables and the Attorney General were severely disadvantaged in their understanding of the case. An order was therefore made to remedy the deficiencies in the relatives’ application.
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Headline- Round Up: Sir Cliff Richard’s case against the BBC reaches the High Court

23 April 2018 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

cliff

Credit: The Guardian

In the News:

The legal battle between Sir Cliff Richard and the BBC has begun in the High Court.

In August 2014, police raided Sir Cliff’s home based on an allegation of historic child sexual abuse. The BBC broadcast live footage of the raid filmed from a helicopter. The singer was interviewed under caution, but never charged.

Sir Cliff alleges that the BBC’s coverage of the police raid on his home was a serious invasion of his right to privacy, for which there was no lawful justification. He also alleges breaches of his data protection rights. The singer seeks substantial general damages, plus £278,000 for legal costs, over £108,000 for PR fees which he spent in order to rebuild his reputation, and an undisclosed sum relating to the cancellation of his autobiography’s publication. He began giving evidence on the first day of the hearing.
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Round Up- Do trained lawyers have a human right to represent themselves in court?

9 April 2018 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

The High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court are not sitting at present (Easter Term will begin on Tuesday 10th April). Accordingly, this week’s Round Up focuses largely on the ECHR.

European-court-of-human-r-009

Credit: The Guardian

Correia De Matos v. Portugal

This week, the ECHR held that requiring defendants to have legal representation does not violate Article 6. The vote was split by nine votes to eight.

The applicant, a lawyer by training, alleged a violation of Article 6 s.3(c) of the Convention. This was on the basis of a decision by Portuguese domestic courts which (i) refused him leave to conduct his own defence in criminal proceedings against him, and (ii) required that he be represented by a lawyer.
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Round Up- Fried eggs, Facebook, and the right to choose one’s counsel

26 March 2018 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

fb

Credit: The Guardian

In the News:

The consultancy company Cambridge Analytica has come under fierce criticism for its treatment of Facebook users’ data. A whistle-blower, Christopher Wylie, alleged that Cambridge Analytica had gathered large amounts of data through a personality quiz, posted in Facebook, called ‘This is Your Digital Life’. Users were told the quiz was collecting data for research.
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The Round Up – Strikes, detainees, and was it a poison plot?

11 March 2018 by

Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law

Abbott

Photo credit: The Guardian

In the News:

Over 100 female detainees have gone on hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre.

The women began their strike on the 21st February, over “inhuman” conditions, indefinite detentions, and a perceived failure to address their medical needs. The UK is the only European state that does not put a time limit on how long detainees can be held.

This week, the strikers were given a letter from the Home Office warning their actions may speed up their deportation. Labour criticised the letter, but Caroline Nokes, the Immigration Minister, said the letter was part of official Home Officer guidance and was published last November on its website.
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Round Up: Worboys, air pollution, and Germany’s social media law

25 February 2018 by

In the News:

taxi

Credit: Garry Knight, Flickr

Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v DSD

The Supreme Court ruled that the police have a positive obligation to conduct an effective investigation into crimes involving serious violence to victims, in line with Article 3 of the ECHR.  In this case the obligation had been breached.

The case concerned the police’s investigation into the ‘black cab rapist’, John Worboys. Two of his victims brought a claim for damages against the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), on the basis of an alleged failure of the police to conduct an effective investigation into Worbys’ crimes. The victims were awarded compensation in the first instance. The Court of Appeal dismissed the MPS’ appeal, and the case came before the Supreme Court.
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