Court of Appeal upholds Birmingham gang injunction

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Jones v Birmingham City Council [2018] EWCA Civ 1189 (23 May 2018)

The Court of Appeal has upheld a ‘gang injunction’ restricting the actions and movement of 18 members of a Birmingham gang. One of the men affected, Jerome Jones, unsuccessfully challenged the injunction, arguing that the proceedings by which it was made properly required proof to the criminal standard, and that the application of the civil standard violated his right to a fair trial under Article 6 ECHR.

 

Background

The appellant was said to be a member of the Guns and Money Gang (GMG), affiliated with Birmingham’s notorious Johnson Crew. Named after Johnson’s café, the gang’s erstwhile fast-food hangout, the Johnson Crew have been engaged in often violent turf war with the rival Burger Bar Boys since the 1980s. They both attempt to lay claim to various areas of the city, particularly between Handsworth and Aston.

The violent climate was brought to the nation’s attention with the tragic murder of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, two innocent teenage students gunned down in Aston while leaving a party in the early hours of 2 January 2003. Four associates of the Burgers, imprisoned for the murders, had apparently intended to target a Johnson member as revenge for the earlier execution-style killing of Burger Bar Boy Yohanne Martin. While this particularly bloody period gained attention for claiming the lives of a number of gang members and mere bystanders, the violence has not abated. A Birmingham police officer in the proceedings gave evidence of ongoing gang violence, with innocent members of the public at risk of being caught up in crossfire [7].

 

Gang injunctions

For many years, Birmingham City Council (‘the City’) has sought to use various powers to disrupt and discourage gang-related behaviour, including injunctions against named people said to be involved in violence. By injunction, individuals can be prevented from entering certain areas, or from doing things associated with gang violence.

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Women “groomed, pimped and trafficked” as teenagers not required to disclose prostitution convictions to employers

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Credit: Onjali Rauf from Making Herstory

R (QSA and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Dept and Secretary of State for Justice [2018] EWHC 407 (Admin) – read judgment

The High Court ruled on 2nd March 2018 that three women forced into prostitution as teenagers will no longer have to disclose related convictions to potential employers.

The claimants challenged the criminal record disclosure scheme which required them to reveal details of multiple decades-old convictions for ‘loitering or soliciting’ for the purposes of prostitution.

The women had been groomed, coerced or forced into sex work, two of them when they were children. They were required to divulge their convictions under the regime of the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) governed by Part V of the Police Act 1997. DBS checks (previously CRB checks) are made when an applicant seeks certain paid or voluntary work involving children or vulnerable adults. While the claimants weren’t strictly barred from such jobs, they had to inform would-be employers of their historical convictions. They said this placed them at an unfair disadvantage, caused embarrassment and put them off applying in the first place. They argued that this interference with their private and working lives was unjustified by the scheme’s aims and unlawful. The Court agreed.

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The Front Page in the Digital Age: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies publishes report on protecting journalists’ sources

newspapers-444447_1920A study raising concerns about journalists’ ability to protect sources and whistleblowers was launched in the House of Lords last Wednesday.

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), in collaboration with the Guardian, has published the results of a research initiative into protecting journalists’ sources and whistleblowers in the current technological and legal environment. Investigative journalists, media lawyers, NGO representatives and researchers were invited to discuss issues faced in safeguarding anonymous sources. The report: ‘Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in a Digital Age’ is available online here.

The participants discussed technological advances which facilitate the interception and monitoring of communications, along with legislative and policy changes which, IALS believes, have substantially weakened protections for sources. Continue reading

Witness Protection: Can non-parties appeal critical findings made in a judgment which infringe their human rights?

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Re: W (A child) [2016] EWCA Civ 1140 – read judgment

Summary

A Family Court judgment was severely critical of two witnesses and the applicant local authority. In an oral “bullet point” judgment at the end of the hearing, the Judge found that the witnesses, a social worker (‘SW’) and a police officer (‘PO’), had improperly conspired to prove certain allegations regardless of the truth, or professional guidelines.

Those matters were not in issue before the court or put to those concerned. Limited amendments were subsequently made to the judgment following submissions by those criticised. Unsatisfied, they went to the Court of Appeal.

The Court considered (1) whether they were entitled to appeal at all (2) whether their appeal based on Articles 8 and 6 of the Convention succeeded and (3) the appropriate remedy.

The Court held that the appellants’ Convention rights had been breached by the manifestly unfair process in the court below, so they had a right to appeal under the Human Rights Act 1998. The defective judgment was not cured by the amendments, and the findings were struck out.

The judgment addresses some interesting procedural questions regarding appeals. This post focuses mainly on the human rights issues, but the judgment of McFarlane LJ, described as “magisterial” by Sir James Munby, merits reading in full.

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