September Round Up: Strasbourg on employees’ emails, Brexit, and news on sexual offences and abortion rights

In the news this month:

The Brexit Bill

The Bill for the withdrawal from the European Union has been dominating the news over the past few weeks.  Mark Elliott comments that it is ‘difficult to overstate the importance’ of the bill from a constitutional standpoint, and the House of Lords Constitution Committee has said in an interim report that its political, legal and constitutional significance are ‘unparalleled’. Concern has been voiced in various quarters over the use of ‘Henry VIII’ powers (so named because of the monarch’s disdain for parliamentary restraint) which will allow the executive to bypass parliament to ‘tweak’ legislation, and a concomitant lack of sufficiently robust sunset clauses or checks and balances to the handover of such powers. For more detail, I highly recommend listening to David Hart QC’s conversation with Rosalind English on our new podcast series Law Pod, in which he details the potential consequences of the bill in general and in terms of environmental law in particular; you can read his comments here or have a listen here. Continue reading

The Round Up: Lady Hale, Gayle Newland and Ian Paterson’s Sentencing

The Law Pod UK podcast for this roundup is available on iTunes – Episode 7

In the news…

The Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme

Disgraced surgeon Ian Paterson’s sentence has been referred to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme. Paterson was jailed for 15 years in May, having been found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three of unlawful wounding. The breast surgeon was accused of negligence in performing so-called ‘cleavage-sparing mastectomies’, an unapproved procedure leaving tissue behind for cosmetic reasons and for some women leading to the return of their cancer, and furthermore, of carrying out unnecessary operations where a simple biopsy would have sufficed.

The Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme was also in the news this week when the Ministry of Justice announced that 19 terror offences would be incorporated, including encouraging terrorism and sharing terrorist propaganda. The Scheme allows anyone to refer a sentence that they feel was lenient to the Attorney-General, who has the power to refer it to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration. Continue reading

The Round Up: End of the Charlie Gard case, Russian Homosexuality Laws, and the Northern Ireland Abortion Case

IN THE NEWS

The Strasbourg Court has ruled inadmissible the claims by Charlie Gard’s parents that the withdrawal of artificial ventilation from the severely ill child would breach their right to respect for family life under Article 8. Seven judges ruled that it was most likely that Charlie was “being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress”. The parents had wanted to take him to undergo experimental treatment in the US, but the Strasbourg Court said that undergoing this treatment with “no prospects of success… would offer no benefit”.

These means that the Great Ormand Street Hospital may proceed with  the Supreme Court’s order to end the baby’s continued suffering by removing Charlie from life support.  We will post a link to the text of the decision when it becomes available; here in the meantime is the press release detailing the inadmissibility decision in the case Gard and Others v. the UK . See our most recent update here for more details and earlier posts here and here.

As the Law Gazette reports, David Lidington takes over from Liz Truss as Lord Chancellor and representative of the judiciary in the Cabinet. He is our fifth Lord Chancellor in just five years.  David Lidington has been Conservative MP for Aylesbury since 1992.  You can find his voting record here and check out this profile of his record on human rights by Rights Info.

The Independent reports that the number far right extremists reported to the government’s counter-terrorism Prevent strategists increased by 30% in the past year. Prevent has been criticised for its ineffectiveness and now for focusing too heavily on Islamist terror.  See  Liora Lazarus in the UK Constitutional Law blog on the tension between (and politicisation of) human rights and effective counter-terrorism, and Adam Wagner on how we respond to terror.

Litigation following the Grenfell Tower disaster is inevitable. Sir Keir Starmer, the former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said on the Andrew Marr show that prosecutors are looking into corporate manslaughter charges. Such a charge is notoriously difficult to bring (see Solicitors’ Journal here and the CPS guidelines here). There have been other calls for charges to be brought under the common law offence of gross negligence manslaughter, especially after it was revealed that both the insulation and the tiles in the building failed multiple safety tests. But legal challenges regarding negligent maintenance are also difficult to bring due to the lack of legal aid for the claimants. We’ll keep you posted as this case develops.

It’s Refugee Week this week, so head over to Free Movement for an in-depth look at the new Home Office policy of periodically reviewing (and where possible returning) refugees who have been granted indefinite leave to remain. Continue reading

The Round-Up: Minimum Wage, Article 6 and Housing

IN THE NEWS

Three women, including a mother and her daughter, have been charged with conspiracy and attempt in the first all-female terror plot in the UK. This accolade means it is sure to be feverishly anticipated by the press when the charges reach the Old Bailey on May 19th.

The Children’s Society is looking for evidence on the impact of LASPO (2012) on unaccompanied migrant children, and are calling for the participation of legal practitioners in a survey which can be found here. Evidence would be used in the pending review of LASPO and in a strategic litigation case intended by the Children’s Society to bring unaccompanied migrant children under the auspices of legal aid. For more information contact Dr Helen Connolly at helen.connolly@beds.ac.uk or Richard Crellin, Policy Manager at the Children’s Society at richard.crellin@childrenssociety.org.uk.

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The Round Up: Immigration Appeals, Vaginal Mesh, and Farage and Defamation

Farage

IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK

With election fever well and truly afflicting the exhausted electorate again, Gina Miller, of Article 50 fame, has launched a tactical voting initiative to back candidates who will “commit to keeping the options open for the British people.” The crowd-funding campaign, rousingly named “Do what’s best for Britain!”, reached and surpassed its £135k goal in just 24 hours. It’s not the first initiative of its kind: moreunited.co.uk contributed to the Lib Dem success in the Richmond Park by-election, and has doubled its crowd-funding target after raising more than £50k in the 48 hours since the announcement of the general election. Neither initiative is allied to a particular party: instead, they aim to support individual candidates sympathetic to their values.

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THE ROUND UP: victims of forced labour, assisted dying and the Hillsborough law

Assisted dying There’s a lot to cover this week, as the Round Up looks at (among other things) Strasbourg’s view on forced labour in Greece, the High Court’s latest decision on assisted dying, a mooted Hillsbrough law, Katie Hopkins’ twitter fiasco receiving short shrift in the courts and, inevitably, the triggering of Article 50.

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