Category: BLOG POSTS


Sir Cliff v BBC: A new era for police investigations? — Patricia Londono

19 July 2018 by Guest Contributor

Sir Cliff’s case against the BBC (Sir Cliff Richard OBE v (1) The British Broadcasting Corporation (2) Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police ) following the raid on his home in August 2014 was billed as of  “enormous importance” in relation to whether the media are able to identify a suspect pre-charge, as well as having “massive implications” for the reporting of early phases of police investigations.  The first trial of its kind in this country, this article considers the ramifications of this High Court decision on the press reporting of those subject to police investigation.

On the morning of the 14 August 2014, the Berkshire home of Sir Cliff Richard was searched by South Yorkshire Police (‘SYP’) in connection with allegations of historic child sexual abuse.  The BBC broadcast the search more or less as it was taking place, giving it extensive coverage, including aerial shots by helicopter. The story was then picked up by other news media extending its coverage both in this country and aboard. Sir Cliff was not in the UK while his home was searched but viewed the broadcast.  He was subsequently questioned about the allegations but was neither arrested or charged and was told in 2016 that he was no longer under investigation.

At the heart of Sir Cliff’s claim was a challenge to media organisations in the reporting about those named by police as being subject to investigation for serious criminal offences.  In the face of increasing concern about the public naming of suspects questioned about historic sex offences, the Home Affairs Select Committee had recommended that those accused of such offences should be entitled to anonymity up to the point of charge (HC 962, Pre-Charge Bail, Seventeenth Report of Session 2014-15).

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Emergency services liable where responsibility is assumed and detrimental reliance has taken place

18 July 2018 by Rosalind English

Sherratt v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police [2018] EWHC 1746 (QB) (16 July 2018) – read judgment

This was an appeal on a preliminary issue from the decision of David Berkeley QC, sitting as the Recorder below. The question was whether the defendant chief constable owed a duty of care to the claimant’s partner, who had committed suicide.

The Recorder found that the defendant, either by his officers, employees or agents, failed expeditiously and/or adequately to deal with, and/or respond to, the information conveyed to them concerning the deceased in a 999 call made by the deceased’s mother.

King J upheld the Recorder’s findings and dismissed the appeal.
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Supreme Court hearing on local authorities’ liability for child abuse

15 July 2018 by Rosalind English

BOP-logo.jpgOn 16thJuly 2018 the Supreme Court will begin to hear legal arguments on the appeal of the children against the judgment of the Court of Appeal in CN and Anor v Poole Borough Council [2017] EWCA Civ 2185

I wrote up the original judgment here. The appeal was expedited and the Court will now consider the extent to which local authorities owe a common law duty to protect children from harm arising within the community where they live.

Background 

A quick reminder of the somewhat remarkable facts of the case. In 2006 Mrs N and her two sons CN and GN, then aged nine and seven (one of whom was severely disabled), moved to a housing estate in Poole. The accommodation was arranged by the council as the local housing authority. Over the ensuing years, the family suffered from the effects of extreme anti-social activities of a neighbouring family. This behaviour was frequently reported to the property owners, officers of the council and local police. A measure of the seriousness of the case can be gained by the fact that the Home Office became involved and commissioned an independent case review which reported critically on the reaction of the agencies.  The appellants’ distress was so great that one of them attempted suicide. They continued to suffer from their neighbours’ behaviour until they were provided with alternative accommodation in December 2011.
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Legal challenge to the Undercover Police Inquiry — will it succeed?

10 July 2018 by rajkiranbarhey

 

Met_Police_Response_Car.jpgIt was reported on Thursday, 5 July 2018, that three core participants in the Undercover Policing Inquiry are intending to launch a legal challenge against the Home Secretary’s decision not to appoint a panel to sit with the Chair, Sir John Mitting.

They say a diverse panel is needed who will better understand the issues of racism, sexism and class discrimination that the inquiry will inevitably raise. So where has this challenge come from, and is it likely to succeed?

 

Background

Three years ago, Home Secretary Theresa May announced the establishment of the Inquiry, amid great controversy concerning the conduct of undercover police officers over a number of decades. Lord Justice Pitchford was appointed as chairman, but as a result of ill-health, he had to step down in 2017 and was replaced by Sir John Mitting (a judge of the High Court).

Mitting J has experience of surveillance and the security services, having been Vice-President of the controversial Investigatory Powers Tribunal and Chairman of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

However, his chairmanship of the inquiry has been mired in dispute, starting with a series of decisions to grant anonymity to many officers because public disclosure of their real names would breach their Article 8 rights to private and family life. Some had also raised concerns about Mitting J’s membership of the all-male Garrick Club.

Compounding matters, at a hearing on 5 February 2018, Phillippa Kaufmann QC, counsel for the victims (who had core participant status at the Inquiry), made the point that it was impossible to rule out wrongdoing, including deceptive sexual activity, on the basis of an individual’s personal or family circumstances. Mitting J responded:

Of course it is impossible to rule it out, but you can make a judgment about whether or not it is more or less likely. We have had examples of undercover male officers who have gone through more than one long-term permanent relationship, sometimes simultaneously. There are also officers who have reached a ripe old age who are still married to the same woman that they were married to as a very young man. The experience of life tells one that the latter person is less likely to have engaged in extramarital affairs than the former.

The comments were not well received and, later in the hearing, Mitting J acknowledged that he “may stand accused of being somewhat naive and a little old-fashioned” but that he would “own up to both of those things” and would take it into account and revisit his own views.

 

The Walk-Out

At the next hearing, on 21 March 2018, Ms Kaufmann made a number of submissions criticising the inquiry:

The first concerns the failure to ensure that the Inquiry is heard by exactly that, a panel representing a proper cross-section of society and in particular — and this is absolutely essential for reasons I’m going to come to — including individuals who have a proper informed experiential understanding of discrimination both on grounds of race and sex. Two issues that lie absolutely at the heart of this Inquiry. I’m sorry to say this, but instead we have the usual white upper middle class elderly gentleman whose life experiences are a million miles away from those who were spied upon. And the very narrow ambit of your experience is not something I’m simply creating out of thin air. It has been exemplified already in the way that you have approached these applications.

She then referred to Mitting J’s comments at the February hearing and concluded by inviting him to either recuse himself or appoint a panel to sit alongside him. She then walked out of the hearing, accompanied by her legal team and the core participants.

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Podcast episode correction

10 July 2018 by Rosalind English

Subscribers to the UKHRB will have received an earlier version of our announcement of recent podcasts by Emma-Louise Fenelon. There was a mix-up in the episode numbers and links which has now been corrected. Apologies for any confusion this may have led to, and please enjoy the properly attributed and linked recording!

New podcast from Law Pod UK

10 July 2018 by Rosalind English

20090327_radio_microphone_18Emma-Louise Fenelon recently interviewed Richard Booth QC about a successful injunction application to prevent a gross misconduct disciplinary hearing. You can hear the interview on Episode 39 of Law Pod UK.

The Claimant, represented by Jeremy Hyam QC, was a consultant forensic psychiatrist whose employment duties included working on the healthcare wing at Lewes prison. Following the death in custody of an inmate on the healthcare wing who had been under the Claimant’s care, the Trust initiated an investigation into the Claimant’s conduct and capability. The report of the investigation made a number of findings of failure to meet professional standards in particular with respect to the record keeping of ward reviews, but put them in the context of an under-resourced prison service.  Based on the report, the Trust’s case manager purported to convene a hearing to consider disciplinary action for gross misconduct against the Claimant.

An injunction was sought to prevent such hearing going ahead on the basis that, taken at its highest, the content of the investigation report did not justify a charge of gross misconduct; that the Trust’s policy definition of gross misconduct was lower that normally set by the common law; and that the Case Manager’s management statement of case went beyond the findings in the investigation report. Granting the injunction on an interim basis, the Court concluded that there were serious issues to be tried on all the issues raised by the Claimant and the balance of convenience was clearly in favour of the grant of the injunction.

The judgment can be found here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2018/1535.html

Law Pod UK continues to go from strength to strength and has surpassed 55k listens. All episodes are freely available to listen or download from a number of podcast platforms, including iTunes, Audioboom and The Podcast App.

The right to die – who decides?

9 July 2018 by Dominic Ruck Keene

nintchdbpict000310400808In R. (on the application of Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice [2018] EWCA Civ 1431 the Court of Appeal held that the blanket ban on assisted suicide in the Suicide Act 1961 s.2(1) was a necessary and proportionate interference with the ECHR art.8 rights of the appellant.

The appellant had proposed an alternative scheme for assisted suicide containing certain conditions and safeguards, including the approval of a High Court judge, for those who were terminally ill and had less than six months to live. However, it was held that the alternative scheme would not be effective and raised wide-ranging policy issues that would be better dealt with by Parliament.

The Court identified the origin of the case as being that the Claimant has a prognosis of six months or less to live and wishes to have the option of taking action to end his life peacefully and with dignity, with the assistance of a medical professional, at a time of his choosing, whilst remaining in control of the final act that may be required to bring about his death. However, Section 2(1) of the 1961 Suicide Act makes it a criminal offence to provide encouragement or assistance for a person to commit suicide.

Mr Conway therefore sought a declaration of incompatibility under section 4 of the HRA , on the basis that the ban on assisted suicide was a disproportionate interference with his right to respect for his private life under Article 8 of the Convention (“Article 8”).

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The Belhaj finale: Exclusion of closed material procedure means less scrutiny of DPP decisions — Nicholas Clapham

5 July 2018 by Guest Contributor

supreme courtThe rendition to Libya in 2004 of Mr Belhaj and his wife, Mrs Boudchar has given rise to a series of important cases in the domestic courts. In Belhaj and another v Straw and others) and Rahmatullah (No 1) v Ministry of Defence and another [2017] UKSC 3 the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the doctrine of state immunity did not operate to bar claims against the Government arising from their detention (as discussed in these pages by Dominic Ruck Keene).

Recently the parties in the Belhaj case have reached a mediated settlement and this action is at an end. Although the settlement was concluded without admission of liability, the Prime Minster issued an apology which included the following statement:

The UK Government’s actions contributed to your detention, rendition and suffering. The UK Government shared information about you with its international partners. We should have done more to reduce the risk that you would be mistreated. We accept this was a failing on our part.

 

The Remaining Case

Despite the end of those proceedings, a procedural argument remained extant which concerned the applicability of closed material proceedings to judicial review in certain cases. In Belhaj and another v Director of Public Prosecutions and another [2018] UKSC 33 (4 July 2018) the Appellants sought judicial review of a decision not to prosecute a person said to be a member of the British Secret intelligence Service.

Although the matter was then settled before judgment, the Court decided that this issue required authoritative determination in light of its importance.

The allegation was broadly one of connivance in the Appellant’s abduction, ‘rendition’ and maltreatment (although Her Majesty’s Government neither confirmed nor denied such involvement during the proceedings). The Crown Prosecution Service decision was made on the basis of 28,000 documents, none of which were disclosed to the Appellants due to their security classification.

The issue for the Court was whether this material could be received during judicial review proceedings using the closed material procedure by which the material is disclosed to the court and a special advocate but not the Appellants.

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How much of a groundbreaking decision is the CJEU’s judgment for transgender rights? – Thibault Lechevallier

3 July 2018 by Guest Contributor

European-Court-of-Justice

IMB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions ,26 June 2018 

Weeks after ruling against certain sexual orientation tests for asylum seekers and finding that EU Member States must recognise the free movement rights of gay spouses, regardless of whether same-sex marriages are solemnised therein, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) held that the UK requirement for transgendered persons to be unmarried in order to qualify for a State pension at the retirement age of their current gender violated EU law.

Background facts

The claimant, identified as MB, is a male-to-female married transgendered person, i.e she was assigned the male sex at birth, but identifies as female. After being recognised as female on both passports and driving licenses issued by UK authorities, MB underwent sex reassignment surgery in 1995. She did not, however, obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
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Round Up: detainees, Grenfell, and discrimination in UK pension law.

2 July 2018 by conormonighan

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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Equality won’t wait – Supreme Court rules in Equal Civil Partnership

28 June 2018 by Martin Downs

Civil-partnership-sign-495x495As predicted on this Blog, the Supreme Court has made a declaration of incompatibility covering sections one and three of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (to the extent that they preclude a different sex couple from entering into a civil partnership).

In Steinfeld and Keidan, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for International Development (in substitution for the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary) [2018] UKSC 32 (27 June 2018) the Court found that the provision was contrary to article 14 of ECHR taken in conjunction with article 8 of the Convention.

To an extent, this was not a surprise as, by the time the case reached the Supreme Court, the government had conceded that the current situation in which same sex couples have had a choice between marriage and civil partnership since 13th March 2014, whereas heterosexual couples only have the option of marriage, is discriminatory.

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Law Pod UK latest on Brexit

26 June 2018 by Rosalind English

Two years from the vote to leave the European Union, Catherine Barnard, Professor of EU Law at Cambridge, considers the rocks and hard places of the Brexit negotiations. She speculates on what is meant by what exactly is meant by staying “within the remit of the CJEU”, something that has drawn a lot of fire, but has no legal meaning.

We may all be jaded with Brexit coverage. But do listen to Catherine’s podcast, it is remarkably unpartisan and clear on the facts.

Catherine’s series 2903cb is freely available on soundcloud and our repost is on iTunes and other podcast platforms, Episode 38 of Law Pod UK.

The ‘straight civil partnership’ challenge: All you need to know before the Supreme Court Judgment

25 June 2018 by Martin Downs

supreme courtThe Supreme Court will hand down Judgment on Wednesday 27th June 2018 in R (on the application of Steinfeld and another) v Secretary of State for the International Development (in substitution for the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary).

The claimants are Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan who contend they were unlawfully refused an opportunity to register a Civil Partnership at Chelsea Town Hall on the grounds that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 reserves that status strictly for same sex couples. They do not want to enter into marriage as they say that it is patriarchal and is not consistent with their values.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 created a regime for the recognition of same sex relationships modelled on that in Vermont which pretty much entirely replicated the rights and responsibilities available through marriage. One of the only anomalies was a less favourable provision for survivor benefits from an occupational pension but even that was equalised courtesy of the Supreme Court in Walker v Innospec Ltd.

The exclusion of different sex couples from Civil Partnership started to appear somewhat anomalous when the government opened marriage up to same sex couples by way of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. The effect of that was that same sex couples in England and Wales (and Scotland – but not Northern Ireland) had a choice of marriage and civil partnership but different sex couples only had the former option.

This Blog has covered the story of the Steinfeld from the very beginning. The original hearing was in front of Mrs Justice Andrews and the arguments were examined by Professor Rob Wintemute in these pages. Ultimately, as reported by Adam Wagner, Mrs Justice Andrews ruled that the current law does not breach the human rights of opposite-sex couples who cannot obtain a Civil Partnership.

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Bars to the Bar: Diversity in the Legal Profession Before the Canadian Supreme Court – Michael Rhimes

21 June 2018 by Guest Contributor

On 15th June 2018 the Canadian Supreme Court handed down two interesting and closely related judgments involving Trinity Western University: Law Society of British Columbia v Trinity Western University and Brayden Volkenant 2018 SCC 32 and Trinity Western University and Brayden Volkenant v Law Society of Upper Canada 2018 SCC 32

Trinity Western University (TWU) is a Christian University – indeed, in its own words, it is “a distinctly Christian university” (here, page 2). It takes “the Bible as the divinely inspired, authoritative guide for personal and community life” (here, page 1) and seeks“to develop godly Christian leaders”.

Prospective TWU students must sign a ‘Community Covenant’. That Covenant requires them to commit to “reserve sexual expressions of intimacy for marriage” and abstain from“sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” (here, page 3). This rule applies both on and off campus(the Abstinence Rule, see paras [1] and [319]).

The Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) refused to approve TWU’s faculty of Law because of the Abstinence Rule (I will call this the Decision). The question before the Supreme Court of Canada was whether this was lawful. The issue in Law Society of Upper Canada dealt with a similar decision of the Law Society of another province(Ontario)to approve the TWU law school.  
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Slamming the door on system failure in medical negligence inquests – Jeremy Hyam QC

19 June 2018 by Guest Contributor

R (Parkinson) v. HM Senior Coroner for Kent and Others – read judgment
If anyone had the lingering hope that the door to argue “system failure” in any but the most exceptional case of medical negligence remained ajar after the decision of the Grand Chamber in Lopes de Sousa, then the recent Divisional Court decision in Parkinson  shows the door has been well and truly slammed shut.
Background facts
On 9th January 2011 Mrs Kathleen Parkinson died at the A & E Department of Darent Valley Hospital. She was aged 91 and dying. She had been taken to hospital by her son. On arrival in A & E she was assessed by a nurse and then by a Dr Hijazi. Dr Hijazi formed the view that she was dying, that there was no useful treatment that could be given her, and that as she was in the last moments of life, doing anything would not have been beneficial to her.  Her son who, wanted her to be treated, became aggressive and eventually attempted to perform mouth to mouth resuscitation although advised against this by A and E staff. Mrs Parkinson deteriorated rapidly and died soon after arriving.
An inquest was convened and although Article 2 was kept under review throughout the inquest, the Coroner determined that it was not an Article 2 inquest.  He rejected the submission that he ought to enter a verdict of gross negligence manslaughter and found that Mrs Parkinson died of natural causes and that any additional treatment that could have been provided to her in the short time she was at the Darent Valley Hospital would have been ineffective given the advanced stage of dying she was in. He refused the request to provide a report on the prevention of future deaths under paragraph 7, Schedule 5 of the Coroners’ Justice Act 2009.

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