Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular high water mark of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Celia Rooney.
This week, the detention of David Miranda (pictured) was declared lawful by the High Court, while, in other news, the Court of Appeal has thrown in its lot to the saga of the whole-life tariff and the Supreme Court considered the thorny issue of religion and law.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular breakfast cereal variety box of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Post by Sarina Kidd, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.
Commentators have been criticising a number of assertions that Chris Grayling made about judicial review in the Daily Mail this week. Elsewhere, although Price Competitive Tendering has been scrapped, there are still many concerning proposals, and there has been a secret court rebellion by the Lib Dems.
Human Rights Awards: Liberty has opened nominations for their 2013 Liberty Human Rights Awards – all details here.
The road to hell as we know is paved with good intentions and here they are, laid bare by the Daily Politics broadcaster in his exposition of everything that has gone wrong with the Convention since it was forged in the crucible of two world wars.
Post war prosperity ensured that genocide and dictatorships did not arise again. But the Convention has become a “political poison” that goes to the very core of how the country is governed.
In “Rights and Wrongs” Neil declares that he is trying “to cut throughout the hype and confusion” surrounding the subject, and his approach is undeniably forthright and populist. No doubt he will be castigated severely for poor reporting. But to be fair, he points out that the media had exaggerated some judgments – you can’t avoid deportation merely by owning a cat, but you can if you have a settled family who happens to own one. He also cites a number of decisions from Strasbourg that most people in this country would support, or at least think nothing of these days – gays in the military, the abolition of corporal punishment in schools, freedom of the press (particularly the ruling that saved Andrew Neil from jail during the Spycatcher affair in the 1980s).
But – inevitably – the documentary focussed on the cases of Abu Qatada and Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, the asylum seeker whose car hit and killed 12-year-old Amy Houston, and who successfully resisted deportation because of his right to a family life. Continue reading →
George McGeogh for Judicial Review of the Compatibility with the Petitioner’s EU law rights of the Decision of the Electoral Registration Officer , Outer House, Court of Session  CSOH 65, 08 April 2011 (Lord Tyre) – Read opinion
This was an attempt by a prisoner to argue that his disenfranchisement under Section 3 of the Representation of the People Act breached his human rights, not under the ECHR, but his rights under EU law. The case illustrates the widespread (and probably correct) perception that if you can bring your claim under European law by persuading the court that one or other of its principles and freedoms are involved, you have a better chance of getting home on the rights argument than if you are restricted to the weaker authority of the Council of Europe and its Convention. Continue reading →
Terry Jones, an American pastor who threatened to burn Korans on the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, may be banned from visiting the UK by the home secretary.
Jones, an otherwise unknown local pastor in Gainsville, Florida, cause worldwide controversy earlier this year when he proposed an “International Burn a Koran Day”. He has not as yet carried out his threat.
It is well known that free speech protections mean that we have to protect the rights of those we disagree with. A recent High Court case involving an Indian preacher shows that the protection probably does not extend to non-UK residents such as Jones, but it may to his supporters.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular Swiss Army Knife of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here. Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Daniel Isenberg.
The focus of this week’s news was on the European Court on Human Rights’ views on whole life tariffs and miscarriages of justice, which has fed into the recent Abu Qatada deportation and continuing questions about the relationship between the UK, the Convention and the Court. Elsewhere, the Attorney-General was deemed to have lawfully exercised his override to suppress disclosure of Prince Charles’ letters, and there will be no public inquiry into the death of Litvinenko.
Supreme essay success
Top billing this week comes from our very own Daniel Isenberg’s fantastic winning essay in the UK Supreme Court, which has now been published on Guardian.co.uk – Do we need more or fewer dissenting voices in the UK supreme court?[Daniel did not put his own essay in top billing, it was me – but from everyone at UKHRB, we wish him hearty congratulations! Adam]
I watched Panorama’s exposé of institutional abuse of adults with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View Hospital with mounting horror. What legal mechanisms were available to prevent abuses like this, or bring justice to victims?
There can be little doubt that the acts of the carers towards the patients were inhuman and degrading, a violation of their Article 3 rights. It is highly questionable whether the establishment fulfilled their rights to privacy and dignity under Article 8, the right to private and family life.
Tuesday’s Supreme Court judgment held by a majority of 8 to 3 that an Act of Parliament is required to authorise ministers to give Notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union. This blog has covered the case in some detail – see Dominic Ruck-Keene’s post on the central issue in the appeal here, Jim Duffy’s post regarding the court’s findings on the status of the Sewel Convention here, and Rosie Slowe’s guest post on the enduring relevance of the question of the irrevocability or otherwise of an Article 50 notification here.
Trump’s inauguration trumped…but what now?
Donald Trump’s inauguration was met with a rather lukewarm reception on 21st January 2017 when almost 5 million people took to the streets to join the globally organised Women’s March.
The event is estimated to have attracted approximately 4.8 million people across 673 marches. It was organised in support of all those who had been targeted during Trump’s election campaign: not just women, but migrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQ, people of racial minorities, and people with disabilities.
Trump himself seems untroubled by the protests, and responded the following day with a purportedly liberal and tolerant tweet: ‘Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don’t always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views’.
Moreover, in no way has he been deterred from his objectives regarding certain women’s rights. Continue reading →
It’s time for the human rights roundup, a regular bulletin of all the law we haven’t quite managed to feature in full blog posts. The full list of links, updated each day, can be found here.
by Graeme Hall
In the news
As the UK government is requesting the referral of Greens and M.T. v UKto the Grand Chamber, with the intention that the European Court of Human Rights reconsiders the issue of prisoner voting, the Committee of Ministers, vested with the responsibility to oversee the enforcement of the Court’s judgments, has put on hold its ongoing review of the UK’s compliance with the decision in Hirst v UK (No. 2). This comes at a time when a senior human rights academic, as well as other states (according to the PoliticsHome blog), are also questioning the Court’s legitimacy. The background to these controversial decisions can be found in Adam Wagner’s post.
Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmad, Syed Talha Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz have lost their High Court Judicial Review challenges to their extradition to the United States to face terrorism related charges. The court refused permission to apply for Judicial Review.
Two weeks ago the European Court of Human Rights refused the men’s requests to refer their extradition appeal to its Grand Chamber for another hearing. This meant that their case, which was decided in the Government’s favour in April (see our post) became final and there were in theory no remaining barriers to their extradition to the United States to face terrorism charges [Update, 7.10.12 – they are already in the United States, so no more legal shenanigans on these shores].
The men each brought different judicial review claims as a final challenge to their extradition, and those claims have – quite rightly – been dealt with rapidly by the High Court, which rejected the claims outright. As the court’s summary says, these proceedings are “the latest, and if we refuse permission, the last, in a lengthy process of appeals and applications that has continued for some eight years in the case of three and 14 years in the case of two.”
When dealt with at an oral hearing, refusals by the court of permission to apply for Judicial Review are not appealable. So pending any legal shenanigans (I can’t think of anything more they can do but as Julian Assange has taught us all, anything is possible), the (this time really) final barrier to extradition looks to have been removed.
The Home Secretary has launched a major attack on immigration judges in today’s Mail on Sunday, in language which even the Mail says is “highly emotive”. She finds it “depressing” that judges are consistently refusing to allow deportation of foreign criminals in “defiance of Parliament’s wishes”.
Petition of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body for an Order under Section 46 of the Court of Session Act 1988  CSOH 113 – read the judgment here
The Court of Session recently ruled in favour of the eviction of the Indy Camp outside Edinburgh Parliament.
by David Scott
Since November 2015, the foot of Arthur’s Seat has been home to a continuous encampment, known as Indy Camp, promising to remain stationed until a second referendum on Scottish independence is called. In December 2015 the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body brought proceedings seeking the eviction of the camp, as it encroached on the property of the Parliament.
The Metropolitan Police have been criticised for their request to Sue Grey not to prejudice their investigation into parties held at Downing Street during lockdown. Ms Grey has yet to publish her report into the parties, but a “heavily redacted” version is expected “imminently” according to the Guardian. The Met requested the report to make “minimal reference” to the parties, not that it be delayed or otherwise limited, but it has caused some to question the motives and/or competence of the police. It is possible that their investigation will go beyond current public knowledge and if criminal charges result in a jury trial the police do have to ensure potential jurors are not prejudiced. On the other hand, human rights barrister Adam Wagner has questioned why a civil service report on alleged breaches of Covid regulations would prejudice a police investigation.
In other news:
The Equality and Human Rights Commision (EHRC) has come under fire from LGBTQ+ campaigners and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for its response to the Scottish government’s plans to simplify the process for legal gender recognition, and the UK government consultation on banning conversion therapy. The EHRC said “more detailed consideration is required before any change is made” to the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Ms Sturgeon noted that this was a “significant change in position” for the EHRC and that she was concerned that the Commission’s response “doesn’t accurately characterise the impact of the Bill.” In its response to the consultation on conversion therapy, the EHRC said that a ban should initially focus on attempts to change sexual orientation, while a ban on “conversion therapy attempting to change a person to or from being transgender should follow, once more detailed and evidence-based proposals are available”. A clause to allow “informed consent” to conversion therapy in the Conversion Therapy (Prohibition) Bill has been condemned by activists but was not criticised in the EHRC’s response. LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall said the EHRC’s response disregarded the expert opinion on of the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and violated the ‘Paris Principles’ of promoting and protecting human rights as a UN-accredited National Human Rights Institution.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched its investigation into proposals to reform the Human Rights Act. The Committee will examine government proposals to replace the Human Rights Act with a “Bill of Rights”, which would reduce the impact that case law from European Court of Human Rights has on domestic law.
In the courts:
Pwr (Appellant) v Director of Public Prosecutions (Respondent) and Akdogan and another (Appellants) v Director of Public Prosecutions (Respondent)  – this case concerned section 13(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000, which makes it a criminal offence for a person to display an article in public, in a way that arouses “reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation”. The appellants had carried flags of the Kurdistan Workers Party (the PKK), a proscribed organisation, at a demonstration. The Supreme Court dismissed their appeals, finding that section 13(1) is: a) a strict liability offence, such that there is no necessary mental element beyond the defendant knowing they are displaying the relevant article; and (b) compatible with article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). Section 13(1)’s interference with the Article 10 right to freedom of expression is justified by being prescribed by law; in pursuit of legitimate aims; and necessary in a democratic society and proportionate to its legitimate aims.
R (Binder, Eveleigh, Hon and Paulley) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWHC 105 (Admin) – the High Court allowed a judicial review claim by four disabled adults and granted a declaration that the government’s National Disability Strategy is unlawful. While there was no common law or statutory duty on the defendants to consult before publishing the Strategy, the Court held that their “UK Disability Survey” amounted to a voluntary consultation (which the defendant denied), and as such the common law principles of consultation fairness (“the Gunning principles”) applied. The Survey breached the second Gunning principle to “enable intelligent consideration and response” due to its lack of information (it did not outline or allow for comments on specific policy proposals), and format (the questions were all multiple choice except four open-ended questions with word-limits). The Court rejected the Claimants’ additional submission that the defendant breached the Public Sector Equality Duty per section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
R (D4) (Notice of Deprivation of Citizenship) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 33 – ‘D4’ was a British and Pakistani dual citizen who has been detained at a camp in Syria for three years. On 27 December 2019 she was deprived of her British citizenship under Regulation 10(4) of the British Nationality (General) Regulations 2003, which permits the Home Secretary to “serve notice” of a deprivation of British citizenship merely by putting the notice on a person’s Home Office file. On 28 September her solicitors requested the Foreign Office’s assistance in repatriating and it was then that the deprivation of her citizenship was first communicated to either D4 or her advisors. This case was a judicial review of Regulation 10(4) and the Court of Appeal found the regulation ultra vires; it went beyond the Home Secretary’s powers under the British Nationality Act 1981 and was therefore unlawful. However, if the Nationality and Borders Bill is passed, it will remove the requirement to give notice if it is “in the public interest” and will apply to this case retrospectively, effectively making lawful D4’s deprivation of citizenship without personal notice. (see last week’s round-up for more on deprivation of citizenship)
The mother of a British soldier who was killed in a roadside bomb while on duty in Iraq has received an apology from Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon. Sue Smith’s son, Pte Phillip Hewett, died while travelling on patrol in a lightly armoured “snatch” Land Rover in July 2005.
Following a settlement of the case, Sir Michael has written to Ms Smith:
“I would like to express directly to you my deepest sympathies and apologise for the delay, resulting in decisions taken at the time in bringing into service alternative protected vehicles which could have saved lives.”
What did Ms Smith allege?
The circumstances around Pte Hewett’s death have been the subject of litigation for the last 6 years.
This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.