Search Results for: justice and security bill


Legal challenge to the Undercover Police Inquiry — will it succeed?

10 July 2018 by

 

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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Is internet access a human right?

11 January 2012 by

A recent United Nations Human Rights Council report examined the important question of whether internet access is a human right.  

Whilst the Special Rapporteur’s conclusions are nuanced in respect of blocking sites or providing limited access, he is clear that restricting access completely will always be a breach of article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the right to freedom of expression.

But not everyone agrees with the United Nations’ conclusion. Vinton Cerf, a so-calledfather of the internet” and a Vice-President at Google, argued in a New York Times editorial that internet access is not a human right:

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International human rights under attack

3 January 2011 by

Stephen Kinzer, a New York Times journalist and author, has written a scathing article on the efforts of international human rights groups on Guardian.co.uk. The article has generated controversy but in fact keys into a long-standing debate with important implications for the future of the international human rights movement.

The Kinzer article has predictably generated significant debate, with over 300 reader comments so far. Many of the commenters are critical, as is to be expected.

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Radicalism and the Family Courts

30 October 2015 by

schoolgirls_3208827bMarina Wheeler

Remember the three girls from Bethnal Green Academy, who in February slipped through Gatwick security to join so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)? If, watching the footage, you exclaimed, “how can we stop this?”, then read on. Eight months and a massacre in Tunisia later, the Courts have intervened in more than 35 cases to prevent the flight of children to Syria or to seek their return.

In the very first cases, in which Martin Downs of these Chambers appeared, the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction was invoked to make the children wards of court. The value of this mechanism, previously used in child abduction cases and to thwart forced marriages, is that the ward requires permission of the Court to leave the jurisdiction, and passports can be seized. (See, for example, Re Y (A Minor: Wardship) [2015] EWHC 2098 (Fam)).
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Government’s intelligence sharing agreements with US should be protected by secret material in drone strike case

1 May 2012 by

A High Court judge has raised the prospect that national security implications may necessitate the closed material procedure (CMP) in a case being brought against the Foreign Office by the son of a drone strike victim,  the Telegraph reports today.

Mitting J has made a “rare order” that a two-day High Court hearing must take place in which both sides tackle the issue of whether the full case could go ahead in public, or whether it would require a CMP.

Background

On 12 March legal proceedings were issued against the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, on behalf of Noor Khan, whose father was killed last year in a drone strike on a Jirga – or council of elders – in North West Pakistan. The case is highly sensitive because it would involve the disclosure of information supplied by British intelligence agencies to the CIA on the whereabouts of alleged Pakistani militants.
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CATGATE! And some other things that happened last week

10 October 2011 by

Welcome back to 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 can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.

by Melinda Padron

In the news

Hissing “Catgate” / “Catflap”

As you will probably know, the Home Secretary Theresa May has been criticised for erroneously claiming that an illegal immigrant avoided deportation because of his pet cat. The episode came to be known as “Catgate”/”Catflap”* and was widely covered both in the mainstream press and the legal blogs; our blog in particular posted four articles. Here are just some of the many articles about the incident (or related to it):

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Big Brother or crime fighting? DNA evidence under the microscope

10 October 2011 by

DNA database impact on human rightsA proposal to retain DNA samples taken from people who have been arrested but not charged with a crime for up to five years has come under criticism from the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

The committee has been reviewing the Protection of Freedoms Bill for its compatibility with human rights (see our post: Protections of freedom bill under scrutiny and the Committee’s conclusions). The retention of DNA has long been a hot topic.

On the one hand, many people feel strongly that retention of something as personal as someone’s genetic code should never be done when the person has not been convicted of a crime. As DNA analysis gets more advanced, it can reveal increasingly large amounts of information about a person.

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High Court rules that equalising pension ages did not prejudice women

9 October 2019 by

Delve & Anor, R (On the Application of) v The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2019] EWHC 2552 (Admin)read judgment

In a judgment handed down on 3rd October, the High Court has ruled that successive statutes between 1995 and 2014, which legislated to equalise the state pension age between men and women were not discriminatory. The High Court also determined that it was not a matter for the courts to conclude whether the steps taken to inform those affected by the changes in the state pension age for women were inadequate or unreasonable.

Background

The origins of this claim rest in the Old Age and Widows’ Pension Act 1940, where the state pension age for women was lowered from 65 to 60 in response to a campaign by unmarried women in the 1930s. The policy created a relative disadvantage to men, justified by the social conditions at the time.

The Pensions Act 1995 was enacted to equalise the age discrepancy and the methodology followed in subsequent legislation was to stagger the advancement of the pension age by reference to age cohorts. The first change to women’s state pension age contained in the 1995 Act would take effect in 2010, 15 years later.


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Detention of man suspected of insurgency and terrorism was unlawful

27 May 2010 by

HXA v Home Office (King J) [2010] EWHC 1177 (QB) – Read judgment or our full case comment

The authorities’ statutory power to detain pending deportation had to be motivated purely by the need to remove a subject from the United Kingdom, not to ensure his surrender into custody of the authorities operating in the receiving country. A subject detained not only for the purpose of effecting his removal from the UK, but also for the purpose of investigating whether acceptable arrangements could be made to return him into detention in the receiving country, was being detained unlawfully.

The claimant sought damages and declaratory relief against the defendant both at common law for the tort of false imprisonment and pursuant to s. 6(1) and s.7(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998, by reason of a claimed breach of Article 5(1) of the European Convention of Human Rights.


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Criminalising the possession of “terrorist propaganda”: a human rights analysis

21 January 2020 by

terrorist propaganda
Tributes left on London Bridge following the terror attack in June 2017 in which eight people were killed and many more injured.

The Home Office is proposing to legislate for a new criminal offence relating to the “possession of the most serious material glorifying or encouraging terrorism”.

This follows a suggestion made by the Chief Coroner, HHJ Mark Lucraft QC, in his report concerning the 2017 London Bridge terrorist attack. In his view, the lack of such an offence may sometimes prevent counter-terror police taking disruptive action against terror suspects, even when the extremist propaganda they possess is of the most offensive and shocking character. That propaganda might include, for instance, footage of sadistic violence.

The criminal law is ultimately concerned with the prevention of harm. The normative classification of harm with a political dimension, however, engages the right to freedom of thought under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as protected under the Human Rights Act. To ensure a proper balance is struck between protecting the public and safeguarding civil liberties, any new offence ought to satisfy a three-limb test:

  1. It must provide a specific definition for the “most serious” category of materials which “glorify or encourage” terrorism. This should be supplemented with empirical guidance to ensure a high and objective threshold is set for criminal sanction.
  2. The mens rea requirement for the offence must be deliberate possession of harmful material, with the knowledge that said material glorifies or encourages terrorism. The standard of liability must be one of intention rather than recklessness or negligence. This would ensure that only harmful purposes are penalised.
  3. It must establish statutory defences to such possession on grounds of reasonable excuse and/or working in the public interest.

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Student fee protests and human rights protections

9 December 2010 by

Today MPs will vote on whether to increase the maximum amount universities can charge to £9,000. Contrary to many commentators’ predictions, the student protests against the increase on 10 November have not been an isolated occurrence, but the beginning of a settled campaign. But would the students be able to rely on human rights arguments to resist eviction?

The campaign has been quite literally settled in many cases, as students at (amongst other universities) UCL, SOAS, Oxford, Sheffield, Manchester Met and Newcastle have staged occupations and sit-ins. Some have moved out, but others have occupied lecture theatres since around 24 November and don’t seem to be moving anywhere any time soon. That is, unless the police or university authorities force them out.

The right to protest is covered by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides that:

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Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

22 August 2019 by

The Finns are, or so it appears from a recent referral to the European Court of Justice: Case C‑674/17.

Man up, Finns! That is the AG’s advice. The Habitats Directive allows of no derogation from the protection of species obligation that does not come up with a satisfactory alternative. Furthermore it must be shown that any derogation does not worsen the conservation status of that species.

Whatever the CJEU decides, the opinion of AG Saugmandsgaard Øe makes for fascinating reading, going to the heart of the conservation problem. As human populations spread, how to secure the preservation of wild species, particularly carnivores?


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Feature | DNA Database: another key human rights election issue

19 April 2010 by

DNA database impact on human rightsThe National DNA database has become another key human rights issue in the 2010 Election. It is by far the largest such database in the world, with over 1 in 10 people now on the database. The issue of whether innocent people will have their DNA retained has now become highly politicised.

The Tories have now dropped their opposition to the Crime and Security Bill 2010, which has since become law. They had initially opposed provisions which allowed the police to retain the DNA samples of innocent people for up to 6 years. However, they have pledged if elected to bring in early legislation to ensure the DNA profiles of innocent people accused by minor crimes would not be retained.

The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary recently accused the Tories of not being tough enough on crime, whilst appearing at a press conference with Linda Bowman, whose daughter was raped and murdered at age 18. Her killer was convicted in 2008 with the help of DNA evidence. Liberty, the civil liberties organisation, commented that Labour had deliberately confused the issue.

The Conservatives pledge in their manifesto to “Reform Labour’s DNA system with the slimmer and more efficient Scottish system as our model” and “Change the rules on the DNA database to allow a large number of innocent people to reclaim their DNA immediately”.

The Liberal Democrats agree they will “Remove innocent people from the police DNA database and stop storing DNA from innocent people and children in the future, too.”

For their part, Labour say they will “ensure that the most serious offenders are added to the database no matter where or when they were convicted – and retain for six years the DNA profiles of those arrested but not convicted.”

It is probably no coincidence that the criticism of the Tory policy coincides with the Government’s recent concession to strong criticism from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

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Britain Can Lead the World In Online Privacy – Dr Cian Murphy

13 June 2015 by

Eye_2British legal history has long inspired the common law world. The Magna Carta, an 800-year-old agreement between a King and his barons, remains an icon of liberty, seen around the world as the foundation stone of the rule of law. In contrast, British law on online surveillance and privacy has been arcane and obscure – a field that is for reluctant experts if it is for anyone at all.

The law has largely been developed in reaction to external pressure. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 was the result of a series of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 was rushed into law after an EU Court of Justice ruling. This piecemeal approach provides a poor basis for investigatory powers and a worse one for privacy rights.

Momentum towards change has been building. The Edward Snowden revelations brought to an end the public’s ignorance – or quiet endurance – of state surveillance operations. So, although last year’s emergency law permits ongoing data surveillance, it also put in motion a review of the powers of intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
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When you wish upon a rendition and torture inquiry…

19 December 2013 by

Detainee Inquiry1 Crown Office Row’s Philippa Whipple QC and Matthew Hill were counsel to the Detainee Inquiry. They are not the writers of this post.

On 6 July 2010, in the first innocent days of the Coalition Government, former appeal judge Sir Peter Gibson was asked by the Prime Minister to enquire into “whether Britain was implicated in the improper treatment of detainees, held by other countries, that may have occurred in the aftermath of 9/11.” Almost 3 1/2 years later, the Detainee Inquiry has  produced a  report (it was originally presented to the Government on 27 June 2012 but there have been heavy negotiations about sensitive material in the public version).

The report makes clear at the outset that it “does not, and cannot, make findings as to what happened”. Why so? Because the Inquiry was scrapped before it heard evidence from any witnesses, so it couldn’t test any conclusions reached purely on the basis of documentary evidence. The reason given at the time by Sir Peter  was that “it is not practical for the Inquiry to continue for an indefinite period to wait for the conclusion of the police investigations“. The “investigations” are those into claims of collusion by the intelligence services with torture in Libya (see this Q&A for more).

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Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption ALBA Allison Bailey Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus Coroners costs Court of Protection crime Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention diplomatic immunity disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Employment Law Employment Tribunal Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance football foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Health high court HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Japan Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage Maya Forstater mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence sexual orientation Sikhism Smoking social media South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine UK Supreme Court unduly harsh USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
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