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.
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.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly helping of human rights news. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.
In the news
The big news of today is that Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmad and 3 others are highly likely to be extradited to the USA to face terrorism charges, following a ruling in the European Court of Human Rights – see Isabel McArdle’s post on the ruling. This aside, the main topics in the news this week have been the response by the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights (the Joint Committee on Human Rights or the “JCHR”) to the Government’s Justice and Security Green Paper and the leaks that the Government plans to introduce “real time” monitoring of how we use the internet in the interests of national security.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly summary of human rights news. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.
In the news
It’s been another big week for human rights, with the draft Brighton Declaration again sparking insightful discussion from a range of sources. Also in the news, concerns seem to be rising over open justice, with secret evidence, the Justice and Security Green Paper and access to court materials all raising concerns in the media. To round off the week, there’s the CPS’s new guidance on prosecution for criminal offences committed during public protests, a roundup of important cases to look out for in the upcoming weeks, and the mandatory (for myself, anyway) update on the Abu Qatada saga.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular bountiful burst 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 pragmatic, political and constitutional ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision in the HS2 case are up for debate. Meanwhile, the European Court considers whether the Charter of Rights applies in private disputes, while the domestic courts take on the tricky issue of the justiciability of US drones strikes in Pakistan. And the Court of Appeal rules on TfL’s bus advert ban.
Graiseley Properties Ltd and others (Claimants) v Barclays Bank Plc (Defendant); Various employees and ex-employees of Barclays Bank plc and Telegraph Group and others (interveners)  EWHC 67 (Comm) 21 January 2013 – read judgment
The Commercial Court has resisted an application to anonymise those individuals at Barclays involved in the LIBOR scandal.
In his firm dismissal of the arguments Flaux J has confirmed the principle that anonymity orders will only be made in cases where the applicant for the order has established that it is strictly necessary for the proper administration of justice. The employees’ claim they should remain anonymous until trial failed at the first hurdle, “because they had simply not established by clear and cogent evidence, or at all, that the order they seek or any aspect of it is strictly necessary for the proper administration of justice.” Continue reading →
Here at the UK Human Rights Blog, we love justice, and we also love JUSTICE. Let’s all go to their annual conference, 12 October 2015. All details here and below.
One of the highlights of the human rights lawyer’s calendar, the JUSTICE Annual Human Rights Conference offers a key opportunity to update your legal knowledge and gain valuable insight into the human rights issues of the year.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Brian Leveson and Natalie Lieven QC will be joining us as our keynote speakers and the programme for this year’s event will focus on the challenges facing practitioners and the wider public policy debate on human rights law in the UK.
Last night saw the House of Lords’ first reaction to the Government’s proposed changes to judicial review as the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill had its second reading. Already dissected at some length in this blog, the proposals have been roundly criticised by both the senior judiciary and the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Consultations responses, including from JUSTICE, expressed concern that the measures appear, by design or coincidence, to undermine the rule of law, inhibit transparency and shield the Government from judicial scrutiny. Two key concerns arise from the Government proposals: restricting access for individuals without substantial means and limiting the courts’ discretion to do justice in the public interest. Yesterday’s debate was robust and eloquent, with former Law Lords joined by bishops and backbenchers alike to condemn the new measures.
Metaphors were rife. Descriptions of the Government’s proposals ranged from Lord Woolf’s invocation of the image of Governmental wolves among some unlikely judicial sheep, to the titular and topical tennis imagery used with devastating effect by Lord Brown of Eaton –under-Heywood:
“More and more areas of our lives are controlled by public authorities. At the same time we have become understandably, I suggest, less trusting and certainly less deferential towards those with authority over us. I sometimes wonder whether it did not all start with John McEnroe’s outraged questioning of line calls at Wimbledon way back in the 1970s. However, we should consider how in the long run his behaviour has contributed to the hugely improved policing of those lines that is in operation today…By the same token, the use of judicial review has to my mind undoubtedly raised the standards of public decision-making in recent years.” (Col 1591) Continue reading →
R (Victor Nealon) v Secretary of State for Justice : R (Sam Hallam) v Secretary of State for Justice  EWHC 1565 (Admin), 8 June 2015 – read judgment
As Michael Gove contemplates the future of the Human Rights Act 1998, the High Court has considered how far the presumption of innocence in Article 6(2) ECHR spreads into decisions on payment of compensation for a miscarriage of justice. In doing so, Burnett LJ also managed to find some less than complimentary sentiments about the Strasbourg court’s decision-making.
Sam Hallam was convicted of murder in 2011. Victor Nealon was convicted of rape in 1997. Both successfully appealed against their convictions and then applied to the Secretary of State (‘SoS’) for compensation under s133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (the ‘1988 Act’’), as amended by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (the ‘2014 Act’). Both men were refused compensation on the basis that their circumstances did not meet the s133 statutory test (as amended). Continue reading →
Updated | The legal community has been digesting yesterday’s announcement of government plans for legal aid to be reduced by around £350 per year from 2014-15.
Most commentators and legal professionals are worried that less money for legal representation will lead to less access to justice for the poorer members of society. But some have also expressed relief that the criminal legal aid scheme has been left largely untouched, as have funding for inquests, judicial reviews and asylum cases.
For those who have a view on the reforms, the Ministry of Justice has an online questionnaire which can be filled in here.
Nicholas Green QC (Chairman of the Bar of England and Wales: “A permanent contraction of justice cannot be justified by the “big society” or by any sort of philosophical mantra. Ultimately an efficient justice system is fundamental to the wellbeing of the country. We only have to look at our television screen at events unfolding in Burma and elsewhere to see the undeniable truth of that proposition.”
Angela Patrick, Director of Human Rights Policy at JUSTICE provides a summary of the House of Lords debate on Government proposals to reform judicial review in Part 4 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
As the House of Lords closes its gilded doors for the long recess, the Westminster village enters its equivalent of the school holidays. Yet, as Ministers pack their red boxes and MPs head diligently back to their constituency business, the House of Lords – debating the Committee Stage of controversial judicial review proposals in Part 4 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill – may have suggested that officials and Ministers yet have some homework to do.
Summing up the debate – and thanking Lord Faulks, the Minister responding to a barrage of criticism from all benches, for his efforts – Lord Pannick acknowledged that many of the Government’s proposals on judicial review had been driven by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling. He suggested that both Ministers would do well to get together over the summer to digest the Peers’ concerns – perhaps on a convenient beach. There were so many flaws in the Bill that Lord Faulks should pack a red pen with his sunscreen (HL Deb, 30 July 2014, Col 1650).
Two jury trials will resume at the Old Bailey this week in the first steps toward Crown court cases restarting around the country. It has been almost two months since jury trials were suspended on 23 March amid coronavirus lockdown measures.
In his announcement, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, began by affirming that “the practice of trial by jury sits at the heart of our criminal justice system.” In contrast, the Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC, began his statement with a more equivocal comment about a well-functioning justice system being the hallmark of a healthy democracy.
The Queen on the application of Arvdas Klimasv. Prosecutors General Office of Lithuania  EWHC 2076 – Read judgment
We welcome this guest post by Michal Jorek
Will a court execute an extradition request if the prison conditions and treatment of prisoners in the requesting State are such that detention there would constitute torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment?
This question was recently considered by the High Court in The Queen on the application of Arvdas Klimasv. Prosecutors General Office of Lithuania. Although the Court was clear in its pronouncement, it is arguable that aspects of its reasoning are at the very least questionable.
More than 7 years after Gordon Brown first announced that a public Inquiry would be conducted to identify lessons that could be learned from the Iraq conflict, the Chilcot report was finally published on7 July 2016. However, it was worth the wait. This post does not seek to summarise the report: there are many other good overviews (such as the BBC’s ). The report’s executive summary, in particular the key findings section, is also well worth a read. The intention is to cover in this and subsequent posts some of the key legal issues raised by the report. This post considers the relevance of the Chilcot report’s findings to the broader issue of whether Britain’s intervention in Iraq was legal – an issue which was not itself within the remit of the inquiry. Continue reading →
As the world’s press and public stand vigil in support of Charlie Hebdo and the families of the victims of Wednesday’s attack, we wake this morning to reports that our security services are under pressure and seeking new powers. The spectre of the Communications Data Bill is again evoked. These reports mirror renewed commitments yesterday to new counter-terrorism measures for the EU and in France.
This blog has already covered the reaction to the shootings in Paris in some detail. The spectrum of reaction has been about both defiance and fear. The need for effective counter-terrorism measures to protect us all, yet which recognise and preserve our commitment to the protection of fundamental rights is given a human face as people take to the streets to affirm a commitment to protect the right of us all to speak our mind, to ridicule and to lampoon, to offend and to criticise, without fear of oppression or violence. It is against this backdrop that we might remember that UK Ministers are already in the process of asking Westminster to expand our already broad framework of counter-terrorism legislation.
OTHMAN (ABU QATADA) v. THE UNITED KINGDOM – 8139/09  ECHR 56 – Read judgment– updated (7/2/2012): Abu Qatada is expected to be released from Long Lartin maximum security jail within days. the special immigration appeals commission (Siac) ruled on Monday that Qatada should be freed, despite the Home Office saying he continued to pose a risk to national security.
Angus McCullough QC appeared for Abu Qatada as his Special Advocate in the domestic proceedings before SIAC, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords. He is not the author of this post.
The House of Lords had themselves overruled the Court of Appeal; and the Court of Appeal had overruled the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). Thus, the Court of Appeal and the ECtHR ruled in Abu Qatada’s favour; whereas SIAC and the House of Lords ruled against him. As all of this suggests, the matter of law at the heart of the case is not an easy one.
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.