An Extinction Rebellion protester is removed by police in central London. Credit: The Guardian.
As the general election campaign accelerated this week, the political fall out from the publication of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry contributed to some awkward headlines for both politicians and lawmakers. However, this was by no means the only legal news of the week…
The case turned on the lawfulness of the exercise of powers by the police under section 14(1) of the Public Order Act 1986 to ban XR’s protests earlier this month.
The court ruled that in exercising section 14 powers, the police were required to identify a location to be covered by the powers conferred by the Act. Separate gatherings, separated both in time and by many miles, even if co-ordinated under the umbrella of one body, were not held to be one public assembly within the meaning of section 14(1). Consequently, the decision of the police to impose the condition across a wide area of London for several days was unlawful, being outwith the powers conferred by section 14(1).
Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law
In the News:
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry released its first report into the disaster. Its findings included:
The refurbishment of Grenfell tower broke building regulations because it used a mixture of combustible cladding. This was the main reason the fire spread.
Firefighters were let down by poor training, leadership, equipment and plans. Junior firefighters arriving at the scene were “faced with a situation for which they had not been properly prepared”.
The ‘stay put’ advice used by the London Fire Brigade was wrong, and cost lives.
The report recommends that national guidelines for evacuating high-rise flats are created. It also seeks for a programme of regular inspections of high-rise flats and lifts
The Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Dany Cotton, attracted particular criticism from the media. Ms Cotton had said that although she was saddened by the loss of life, there was nothing she would have done differently. Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the Chair of the Inquiry, described her as showing “remarkable insensitivity” and suggested this showed an inability to learn from the tragedy.
Sam Sykes and Conor Monighan provide the latest updates in human rights law
In the news
This week marked the 70th
anniversary of the Community Party’s rule in China. In Hong Kong, there were
violent protests and clashes with the police. The unrest which began in the
wake of the controversial extradition bill introduced 4 months ago has
developed into a wider movement for democracy, and there is no resolution in
sight. The situation has caused damage to buildings and transportation
infrastructure, and serious injuries: this week, an 18-year-old was shot in the
chest – police say that he is now recovering.
Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong
Kong, invoked the Emergency Powers Ordinance to try and create order. It is the
first time in 50 years that such regulations have been created. The regulations
ban people from wearing face masks, which protesters use to protect themselves
from tear gas, and also to preserve their anonymity. Although many have ignored
the rule, the Hong Kong authorities are now bringing the first charges under
the new law.
Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law
Credit: The Guardian
In the News:
An application in the Ashers ‘gay cake’ case has been lodged at the European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR”). The case involved a Christian bakery which refused to bake a cake bearing the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’. The Supreme Court found in favour of the bakery, ruling its actions were not discriminatory because the appellants were not under an obligation to express a political view which conflicted with their religious beliefs.
Lawyers representing Mr Lee, the customer whose order was refused, have outlined some of the arguments they will be making. In their submission, merely baking the cake did not mean the bakery, or the bakers, supported its message. They argue that no reasonable person would think that the bakery supported gay marriage simply because they had produced Mr Lee’s cake. Mr Lee described the Supreme Court’s decision as allowing shopkeepers to “pick and choose” which customers they serve. Continue reading →
On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson
set down his stance on law and order in three major announcements, fulfilling
his promise to ‘come down hard on crime’. This follows the announcement of
20,000 ‘extra’ police officers a few weeks ago.
Firstly, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced
enhanced stop-and-search powers for police officers under s.60 Criminal Justice
and Public Order Act, on the basis of a ‘knife-crime epidemic’. Under the new rules,
an officer need only believe that a violent incident ‘may occur’, not that it ‘will’,
and a lower level of authorisation will be required to exercise the power.
Secondly and thirdly, Mr Johnson has
promised penal reforms. The Ministry of Justice has allocated
£2.5bn to create ‘modern, efficient prisons’, including 10,000 new prison
places. Alongside this, Mr Johnson has announced a sentencing review, by which
he hopes to increase sentences for violent and sexual offenders, and reduce the
use of ‘early release’ on licence – currently available to most offenders after
they served half of their sentence, under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
The resources of this crackdown are
welcome, especially with an extra £85m for the chronically underfunded CPS. However,
the approach is controversial. Stop-and-search in particular has been heavily
criticised in the past. Some say that it is ineffective – a study released by
the Home Office in 2016 found that enhanced stop-and-search had not decreased crime
when used in key London boroughs. Others say that the policy is discriminatory
in its application, and worsens the relationship between the public and the
police, drawing links to the 2011 London riots.
The review of the Prevent counter-terrorism initiative is expected to begin today, following the appointment of the independent reviewer. However, the process of appointing the reviewer has been criticised for its opacity – Ed Davey MP has spoken of a ‘whitewash’, while Liberty director Martha Spurrier has suggested that the government are ‘[shielding] Prevent from the scrutiny it desperately needs’.
In further unwelcome news, a report found that
a chartered deportation flight lacked ‘common decency’ towards passengers. Passengers
were subjected to excessive restraint (up to 14 hours at a time); not allowed
appropriate privacy when using the toilet; not appropriately supervised; and
subject to long delays. This was followed by revelations that the Home Office
used restraint against deportees in 447 cases between April 2018 and March
reported by Guardian.
Outgoing Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke. Credit: The Guardian.
The week ahead will, barring some extreme political drama, give us a new Prime Minister, and with it, the inevitable cabinet reshuffle. Some ministers have already made clear they believe they are unlikely to remain in post after the new PM’s appointment on Wednesday, in particular the Chancellor Phillip Hammond, and the Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke.
Whoever takes over at the Ministry of Justice will have a significant inbox. Cuts to legal aid were brought to the fore this week after it emerged a relative of those killed in the 2017 terrorist attacks at London Bridge was represented pro-bono by lawyers from international corporate law firm Hogan Lovells (see The Independent here). Mr Gauke used his forthcoming departure from post to propose scrapping short custodial sentences in a bid to reduce re-offending rates. However, the incoming Lord Chancellor will still be considerably better off than their new boss, for whom the “to do” list includes getting an oil tanker back from Iran and concluding Brexit.
In the courts, it was a busy week for human rights observers in the Court of Appeal. The court rejected an appeal bought by a Pakistani gentleman against the decision of the Upper Tribunal to deport him after he was imprisoned for manslaughter – MA (Pakistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1252. After his conviction, the Secretary of State had written to him and advised that the department would not, at that time, seek to deport him. The appellant had argued, amongst other grounds of appeal, that this had given rise to a legitimate expectation that he would be allowed to remain in the country, subject to him not being brought to the authorities’ adverse notice. All grounds were rejected by the court, including that deportation would infringe his Article 8 rights.
In other cases…
MAB (Iraq) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1253 – An Iraqi doctor who worked for Saddam Hussein’s military intelligence agency succeeded in his appeal against the conclusions of the First Tier Tribunal that he was excluded from protection by the Refugee Convention by virtue of Article 1F of that convention. Article 1F disqualifies from the provisions of the Convention those considered to have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity. The court had heard evidence that the appellant, in his medical role, had provided treatment to torture victims and in doing so had facilitated their ongoing torture by the security services. In granting his appeal, the court held that the consequences of Article 1F required its application to be undertaken with caution, involving “a close examination of the facts” and “a carefully reasoned decision as to precisely why the person is excluded from protection under the Convention”. The First Tier Tribunal had failed to perform a sufficiently “detailed and individualised examination of the facts” to support the conclusion arrived at of the appellant’s complicity in human rights abuses.
An application to appeal brought by displaced inhabitants of the Chagos Islands succeeded on some of the grounds advanced – Hoareau & Anor v The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs  EWCA Civ 1254 . The Court held that the recently published advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, ‘Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965’, contained arguments with a real prospect of success which ought to be heard. The appellants also succeeded in contesting the approach taken by the Divisional Court to the appropriate degree of intensity of review of the Foreign Office’s decision making in the matter, and successfully challenged whether or not Ministers were mislead about the basis on which the quantum of existing compensation was arrived at.
ASK, R (On the Application Of) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1239 – In a lengthy judgement, the Court gave a detailed examination of the powers of the Home Secretary to detain those suffering from mental health conditions prior to their removal from country. The individuals concerned submitted that by virtue of their diagnosis they were either unfit to be removed and/or be detained in an immigration removal centre, or lacked the mental capacity to challenge their detention. The appeals failed on grounds concerning alleged breaches of Articles 3 and 8 of the ECHR and the application of applicable immigration policy. However, the appellants succeeded in respect of claims for damages brought under the Equality Act 2010.
The long-term partner of a senior RAF officer succeeded in her appeal against the decision of the Upper Tribunal that her claim for benefits under the Armed Forces (Compensation Scheme) Order 2011 be disallowed because she remained married to another man, notwithstanding her long term committed relationship with the deceased – Langford v The Secretary of State for Defence  EWCA Civ 1271. The appellant successfully relied upon Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the recent decision in Re Brewster to show that a person in an exclusive relationship with a scheme member who would otherwise qualify for the benefit could not be excluded simply by reason of having failed to secure the formality of divorce. The court held that to do so would be discriminatory.
In other news, the Ministry of Justice reduced the discount rate on compensation in personal injury cases from -0.75% to -0.25%. The continuation of a negative rate surprised many, particularly defendants and insurers.
Conor Monighan brings us the latest updates in human rights law
Credit: The Guardian
In the News:
Lord Sumption, the recently retired Supreme Court judge, has suggested that the law on assisted suicide ought to be broken.
Lord Sumption said that whilst assisted suicide should continue to be criminalised, relatives of terminally ill patients should follow their conscience and not always abide by it. As he put it, “the law should be broken from time to time”.
The former judge argued that the law’s current position helps prevent abuse, and that any change to it could only be produced by a political process.
His comments were made as part of the Reith Lectures, a series of annual radio lectures on BBC Radio 4. Lord Sumption’s lectures ask whether the legal process has begun to usurp the legislative function of Parliament. His first lecture will be made available on the 21st May.
In Other News….
Research has revealed that 55,000 pupils have changed schools for no clear reason during the past five years. A report from the Education Policy Institute suggests some schools have been unofficially excluding students with challenging behaviour or poor academic results, as part of a practice known as “off-rolling”. One in 12 pupils who began education in 2012 and finished in 2017 were removed at some stage for an unknown reason. Just 330 secondary schools account for almost a quarter of unexplained moves. The Department for Education said it was looking into the issue, and that it had written to all schools to remind them of the rules on exclusions. More from The Week here.
Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has warned that the rights of detained children are being repeatedly breached. In a report published last Thursday, it recommended that Young Offenders’ Institutions should be banned from deliberately inflicting pain on young offenders and from putting them in solitary confinement. It found that hospitals and jails are restraining children too frequently, and that such techniques are being used disproportionately against ethnic minorities. Around 2,500 young people are in detention at present. More from the Guardian here.
The activities of Extension Rebellion, the climate change group, sparked discussion and controversy this week. The organisation has three core demands: greater transparency about climate change, a legally binding commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2025, and the creation of a citizens’ assembly to oversee the issue. The group has staged protests in London for the past week, which has included shutting down a large portion of Oxford Street. Over 800 people have been arrested. The group has been criticised for adding pressure on already overburdened police force, and for the disruption caused to people’s lives and businesses. Extinction Rebellion has announced that it will pause its protests for the duration of next week. More from the BBC here.
This week’s Round-up is brought to you by Hannah Lynes.
In the news
Call from legal community for urgent action on refugee crisis
More than 300 lawyers have signed a statement denouncing the Government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis as “deeply inadequate”.
The document, whose signatories include former President of the Supreme Court, Lord Phillips, three former Law Lords and over 100 Queen’s Counsel, describes Prime Minister David Cameron’s offer to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees over 5 years as “too low, too slow and too narrow.” Continue reading →
Laura Profumo runs through the week’s human rights headlines.
In the News:
The Conservative party published its manifesto last week. The document makes for curious reading, writes academic Mark Elliott. The manifesto confirms the party’s pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act and to replace it with a British Bill of Rights, reversing the “mission creep” of current human rights law.
Yet the polarising references to “Labour’s Human rights Act” illustrate the Act’s failure to secure supra-political constitutional status, being tossed between the parties like a “political football”, writes Elliott.
Ms Apata with her partner, Happiness Agboro. Photo credit: The Independent
Hannah Lynes brings us the latest edition of the Human Rights Round-up
In the news
A challenge brought against a Home Office decision to deport LGBT activist Aderonke Apata was this week rejected by the High Court. Ms Apata fears a return to Nigeria would mean “imprisonment and death because of her sexuality”, reports the Independent.
Ms Apata claimed to be engaged to a long-term partner and the paper reports that she was “so desperate to convince the Government she was gay that she submitted a private DVD and photographs of her sex life as evidence.”
Updated | Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular swirling snow flurry 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.
This week, there are criticisms over the delay of inquiries both into the mistreatment of terrorism suspects and the Iraq War. Meanwhile, discussion continues over the relevance of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights for UK law, and a dying asylum seeker on hunger strike will not be released.
Request for help – religion and law
Courting Faith: Religion as an Extralegal Factor in Judicial Decision Making Barristers sought to participate in PhD Research project exploring the relationship between religion and judicial decision making. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Amanda Springall-Rogers at A.Springall-Rogers@uea.ac.uk
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular unexpected sunny spell 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.
This week, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill took evidence , and there were notable comments from the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the body which monitors compliance with the European Court of Human Rights. Meanwhile, Baroness Hale weighed in on the proposed judicial review changes and, continuing along the judicial review vein, David Miranda (pictured) began his claim on Wednesday.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular great bright firework display of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Post by Daniel Isenberg, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.
Some crucial judgments were handed down this week in the sphere of judicial review, with mixed results for the government. Elsewhere discussions continued about the future of human rights under a Tory government in 2015, as well as religious rights within the family courts. Keep an eye out for the upcoming Grand Chamber hearing on the full-face veil, as well as the open government consultation on the Balance of Competences Fundamental Rights Review.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular hurtling freight train 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.
This week, immigration, in various forms was hotly discussed and some notable cases have been or are soon to be decided in the realm of disability rights. And not everyone is happy about the decision to televise Court of Appeal cases.
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular chocolate fondu of human rights news and views. The full list of links can be found here. You can find previous roundups here. Post by Daniel Isenberg, edited and links compiled by Adam Wagner.
The issue of prisoner votes returned to the courtroom this week, with an unsurprising judgment on many fronts. Meanwhile Lord Neuberger made his views known on how access to justice forms a crucial component of the rule of law; and commentators discuss why public bodies can’t bring claims under the HRA.
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