Posts Tagged ‘civil liberties’

Daily Little Law Links

June 30th, 2010

In a disappointing fudge, it looks like 28 days detention without trail is here to stay, at least for another 6 months.

As a law student, I have a pretty high tolerance for reading nonsense, but I confess that I am often guilty of a thoughtless “click here to show you have read and agree to our terms and conditions” when I have (at best) scanned the headings.  Apparently, I am not alone – it seems the Financial Services Authority agrees with my approach.

‘Emails are as private as postcards’ – trite but sound advice.  Or should that be ‘fully search-able postcards that will later be used as evidence against you’?  Surely the thousands of emails that go back and forth everyday within organisations make it impossible to use email as a practical investigative tool, right?  Not if you know what phrases to look for, as the former CEO of Lehman Brothers discovered.

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Daily Little Law Links

February 24th, 2010

Some stories and brief thoughts, every one of these deserve a longer post!

  • This story from Big Brother Watch (and the report that it links to) is close to my heart – I very nearly did my dissertation on exactly this but was then distracted by libel, so I’m glad to read someone else’s take on who can now enter your property without a warrant. Rather positively from someone who murmurs about repealing the Human Rights Act 1998, Mr Grieve QC MP (Shadow Justice Sec.) seems equally alarmed and ready to close these particular doors.
  • Think about this scenario: Bernard, from Germany gets a rare temporary job in the London office of his bank. Over the year, the job becomes permanent and so he sends for his wife, Steffi and 13 year old daughter, Iris. Iris enrols in the local school and Steffi, supported by her well-paid husband, stays at home and bakes cakes for a few years. Two years after his permanent move, Bernard is dispatched temporarily to the New York office. Steffi and Iris remain in the UK, being uncertain of the duration of the placement and not wanting to disrupt Steffi’s schooling. Bernard then loses his job in New York, but cannot stand to be parted from his new mistress, Anna and moves into her apartment in New York as well as filing for a divorce from Steffi.

Steffi has no qualifications and is still learning English. Her parents in Germany are dead and her only other living relative is a sister living Australia. Iris is about to sit her GCSE Exams.

Should we a) Immediately deport Steffi and Iris back to Germany or b) Pay Steffi Job Seekers Allowance and Housing benefit until she finds a job so that Iris has a roof over her head to finish her education? Fortunately, as a lot of people read the Daily Mail, it doesn’t actually matter what you think, because the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided years ago that the most important thing in my little story is the stability of Iris’s education. Iris cannot live alone, and so the state must support her mother to facilitate her continuing education. This is the idea that has been affirmed in yesterday’s judgement of the ECJ which the BBC report here and the Daily Express splashed the story on their front page as:

WHY BRITAIN IS SPONGERS’ HEAVEN” followed by “MEDDLING EU judges sparked outrage last night after giving scrounging foreigners the green light to sponge thousands of pounds from British taxpayers.

To bring my little story closer to the facts of the case, and the true reason for the ire of the Express, imagine Steffi was originally born somewhere in Africa. The judgement can be found here: London Borough of Harrow v Ibrahim C-310/08


  • We’ve heard a great deal about the PM in the last few days, but for me it is this that I find most offensive: Gordon Brown: don’t legalise assisted suicide.
    The link is to an article about the PM writing in the Telegraph about the dangers of softening the law on assisted suicide, targeted at the Director of the Crown Prosecution Service who is about to release new guidance on the issue. It is not his position that offends me, but his cowardice. As Prime Minister and leader of a party with a large majority in Parliament, he is free to create almost any law he wants. The idea of him as a noble bystander, pleading with the CPS to protect our grandmothers is repulsive. If he felt that strongly about it, legislation could be passed in weeks to make it absolutely unquestionably illegal to assist anyone’s death in any way, by any means. He doesn’t feel that strongly, and he doesn’t want to come out on the wrong side of a lose-lose debate in an election year, despite the CPS and the Supreme Court saying the law needs clarification (that’s judicial speak for “Parliament – do something!”). I don’t care who he’s rude to, or what he throws around his office, but to duck this issue is just shameful. Because of this, the Director of the CPS has to unpick the existing mess and decide who (legally) gets to live or die – I really don’t think the Prime Minister has any right to tell him how to do it.
  • Finally, and surely of no interest to anyone outside legal education, the Bar Standards Board has published its report into how BPP coped with its over-subscribed year in 2009/2010. I think the report reads quite well for BPP, though the students clearly benefited from the BSB’s intervention. Hopefully more reports will go up before this year’s offers go out next week. The page containing the report is here.
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Daily Little Law Links

January 20th, 2010
  • An amusing employment hearing which goes to the heart of the legal profession (as the saying goes, the way to lawyer’s heart is through his claret… or something like that) is reported in The Telegraph today.  Do check with Charon QC for his incentive to those who are able to provide more details.  It really is no surprise; Middle Temple has a long history with “pirates” (as my Spanish friends insist on calling our honourable Mr. Drake)  – just look at where they got their cupboard.
  • Mr Hussain was not, contrary to some media reports, given a judicial seal of approval for his vigilantism today, as the appeal was dismissed yesterday.  He did have his custodial sentence suspended, allowing the media to claim that he was “set free”, which seems to miss the point.  Now everyone will be wanting to beat their burglars into mental wards… On the other hand, I suppose “mercy” may have been deserved as he did find a less monotonous use for a cricket bat than is the norm.

  • Congratulations to Big Brother Watch, who officially had their launch campaign this week.  This group is certainly one to watch for some of the research they provide links to.  I especially enjoyed the shocking evidence that body-scanners may not be perfect solution to airborne terrorism.
  • UPDATE:  I couldn’t let this pass, clearly The Telegraph’s law correspondents are on fire today.  Do read the full article, he was not really sent to prison for licking a chicken.

Finally, a brief apology for the quiet week, but blogging is very public admission that I am not revising for a Trusts exam.  Please return next week when normal service will resume and I will explain why placing cameras in courts is terrible idea, and nuclear weapons are good for international law (or at least my dissertation says so). Now off to re-read Vandervell…

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ECHR Puts a Stop to Police Stop & Search

January 12th, 2010

I am supposed to be writing a dissertation, but I will take a short break to perform a small dance of thanks and appreciation to the European Court of Human Rights.
Today the court ruled in Gillian & Quinton v. The United Kingdom that ss.44-47 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (the part that allows Police to detain and search individuals in the absence of the suspicion they have behaved or are about to behave unlawfully) was incompatible with Art. 8, which states:

“1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

This is excellent. Of course, as with our home-grown version of house arrest, the government may simply ignore the ruling, but surely there is far less scope to do that here.

Sadly, although the court found in favour of the Art. 8 arguments put by the claimants, they did not consider the argument made in respect of Art. 10:

“The applicants further alleged that their rights to freedom of expression under Article 10, and freedom of assembly under Article 11, of the Convention were violated. It was argued that a stop and search which had the effect of delaying, even temporarily, contemporaneous reporting or filming of a protest amounted to an interference with Article 10 rights”

See the full judgement here and a hat-tip to Charon QC for saving me the effort of searching for it. Watch for a further analysis by him in the future.

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The Death Penalty

December 29th, 2009

I wanted to comment on today’s execution, and link to a wider discussion about how the death penalty has no part to play in civilised world, but as is often the case Amnesty have made the case much more eloquently.  Read here.

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Daily Little Law Links

November 28th, 2009

A theme of people who probably should not have been caught is the thread today.

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Daily Little Law Links

November 27th, 2009
  • I was captivated by Sir Jeremy Greenstock’s testimony at the Iraq Inquiry today.  It really was a short lecture on customary international law.  The FT describes it well, but the full transcript is already online here.
  • The Police have had a troubled week. Firstly, The Guardian questions how essential stop-and-search was if it has now been reduced by a third.
  • Then, the National Audit Office released a report staying that solicitors suspect the police deter suspects from accessing their (free) services.
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Daily Little Law Links

November 22nd, 2009
  • MSPs are trying to cajole Westminster into giving them the power to lower the drink-drive limit in Scotland which sounds problematic both constitutionally, and for those unfortunate enough to straddle the the border.
  • On the Conservative’s website, Michael Howard tries to scare me out of voting for them by suggesting the repeal of the Human Rights Act.
  • I do enjoy reading Alastair Campbell’s blog, but it’s hard to make his writing fit within an legal issue most of the time.  Today is no exception, but as most of the TV news today used the story I do think he makes a lot of sense.
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Daily Little Law Links

November 21st, 2009
  • Tesco seem to want to reignite the row about how much personal data they hold by suggesting it could be used as a credit reference tool.
  • The Telegraph looks at which sections of t he Fraud Act 2006 may apply when prosecuting MPs for false expense claims.
  • The row over the jurisdiction of the ICC will again be tested, this time as Amnesty insist that if the President of Sudan accepts an invitation to Denmark, he should be arrested.  I think Omar al Bashir will have the sense not to test the theory in a European country.
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Daily Little Law Links

November 14th, 2009
  • The BNP, so keen on publicity that they have barred journalists from their conference, passed a motion to extend their membership criteria in response to the High Court ruling that their old policy contravened the Race Relations Act 1973.  The full (presumably second hand) story is in The Guardian.
  • Stories like this are the best case for the International Criminal Court. If those involved they were likely to be tried by an independent international body, it would be a far more effective deterrent than a court martial.
  • Surely lots of extra points for the lawyer who can show that Simon Cowell is liable for this story in The Telegraph.
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