Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Poppi Worthington ~ Inquest

On 12th December 2012, Poppi Worthington died in hospital at the age of 13 months.  In late 2017, HM Coroner for Cumbria (Mr David Roberts) conducted a further inquest and announced his determination on Monday 15th January 2018.   A report on the inquest is at BBC NEWS 15th January.  The BBC has also published a useful timeline of the case.

The inquest: Review of evidence, findings and conclusion

The Coroner's conclusions (at pages 86 and 87) are

Monday, 15 January 2018

Preparing for a Customs Deal with the EU

It is now 8 years since the first post on this blog.  Interesting stories appear almost daily and many lie ahead including those arising from the on-going difficulties and uncertainty created by Brexit.  I hope to continue looking at some these stories.

One of the key features of the European Union is that it is also a CUSTOMS Union.   Article 28(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU states - "The Union shall comprise a customs union which shall cover all trade in goods and which shall involve the prohibition between Member States of customs duties on imports and exports and of all charges having equivalent effect, and the adoption of a common customs tariff in their relations with third countries."

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Payment Services - introduced by the EU

The picture is the Conservative Party claiming they have banned credit card charges.  They are "economical with the truth."

In 2015 the EU enacted a Directive - you can read it HERE.   EU Member States are required by the EU Treaties to implement Directives into domestic law.  This was done by the UK Parliament enacting The Payment Services Regulations 2017.  Those Regulations were, as the jargon goes, "laid before Parliament" on 19th July 2017 and "negative resolution procedure" applied so that a vote was only required if they were "prayed against."  There was no such objection.

"Good" things are not invariably started by the EU.  In 2017 Regulations were made to tackle "microbeads" (see BBC News) in products such as toothpaste.  Read the legislation HERE.  Another environmental problem is plastic packaging.  See what the EU has to say.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

A further EU Referendum? Do the practicalities make it impracticable?

Unless some other date is eventually agreed, the UK leaves the EU on 29th March 2019.  That is the undoubted consequence of the notice served under Article 50 TEU.

Nigel Farage is one of the Members of the European Parliament representing SE England and he is a former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).  During the EU referendum campaign in 2016 he played a very prominent pro-Brexit role and engaged in TV debates with Prime Minister David Cameron - e.g. HERE.  Farage and others (e.g. Boris Johnson, Michael Gove) waged an effective "Leave" campaign resulting in an overall result in favour of Brexit - the details are HERE

Friday, 12 January 2018

What if "no deal" Brexit. EU Commission Notice - Air Transport

Civil aviation is a strategically important sector that makes a vital contribution to the EU's overall economy and employment.  Aviation supports close to 5 million jobs and contributes €300 billion, or 2.1% to European GDP.   Global air transport over the long term is expected to grow by around 5% annually until 2030.  How would a "no deal" Brexit affect this crucial sector? 

As mentioned in the previous post, the European Commission has published its views about the impact of a "no deal" Brexit on various sectors - HERE - and, in particular, see the Air Transport Notice 11th December 2017.

What if "no deal" Brexit? Getting hold of fog.

Getting hold of fog
Prior to the recent government "reshuffle" there was some talk that the Prime Minister was to appoint a Cabinet Minister for No Deal Brexit - The Telegraph 7th January.   No such specific appointment was made but the Ministerial team at the Department for Exiting the EU has a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Mr Steve Baker MP) with responsibility for "contingency planning" though we are not enlightened further as to what exactly those plans entail. 

The reluctance of the UK government to share information is, at least in my view, a lamentable state of affairs.  Even the "Sectoral Analyses" were only shared with MPs after the 7th November Humble Address and even then they were issued with "Sectoral Views" removed and MPs were allowed to see them only in a private room - BBC News 14th December 2017.  On 21st December, the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee published 39 reports - Parliament 21st December.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Yet another Secretary of State for Justice / Lord Chancellor and other MoJ changes

The Prime Minister has appointed Mr David Gauke MP to the dual role of Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor - see Ministerial Role.

Mr Gauke is MP for South West Hertfordshire and he replaces Mr David Lidington MP who has been moved to the Cabinet Office.  It was a mere 7 months ago that Mr Lidington was appointed - post 12th June 2017.

As usual, the Bar Council and Law Society have welcomed the new appointment.  The Bar Council calls upon the Lord Chancellor to ensure that justice is properly resourced and functioning effectively.  On legal aid, the Bar Council states - "Following significant cutbacks in the provision of legal aid over several years it is vital that the Ministry of Justice completes the thorough review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act to which it is already committed, to ensure that the public interest in the provision of high quality and efficient legal services is addressed."

The Law Society comments -

Monday, 8 January 2018

House of Lords ~ Size and Reform

The Parliament Act 1911 begins by stating that it is...

"An Act to make provision with respect to the powers of the House of Lords in relation to those of the House of Commons, and to limit the duration of Parliament.

Whereas it is expedient that provision should be made for regulating the relations between the two Houses of Parliament:

And whereas it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation ....."

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Parole Board ~ some key points

The John Worboys case (previous post) has certainly brought the workings of the Parole Board to the fore.  This post notes some key points about the Board's decision making.

1)  The Board's jurisdiction now stems from section 239 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 from which it will be seen that the duty of the Board is to advise the Secretary of State with respect to any matter referred to it by him which is to do with the early release or recall of prisoners - s.239(2).

Friday, 5 January 2018

John Worboys to be released ~ Parole Board decisions, reasons and publication

On 13th March 2009, taxi driver John Worboys was convicted of a number of offences, including one count of rape, a number of sexual assaults and 12 counts of administering a substance with intent.  The exact legislation for the "administering" offences is not reported by the media but was probably section 61 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.   He was sentenced by Mr Justice Penry-Davey to imprisonment for public protection (IPP) and ordered to serve a minimum term of 8 years before his release could be considered by the parole board.  It is now reported that the Parole Board has decided that he can be released though he will be subject to a package of licence conditions - BBC News 4th January 2018.

It appears

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The House of Lords and EU Withdrawal Bill

In 2018 there will not be a Queen's Speech in Parliament. In 2017, following the General Election, it was announced that there would be a two year Parliamentary session 2017-19.  The reasons publicly given for this were set out by the government' s announcement of Saturday 17th June 2017.  A two year session was considered necessary to "give MPs enough time to fully consider the laws required to make Britain ready for Brexit" and "the EU exit process and the government’s domestic agenda mean the new Parliament faces a substantial legislative programme."  The 2 year term appears to have been a decision taken by the government alone.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Death by drone ~ Legal advice ~ Upper Tribunal decision on information requests

Rights Watch have highlighted a decision of the Upper Tribunal Administrative Appeal Chamber - Corderoy and Ahmed v The Information Commissioner, Attorney-General's Office and Cabinet Office [2017] UKUT 495 (AAC).  See the Rights Watch summary of the judgment - HERE.  The appeals to the Tribunal related to decisions of the Information Commissioner in response to Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests. 

The Upper Tribunal has decided that the ‘security bodies’ exemption under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) should not have been applied in a blanket fashion to exempt the legal advice that formed the basis of the lethal drone strike that killed two British citizens, Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin, in August 2015. The Tribunal refused to order disclosure of the advice, but not before making a significant ruling narrowing the parameters of the ‘security bodies’ exemption and criticising the Information Commissioner’s handling of such cases. 

Mobile phones ~ Magistrates' Courts

The Telegraph 29th December 2017 -  Fraser Nelson - My day in court: how I found out that a legal fog has descended on the land

The use by drivers of a "mobile phone" as a Satnav is very common but what is the law?   Mr Fraser wrote - "I’ve been doing so for a while and have been spared hours in needless traffic jams. I’ve had plenty of cause to give thanks for this technology, until I ended up on trial in a Magistrates’ Court last week.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Brexit - end of year view

The Snowman
On 24th January the Supreme Court of the UK handed down its judgment in the Miller and Dos Santos litigation - post 24th January.  By a majority of 8 to3 the court held that an Act of Parliament was required to authorise the giving of notice under Article 50.   The Act was duly passed - European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 and the Prime Minister sent the notice to the EU on 29th March 2017 triggering the Article 50 two year period - post 29th March.

 The last weekend of 2017 is now here and, unsurprisingly, Brexit continues to dominate much of the news.  Whilst one might reasonably have expected

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Laura Plummer ~ a devastating outcome

Laura Plummer (aged 33) was arrested in Egypt for importing 290 tablets of the drug Tramadol.  She said that the painkilling drug was for her Egyptian husband whom she said suffers back problems.  Plummer has now been sentenced to 3 years imprisonment - see The Telegraph 26th December - where it is reported - 'Standing before the judge in court on Christmas Day, Ms Plummer was asked: “You are accused of smuggling and possessing Tramadol to Egypt?”  Misunderstanding the question, she replied “yes” and the judge then instructed the session clerk to record that she had confessed.'

It is of interest to see what sort of sentence would be imposed in the courts of England and Wales for a similar importation.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas 2017

Best wishes to all readers for a truly Happy Christmas and New Year 2018.

"So remember while December Brings the only Christmas day, in the year let there be Christmas in the things you do and say."

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Racially aggravated assault ~ Raheem Sterling's attacker

 Raheem Sterling is a midfield professional footballer with Manchester City.  He suffered an unprovoked attack by Karl Anderson (29) who pleaded guilty to racially aggravated common assault.  Anderson has a criminal record containing 25 convictions for 37 offences, including football-related violence.  He was sentenced at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court to 16 weeks imprisonment and ordered to pay compensation of £100 plus the required surcharge of £115.

This BBC Report says that Anderson kicked Sterling four times during the assault and also used racist language as well as telling Sterling he wanted his mother and child to die.  The Guardian 20th December offers rather more detail including information about the racial abuse.  Then there is the The Manchester Evening News report indicating that Sterling suffered bruising to his leg.

My immediate reaction to the sentence was that Anderson "got off lightly."  I thought I would check that view out.

Damian Green ~ Ministerial Code bites

Mr Damian Green was appointed First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office on 11 June 2017.  He has now left the government and The Telegraph (20th December) has published an exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and Mr Green.

As reported by The Guardian 1st December 2017  Mr Green was investigated by the Cabinet Secretary about an accusation of  inappropriate behaviour towards a young Conservative activist, Kate Maltby.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

R v Liam Allan: the crucial question of disclosure

"In criminal cases, the State has the Police, an agency for the discovery of evidence, superior to anything which even the wealthiest defendant could employ" - Lord Devlin (1976)

Liam Allan, a criminology student at Greenwich University, was charged with six counts of rape and six of sexual assault.  During the trial, the contents came to light of mobile telephone messages sent by the complainant including messages asking Mr Allan for sex.  This material had been held electronically by the Police.  The outcome was that prosecuting counsel (Mr Jerry Hayes) offered no evidence against Mr Allan and the case against him ended.