All posts filed under: Judiciary

The Snoopers Charter- Supporters and detractors

The Draft Communications Data Bill (nicknamed the Snoopers’ Charter) is draft legislation proposed by the Home Secretary Theresa May which would require Internet service providers and mobile phone companies such as BT, Virgin and Sky to maintain records (but not the content) of each user’s internet browsing activity (including social media), email correspondence, voice calls, internet gaming, and mobile phone messaging services and store the records for 12 months.    

The Impact of the NSA files on the Coalition’s civil liberty record

The Impact of the NSA files on the Coalition’s civil liberty record   The NSA files leaked by Edward Snowden to Glen Greenwald (former Guardian journalist) from June 2013 exposed the extent of international surveillance by, supposedly democratic governments, across the world. The leaks found Britain’s intelligence agency (GCHQ) working in conjunction with the National Security Agency (NSA) to bypass each other’s national laws for the sake of internet and communications surveillance. The leaks revealed that not only under the Coalition but under Labour, governments had been acting without any consent, collecting ‘meta data’ on mass, without even cabinet ministers’ knowledge. Many feel that the NSA and GCHQ have gone too far and that collecting hundreds of billions of international internet and telephone data items is a threat to their civil liberties. Edward Snowden, a self-proclaimed libertarian, perhaps with similar views to the conservative party on migration and welfare, did not intend to harm people’s safety; he also insists that he has not leaked information to Chinese or Russian officials. On an internet forum he …

Audio: ‘ECHR chief warns UK government on rights convention’

The President of the European Court of Human Rights, Dean Spielmann, has told the British government it would be difficult for Britain to remain in the EU if it were to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. His warning follows criticism of the court by some British judges, who say its rulings are making rather than interpreting the law. But Judge Spielmann told the Today programme’s Mike Thomson that even the highest British courts must take account of European judgements; failure to do so might require withdrawal from the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organisation, and put at risk Britain’s EU membership.

Audio: TPims ‘a necessary evil’

BBC Radio 4 Today discussion on TPims – the Coalition replacement to control orders The usefulness of restrictions put on terror suspects by the home secretary may be “withering on the vine”, a group of MPs and peers has warned. They said the next government in 2015 must “urgently address” the role and effectiveness of Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPims). David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terror legislation, discusses.

Weekly Parliament Roundup:4th-11th December 2013

Parliament Roundup: 4/12/13-11/12/13 MPs to receive 11% pay rise: Click for a video explanation IPSA(Independent Parliament Standards Authority) have recently proposed to provide MPs with a pay rise of 11% which will increase their salary to £74,000. They have stated that there will be changes to the pension scheme which will save tax payer 2.5 billion pounds if the rise is to take place. Even though this might be seen as a great thing for the MPs, lots of them are scared to state publicly that they think it is a good idea. The main issue with this proposal is that it might be the wrong time to make such high rises in MP’s salaries when other public sectors are facing difficult freezes. However, of this proposal is to go ahead, it will take legislation in 2015 to stop this from occurring. The public might not like the sound of the proposal at first because many might feel that the MPs don’t deserve such a high pay rise as they have failed to improve costs …

Independence, accountability and diversity…too much to ask?

As a report from the House of Lords constitution committee reiterated, the judiciary lacks diversity. This may not have been an unexpected announcement for those in the legal profession; however for the general public it is a unanimous desire for judges to be more representative of society. Peers said that only one in 20 judges is non-white and fewer than one in four is female, and this disparity is undermining the public’s confidence in the courts. Seemingly, an appropriate process of appointment requires a rebalancing between the three main constitutional principles; independence, accountability and diversity. The effects of establishing such a process would expectedly result in the enhancement of democratic legitimacy of the entire system, as well as the authority of the judges and their eminent role in society. Is it too far to propose that there is a diversity deficit in the senior judiciary? Diversity in senior judicial appointments is not simply a desirable goal, but a fundamental constitutional principle. At the very heart of the legitimacy of an independent judiciary are its claims …

Theresa May on the ECHR and Abu Qatada (Audio)

BBC Radio 4 Today: The Home Secretary Theresa May has said that if the UK gets the assurances it is seeking from the Jordanian government about the deportation of the radical cleric Abu Qatada “that enable us to deport then obviously we’ll be deporting”. Speaking after her recent visit to the country for talks with King Abdullah, Mrs May told Today presenter John Humphrys that she wants to sure that deportation of Abu Qatada is “sustainable” and that “we don’t have to bring him back to the UK”.

So Much for Civil Liberties

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks there have been numerous changes to our civil liberties; the restrictions on our rights have been justified as we apparently need safety before freedom… though have we actually gained either? Under Blair’s government we saw the introduction of several new laws aimed at tackling terrorism. Detention without charge was first mentioned in the Terrorism Act 2000 then the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and the Terrorism Act 2006. Each act has increased the amount of days by which a suspected terrorist can be detained, from 14 days to 28 days (the government wanted 90 days but was defeated in the Commons). Note the word ‘suspected’; evidence is not a requirement. Between 11 September 2001 and 31 December 2004, 701 were arrested in the UK under the Terrorism Act. Only 17 have been convicted of offences under the act. In December 2004, a constitutional crisis occurred surrounding the case of several men who were detained in Belmarsh Prison. They successfully argued that their indefinite detention was against Article 5 of the European …

Gareth Peirce: Dispatches from the dark side – on torture and the death of justice

Civil liberties defence lawyer Gareth Peirce has undertaken some of modern Britain’s most high profile cases, representing many wrongfully detained individuals (largely with Irish and Muslim backgrounds) subject to rendition and torture.  Her clients include the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, Moazzam Begg, a detainee of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and Shakar Aamer, the last British citizen to be held in Guantanamo. She addressed a large crowd of students, educators and activists alike on 17 February, as part of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights’ program of events at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences. Her book, Dispatches from the Dark side: on Torture and the Death of Justice lends its name to the title of her lecture, and will expand in more detail on the subject topics discussed.

Ken Clarke Justice

What exactly is Cameron’s conservatism advocating? A continuation of new Labour? A bridge to Thatcherism? Or a new progressive way, one often calls ‘Cameronism’? The Conservative Party, like most UK political parties today, can be regarded as a ‘broad church’. Kenneth Clarke, the current Justice Secretary, can be described as from the left of the party, a ‘One Nation’ Tory and he has certainly made his mark on his department.

Prayer in a Pickle

A ruling following a legal challenge from the National Secular Society this Friday stating that the saying of prayers during Bideford council meetings was unlawful has ignited criticisms from the Communities and Local Government Minister, Eric Pickles. He commented that the judgment was “surprising and disappointing” and he believed that under the Localism Act councils ought to be allowed to say prayers. Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS