Sex blackmail case dropped by CPS after legal argument

14.08.18 | |

Sarah Elliott QC has secured a not guilty verdict for a 65 year old man accused of attempting to arrange to meet a child following grooming. The defendant, a man of good character, was caught in a classic 'paedophile hunter' sting through answering an advert on an adult website, by a man whose actual motive was blackmail. After handing over large sums of money the defendant finally reported the man to the police and was promptly arrested and charged himself. After two days of pre trial argument both in and out of court the CPS offered no evidence resulting in the defendant's acquittal.


Sarah was instructed by Chris Stevens of Sonn Macmillan Walker. 

Campaign group threatens legal action against government over fracking

Talk Fracking, the campaigning group led by Dame Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corré, last week issued a pre-action legal letter to James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (SofS).

 

The group are challenging the legality of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published on the 24 July 2018, the last parliamentary day before the summer recess. On the same day, Energy Minister the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP issued the first permit to Cuadrilla to start fracking at a well in Lancashire based on the revised NPPF. Fracking is expected to start in late August or early September 2018 at the Preston New Road site, between Blackpool and Preston.

 

On fracking, the revised NPPF said the mineral planning authorities of local councils should put in place policies to “facilitate” the exploration and extraction of onshore oil and gas, including unconventional hydrocarbons like shale gas. They should also recognise their benefits for energy security and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy.

 

Talk Fracking argued that this section of the revised NPPF, paragraph 209, was unlawful.

 

The pre-action letter sets out how Mr Brokenshire had “blindly incorporated” this paragraph from what it described as “the outdated and flawed Written Ministerial Statement” issued by the then Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, in September 2015. The group said Mr Brokenshire had:

  • Failed to carry out a strategic environmental assessment of fracking planning policy
  • Failed to consult fairly
  • Failed to demonstrate the NPPF paragraph was compatible with the UK’s climate change obligations
  • Failed to take account of scientific developments
  • Failed to act consistently

Leigh Day acting for Talk Fracking, has asked The Secretary of State to withdraw paragraph 209 by 21 August 2018. If this does not happen, Talk Fracking will file an application for judicial review before 4 September 2018.

 

Talk Fracking is advised by Leigh Day, together with David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers, Peter Lockley of 11KBW and Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers.

Read the latest insights and legal updates from our barristers

14.08.18 |
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Our barristers regularly author legal updates and commentary on legal developments.  To view our Insights page, please click here.  

 

BBC Persian staff threatened by Iranian authorities on National Day of Journalists in Iran

In a lengthy statement issued by Mizan news agency yesterday, on the National Day of Journalists in Iran, a series of allegations were made against named BBC Persian journalists. The language used marked a significant escalation in the type of language used against BBC Persian staff. The most concerning passage said:

 

Without doubt, the mafia gang associated with the joint psychological operations HQ of overthrowing the system of the Islamic Republic, which has directly targeted the Iranian people and their security, are not free to carry out any counter-security measures against the Iranian people. The members and employees of this gang, a number of whom have gathered in the BBC Persian propaganda-security apparatus, and even their internal colleagues who are following the same line, must be held answerable for their actions against the Iranian people. They will surely be exposed one day before the Iranian nation, and God’s hand of justice will manifest itself through the arms of the Iranian people, and they will be punished for their actions.

 

These comments were further amplified later by a statement from a spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards Corps. For those who follow Iranian politics, the use of this language is ominous and has had particular use in the past in reference to extra-judicial killings.

 

BBC Persian journalists have been persecuted by the Iranian government for their work for almost a decade. Last year, that persecution escalated with a collective criminal investigation and an asset freezing order on their assets in Iran. In October 2017, the BBC made an unprecedented appeal to UN about the protection of BBC Persian journalists. In March 2018, BBC journalists addressed the UN Human Rights Council for the first time in BBC history, calling upon member states to take action to protect BBC journalists. Iran, in its response to the UN Special Rapporteur, confirmed that Iran considers working as a journalist for the BBC is a crime.

 

Responding to comments made on the Mizan news agency, Francesca Unsworth, BBC Director of News, said:

 

These latest comments from the Iranian news agency connected to the judiciary in Iran represent a significant escalation of the threats made against named BBC Persian staff. In deliberately inflammatory language, this statement effectively incites violence against our journalists.

 

We call once again for all Iranian harassment against BBC Persian staff and their families in Iran to end immediately. This is an issue of press freedom, and of the rights of all journalists around the world to operate without fear violence or persecution.”  

 

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street International, who act for BBC World Service in the UN complaint, said in a joint statement:

 

The Iranian authorities have for many years harassed BBC Persian journalists in London and their families in Iran simply because of their work. This development takes things to another level: this is a thinly veiled threat to our clients’ lives and physical safety. These are effectively State-sanctioned threats to journalists’ safety, using inflammatory and irresponsible language. The international community must condemn this in the strongest terms.

 

Family of Daphne Caruana Galizia calls on Malta to establish a Public Inquiry into whether her life could have been saved

The family of Daphne Caruana Galizia has today called on the Prime Minister of Malta to establish a Public Inquiry into whether her assassination in October 2017 could have been avoided. This request submitted to the High Commissioner for Malta in London is supported by an Opinion prepared by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jonathan Price of Doughty Street Chambers, together with Tony Murphy of Bhatt Murphy. 

 

Daphne’s son Paul Caruana Galizia said as follows:

 

The Prime Minister of Malta has previously made a public promise that he would leave no stone unturned in relation to the investigation of my mother’s murder. Yet so far he has refused to establish a Public Inquiry to investigate whether her assassination could have been prevented, despite his  legal obligation to do so. It is hoped that the Prime Minister will respond to today’s request by setting up a Public Inquiry without further delay so that further evidence is not lost. He has nothing to fear but the truth.

 

Tony Murphy of Bhatt Murphy said as follows:

 

I am part of an international team of lawyers acting for the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia in their search for the truth surrounding her assassination. In view of the urgent need to preserve evidence of any state complicity or neglect surrounding Ms Caruana Galizia’s assassination, we have requested a response from the Prime Minister by 31st August. If the Prime Minister refuses to institute a Public Inquiry that complies with the European Convention on Human Rights, the family will have no option but to commence legal proceedings in Malta and perhaps ultimately in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg."

 

The family’s request for a Public Inquiry can be found here and the Opinion here. Any requests for information should be emailed to t.murphy@bhattmurphy.co.uk.

 

Paul’s interview on Today can be heard here (interview at 1:50:40). 

Paras Gorasia recovers £102,000 for Consultant Urologist

03.08.18 |
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Paras Gorasia acted for Peter Duffy (supported by the British Medical Association) in his claims for unfair dismissal, unlawful deduction from wages and protected disclosure (whistleblowing) claims against his former employer.

 

Following 6 days at Manchester Employment Tribunal in April 2018, Mr Duffy was successful in his claims for unfair dismissal and unlawful deduction from wages. At the remedies hearing, Mr Duffy was awarded over £102,000 in losses encompassing both compensation for his unfair dismissal and unlawful deduction from wages claims.

 

Paras has acted for Mr Duffy at all stages during this litigation and was instructed by Chris Thompson (Partner) at Gateley PLC.

 

Read about this case in the press here, here, here and here

 

UK Parliament Inquiry Report on sexual abuse in the aid sector recommends solutions which fail to meet the problems

A coalition of lawyers from the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), the Disaster Law Project (DLP) and Doughty Street Chambers commends the report of the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee (IDC) inquiry on sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in the humanitarian aid sector for accurately exposing the “horror” of SEA committed by humanitarian workers against vulnerable people where they work and their own colleagues. The lawyers likewise commend the findings that “self-regulation has failed” for victims of SEA by humanitarian workers.” But they note that the IDC’s recommendations fall short, skipping over the need for enforceable sector-wide standards, criminal accountability and remedies for victims, and ignoring calls for an independent inquiry that could assess organizations’ practices on the ground and hear directly from affected communities on needed reforms.

 

 “The IDC’s recommendations are a step forward, but this horrific situation calls for a leap, not a step,” said Nicole Phillips, IJDH Staff Attorney. “If the UK wants to lead a serious reform effort, it should start with an independent inquiry that can analyze the full scope of the problem and propose mandatory sector wide solutions”. Kathleen Bergin of the Disaster Law Project added that “the IDC recognized that international standards for humanitarian actors are not implemented but failed to provide systemic solutions. We have almost no idea of the level of compliance with standards on the ground, but we do know they fail to protect girls and women in Haiti and other vulnerable countries.”

 

IJDH, DLP and Doughty Street Chambers submitted a briefing to the Committee in April, explaining the need for a, a victim-centered approach, improved complaint mechanisms, real accountability to victims, and an external inquiry into reporting and safeguarding practices and policies to analyze failures and establish sector wide enforceable standards. The IDC Report echoed many of these recommendations, but not the most impactful ones, such as an inquiry and the need for criminal referrals and victim remedies for SEA. The IDC did recommend a Humanitarian Ombudsman, and an audit of whistleblowing systems, and suggested that the sector adopt more reforms at the International Safeguarding Conference in October.

 

“The Ombudsman can play a useful back up role, but is no substitute for accessible grievance mechanisms that help victims obtain legal remedies, including civil and criminal cases against perpetrators,” said Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers.

 

IJDH, which is seeking justice for the victims of SEA in Haiti, appreciates the IDC reports findings of dysfunction in the UN’s response to SEA by its personnel, but agrees with the conclusion of Aids Free World that the IDC shies away from proposing structural reforms necessary to improve the structural dysfunction. IJDH Staff Attorney Sienna Merope noted that “it is important to recognize-—as the IDC did—the UN’s lack of coherence and consistency in its investigations. But the focus on the procedures should not overshadow the deeper problem: that by hiding behind immunity and denying victims remedies, the UN makes justice for most SEA victims impossible”.

 

To dowload, a full copy of the press release click here

 

Contacts:

Jennifer Robinson, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers, j.robinson@doughtystreet.co.uk, +442074041313 (London, UK)

Nicole Phillips, Staff Attorney, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, nicole@ijdh.org, +509-4645-2888 (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)

Kathleen Bergin, Director, Disaster Law Project, kathleen.bergin@gmail.com, +1 857-222-6176 (Ithaca, USA)

Sienna Merope-Synge, Staff Attorney, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, sienna@ijdh.org, +1917-864-6901 (New York)

 

 

The Times prints apology; Times Newspapers agree final settlement in Trojan Horse libel litigation

31.07.18 | |

Times Newspapers has apologised to Nasim Ashraf and Hafizan Zaman over an article that suggested that they were involved in an Islamist Trojan Horse plot to take over a primary school in Oldham. They are the sixth and final newspaper group to settle litigation by the couple over articles published by several newspapers in February 2017 naming them in articles about the alleged plot.

 

The couple instructed Rahman Lowe Solicitors and Mark Henderson of Doughty Street Chambers in 2017 to pursue defamation and data protection claims against most national newspaper groups. The settlement by Times Newspapers, closely following a settlement by Express Newspapers, means that the claims against all six newspaper groups have been finally resolved.

 

Four claims were resolved in the first quarter of 2018. News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun (which had published an article by then columnist Kelvin McKenzie as well as a news report) and Telegraph Media Group settled in January 2018. Mirror Group Newspapers settled in February 2018, and Associated Newspapers, publishers of MailOnline, settled in March 2018. All paid damages and costs and published statements apologising and accepting that suggestions of involvement by the couple in an alleged Trojan Horse plot were unfounded. See news reports here, here and here

 

In June 2018, Express Newspapers agreed to pay substantial damages and costs and published a statement including: “We accept that our article was wrong and we apologise to Mr Ashraf and Ms Zaman for any distress we may have caused.

 

Times Newspapers have now settled on undisclosed terms. They have published an apology in The Times for an article by Times columnist Melanie Phillips headlined “Soft-pedalling won't quash Islamist extremism”, which has been withdrawn from online publication. Their apology, published in the Times print edition and online, states that: 

 

We wish to make clear that an opinion column published on 28 February 2017 (Soft-pedalling won't quash Islamist extremism) was not intended to suggest that Nasim Ashraf and Hafizan Zaman, who were parents at Clarksfield School in Oldham until 2013, had any involvement in threats of violence or physical attacks against a headteacher, or had any involvement in concerns raised about the school after July 2013. We apologise for any contrary impression that may have been given, and for any distress caused.”

 

The Sunday Times print edition had also published a news report about the alleged plot as its front page lead headlined “Revealed: new Trojan Horse plot - Head teacher fears for her safety”, and a further full page report inside the newspaper headlined “Head teacher targeted by death threats – a campaign of intimidation is being run by parents pushing for conservative Muslim values”.

 

Although these articles pointed out that there was no suggestion that the couple were involved in the reported threats, and that the Council had concluded that they were not engaged in a Trojan Horse style plot, the couple were nevertheless the only parents named in the Sunday Times’ reports, and a prominent photograph was used of Mr Ashraf engaged with the opening of a brand new food bank, with a local MP (the only person whose photograph was used to illustrate the articles).

 

Times Newspapers have now amended the remaining online articles, including removing the headline indicating that a “new ‘Trojan Horse plot’” was “revealed”, and that “a campaign of intimidation is being run by parents pushing for conservative Muslim values”, and published a clarificatory statement alongside the amended articles. It has ceased publishing all photographs of Mr Ashraf online.

 

The Sunday Times has published a statement in its print edition, repeating, as had been stated in the articles, that the council had said rejected the suggestion they were involved in any Trojan Horse style plot, and now further confirming that “We also did not intend to suggest that Mr Ashraf and Ms Zaman were involved in any concerns raised about the school after July 2013”.

 

The Sunday Times front page article had reported that Mr Ashraf had said he was discussing matters with the new Chair of the Governor, whose appointment was alleged to have brought matters to a head. The Sunday Times’ printed statement confirms that “We inaccurately stated that Mr Ashraf discussed matters with [the new Chair] and accept that this was an error.

 

The Sunday Times statement also accepted that another front page claim about Mr Ashraf having “hosted Islamic teaching sessions” referenced “his addressing the school assembly about the Hajj pilgrimage at the request of the deputy head teacher.

 

Mr Ashraf said:

 

“Hafizan and I are really pleased to have reached this final settlement with Times Newspapers, which enables us to draw a line under a distressing and stressful period. All six newspaper groups who published stories about us have now published apologies. We appreciate the apology printed in The Times and the statement in the Sunday Times, accepting that we had actually had no involvement in any issues at the school since our children left in 2013.

 

I am particularly pleased that the only claim about involvement in the current allegations (that I was in discussion with the new Chair of the Governors) has been recognised to be untrue and based on something I never said to the newspaper.

 

As well as appearing to suggest that we were involved in this plot, and despite us not having been involved in the school at all since 2013, which the Council report confirms, we were really disappointed that they printed unsubstantiated and misleading allegations about issues we had with the headteacher relating to our children’s education up to 2013. These had mostly not even been notified to us prior to publication by any source including the newspapers that published them, and were irrelevant to the alleged plot. The first I knew about the allegation that I had hosted “hosted ‘Islamic teaching sessions’” at the school was when I read it in the Sunday Times, since it was not even mentioned when the paper contacted me for comment. I am pleased that it has been accepted that this actually involved me “addressing the school assembly about the Hajj pilgrimage at the request of the deputy head teacher” after Hafizan and I had taken our children on a pilgrimage to Makkah.

 

Our only concerns up to 2013, when our children attended the school, were with the unsatisfactory education they were receiving and the quality of the school’s leadership. Notwithstanding the impression given in the articles about Ofsted endorsement of teaching, Ofsted actually put the school into special measures in 2017 for the second time under the same leadership, based on an inspection within three months of the Sunday Times articles, concluding that the leadership was failing, and the school gave children a dismal start, which has led to the head’s dismissal.

 

I hope that other children may now receive a better education as a result of Ofsted’s intervention, as every single child deserves the very best education regardless of which school they attend, and our teachers and head teachers have a duty to offer that level of education to our children regardless of their background.

 

We would both like to say a special thanks to Zillur Rahman, Mark Henderson and their respective teams for the special care and attention that they have handled this with right from the very start, it has been a very difficult 18 months for us and we appreciate and extend our gratitude to all our friends, families and well-wishers who have supported us through this momentous endeavour, and pray to the Almighty that no one has to face such a test in today’s difficult times.”

Joel Bennathan QC’s client has terror charges dropped

A British ex-soldier accused of attending training camps run by militia fighting the Islamic State group has had the case against him dropped.

 

Joel Bennathan QC, defending, said Mr Matthews was "happy" at the decision but was entitled to a "full and proper explanation of what has happened here".

 

"We have always said the decision to prosecute Mr Matthews for fighting with the YPG [Kurdish militia forces] against Isis was extraordinary and totally unjustified," he said.

 

"Mr Matthews was always open about what he had done and it is baffling that the CPS took two years to decide to prosecute him, then seven months later they have suddenly realised there is not enough evidence to do so."

 

Read about this case further in the press here and here

Child refugees may be missing because of Home Office failure’ says Safe Passage charity, as government loses at Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has today ruled that the government misled the High Court and the Upper Tribunal over its decision to refuse child refugees who had been in Calais the right to join their families in the UK, following the emergence of crucial emails showing that Home Office lawyers gave advice on how the UK government could avoid legal challenges by children stranded in France.

 

In the days leading up to and following the demolition of the Calais camps in October 2016, the Home Office interviewed 1000 unaccompanied children to assess whether they should be given permission to join their families in the UK under family reunion criteria in EU Regulation Dublin III. The applications of 530 children were rejected but the Home Office provided little to no explanation as to the basis of the refusal, meaning very few children were able to challenge the decision. Many then went missing from the French centres in which they were living.

 

A High Court ruling in September 2017 found that the Home Office acted lawfully when it did not provide full reasons for rejecting the children’s applications. That decision has today been overturned by the Court of Appeal, which has found that High Court ruling was wrong, because the judge was given an ‘incomplete picture’ by the government and ‘a great deal of important evidence’ was not brought to the attention of the court. The Court of Appeal also upheld findings by the Upper Tribunal in individual children’s claims that the process had been unfair.

 

This evidence, withheld by the government until it was revealed to the individual children and Citizens UK’s legal team as a result of evidence disclosed in another case, includes emails between Home Office officials regarding advice they received from their lawyers that they should not provide reasons for refusing the children’s applications to join their families, to avoid legal challenges.

 

The emails also show that contrary to what the High Court and Upper Tribunal were originally told by the government, French authorities wanted the UK to give the children adequate explanations for rejecting them. French officials were concerned that without these explanations, the children would have no hope of challenging the decisions and could not be assured that their cases had been properly considered, and as a result might leave the care of the authorities and try to reach their families themselves.

 

In light of these emails, the Court of Appeal has today found that the failure by the Home Office to provide reasons for rejecting the children cannot be explained by the unusual and urgent conditions under which officials were working in Calais, or because of a requirement by French officials, as previously claimed. Indeed the emails reveal that the French wanted the process to continue; it was a unilateral UK decision to end the transfers of these vulnerable children to join their families.

 

The decision not to give justifications was made because British authorities believed that providing proper reasons would create a perceived risk of legal challenge to the refusals by the children.

 

The ruling states that the Home Office process for refusing to transfer the children was ‘unfair and unlawful,’ finding the failures in the process to be prejudicial to the children, who had no realistic prospect of challenging the rejections.

 

Sonal Ghelani of the Islington Law Centre, which worked on the appeal against the government said:

 

“Public authorities have a duty of candour to provide the court with a full and accurate explanation of all the facts but we now know there was a serious breach of the duty of candour in this case, such that when making his ruling in the government’s favour, the High Court Judge was misled.

 

“It is extremely disturbing that these emails show the Home Secretary was advised by his own lawyers to act unfairly and unlawfully, in order to avoid legal challenges by the children concerned.

 

“This is in direct contravention of a fundamental tenant of fair decision-making, where reasons are often required precisely to allow the person against whom a decision is taken to know if they have a basis on which to challenge it.

 

“The Secretary of State should now launch an investigation into how all this came about, given that an unknown number of children have been denied the opportunity to know why their cases were rejected and whether these rejections could be challenged.”

 

Speaking on behalf of refugee charity Safe Passage, which works to reunite child refugees and their families in the UK, Beth Gardiner-Smith, Project Lead, said:

 

“Tragically, many of the children that were refused by the government with no good reason have since gone missing from French authorities’ care, and we have little to no information on their whereabouts or wellbeing.

 

“Today’s judgment reveals not only the failure of the Home Office to comply with law but also its abysmal disregard for the safety and welfare of incredibly vulnerable children.

 

“By refusing these applications without providing reasons, the Home Office left potentially hundreds of unaccompanied children in Calais with no viable legal avenues to join their families. The Home Office knew the risk that these children might lose faith in the legal process and attempt to find their own way to their families. But it withheld the information anyway.

 

“A French Senate report from July 2017 found that 709 children removed during the clearances of the camps in Calais had subsequently gone missing from French care shelters. This should not be the case when many of the children affected have a legal and a moral right to safe passage.”

 

Charlotte Kilroy, lead counsel, and Michelle Knorr represented Citizens UK/Safe Passage and individual children instructed by Sonal Ghelani, Roopa Tanna, Daniel Rourke and Beth Mullan Feroze at Islington Law Centre and Mark Scott and Miri Weingarten at Bhatt Murphy.

 

The Judgments are available here and here.

Women and Equalities Committee calls for end to “unethical” use of NDAs to silence victims of sexual abuse and harassment

The Women and Equalities Committee have this week published their report on sexual harassment in the workplace, denouncing the use of NDAs by employers and the legal profession to cover up sexual abuse and harassment.

 

Jennifer Robinson, together with Anya Proops QC, Aileen McColgan and Natalie Connor of 11KBW, made written submissions to the Women and Equalities Committee’s Inquiry into Sexual Harassment, specifically in relation to the misuse of non-disclosure agreements in cases of sexual assault and harassment and whistleblowing protections for women wishing to speak out.

 

The Committee summarised the problem as follows:

 

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are used unethically by some employers and also some members of the legal profession to silence victims of sexual harassment, and there is insufficient oversight and regulation of their use. It is unacceptable that victims are scared to speak about their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace and that those who use NDAs unethically are not held to account.

 

The Doughty Street-11KBW submission was quoted by the Committee as having summarised the main issues with the abuse of NDAs:

 

Barristers at 11KBW and Doughty Street Chambers have summarised the main risks from unethical use of NDAs in silencing victims as being that individuals will not report serious wrongdoing to the police; will feel compelled not to assist with relevant law enforcement investigations or prosecutions; and will feel unable to speak openly and in the public interest about serious wrongdoing, thus inhibiting public awareness and debate

 

The submission was published as part of the inquiry here.

 

Ms Robinson also advised Rose McGowan in preparing her evidence to assist the Committee (see here). Ms McGowan did not sign an NDA in her settlement agreement with Harvey Weinstein, but he and his company used NDAs to prevent women from speaking about the harassment and abuse they suffered. Zelda Perkins also gave evidence to the Committee.

 

The Committee called for reforms, including a number of the recommendations in their submission:

 

131.The Government should legislate to require the use of standard, approved confidentiality clauses. These should include clear, plain English wording setting out the meaning, effect and limits of confidentiality clauses, including a clear explanation of what disclosures are protected under whistleblowing laws and cannot be prohibited or restricted.

 

132.The definition of protected disclosures and prescribed persons under whistleblowing legislation should be widened to include disclosures of sexual harassment to the police and all regulators, including the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Health and Safety Executive, and to any court or tribunal.

 

133.The Government should make it an offence for an employer or their professional adviser to propose a confidentiality clause designed or intended to prevent or limit the making of a protected disclosure or disclosure of a criminal offence.

 

134.Use of provisions in confidentiality agreements that can reasonably be regarded as potentially unenforceable should be clearly understood to be a professional disciplinary offence for lawyers advising on such agreements.

 

Ms Robinson said:

 

For too long, women have been silenced from speaking out about abuse and harassment because of the use of NDAs. We are only now understand the extent of the problem and how it has allowed impunity for repeat perpetrators. This must end. It’s also important that victims understand their rights and have proper advice on any settlement agreements. The Committees report and its recommendations are welcome and an important first step towards the much/needed reforms.

Judge Directs Acquittals in Prison Mutiny Trial

27.07.18 | |

Paul Mason’s successful submissions of no case to answer on behalf of the first defendant, led to the trial judge at Hove Crown Court directing acquittals of prison mutiny and violent disorder against all five defendants.  The Judge accepted that, following Mason v Cummins the disturbance at HMP Lewes in October 2016 did not amount to a common purpose to overthrow lawful authority.  Further, the Judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence that three or more of the defendants had engaged in violent disorder.  Paul was successful also in his submissions of no case to answer on a further alternative count of affray.

 

Paul was instructed by Sarah Robertson at Birnberg Peirce and Partners

Urgent application made to UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention regarding Egypt’s detention of Amal Fathy

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Jonathan Price and Jennifer Robinson have submitted an urgent application to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention regarding Egypt’s treatment of Amal Fathy, the detained wife of a co-founder of the award-winning human rights group the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF).

 

Ms Fathy was arrested after posting a video criticising sexual harassment in Egypt – of which she herself is a victim – to Facebook. After a police raid of their home in the early hours of the morning Ms Fathy, her husband Mohamed Lotfy and their three-year-old son were taken to a police station. Mr Lotfy and their son were released several hours later, but Ms Fathy has been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation and other related charges and remains detained.

 

Ms Fathy is a communications student and former activist and actress who is active on social media, where she advocates and expresses her views on ongoing issues in Egypt especially on women’s rights.

 

The complaint to the United Nations working group on arbitrary detention, submitted jointly with ECRF and global freedom of expression campaigners Index on Censorship, argues that Ms. Fathy’s arbitrary detention is a clear violation of her right to freedom of expression, her right to liberty and her right to freedom from arbitrary detention.

 

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC said:

 

Amal Fathy has now been detained arbitrarily for 74 days, in unsanitary conditions, without meaningful access to her lawyers, and away from her family and young son. Egypt has failed to explain the legal basis for her continued detention, but it is clear that whatever the pretext, this is an inhumane and illegal punishment imposed simply because she and her husband have undertaken peaceful and legitimate campaigning on human rights issues. Amal Fathy spoke out about the rights of women; now the Egyptian authorities are silencing her by holding her in prison for months on end, with no proper legal basis.

 

Mohamed Lotfy said:

 

"ECRF is alarmed by the unprecedented wave of arrests of Egyptian human rights defenders, and Amal is one them, which shows a new trend of violations in one of the worst crackdowns on civil society in Egypt. The most worrying aspect of these resent cases is that they were all referred to State Security Prosecution on totally irrelevant charges such as joining terrorists groups. These charges, if referred to court by the Prosecution, could lead to sever sentences of imprisonment."

 

Perla Hinojosa, fellowships and advocacy officer at Index on Censorship said: “Index calls on Egyptian authorities to immediately release Amal Fathy. Freedom of expression should not be criminalised and the government's continued attempts to silence activists and journalists through detention and the fear of detention is unwarranted.”

 

In May, Doughty Street -- jointly with ECRF and Index on Censorship, lodged complaints with United Nations rapporteurs on freedom of expression and human rights defenders regarding Ms Fathy’s detention.

 

Mr Lotfy is one of the leaders of ECRF, which has played a key role in increasing awareness of enforced disappearances, censorship, torture and violations of freedom of expression and association in Egypt. This has resulted in frequent incidents of harassment, arrest and detention of staff. ECRF received an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Campaigning Award in April 2018.

 

On July 15th, the Egyptian government enacted a controversial law which would monitor personal social media, blogs or websites with more than 5,000 followers. Authorities would have the power to block them if accused of publishing fake news, as interpreted by the government. This crackdown on activists and journalists limits and controls freedom of expression further.

 

The organisations have asked the United Nations working group on arbitrary detention to issue a finding that Ms Fathy’s detention is arbitrary and in violation of Egypt’s obligations under international law, and to call for her immediate release, and to ask Egypt to investigate her unlawful detention and to award her compensation.

 

The Index on Censorship press release is available here.

Stephen Cragg QC and Adam Straw act for Big Brother Watch in challenge to Government and Met Police on “dangerously authoritarian” facial recognition cameras

25.07.18 |
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Big Brother Watch has today launched a landmark legal challenge to the Metropolitan Police’s use of real-time facial recognition cameras.

 

Big Brother Watch has joined with parliamentarian Baroness Jenny Jones to urge Home Secretary Sajid Javid and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to stop the police’s use of the “dangerously authoritarian” surveillance technology.

 

Stephen Cragg QC and Adam Straw, instructed by Rosa Curling at Leigh Day, solicitors, act for Big Brother Watch and Baroness Jones.

 

The Met has targeted Notting Hill Carnival twice as well as Remembrance Sunday with the China-style surveillance cameras, which Big Brother Watch describes as a “lawless growth of Orwellian surveillance”.

 

Police have been deploying facial recognition technology with secret watch lists containing not only people wanted for arrest but also protesters, football fans and innocent people with mental health problems.

 

Big Brother Watch recently took the results of its Freedom of Information campaign to Parliament, revealing that the Met’s facial recognition “matches” had wrongly identified innocent people 98% of the time.

 

This led to biometric photos of over 100 innocent people being stored on police databases, without their knowledge.

 

Despite attracting public controversy and a national campaign, the Met has vowed to increase its use of automated facial recognition with seven deployments planned for the next five months.

 

Big Brother Watch and Baroness Jones claim that police lack a legal basis to use the technology and that it breaches fundamental human rights protecting privacy and freedom of expression.

 

Baroness Jones has raised fears that even she could end up on a facial recognition watch list when conducting her parliamentary and political duties.

 

A photo of her was infamously held on the Met’s “domestic extremism” watch list and her political activities monitored while she sat on an official committee scrutinising the Met and stood to be London’s mayor.

 

Big Brother Watch and Baroness Jones have vowed to take the force to court with public support raised on the crowdfunding site Crowdjustice if the Met continues to use the surveillance tool.

 

Read the full press release here

Ben Newton’s successful submission of no case to answer leads to acquittal of accountant accused of fraud and forgery

24.07.18 | |

Ben Newton, together with instructing solicitor Miranda Ching of Peters & Peters, has made a successful submission of no case to answer at Southwark Crown Court which led to the acquittal of their client, an accountant accused of fraud by abuse of position and forgery.

 

The charges arose from the accountant’s dealings with an elderly tax client who in her late 80s developed the first signs of dementia. The allegations related to a will procured for the elderly client in circumstances where the accountant was allegedly aware of the existence of a hospital assessment stating that the elderly client did not have capacity to manage her financial affairs. The case raised complex questions concerning the application of test for testamentary capacity set out in Banks v Goodfellows and the different tests for capacity within the context of the Mental Health Act 2005.

 

At trial, it was shown that the Crown’s single reliance on the hospital assessment was fundamentally flawed. The Crown’s own witnesses, including a social worker, bank manager and friend, gave evidence that the elderly client had capacity to give instructions for her will.  The Court held that there was insufficient evidence to show that the accountant was dishonestly abusing his position, or that he had made a forged instrument in the form of the will.  

Inter-American Court of Human Rights hands down seminal case on right to asylum which sets principles to govern resolution of Assange case

The Inter-American Court on Human Rights published its Advisory Opinion about the scope of asylum on 12 July 2018. This seminal decision outlines the right to asylum in the context of the evolution of the international human rights framework over the past 65 years. It is the first international decision on the subject since the International Court of Justice decision in Colombia v Peru (1950). The advisory opinion focuses especially on extra-territorial obligations derived from the jus cogens norm of non-refoulement.

 

The Advisory Opinion was requested by the previous government of Ecuador. The decision sets out the legal principles applicable to the case of Julian Assange and sets out the obligations of the current government of Ecuador governing any negotiation regarding Mr Assange’s situation in the Ecuador embassy in London.

 

The decision is therefore timely in the context of Ecuador announcing it was close to reaching an agreement with the British authorities. There has also been widespread media speculation that Mr Assange’s removal from the embassy is imminent. This follows the recent visit of US Vice-President Mike Pence to Ecuador who reported that he had "raised the issue of Mr. Assange" with President Moreno and agreed to "remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward". The asylum granted to Mr Assange by the previous government of Ecuador concerns his legitimate fear of persecution for his publishing work with WikiLeaks.

 

Jennifer Robinson, along with leading Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzon and other members of Mr Assange’s defence team, submitted an amicus brief to ensure the situation of Mr Assange’s case from the perspective of his defence team and the relevant principles would be considered by the Court. The amicus brief was endorsed by several leading academics and human rights organisations.  The full brief in English can be viewed here.

 

In summary, the decision of the Court makes clear that Ecuador cannot return Mr Assange to the British authorities if there is a risk he will be extradited to the United States, which was the basis on which he was granted asylum.

 

The key findings of the Court include:

 

  • Non-refoulment is a principle of “paramount importance”. An integral component of the right to seek and receive asylum is the obligation of States not to return a person in any way to a territory in which he or she is at risk of persecution, which is a binding rule of customary international law binding on all states: [177]-[178].
  • The principle of non-refoulement is not only fundamental for the right to asylum, but also as a guarantee of various non-derogable human rights, since it is a measure aimed at preserving the life, liberty or integrity of the protected person: [180].
  • It is the duty of the State not to deport, return, expel, extradite or otherwise remove a person subject to its jurisdiction to another State, or to a third State that is not safe, when there is a well-founded presumption that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In this context, the principle of non-refoulement is absolute and also takes on the character of a peremptory norm of customary international law, i.e. jus cogens. This principle is not limited to the risk of torture [181]-[182].
  • Article 22(8) of the American Convention prohibits the expulsion or return of any "foreigner" to "another country, whether or not of origin” where "his or her right to life or liberty" is "at risk of being violated on account of race, nationality, religion, social status or political opinions”. This applies to all foreigners, including asylum seekers and refugees: [185]-[186]. This is of extra-territorial application, with broad scope of application without geographical limitations in circumstances where the State has authority or effective control over the person, including in embassies: [187]-[188]. The Court noted that this principle that the principle of non-refoulment applies to individuals inside embassies has been affirmed by the European Commission and the UN Human Rights Committee: [189].
  • The principle of non-refoulment is enforceable by any foreign person inside the embassy of a state and includes acts performed by immigration or border officials and diplomatic officials: [192].
  • This applies to situations of “indirect return”, i.e. where a person is expelled or returned to another country (for e.g. the United Kingdom) but may subsequently be expelled or returned or extradited to a third state (for e.g. the United States): [193].
  • States have specific obligations, under the principle of non-refoulment, to conduct individualised risk assessment and appropriate protective measures, including measures against arbitrary detention, where a person has applied for protection inside a diplomatic mission: [194]. If a risk of return to a third country exists, the person should not be expelled or returned: [195]-[196].
  • A person “cannot be left in limbo indefinitely” and diplomatic measures must be taken to request to the territorial state (i.e. the United Kingdom) to permit safe passage or another measures, in accordance with international law, to ensure those applying for asylum have their Convention rights respected: [198].
  • The Court emphasised that the duty of cooperation among states in the promotion and protection of human rights is a rule erga omnes in nature in that it is binding on all states: [199].

 

The full decision can be found in Spanish on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights website here.

 

 

Extradition of fugitive offender to Poland refused: a disproportionate interference with Article 8

20.07.18 | |

The High Court has overturned the decision of the Westminster Magistrates Court to extradite a man to Poland to complete his prison sentence and to stand trial on a separate allegation. Represented by Malcolm Hawkes, the Appellant was originally sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for drugs offences committed between 2006-2007 and had served 18 months of that sentence. However, in 2010 he was recalled to prison for breaching the terms of his release but fled to the UK as a fugitive.

 

The Polish authorities also wished to prosecute him for a separate allegation of theft; he was accused of stealing a bag belonging to an agricultural centre valued at £250, but there was no evidence he was aware of that allegation.

 

The Polish courts issued a domestic arrest warrant for the prison recall within a year, but did not issue a warrant in respect of the theft matter for over 7 years. There was no explanation for this delay. Meanwhile, the Appellant had travelled to and from Poland from the UK on multiple occasions over the years without any consequence.

 

The judge accepted the Appellant’s submissions that, even if he should be treated as a fugitive for the drugs offences, he could not be a fugitive in respect of the theft allegation. The court found the district judge to have been wrong to find the Appellant a fugitive in respect of both offences and thereby fell into error in the Article 8 balancing exercise. The district judge was also wrong to speculate, without evidence, that the Appellant had travelled to Poland on false identity documents.

 

The High Court accepted that the Appellant had turned his life around in the UK, ceased offending and had established a productive life, even if he had no family to speak of in this country. He had served over ¾ of his original sentence and repaid the full value of the goods allegedly stolen. Extradition to Poland in 2018 for low-level offending committed between 2006-2010 would be a disproportionate interference with the Appellant’s right to private and family life, the judge found.

 

In Strzepa v Poland, Malcolm was instructed by Chloe Hingley of BSB Solicitors

 

Toxic culture, bullying and physical assaults at Deepcut Barracks revealed

20.07.18 | |

The Coroner hearing the inquest into the death of Pte Sean Benton at Deepcut Barracks has delivered a highly damning verdict on the toxic culture of abuse that existed at Deepcut – where Sean lived and was found dead from five gunshot wounds in June 1995. Jesse Nicholls acted for Sean’s family with Paul Greaney QC, instructed by Emma Norton, Head of Legal Casework at Liberty.

 

The Coroner’s findings included a series of serious criticisms of Deepcut, the Army and Surrey Police:

  • The Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in charge of Sean’s troop, Sergeant Andrew Gavaghan, physically assaulted and humiliated him on numerous occasions, including publicly in front of other trainees and NCOs.
  • Sergeant Gavaghan physically assaulted at least 10 other trainees – including violently assaulting teenage girls, assaulting a young male trainee with a broom handle, punching and kicking others, and smashing one trainee’s head on a radiator.
  • That both a Sgt and multiple trainees were able to repeatedly assault and humiliate trainees revealed a highly concerning regime: inadequate monitoring allowed this abusive and wholly unacceptable conduct to take place; and the fact that it took place demosntrated the inability on the part of trainees to raise concerns, even of such a serious nature.
  • Multiple NCOs used physically excessive or overly repetitive punishments at Deepcut that went well beyond legitimate sanctions.
  • The ratio of senior staff to trainees was “wholly inadequate”, with one NCO in charge of up to 400 recruits at times.
  • There was no welfare officer or welfare policy at Deepcut.
  • There was “ample evidence” available to NCOs that Sean was vulnerable and the Army knew in the period before Sean’s death that he was deteriorating badly. Despite this, no adequate support or welfare was put in place to help him.
  • A decision was made to discharge Sean from the Army. Senior officers knew that Sean would be devastated and that he would be at risk of impulsive self-harm. The Coroner found that there was a basic failure to prevent Sean accessing a weapon; had simple steps been taken, Sean would not have died.
  • The investigation into Sean’s death was “woefully lacking”. Surrey Police failed to take charge and investigate his death properly, with the most basic steps not taken. This significantly hindered the current investigation and meant that some questions could never be answered.

 

Liberty have commented on the case here and the conclusions have been widely reported, including:

-          https://www.independent.co.uk/news/deepcut-barracks-sean-benton-inquest-british-army-latest-a8453806.html

-          https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/18/deepcut-inquest-soldier-sean-benton-punched-kicked-instructor/

Important win in case of Timothy Brennan v British Horseracing Authority

On 16th and 17th July, Edward Fitzgerald QC, instructed by Joseph Fitzpatrick of Smithwick Solicitors, together with Stephen Laniganokeefe and Eoghan O’Sullivan represented Timothy Brennan before the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). Brennan was alleged to have passed insider information about a horse he had been working with to his brother.  The horse was being trained by Willie Mullins, famous trainer of many Grand Nationals Winners.

 

Brennan’s legal team won on all points, with the Panel deciding that Timothy Brennan was not subject to the Rules of Racing as a self-employed vet and that it had not been proved that Brennan was the source of the inside information.

 

The defence team called Willie Mullins to give evidence.

 

The case is important in establishing the limits of the BHA. It is also important in establishing the duty of disclosure when dealing with the BHA. It is an important vindication of the vet in question.

 

Read about this case in the press herehere and here

Liam Walker represents defendant acquitted of plotting to kill MP

18.07.18 | |

Liam Walker, instructed by DJMS, solicitors represented Christopher Lythgoe who was acquitted unanimously of encouraging another to kill a sitting MP. Lythgoe, who had been the leader of a proscribed group, had been facing an almost inevitable sentence of life imprisonment upon conviction. He was sentenced to 8 years custody for the lesser charge of being a member of a proscribed group.

 

Read about this case in the press here, here and here

Supreme Court to consider whether benefit cap breaches rights of lone parents and their children

This week the Supreme Court will be hearing two joined appeals concerning whether the revised ‘benefit cap’ unlawfully discriminates against lone parents and/or their children, contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case will also provide an important opportunity for the Supreme Court to consider the role of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in relation to domestic laws affecting children.  The Court will be sitting with an enlarged panel of seven Justices, recognising the significance and importance of these cases.

 

Four members of Doughty Street Chambers act in these landmark appeals. 

 

For the Appellants in the DA case, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, instructed by Rebekah Carrier at Hopkin Murray Beskine, acts along with Ian Wise QC, Steve Broach and Mike Armitage of Monckton Chambers.  They succeeded in the High Court, with Collins J declaring that the failure to exempt lone parents with infant children (aged under 2) and children of that age from the cap breached Article 14 ECHR. However the Secretary of State succeeded on appeal, with a majority of the Court of Appeal reversing the High Court’s decision.

 

For Shelter, Martin Westgate QC acts, instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, together with Shu Shin Luh and Connor Johnston of Garden Court Chambers. Shelter’s press release in relation to the Court of Appeal’s decision can be found here.

 

For Just Fair, in their first intervention in the court, Jamie Burton and Daniel Clarke act, instructed by Christian Hansen of Hansen Palomares.

 

The hearing will last 2.5 days. Judgment is expected to be reserved.

European arrest warrant validity: High Court quashes extradition order to Italy

On 16 July 2018, the Divisional Court (Gross LJ and Nicol J) quashed an extradition order made by District Judge Snow on 11 August 2016.

 

The Appellants, the parents of three children, were wanted by Italy pursuant to identical European Arrest Warrants to face allegations of people trafficking offences. An anonymity order is in place to preserve the interests of the Appellants’ children.

 

The Appellants argued that the district judge had been wrong to conclude that the warrants adequately described the allegations against them. The Divisional Court agreed. In allowing the appeal, Nicol J stated that “nothing about these warrants is straightforward” and that the warrants were “extremely difficult to follow”. There had been a “wholesale failure” to comply with the basic obligation to provide the Appellants with an adequate description of the offending, as required by section 2(4)(c) of the Extradition Act 2003.

 

Significantly, the High Court refused to permit the Italian authorities to adduce further information to address the defects in the warrants; the court found the further information they attempted to introduce “did not assist in upholding the judgment of the District Judge but served to undermine it, very substantially” (per Gross LJ).

 

The decision is important for two principal reasons. First, the decision confirms that the protections under section 2(4)(c) EA still have teeth: it is a successful illustration of the application of the principles recently laid down by the High Court in Alexander v France, in which the court ruled that further information can cure section 2 “lacunae” in European arrest warrants. Second, the decision confirms that the primary responsibility lies with requesting authorities to provide adequate information at first instance and that there is no duty on English courts to seek further information.

 

In the light of the High Court’s findings in relation to section 2 EA, the Court ruled that it would be wrong in principle to consider the other ground of appeal; namely, whether extradition breached the private and family life rights of the Appellants’ children, notwithstanding the appointment of the Official Solicitor and separate representation for them.

 

The Appellant ‘B’ was represented by Graeme Hall, instructed by Giovanna Fiorentino of Lansbury Worthington Solicitors.

 

The children, ‘X’ and ‘Z’ (by the Official Solicitor, his litigation friend) were represented by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, instructed by Oliver Studdert of Simpson Millar LLP Solicitors.

 

The child ‘Y’ was represented by Malcolm Hawkes, instructed by Steel and Shamash, solicitors.

 

The judgment can be found here

The Children’s Society’s Judicial Review results in Government U-turn and restoration of legal aid for unaccompanied or separated children in immigration matters.

After a 5 year legal battle by The Children’s Society, which sought to challenge the failure to bring legal aid for unaccompanied and separated children who required assistance with immigration matters, the Government has agreed to bring legal aid back into scope by amending Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). Legal aid for these vulnerable children was removed by LASPO but The Children’s Society challenged this on the basis that Article 8 ECHR required that such children had legal aid for immigration matters in view of their particular vulnerability and the complexity of immigration proceedings. The Children’s Society together with the University of Bedfordshire published two important research reports documenting the impact of the cuts on children and young people, and a wide range of lawyers and NGOs who specialise in working and representing these children provided vital evidence to show the devastating impact on children of the legal aid cuts and that the Exceptional Case Funding scheme was a wholly inadequate safeguard.

 

On 12 July 2018 in a Ministerial Statement (available here) the Government announced its intention to lay a statutory instrument by the end of the year to bring this vulnerable cohort back into scope for legal aid.  In taking that decision, the Government has accepted there is a strong presumption that Article 8 ECHR requires that legal aid is granted to unaccompanied or separated children in immigration matters

 

In the meantime, these children should be able to access legal aid through the ECF scheme without the need for detailed evidence or submissions (subject to the usual legal help/CLR means and merits requirements).

 

This is a tremendous victory, however as the Windrush scandal has made all too clear, there are still many people unable to navigate the complex immigration system, who are denied legal aid due to LASPO.

 

The Children’s Society was represented by Michelle Knorr, Zoe Harper and previously Alison Pickup (prior to taking up her role as Legal Director of PLP) of Doughty Street Chambers, together with Paul Bowen QC and Oliver Jones at Brick Court Chambers. They were instructed by Roopa Tanna at Islington Law Centre. 

 

See links to press releases and press stories:

https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-and-blogs/press-releases/legal-aid-decision-offers-new-hope-for-unaccompanied-migrant-children

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/child-migrants-legal-aid-government-lucy-frazer-childrens-society-a8444466.html

 

UK Counter-Terrorism Bill threatens press freedom and the protection of journalistic sources

10.07.18 |
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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned about provisions of the UK’s Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill that threaten press freedom, as outlined in a submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights for its inquiry into the bill. The submission was compiled with research and support from Angela Patrick and Gemma Daly.

 

The full text of RSF’s submission is available here

Judith Farbey QC appointed to the High Court Bench

09.07.18 | |

It was announced today that HM The Queen has appointed our wonderful friend and colleague Judith Farbey QC as a Justice of the High Court, to sit in the Queen’s Bench Division.  Her appointment will take effect on 1st October.

 

We are extremely proud of Judith’s achievement, and are sure she will be as successful and admired on the Bench as she has been in practice. Whilst we will miss her humour, her advice, and her valued support of colleagues (particularly the next generation), we look forward very much to appearing before her, and wish her every success.   

Custodial Institutions hearing in Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry

From 9 to 20 July 2018 the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will hold a hearing about custodial institutions. It will explore the nature and extent of, and institutional responses to, recent sexual abuse of children in custodial institutions, and the adequacy of current institutional and systemic protections of children in those institutions from sexual abuse. Henrietta Hill QC and Adam Straw act as counsel to the Inquiry, instructed by Martin Smith and Alexandra Merity of Fieldfisher.

 

More information can be found here.

 

 

Court of Appeal persuaded by Emma Scott that the imposition of a criminal compensation order was wrong in principle

06.07.18 | |

Emma Scott represented a client appealing against the compensation order made as part of his sentence for theft. Emma’s client had been ordered to pay £8,926.35 compensation, despite the rate of £75 a month meaning it would take him nearly 10 years to clear.

Emma argued that the compensation order was wrong in principle as the compensation order was not payable within a reasonable period of time, taking into consideration her client’s means. As a result, she argued it placed an undue burden on her client.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the compensation order was wrong in principle and that they were satisfied that it did place an undue burden on Emma’s client.

The Court of Appeal quashed the compensation order and substituted a compensation order of £1,000, payable at a rate of £40 a month.

Emma was instructed by Anna Renou of ITN Solicitors.

Nicholas Bowen QC and David Lemer persuade Court of Appeal that damages should be awarded against Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution and misconduct in a public office

The Court of Appeal has today handed down a judgment (which can be viewed by clicking here) allowing an appeal by Jonathan Rees, Glenn Vian and Garry Vian, who will now receive substantial damages from the Metropolitan Police to compensate for the scandalous behaviour of one its senior officers, amounting to malicious prosecution and misfeasance in a public office.  Their claim for damages arose following their acquittal in 2012 of Daniel Morgan’s murder at a trial which collapsed because of corrupt police behaviour (persuading a key witness to give a fabricated eye-witness account against the defendants). 

 

In its judgment the Court of Appeal considered that an earlier decision in February 2017 by Mr Justice Mitting, to deny damages to Messrs Rees, Vian and Vian, was a “negation of the rule of law”.  The Court also said that it “may well appear to be counter-intuitive to any ordinary member of the public” for Mr Justice Mitting to have found that a Detective Chief Superintendent could be corrupt, but simultaneously find that he was not necessarily acting maliciously. 

 

The costs of this case, to be met by the Metropolitan Police, are likely to be substantially in excess of £1million plus, and damages will also be assessed and are likely to be substantial.  The taxpayer has already funded the costs of extensive police investigations culminating in an abortive criminal trial which the Court of Appeal said would never have been brought had the full scale of the criminal behaviour of a Detective Chief Superintendent been known to prosecutors.  

 

The Commissioner has sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

 

Jonathan Rees and Glenn Vian were represented by Nicholas Bowen QC and David Lemer of Doughty Street Chambers, instructed by David Ware and Bob Williams of Freedman Alexander LLP.

 

Garry Vian was represented by Stephen Simblet and Guile Nicholas Solicitors.

Doughty Street team authors new edition of Best Practice Guide to Asylum and Human Rights Appeals

A new edition of the Electronic Immigration Network's Best Practice Guide to Asylum and Human Rights Appeals has just been launched.  The guide was co-authored by Doughty Street barristers Mark Henderson and Rowena Moffatt, with Alison Pickup of the Public Law Project; Alison joined PLP from Doughty Street and remains one of our associate tenants.

 

This freely available guide provides practical advice and information on conducting asylum and human rights appeals.  Please do let your colleagues know of this valuable resource, and should you wish to contact the authors about any of the issues raised in the book, or any issues in current cases, please don't hesitate to contact our immigration clerks, led by Sian Wilkins, on 020 7404 1313.

 

The publication of the guide was made possible through support from the Legal Education Foundation and the Public Law Project.

 

The guide can be accessed by clicking here

 

 

 

 

 

Counsel’s clients win landmark case before the Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg Court on unlawful confiscation of land

29.06.18 |
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On 28 June 2018, Professor Andrea Saccucci – together with other Italian counsels representing different parties – obtained a remarkable victory in the case G.I.E.M. S.r.l. and Others v. Italy (European Court of Human Rights, applications nos. 1828/06, 34163/07 and 19029/11).

 

In a landmark judgment, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights upheld the claims of the applicants concluding that the confiscation of land following an acquittal on ground of statutory limitation on charge of unlawful construction is contrary to the principle of legality of criminal law and breaches the property rights of the owners because of its disproportionate character.

 

Notably, the Court found that the applicant companies were victims of a violation of Article 7 ECHR, which precludes the imposition of a criminal sanction on an individual without personal criminal liability being established beforehand, having also regard to the fact that the confiscation applied in the present case to individuals or legal entities which were not parties to the criminal proceedings.

 

Furthermore, in respect of an individual applicant, the Court held that he was victim of a violation of the right to be presumed innocent (Article 6 § 2 ECHR), because he has been found guilty without a formal conviction. 

 

Finally, the Court found that all the applicants were victims of a violation of their right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, reserving the question of just satisfaction.

 

Fur further inquiries, please contact: a.saccucci@doughtystreet.co.uk

 

Evidence given: Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

Peter Carter QC and Abigail Bright gave evidence to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill committee, House of Commons.

 

You can read the transcript of the oral evidence given by Peter and Abigail as recorded in Hansard here.

  

Line by line scrutiny of the Bill will take place on Thursday 28 June, Tuesday 3, Thursday 5, Tuesday 10, Thursday 12, and Tuesday 17 July.

 

The Committee must complete its consideration of the Bill by 5pm on Tuesday 17 July.

 

The Bill in draft is here.

 

The Explanatory Notes on the Bill are here.

 

US federal extradition request discharged for obstruction of justice charges

28.06.18 | |

Ben Cooper secured the discharge of Mr Dempsey, wanted by the United States Government for an alleged offence of providing a “false statement involving international terrorism” to a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in an interview at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport in August 2013 relating to the conflict in Syria. Mr Dempsey was returning to the US from Syria after meeting with a group opposed to President Assad that was at the time sponsored by the US government.

 

Mr Dempsey, an American citizen, was arrested in London in 2017 after he had been prevented from returning voluntarily to the US. In 2016 a Grand Jury in California indicted him and a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Federal Court in California.

 

Although the US Government is not required to provide evidence of a prima facie case against the requested person, it has to establish that the conduct alleged gives rise to an extradition offence and thereby meets the dual criminality test.

 

The Government argued that the conduct indicted in California was equivalent to the English criminal offence of perverting the course of justice.

 

Mr Dempsey argued that “frustrating” the course of justice by obstructing cannot amount without more to the English offence of perverting the course of public justice, because perverting a course of justice is neither frustrating nor obstructing (nor blocking it per se) but rather distorting or diverting it in some way.

 

The Judge ruled the US had failed to establish that Mr Dempsey had intended to pervert the course of justice or committed any English criminal offence. The court also accepted that the consequences of the conduct alleged were such that English law would not provide for extraterritorial jurisdiction under similar circumstances.

     

The court accepted Mr Dempsey’s case that he could not have intended to prejudice the US criminal investigation without being aware that his interview was being conducted pursuant to particular criminal or judicial proceedings and so the mens rea had not been made out.

 

As a result, the court ruled that the Government had not established the conduct it alleged gave rise to an extradition offence and ordered Mr Dempsey’s discharge.

 

The US Government is appealing to the High Court. 

 

Ben Cooper was instructed by John Howey at JFH Crime

 

 

 

David Bentley QC’s client cleared of murder

27.06.18 | |

David Bentley QC’s client AK was cleared last Friday of murder, following a three week trial at the Old Bailey. It was alleged that AK deliberately stabbed his victim in the chest. He asserted it occurred in the course of defending himself, and was convicted of the lesser offence of manslaughter. David was instructed by OWN Solicitors

Doughty Street offers its condolences on the death of Alastair Pitblado

26.06.18 |
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Doughty Street Chambers would like to offer our condolences to the family and friends of Alastair Pitblado, the Official Solicitor to the Senior Courts and Public Trustee, who passed away on Sunday 24 June 2018 after a long battle with cancer.

 

Our barristers have known him particularly in his role as litigation friend, protecting and promoting the rights of many vulnerable and incapacitated adults and young people. He leaves a legacy to be proud of: he insisted on the highest standards of representation and pressed ground-breaking cases, such as P and Q v Surrey County Council to extend the protection of Article 5 of the Convention to thousands of individuals receiving restrictive care.  He will be much missed.

Human rights council needs to scrutinise more, not less

The US is not the only country to think that the UN focuses too heavily on Israel, but quitting the council will not help, Kirsty Brimelow writes.

 

Read the full article here

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Quincy Whitaker and Jesse Nicholls in Supreme Court challenging legality of Government’s criminal records disclosure scheme

The hearing of the two linked cases of P, G and W and Gallagher started in the Supreme Court today.  The Court is considering the legality of the Government’s criminal records disclosure scheme, and whether it complies with individuals’ right to private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention. The Court of Appeal concluded that the scheme – which allows old, minor offences to be disclosed to prospective employers for life, with potentially devastating consequences for individuals – was unlawful. The Government is appealing.

 

Quincy Whitaker acts for the Appellant G with Tim Owen QC, instructed by Hodge Jones & Allen. Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jesse Nicholls, instructed by Salima Budhani of Bindmans LLP, act for Unlock, an independent charity working for people with cautions and convictions.

 

You can read more about the case on Unlock's website by clicking here.  The case is also being reported in the media, and The Guardian's article can be found by clicking here

  

You can also follow the live hearings of the Supreme Court by clicking here

Jen Robinson spoke on Julian Assange’s Health at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

Jennifer Robinson, Doughty Street International, today addressed the UN Human Rights Council in response to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health report about Julian Assange.

 

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International instructs Tatyana Eatwell and Nancy Hollander to investigate legal action against those attempting to change Macedonia’s name.

(14 June 2018) - Macedonian Human Rights Movement International has instructed Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward P.A., based in the United States, and Doughty Street Chambers, London, to advise on lawsuits against individuals and nation-states involved in the changing of Macedonia’s name.

 

MHRMI has long advocated for the anti-Macedonian name negotiations to end, pointing out that the change of Macedonia’s name is a violation of basic human rights and will destroy the Macedonian ethnicity.

 

Nancy Hollander (Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward and Associate Tenant, Doughty Street Chambers) said: “The name of a country is far more than just its name. It is fundamental to the identity of its people. Therefore, we are investigating all possible legal avenues through the courts of the United States that MHRMI may use in preventing any change to Macedonia’s name.”

 

Tatyana Eatwell (Doughty Street Chambers) said: “The name of Macedonia is central to the Macedonian people’s identity. The on-going dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the name of the Republic of Macedonia is not a mere technical dispute but has far-reaching implications for the Macedonian people with respect to their ethnic and national identity, and the recognition of the Macedonian language. We are investigating legal avenues within the UN and European human rights frameworks available to MHRMI in their campaign to end the name negotiations.”

 

Bill Nicholov, President of MHRMI, said: “Macedonians will not allow current politicians to change our age-old name, identity and ethnicity. We expect and demand that the international community aid us in the defence of our most basic of human rights and immediately end the anti-Macedonian name negotiations. Changing the name of an entire ethnic group to appease its oppressors violates every human rights convention that the West claims to hold dear.”

 

The full press release can be viewed here

New essay competition launched by DELF in memory of John Jones QC

15.06.18 |
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The members and staff of Doughty Street Chambers are greatly moved by the establishment of a new essay competition in memory of our sorely missed colleague and dear friend John Jones QC. 

 

The Defence Extradition Lawyers' Forum now seeks entries of up to 2000 words (due by 23rd July) from law students and junior practitioners in the UK, on the title "What has extradition law done for the law?"  The winning entry will be judged by Mr Justice Andrew Nicol (formerly of Chambers), Edward Fitzgerald QC (Joint Head of Chambers), and Edward Grange (Partner, Corker Binning). Full information on the competition can be found on the DELF website by clicking here, and we will read with interest the winning entry after it is announced on 14th September.

 

John was a true pioneer in the field of extradition law, and in international criminal law and human rights, not only as a practitioner but also as a writer of some of the leading texts.  John's intellectual curiosity was always palpable, and we are sure that he would be delighted about this new competition to encourage greater study in this important, interesting, and quickly changing field of law.  We think DELF have created a most fitting tribute indeed.

 

We hope you will be interested to read more about John's life and work by taking a look at our tribute, available by clicking here.

 

 

Supreme Court rules in favour of David Stephenson’s client in Pimlico Plumbers case

13.06.18 |
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David Stephenson is part of the team representing Gary Smith, a plumber and heating engineer who brought a case against Pimlico Plumbers claiming he was entitled to worker's rights.  The company claimed he was an independent contractor, notwithstanding all his work was undertaken for them.  The case has been fought at every level, and today the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Pimlico Plumbers, and ruled unanimously in Mr Smith's favour.  The decision has huge ramifications for those working in the "gig economy" who can now take advantage of rights to holiday pay and other benefits.  

 

David acted for Mr Smith in the Employment and Employment Appeals Tribunals, and was led in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court by Karon Monaghan QC.

 

David was instructed by Jacqueline McGuigan of TMP Solicitors, and funding was provided by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.  More on the case can be found on the EHRC's website by clicking here.

Emma Scott makes successful submission of no case to answer over allegations of threats to burn down a public building

13.06.18 | |

Emma Scott has made a succesful submission of no case to answer in relation to the making of threats to burn down a job centre.  Emma's client was accused of making threats to burn himself and the job centre down if he did not receive his benefits by a specified deadline.  He accepted carrying four bottles of white spirit and a lighter when entering the job centre but denied making the threats.

 

The Crown’s case relied upon conflicting accounts of two eye witnesses.  Emma successfully argued that there was no case to answer on the basis that the evidence was so inconsistent and therefore tenuous, that no properly directed jury could safely convict.  The Judge ruled in her favour and a Not Guilty verdict was formally entered.

 

Emma was instructed by Guven Ates at Morgan Has Solicitors.

FIDH, KHRC and FHRI apply to intervene before the East African Court of Justice to support Burundian civil society organizations

Paris, Nairobi, Kampala, 12 June 2018 – Application from three human rights NGOs to participate in a freedom of association legal case brought against Burundi before the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) will be heard today.

 

In December 2016, five major Burundian NGOs[1] filed a formal complaint to the EACJ, following the arbitrary and unlawful decision of Burundian authorities to shutdown their organizations and freeze their bank accounts. In support of these organizations, in their struggle to reclaim their rights, FIDH, together with its member organizations, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI, Uganda) made a request to submit an amicus curiae brief in the case. Tomorrow, the EACJ will hear oral arguments on the request.

 

Since 2015, Burundi has been engulfed in a severe political crisis characterized by the continuing perpetration of murders, enforced disappearances – as of today, the treasurer of the Ligue ITEKA, Marie-Claudette Kwizera, who was kidnapped in December 2015, is still missing – acts of torture, sexual violence and other serious crimes, mostly against those perceived as opposing the regime. In parallel, authorities have engaged in a serious crackdown against independent human rights organizations to alter their capacity to document and report the crimes and to assist the victims. In October 2016, the decision to ban and freeze the accounts of the five NGOs was made as part of this crackdown. In January 2017, a similar decision was notified to the ITEKA League, FIDH member organization in Burundi. The targeting of civil society was recently illustrated again by the unlawful sentencing of activist Germain Rukuki to 32 years in prison on trumped-up charges[2].

 

Before the EACJ, the five Burundian NGOs argue that their banning and the freezing of their accounts was in violation of the country’s regional and international legal obligations related to freedom of association. Represented by the law firm Leigh Day and human rights lawyers Nani Jansen Reventlow and Catherine Anite, FIDH, the KHRC and FHRI wish to provide expertise in the field of human rights and freedom of association to assist the Court in the interpretation and application of relevant legislation.

 

“Burundian civil society has been relentlessly targeted through bans, assets freezing, repressive legislations, enforced disappearances, arrests and illegal detention or judicial harassment. Intervening in this case will allow us to provide the Court with our expertise and valuable information on freedom of association and on the way it has been observed in Burundi over the past recent years”, says Sheila Muwanga Nabachwa, FIDH Vice President and FHRI Deputy Director of Programs.

 

“We consider this joint intervention to be an act of solidarity that pushes against a worrying trend of shrinking civil space in the region which has served to undermine the prospects for true democracy”, says George Kegoro KHRC Executive Director.

 

“The organisations we represent feel that it is extremely important that they are allowed to intervene in this case to enable the court to benefit from their experience and knowledge in the field of regional and international human rights law”, says Rosa Curling from Leigh Day law firm. “We hope that the court will agree to allow them to intervene as we believe that it would be in the interest of justice to do so.” 

 

[1]Forum pour le renforcement de la société civile (FORSC)

Forum pour la conscience et le développement (FOCODE)

Action chrétienne pour l’abolition de la torture (ACAT)

Association burundaise pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues (APRODH)

Réseau des citoyens probes (RCP)

[2]For more information on the situation of human rights defenders in Burundi, please check the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH withe the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT): https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/

Five Doughty Street barristers act in Supreme Court case which finds law on abortion in Northern Ireland to be in breach of human rights

The law on abortion in Northern Ireland is in breach of human rights.  A clear majority of the Supreme Court has found that the criminalisation of abortion in cases of rape, incest, and fatal foetal abnormality is in breach of Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life).  Two Supreme Court justices would also have found a breach of Article 3 (the right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment).  The Court has been clear that it expects the law to change. (To access the judgment please click here.)

 

The Supreme Court referred to a series of statements from women in Northern Ireland who have been forced to travel to England for an abortion or to follow through with their pregnancy in such difficult cases.  Lord Kerr described the statements as “harrowing”. The Court also noted that the available evidence suggests that public opinion in Northern Ireland favours a change in the law.  The current law represents an unnecessary interference with women’s autonomy.  Lord Kerr highlighted that it would only take a “simple amendment” to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 – which was debated in parliament this week – to remedy the human rights breach.

 

The Supreme Court also found that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which brought the case, did not have standing to do so.  As a result, the Court did not have jurisdiction to make any binding order in respect of the human rights breach.  That does not mean that the majority’s ruling on article 8 can safely be ignored.  As Lord Mance held, "My conclusions about the Commission’s lack of competence to bring these proceedings means that there is however no question of making any declaration of incompatibility. But the present law clearly needs radical reconsideration. Those responsible for ensuring the compatibility of Northern Ireland law with the Convention rights will no doubt recognise and take account of these conclusions, at as early a time as possible, by considering whether and how to amend the law, in the light of the ongoing suffering being caused by it …"

 

Doughty Street barristers acted for a series of interveners in this landmark challenge.

 

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Fiona Murphy, and Mary-Rachel McCabe acted for Humanists UK, instructed by Janet Farrell of Bhatt Murphy.  Humanists UK have made a statement which you can find by clicking here.

 

Adam Straw acted for Amnesty International and Sarah Jane Ewart, led by Monye Ankyadike-Danes QC and instructed by Darragh Mackin of KRW Law.  

 

Jude Bunting acted for seven leading reproductive rights organisations and service-providers, including the Family Planning Association, the Royal College of Midwives, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the Abortion Support Network, the Alliance for Choice, Birthrights, and Antenatal Results and Choices.  He was led by Dinah Rose QC and instructed by Rosa Curling of Leigh Day.   A press statement from these interveners is available on Leigh Day's website by clicking here.  The British Pregnancy Advisory Service have also published a statement available by clicking here

European Court Finds Romania Hosted CIA Secret Prison

05.06.18 | |

The European Court of Human Rights issued a unanimous decision on May 31, 2018, in Strasbourg, finding that Romania hosted a secret CIA prison between September 2003 and November 2005. The decision involved Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen. One of the lawyers involved was DoughtyStreet Chambers Associate Tenant, Nancy Hollander. Ms. Hollander has represented Mr. Al-Nashiri since 2008. She currently represents him in other proceedings as well.

 

The court found that Mr. Al-Nashiri was subjected to unlawful treatment while he was imprisoned in Romania, including solitary confinement; no contact with family or lawyers; continuous loud noise; continuous bright light; and the use of leg shackles.

 

Mr. Al-Nashiri is currently facing the death penalty before a U.S. military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, charged with crimes relating to the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. Recently his military commission proceedings were suspended after a long series of government interference with the defense, most recently the discovery of a hidden microphone in the room where counsel regularly met him.            

The ruling for Mr. Al-Nashiri marks the second ECtHR case in his favor. In 2014, the court ruled against Poland, over Poland’s role in his rendition, secret detention and torture. The court awarded Mr. Al-Nashiri 100,000 euros for each case. Ms. Hollander represented Mr. Al-Nashiri in that case as well, along with Associate Tenant, MIKOŁAJ Pietrzak. The Open Society Justice Initiative was lead in both cases. 

 

 

Transfer of double murder lifer from prison estate to secure hospital

31.05.18 | |

S was transferred to Rampton Secure Hospital pursuant to sections 47 and 49, Mental Health Act 1983. S’s transfer came after public law proceedings initiated against the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison Service. Early proceedings entailed an out-of-hours application, an emergency hearing, and heads of claim framed in judicial review. The proceedings started in August 2015 and concluded, with the agreement of the admitting hospital, in May 2018. Initially all three secure hospitals in England declined, in principle, to consider admitting S on grounds that S was too dangerous to be safely contained in what is primarily a therapeutic environment.  

 

Rampton Secure Hospital provides services for men suffering from mental illness and personality disorders.  

 

In June 2009 S was sentenced to life, minimum tariff of forty years, for the murders of French students Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez. 


 
In August 2015 Joe Stone Q.C. and Abigail Bright successfully defended S after trial: S was acquitted of two serious charges of assault on prison officers at HMP Wakefield.

 

Abigail Bright was instructed in by Rikki Garg, Scott-Moncrieff & Associates Ltd., between August 2015 and May 2018. Working to the constraints of a civil legal aid order, Abigail and Rikki secured the expert opinion of Professor Don Grubin, Emeritus Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Newcastle University, (hon.) consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust.  

 

Multi-Handed Drugs Trial Collapses After Prosecution Disclosure Failures

30.05.18 | |

A conspiracy to supply Class A drugs trial collapsed at Winchester Crown Court on the first day of trial.  The trial, due to run for five weeks collapsed following Paul Mason’s s.78 application concerning the Crown’s failure to disclose underlying phone and cell site evidence.  He argued that following R v Boardman, the adducing of partial phone and cell site evidence would have an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings and could not be cured by the Crown’s proposed adjournment.  Following the Judge’s favourable ruling, the Crown offered no evidence against all five defendants.

 

Paul was instructed by Andy Malik of DJMS solicitors.

High Court grants permission in judicial review seeking independent public inquiry into abuse of immigration detainees at Brook House

29.05.18 | |

The High Court (Holman J) has granted permission to two claimants seeking to challenge the Home Secretary’s refusal to announce an independent public inquiry into repeated racial and physical abuse revealed at Brook House by BBC’s Panorama programme “Undercover: Britain’s Immigration Secrets” in September 2017.

 

Jesse Nicholls, instructed by Joanna Thompson of Deighton Pierce Glynn and acting with Nick Armstrong of Matrix Chambers, represents BB, one of the claimants subjected to abuse at Brook House, a Centre near Gatwick Airport run by G4S. Panorama exposed multiple instances of abuse, mistreatment and efforts to conceal evidence and alter records at the Immigration Removal Centre, yet official reviews and reports at the time identified no concerns and painted a positive picture of Brook House. Despite the Immigration Minister describing the footage as “appalling”, the Government has recently announced a two year extension to G4S’s contracts for Brook House and Tinsley House, another Immigration Removal Centre.

 

At the High Court, BB’s legal team argued that the Home Secretary’s response to the Brook House abuse has not satisfied his investigative obligations under Article 3 ECHR and that an independent public inquiry is required to investigate what happened, how it was allowed to continue, and why it was repeatedly missed. In granting permission, Justice Holman stated that the case was “eminently arguable”. The claim will now proceed to a full judicial review in the Autumn.

 

Read about this case in the Guardian and the Independent, and this from the BBC.

 

Acquitted of murder of innocent bystander in shooting

29.05.18 | |

Following a seven week trial at the Central Criminal Court, Tim Moloney’s 19 year old client was acquitted of charges of murder and manslaughter arising out of a shooting incident during which a woman bystander was killed. He was instructed by Sasha Sidhu of SVS Solicitors and led Carina Clare from 3 Temple Gardens.

 

Read about this case in the press here and here

 

 

Egyptian campaigners take their case to the United Nations

 

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jonathan Price, Doughty Street Chambers, have lodged a complaint to the United Nations on behalf of Egyptian campaigner Amal Fathy, her husband and their son after the family was seized by police.

 

Ms Fathy and her husband Mohamed Lotfy, co-founder of award-winning human rights group the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, were arrested by police in the early hours of May 11. Their Cairo apartment was raided by armed police, searched and Ms Fathy, Mr Lotfy and their three year-old son Zidane taken to a police station.

 

Mr Lotfy and Zidane were released several hours later but Ms Fathy remains in custody. The trigger for the arrests was said at the time to be a short 12-minute Facebook video posted by Ms Fathy in which she complained about having been sexually harassed at a bank and the difficulties of being a woman in Egypt.

 

An urgent appeal has been lodged today with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders. A press release with more details about the case has been issued by Index on Censorship, the Egyptian Commission on Rights and Freedoms and Doughty Street Chambers, which you can read here. More information about the campaign can also be found on social media using the hashtag #FreeAmalFathy.

 

For more information, please contact Joy Hyvarinen at Index on Censorship: joy@indexoncensorship.org. 

Divisional Court re-instates requirement for prisons assurances in Lithuanian accusation cases: Jane v Prosecutor General’s Office, Lithuania [2018] EWHC 1122 (Admin)

18.05.18 | |

The “headline” Lithuanian prisons case heard by the Divisional Court on 25 April 2018 led to a judgment handed down on 15 May 2018.  

 

Noting the extensive ongoing international criticism of two of Lithuania's three remand prisons (Lukiskes and Siauliai), the Court found that, despite reductions in overcrowding, there was no international consensus that conditions had been made Article 3 compliant pursuant to the test in Elashmawy (paras 90-91). Judges at WMC had accordingly been wrong in law and in fact to allow, since mid-2016, accusation extraditions to Lithuania to proceed without assurances (at least in cases where it was not otherwise clear that the defendant would be remanded in Kaunas remand prison). 

 

Lithuania was granted 42 days to provide an adequate assurance in order to address the risk.  The judgment anticipates potential future argument about the adequacy of any assurance offered. 

 

The judgment effects all Lithuanian accusation cases where geography suggests the person will be held in any remand prison other than Kaunas.  The pre-2016 position is restored and assurances are required.  

 

The Divisional Court was composed of Hickinbottom LJ and Dingemans J.

 

The Appellant was represented throughout the proceedings by Mary Westcott, led on appeal by Mark Summers QC, instructed by Renata Pinter of Dalton Holmes Gray.  

 

Court of Appeal gives important ruling in exclusion case

The Court of Appeal has given judgment in a significant case concerning the exclusion from refugee status of people accused of publishing material supportive of terrorism. 

 

In Youssef & N2 v SSHD, Edward Fitzgerald QC and Alasdair Mackenzie of Doughty Street represented Mr Youssef, instructed by Sonia Routledge of Birnberg Peirce.  Mr Youssef, who was formerly a lawyer in Egypt and is accepted by the Home Office to be at risk of torture there on account of his political views, had been found by the Upper Tribunal to be excluded from protection under Article 1F(c) of the Refugee Convention, because of his sermons and other published materials which were said to have praised Al Qaeda and its leaders and to have encouraged others to emulate them. 

 

The Court rejected the argument that individual responsibility could not arise for the purposes of Article 1F(c) without evidence of a material contribution to an actual criminal event, and did not accept that the elements of individual responsibility must be the same under all the limbs of Article 1F. 

 

However, the Court did find that it was necessary to focus closely on the acts committed by the individual concerned, when deciding whether they were capable of affecting international peace and security, for purposes of Article 1F(c).  It found it ‘helpful to consider separately the quality of the acts in question, and their gravity or severity’.  Applying that test, it held that the Tribunal had not properly addressed itself to the gravity or seriousness of Mr Youssef's individual conduct, including questions such as the reach and the audience of his published material.  It therefore allowed the appeal, remitting it to the Tribunal for that issue to be reconsidered.  

Extradition refused on human rights grounds

11.05.18 | |

Amelia Nice successfully represented Mr Varga in an appeal against extradition to Romania. Mr Justice Ouseley allowed the appeal on Article 8 grounds, noting in particular the Appellant’s evidence that he had sought the permission of the Romanian court before moving to this country with his wife and young children.



Amelia Nice was instructed by Alison Fong San Pin of Lawrence and Co Solicitors. 

Emma Scott secures a stay for abuse of process in anti-hunting case

11.05.18 | |

Emma represented a teacher charged with aggravated trespass in relation to blowing horns on private land, where her client had reason to believe illegal hare coursing was taking place.

 

Defence footage was played of a purported 'trail hunt' which showed an animal hanging out of a hound's mouth, and also of the Police who were at the site to investigate complaints, riding pillion on the back of quad bikes driven by members of the hunting group.

 

Most of the Crown's case had been heard, including evidence that the hunt group purchased and imported real fox urine online from an individual in the USA so that a scent could be laid for a trail, when a piece of evidence was brought to the attention of the Defence.
 

This evidence had been in the possession of the Crown but had not previously been disclosed to the Defence. Emma argued that as a result of the contents and the point in the proceedings when it was finally disclosed, her client was so prejudiced that she could not now receive a fair trial as a result.
 

The Court agreed and a stay for abuse of process was granted.
 

Emma was instructed by Jessica Black of Bindmans.  More information on the case can be found on the Bindmans website by clicking here

Emma Scott represents man charged with Grievous Bodily Harm with intent on his ex-partner.

09.05.18 | |

Mr Ndiaye was convicted of Grievous Bodily Harm with intent, burglary with intent to commit Grievous Bodily Harm, and common assault, in what the Judge described as, “the most savage attack in front of neighbours”.

 

Mr Ndiaye was assessed as a dangerous offender.  The offences included a substantial collection of aggravating features, including previous convictions for domestic violence.  Emma successfully mitigated the total sentence imposed to 13 years' imprisonment with an extended licence period of 5 years.

 

Emma was instructed by Robert Dynowski at Steel & Shamash. 

 

See news article here.

 

 

 

Supreme Court considers lawfulness of miscarriage of justice compensation regime

On 8 and 9 May 2018 the Supreme Court is hearing the appeal of Sam Hallam, who argues that the legislation governing whether the state will pay compensation for miscarriage of justice is too restrictive, unlawful and incompatible with the presumption of innocence within article 6(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights. 

 

Mr Hallam was sent to prison aged only 17, and spent 7 years and 7 months in custody before his conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal. His claim for miscarriage of justice compensation was rejected, and in response he has challenged the statutory regime governing these claims. 

 

Heather Williams QC and Adam Straw represent Mr Hallam, instructed by Birnberg Pierce solicitors. 

 

To read more please see here.

 

Rose McGowan instructs Doughty Street counsel to seek justice and accountability for abuse and harassment

Artist, activist and former actress Rose McGowan has instructed Jennifer Robinson to help her develop an international advocacy effort to support women and to work with US lawyers to seek justice and accountability for the abuse and harassment she has suffered from Mr Weinstein. Ms Robinson is working with Nancy Hollander, an Associate Tenant of Doughty Street, and her law firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward.

 

It is now public knowledge that Weinstein employed underhanded tactics to "silence" his victims, including hiring private investigators to collect information about the journalists trying to expose allegations of sexual assault and to "target" those who were speaking out about him. Ms McGowan was targeted by the counter-intelligence companies Psops and Black Cube: she was stalked, had her private accounts hacked, was publicly attacked and ridiculed, and was secretly recorded and exploited by people she confided in, who later turned out to be hired by Weinstein.

 

Ms. Robinson says: "Rose has suffered a vile campaign of harassment at the hands of Mr Weinstein and his representatives. It is well documented that Mr Weinstein went to extraordinary lengths to silence Rose and undermine her credibility, including hiring ex-Mossad agents to infiltrate her life and a PR team to malign her in the media."

 

"Rose is a feminist whistle-blower. For speaking out about sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood, she has faced the kind of harassment I’m used to seeing authoritarian governments use against political dissidents and whistleblowers. Rose faced this treatment because she spoke out about abuse by one powerful man and about the industry which protected him. Mr Weinstein abused his power over many women, which was facilitated for decades by the silence of many. Rose and the women who have spoken out should be celebrated, not persecuted."

 

Ms Robinson is also advising Rose on her international advocacy work, which has commenced with her new #RoseArmy fundraising campaign for the Coalition to End Violence Against Women through the CrowdJustice platform, to support women speaking out about abuse and harassment.

 

"Rose is determined to turn her experience into a positive opportunity to assist other women to speak out about abuse and harassment," Ms Robinson said.

 

In April Ms McGowan submitted evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee in the UK Parliament for its inquiry into the abuse of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in sexual abuse and harassment cases. Advised by Ms Robinson, Ms McGowan shared her experience of Mr Weinstein’s lawyers and their attempts to have her sign an NDA, explaining how NDAs were used by him for decades as a tool to silence women - in the US and the UK - to ensure his impunity and his ability to continue to abuse women. Zelda Perkins, Weintein’s former assistant, also spoke to the Committee about the NDA she was forced to sign about sexual harassment by Weinstein in Europe against his UK-based employee.

 

Ms Robinson said, "Rose contributed to the Parliamentary Inquiry in the UK to encourage more women to speak out about their experience and to assist with law reform efforts to stop NDAs being abused to silence women and to cover up abuse. We cannot allow there to be any more Weinsteins, anywhere."  

 

Ms. Hollander said,"Rose McGowan is a courageous woman. I am looking forward to helping her continue to be a spokesperson and supporter of others who have suffered as she has in the entertainment industry and elsewhere. With her help, others can find their voices. Together we will make the changes that are necessary so women can finally stand on equal footing with men everywhere."

 

Ms Robinson attended court with Ms McGowan in Virginia this week. See reports here and here.

 

Lauzikas: Important new guidance on public law and EU law points in detention challenges

04.05.18 | |

The Administrative Court found that a Lithuanian national was unlawfully held by the Home Office for almost 50 days.  R (Lauzikas) v SSHD establishes two vital points of legal principle for which the Claimant had contended. First, where EEA nationals (or their family members) are detained, EU law imposes a test of individualised proportionality and the detention must be shown to be necessary. Second,  a material public law error in a distinct, prior decision which bears on the decision to detain (eg an unlawful certificate) renders detention unlawful.

 

Laura Dubinsky of Doughty Street Chambers was leading counsel for the Claimant and Jane Elliott Kelly of Lamb Building was junior counsel. They are instructed by Lupins Solicitors. 

 

The full judgment can be found here

Hospital Order rather than a Hybrid Order following the recent guidance in Edwards [2018] EWCA Crim 595

01.05.18 | |

A man who killed an 83 year old woman in 2016 was made the subject of a hospital order with restrictions by Stuart Smith J following a guilty plea to manslaughter. The Judge decided not to impose a hybrid order pursuant to s.45A of the Mental Health Act 1983. Tim Moloney QC, instructed by OWN solicitors represented the defendant, leading Steven Garrett.

 

Read about this case in The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Mail and on The BBC

Adam Wagner to give evidence to Parliament on human rights enforcement

On Wednesday 9 May at 15:15, Adam Wagner will be giving evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on their inquiry into attitudes to enforcement of human rights

 

Adam is a new Doughty Street tenant and the founder and chair of RightsInfo (www.rightsinfo.org), a charity which focuses on countering media misinformation and presenting a positive message about human rights in the UK. 

 

The Committee will also hear from Liberty's Director and Doughty Street associate tenant Martha Spurrier, Dr Alice Donald and Professor David Mead.

Humanists UK to intervene in Noel Conway’s assisted dying appeal

The Court of Appeal has granted permission to Humanists UK to intervene in an important appeal being heard this week concerning assisted dying.  Noel Conway’s case will be heard by the Court of Appeal on Tuesday 1 - Thursday 3 May 2018.  The Court of Appeal has also permitted Humanists UK to rely on witness evidence from eminent moral philosophers Professor Simon Blackburn and Professor John Harris and its Chief Executive, Andrew Copson.

 

Humanists UK is represented by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Graeme Hall of Doughty Street Chambers and Nancy Collins of Hodge Jones and Allen. 

 

More details are available in Humanists UK’s press release, available here.

 

 

Lord Chancellor confirms legal aid for victims of trafficking and modern slavery in scope under LASPO

The Lord Chancellor conceded a claim for judicial review against the refusal of legal aid to a victim of trafficking, just before the substantive judicial review hearing was to be heard in the High Court.

 

The Claimant, LL is an extremely vulnerable victim of trafficking. She had a positive reasonable grounds decision under the NRM. She applied for a legal help extension for an expert report in relation to a conclusive grounds decision that she was a victim of trafficking and discretionary leave to remain, making clear that the two matters were integrally linked. The Lord Chancellor refused the extension because (a) a conclusive grounds decision was out of scope and (b) because no “application” is needed for consideration of discretionary leave for victims of trafficking (Victims of modern slavery – Competent Authority guidance - v.3.0, 21 March 2016) and so this could not be in scope under paragraph 32 of the First schedule to LASPO which refers to an “application for leave to enter or remain”. In making these decisions the Lord Chancellor was applying a recent change in practice for cases of this kind.

 

On 16 April 2018 the Lord Chancellor conceded LL’s application for judicial review of that decision. The hearing was due to take place on 17 April 2018. The order was approved by Mr Justice Walker on 18 April 2018 and is now available here, together with a statement of reasons.

 

The approved order restores what was previously understood to be the position and recites his agreement to the following points:

 

That civil legal services provided to assist a victim of trafficking to obtain a conclusive grounds determination will be in scope of legal aid under s. 9 and para 32(1) of LASPO where that work is in relation to a determination of whether or not the victim should be granted leave to enter or remain for any reason.

 

That victims of trafficking are entitled to legal aid for any kind of application for leave to enter or remain, and irrespective of whether or not any specified form or formal application is required by the Home Office.

 

The agreed order makes clear that work in securing a conclusive ground decision is in scope where, as is so often the case, it is vitally linked to grant of leave. It also puts an end to reliance on the highly technical argument that work on obtaining leave is not covered by legal aid simply because there is no need for a formal application.

 

On Friday 27 April 2018 the Legal Aid Agency confirmed that the declaration contained in the order was circulated to the relevant LAA casework teams, shortly after it was approved by the Judge. It also confirmed the understanding that the declaration will be published on the LAA’s website early this week, and the LAA has agreed that the declaration will also apply to  modern slavery cases under para 32A. These are important further clarifications – especially as this judicial review had always alleged that four years after the entry into force of LASPO, the LAA was not entitled to change its mind about the interpretation of para 30; still less fail to tell anyone about it.

 

Together with the recent decision in PK (Ghana), R (On the Application Of) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWCA Civ 98, which explained the circumstances in which leave will be granted under ECAT, and in line with its purpose to assist and protect victims, LL is an important advance for victims of trafficking and modern slavery.

 

Carita Thomas at ATLEU, and Martin Westgate QC and Catherine Meredith of Doughty Street Chambers, acted for LL. The team are grateful to Zoe Harper, Doughty Street Chambers, Dr Anne Gallagher, Academic Panellist of Doughty Street Chambers, Kate Roberts at the Human Trafficking Foundation and all those who helped with evidence in the case; and to the AIRE Centre and legal team for their Third Party Intervention.   

 

Martin Westgate QC also acted with Catherine Meredith and Nina Rathbone Pullen at Wilson Solicitors LLP in PK and were again assisted by Dr Anne Gallagher. We are closely monitoring policy developments following that case.

 

The Anti-Trafficking Team at Doughty Street Chambers will be holding a specialist trafficking seminar on 15 June 2018 to discuss these developments, and others, including the revised NRM.  Further details to follow shortly.

Academic Expert Anne Gallagher AO has been elected President of the International Catholic Migration Commission

Academic Expert Anne Gallagher AO has been elected President of the International Catholic Migration Commission. ICMC’s mission is to protect and serve uprooted people, including refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, victims of human trafficking, and migrants - regardless of faith, race, ethnicity or nationality. Since its founding in 1951, ICMC has resettled more than a million refugees. It currently operates in over fifty countries.

 

Anne takes over from the late Peter Sutherland, Former Attorney-General of Ireland, Director of the World Trade Organization and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Migration. As President, she will lead ICMC’s international advocacy efforts, most immediately in relation to the Global Compact for Migration that is currently being negotiated by the international community.

 

Anne’s work has started straightaway. She recently took part in the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration which discussed the plight of the Rohingya; who in Anne’s view have not received adequate international help: "What worries me most is the uniform timidity, the complicity of silence in the face of such egregious injustice meted out against a persecuted minority by a single bad actor" (The Spectator, 14 April 2018). Anne’s full article is available here.

 

We wish Anne the very best of luck with this important and influential appointment and in working to protect the rights of those amongst the world’s most vulnerable communities.

 

Katy Thorne QC successfully defends “follower of cult leader” accused of historic sexual offences instructed by Michelle George of Blackfords Solicitors.

30.04.18 | |

Katy’s client was alleged to be the brainwashed follower of a religious leader and was accused of assisting him in the rape and indecent assault of several complainants including two as young as six years old. 

 

The religious leader had previously been found to be unfit to plead.  He was therefore unable to refute the allegations.The jury had to consider whether he had committed the acts, and also, in the trial on the indictment, whether Katy’s client had taken part in or assisted him in multiple counts of indecent assault and rape. 

 

After a trial in which even the religious beliefs of the defendant were in dispute, the jury unanimously acquitted the defendant and found that the religious leader, had not committed the acts. 

 

Katy is particularly skilled at the combination of tactical strategy and sensitive but robust cross-examination which secures acquittals in such cases.

 

She was instructed by Michelle George of Blackfords Solicitors.

 

Emma Scott successfully secures an acquittal for student charged with Grievous Bodily Harm with intent after blinding a fellow student with a pool cue.

27.04.18 | |

Mr Winter had used a pool cue to hit a fellow student at a college near Oxford and had pleaded Guilty to inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm.  The issue at trial was intent.

 

Emma argued that Mr Winter had lost it after enduring an evening of his fellow student’s drunken behaviour and inappropriate advances towards female colleagues, intending only to hurt him and not cause him serious injury.  Horrifically, the cue made contact with the eye.

 

The jury acquitted Mr Winter, accepting that he had not intended to cause really serious bodily harm.

 

Emma was instructed by Ann Ridge of Howells.

 

Read about this case in the press here

 

Court of Justice gives important ruling in torture case

The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union has given judgment in an important case providing additional protection under EU law for torture victims. 

 

In MP v SSHD, a reference from the UK Supreme Court, the Court holds that subsidiary protection status (known as humanitarian protection in UK domestic law) must in certain circumstances be given to a person who has been tortured by the authorities of their country of origin, but who is not at risk of further torture in future.  Subsidiary protection must be given where the individual is at serious risk of committing suicide on return, as a result of trauma resulting from the past torture, and where there is also a real risk of being intentionally deprived of appropriate care for the physical and mental after-effects of the torture. 

 

The Court takes account, in reaching its ruling, of the duty on states in Article 14 of the UN Convention against Torture to provide torture victims with ‘the means for as full rehabilitation as possible’.  The Court makes clear that ‘intentional’ deprivation of care can extend to a situation where the state authorities simply ‘are not prepared’ to provide rehabilitation, or where access to health care excludes certain people on a discriminatory basis.

 

Mr MP is a Sri Lankan Tamil who was severely tortured by the Sri Lankan authorities in 2001-02 and continued to suffer severe psychological after-effects of the torture.

 

Alasdair Mackenzie of Doughty Street represented Mr MP, led by Raza Husain QC with Professor Takis Tridimas, both of Matrix, and instructed by Arun Gananathan at Birnberg Peirce Ltd.

Successful ‘Substantial Injustice’ Appellant Released Following Sentence for Manslaughter Tim Moloney QC

25.04.18 | |

On 30 January 2018, John Crilly’s conviction for murder was quashed by the Court of Appeal and a retrial was ordered. Mr. Crilly’s appeal is the first ‘substantial injustice’ appeal to be allowed in the wake of Jogee.

 

Mr. Crilly subsequently pleaded guilty to manslaughter and a determinate sentence which enabled his immediate release was imposed by Mr. Justice William Davis.

 

Mr. Crilly was represented by Tim Moloney QC instructed by Simon Natas of ITN solictors.

 

For some of the coverage of the case see:

 

The BBC, The Times, The Telegraph and Legal Cheek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Bentley QC advises on DNA issues in controversial case against leading Malaysian politician

24.04.18 | |

In 2014, leading Malaysian opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced to four years imprisonment after his appeal against his controversial and internationally criticised conviction for sodomy was rejected. That conviction was heavily dependent on DNA evidence, said to implicate Anwar.
 

London-based criminal defence specialist David Bentley QC (known for his expertise in forensic DNA issues) was asked to review the safety of that conviction.
 

His opinion, which identified potentially significant shortcomings in the DNA evidence presented at trial, was cited by his family and his lawyer at a recent press conference. They urged the home ministry to carry out an urgent retest of the DNA samples used at his trial.
 

Reports of this press conference can be seen here and here.

Detained Reuters Journalists in Myanmar Should be Released

20.04.18 | |

Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have now been in prison in Yangon for over four months. Their arrest and prosecution are part of a crackdown on freedom of the press in Myanmar intended to silence reporting on the crimes committed against Rohingyas. The journalists are young Buddhists who have done nothing to harm the state. Yet they face a sham trial for possessing “official secrets” and may be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison.

 

Today in court one of the prosecution’s own witnesses admitted that the arrest was a “trap” in stunning testimony that drew gasps from those in the courtroom. The witness, a police captain, gave evidence that brigadier Tin Ko Ko ordered police to arrange a meeting with Wa Lone to hand over “secret documents” that would set up an arrest moments later. According to the witness, the brigadier gave the documents to a junior police officer, instructed him to give them to Wa Lone in a restaurant and told him that when Wa Lone came out the “regional police force has to entrap him and arrest him”. The brigadier also “told the police members, ‘if you don’t get Wa Lone, you will go to jail’”.

 

It is now clear to any impartial observer that this case is a bungled attempt to entrap two innocent young men. The US, UK, Canada, the UN and the European Union have already demanded the journalists’ release, and further action may follow if the case is not resolved. 

 

Silencing critics through false arrests and arbitrary detention flies in the face of Myanmar’s professed dedication to the rule of law and free speech, and risks lasting damage to the country’s reputation and economy. But the truthful testimony of a brave witness is a step in the right direction. The prosecution should now drop the case immediately or, failing that, the district court judge should dismiss it. If this does not happen, it will be the responsibility of the government to grant an amnesty. 

 

Amal Clooney

Counsel for Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo and Reuters 

Will Artificial Intelligence result in artificial disclosure? - Insight from Peter Caldwell.

18.04.18 |
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by

Peter Caldwell

 

As we await the results of the disclosure review of criminal cases, intended to address what the outgoing DPP described as “deep-rooted and systemic disclosure issues”, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that with immediate effect it would permit the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in all of its new casework.  For the SFO, the use of AI might be considered a logical response to the pressure of managing digital data, but it is a step change of approach and brings significant risks of injustice to the trial process.

 

Fraud cases, have always been “document-heavy”, but the growth in digital data in recent years has been exponential.  It is relatively easy to seize large amounts of data, (regularly measured in terabytes), but more difficult to ensure an effective review of the data for material that may assist the accused.  While the collapse of a series of rape trials highlighted disclosure failures in relation to data stored on personal electronic devices the implications for the review of digital data in corporate investigations is of a wholly different order.

 

Automated document analysis is nothing new.  Prosecution agencies (as well as defence lawyers) have been using “key word” searches to trawl large volumes of digital material for many years now.  The proposed use of AI however, is a departure.  In the past, decisions on disclosure of relevant material, whether by way of a physical sift of the use of electronic searches, have always been conducted by a lawyer or investigator.  The purpose of deploying AI, is to move beyond defined word searches and permit the robot prosecutor an element of discretion in the conduct of a search; to “learn” from the process and to apply what it has learned in deeper searches of the material.  By this means AI can be used to search for and group data thematically.  This is not merely matching like for like, but making judgment calls.

 

The use of AI is now commonplace in corporate internal investigations where platforms using natural language and machine learning can assist in identifying fraud and misconduct quickly.  Pressure of time (as well as the cost of resources) can be particularly acute where there is an obligation to make a report to a regulator or to trace and freeze stolen assets.  These are considerations which place a premium on a corporate getting the best answer it can in the shortest time possible. From an investigator’s point of view, the task of finding a needle shouldn’t be deterred by the size of the haystack.

 

The obligations on a prosecutor, however, are not the same as for a corporate conducting an internal investigation.  The duty of the prosecutor is to get it right, and to err, where the judgment call is close, on the side of disclosure to the accused.

 

The use of AI had been “piloted” by the SFO in its investigation of Rolls Royce Plc. Some 30 million documents had been submitted for automated document analysis to review for material that might attract Legal Professional Privilege (LPP).    Though hailed as a success by the SFO, it should be noted that the Rolls Royce investigation was not a typical criminal case.  This was not a test of disclosure in the context of adversarial litigation, but collaborative effort by both parties towards a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).  For those purposes Rolls Royce as the company under investigation had itself provided the keys to its own warehouse of material.  It had access to its own data in a way that most defendants accused of economic crime do not.  The investigation had in very large part been conducted and voluntarily revealed to the SFO by Rolls-Royce itself.   The DPA approved by Sir Brian Leveson PQBD, by its very nature did not involve adversarial proceedings against individual defendants.  The use of AI was ultimately restricted to a search for items that might be subject to legal professional privilege, a task that would previously have been conducted by independent disclosure counsel.

 

Would the use of AI would be considered such an unqualified benefit in a contested prosecution of serious economic crime?  The SFO evidently consider it will benefit the prosecution, but will it assist the defence?  In such cases necessarily an accused’s defence is likely to be derived from material not relied on by the prosecution, but in the surrounding material of emails and notes, which in ordinary business life provide the context and very often the evidence capable of explaining alleged misconduct.  It is questionable whether AI will help or hinder the process of locating relevant material.

 

The rules underpinning disclosure in document-heavy cases have been revisited on a number of occasions.  Historically, the Courts have expressed concern that the defence should not be given the “keys to warehouse door”, a phrase derived from the physical storage of unused material.  This dicta reflected a policy decision based on cost and manageability; that the defence should not be permitted to make unnecessary use of time and resources.  It cannot have been intended to confer a proprietorial advantage to the prosecution. 

 

Though usually a step or two behind the development of technology and the growth of data sources, guidance given in the disclosure protocols has emphasised the need for transparency in the process, while allowing prosecutions to be manageable.  There is inevitably a tension between these two principles.

 

In R. v. R [2016] 1 WLR 1872,  the Court of Appeal reviewed the approach to disclosure that should be taken in such cases, emphasising the principle that “the burden of disclosure should not render the prosecution of economic crime impractical.”  One consequence of this principle is that the prosecution’s obligation to account for its handling of unused material has been reduced.  Thus, the 2013 Guidelines qualify the requirement to keep a “record or log” of all digital material seized as a duty to record only the “strategy and the analytical techniques used to search the data”.  Similarly, the scheduling duty imposed on the disclosure officer separately to list each item of unused material is modified in favour of block listing the search terms used and any items of material which might satisfy the disclosure test.

 

Central to the decision in R. v. R. was the principle of transparency in the conduct of the prosecution’s review. The prosecution must explain what it is doing and what it will not be doing at this stage, ideally in the form of a “Disclosure Management Document” (DMD). This document, as recommended by the Review and the Protocol, is intended to clarify the prosecution’s approach to disclosure (for example, which search terms have been used and why) and to identify and narrow the issues in dispute.  

 

Whereas the Court of Appeal contemplated the use of word searches based on defined terms about which the defence could be informed, it did not have in mind the development of technology that would permit autonomous searching.  The change from sift by word-search to sift by algorithm is not merely quantitive (more and faster), but qualitative.  It marks a wholly different approach to reviewing material. 

 

The fact that the defence is informed that AI is being used does not avoid unfairness or a lack of transparency inherent in the use of AI.  Although a prosecutor may inform the defence of the nature of the review the AI platform was tasked to perform, the prospect that the defence will have an opportunity to check that process or hold it to account seems remote.

 

Given the carte blanche the SFO has awarded itself following the Rolls Royce case it is unlikely that the use of AI will be limited to post-charge disclosure reviews, rather it will inform the strategy of the investigation and decisions to prosecute from the very first.  The clear implication is that an AI platform will be tasked to review the material with a particular object in mind.  Prosecutors directing AI platforms in this way, rather than exploring all reasonable lines of enquiry, will be happy to have their worst suspicions confirmed.  These algorithms inevitably (necessarily) look for patterns in the data and serious errors of bias can occur.  Far from offering transparency, the process of AI decision making is likely to be opaque.  There may be an input of data and an output of analysis, but no reasons given for the decision the robot has made.  Informed IT specialists have noted that there is substantial scope for oversight and confirmation bias as part of a decision making process that is not truly accountable.

 

The use of AI is likely to diminish transparency and increases the risk of injustice in criminal cases.  Moreover, it renders any injustices that may arise so much harder to identify and redress. It must be recalled that while prosecutors and defence lawyers have a duty to manage disclosure issues professionally, the process at heart is not at all collaborative but adversarial.  If however, the use of AI is sanctioned, then fairness surely requires equality of arms.  At the very least this should permit the defence to participate and have access to the AI platforms – if not the keys to the warehouse door, then at least the codes.

 

Upper Tribunal hands down guidance on out of country appeals heard before Supreme Court judgment in Kiarie and Byndloss

18.04.18 | |

In AJ (s 94B: Kiarie and Byndloss questions) Nigeria [2018] UKUT 00115 (IAC) the Upper Tribunal has handed down guidance on the application of Kiarie and Byndloss to appeals which were heard prior to the handing down of the Supreme Court’s judgment.

 

The Appellant had been removed prior to the hearing of his appeal, pursuant to certification under section 94B of the 2002 Act.  The UT found that the First-tier Tribunal judge had erred in law in failing to consider whether it was necessary for the Appellant to give oral evidence albeit he had not had the benefit of the Supreme Court’s judgment.

 

The UT’s guidance for FTT judges is set out at paras [44-52] of the determination.  The UT concluded:

 

69. Both in the present case and in any other appeal where the section 94B certificate has not been quashed, if the First-tier Tribunal, as a result of adopting the step-by-step approach, concludes that the appeal cannot lawfully be determined unless the appellant is in the United Kingdom, the Tribunal should give a direction to that effect and adjourn the proceedings, to enable the respondent to secure the appellant’s return.

 

Andrew Jones at Wilson Solicitors LLP and Marisa Cohen acted for the Appellant

 

 

 

 

Acquitted of conspiracies to supply class A drugs and convert criminal property

17.04.18 | |

A and her boyfriend, together with 3 others, were said to be party to a substantial conspiracy to supply class A drugs. They and another were also said to have been party to a conspiracy to launder the proceeds. The case was arose from a substantial police surveillance operation.

 

A and her boyfriend were said, by the Crown, to be ‘in the thick of it’. As well as both being present during a meeting with another co-conspirator, A’s house was used for a previous drugs transaction.

 

On the day of A’s arrest, they had been at the house of another co-defendant, when 1kg of cocaine, at a high level of purity was delivered. The block was broken up at the address. A and her boyfriend left with 2/3 of it. They left by taxi. Just under ½ kg of the cocaine was placed, by A, into her jacket pocket.  Another approximately 240g was recovered from a bag in the taxi next to her, when the police intercepted the taxi.

 

The jury acquitted A, following trial. They accepted that she was not a party to the conspiracies. The defence were able to demonstrate, via cell-site evidence, that A was at work when the earlier drugs transaction took place.

 

Amos Waldman was instructed by Matthew Agar at MMA Solicitors, Middlesbrough.

 

 

Joel Bennathan’s client not guilty of murder

16th April 2018: Gleneson Mark found not guilty of murder by unanimous verdict after a 6 week trial at the Old Bailey. Mr Mark was defended by Joel Bennathan QC and Angharad Mousley of ITN Solicitors, instructed by Theresa Gerald.

 

Read more about the case here.

 

 

 

Jamie Burton & Sam Jacobs to speak at Young People’s Legal Rights Conference

Liam Walker of Doughty Street Crime acts in high profile drink driving case

16.04.18 | |

As a result of their commitment to their clients, Counsel from Doughty Street Crime are often instructed to represent high profile clients. Liam Walker is regularly instructed to represent professionals whose livelihoods and reputations depend on the outcome of a case. In addition to representing clients in Court Liam provides pre-charge advice and advises on cases where charges may possibly be avoided at an early stage. Liam’s case was reported in the BBC here, in The Telegraph and The Independent. To instruct Liam please contact his clerks.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE IN THE HUMANITARIAN AID SECTOR REQUIRES INDEPENDENT, SECTOR-WIDE INQUIRY

 

            

 

 

A coalition of lawyers from the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), the Disaster Law Project (DLP) and Doughty Street Chambers has submitted a joint submission to the International Development Committee (IDC) inquiry on sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and related misconduct in the humanitarian aid sector. The submission sets out key changes necessary to establish effective safeguarding processes and strengthen accountability in the sector, and calls for an independent, external sector-wide inquiry.

 

 “The IDC’s inquiry is an important first step, but an in-depth independent inquiry is necessary to reveal the scope of the problem, analyse how safeguarding practice are operating on the ground and ensure accountability” said Nicole Phillips, Staff Attorney with IJDH and one of the submission’s authors. “An independent inquiry is an opportunity for the UK to lead globally in ending abuse and impunity in the aid sector and rebuilding public confidence. This goes far beyond Oxfam” she continued.

 

The submission was made following a meeting of the Haiti All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) chaired by Lord Griffiths in March, where Brian Concannon, Executive Director of IJDH and Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers, spoke alongside Nick Roseveare, Director of International Programmes at Oxfam. At that meeting, Concannon emphasised that the Oxfam scandal is merely “the visible tip of the iceberg” and that the entire international aid sector is in the same boat with Oxfam over safeguarding, stating “and it's sinking…If they don’t fix the boat, then it will sink.”

 

Both Concannon and Robinson emphasised the need for an independent sector-wide inquiry at the APPG, a position also welcomed by Oxfam. At least 23 organisations have been reported to have been implicated in SEA in Haiti, the Ivory Coast and Sudan. Robinson said that a sector-wide review would have greater credibility with the public; would better protect Oxfam’s reputation and the reputation of other aid organisations and would be far more cost efficient than if each aid organisation conducted its own internal review. While the Charities Commission investigation into Oxfam is welcomed, Robinson said that “an organisation-specific approach is not going to have the sector-wide impact that it needs to have".

 

The Haiti All Party Parliamentary Group meeting participants, which included Lord Bates, Minister of State at the Department for International Development, were receptive to the proposals and encouraged a submission to the IDC.

 

In addition to explaining the need for a broader inquiry beyond the IDC and proposing models which DFID could fund, the submission draws the Committee’s attention to key deficiencies in existing safeguarding policies, with a particular focus on organisations’ Codes of Conduct and grievance mechanisms. The submission calls upon IDC to make recommendations to:

 

  • strengthen cooperation between humanitarian actors and local authorities in criminal and civil actions;
  • compel organizations to clearly define and expressly prohibit SEA, violations of domestic law, staff misconduct, and other actionable program concerns in a Code of Conduct; and
  • require grievance mechanisms that are transparent, accessible, secure, and capable of providing victims with an adequate remedy.

The work of IDC and any subsequent independent inquiry to “must consider misconduct towards both staff and beneficiaries, hear directly from affected communities and address not only sexual abuse but other misconduct like physical violence and corruption” said Phillips. “All abuse in the aid sector is unacceptable.”

 

Reports from the Haiti APPG can be found here and here.

 

Contacts:

 

Jennifer Robinson, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers, j.robinson@doughtystreet.co.uk, +442074041313 (London, UK)

 

Nicole Phillips, Staff Attorney, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, nicole@ijdh.org, +509-4645-2888 (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)

 

Kathleen Bergin, Director, Disaster Law Project, kathleen.bergin@gmail.com, +1 857-222-6176 (Ithaca, USA)

 

Noor Salman, wife of the Florida nightclub bomber, found not guilty. Associate Tenant Linda Moreno defends

03.04.18 | |

Noor Salman, the widow of the gunman in Orlando's Pulse nightclub shooting, sobbed Friday as she was acquitted of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and of obstruction of justice in connection with her husband's 2016 rampage.

 

Read about this case in the press here

Doughty Street Crime Team to take direct action in opposing legal aid funding reforms

30.03.18 |
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Yesterday (29th March 2018) the Criminal Bar Association issued a statement in which it set out the devastating consequences of the UK Government’s underfunding of the criminal justice system. The latest blow is a series of reforms to criminal barristers’ fees in the Crown Court. Under the new fee regime which comes into force on 1 April 2018, and which the MoJ asserts to be ‘cost neutral’, we have calculated projected losses of up to forty per cent of a barrister’s income in certain types of case compared to the current fee regime. Not a single barrister in our crime team who assessed their income under the new scheme reported a cost-neutral outcome.

 

Barristers’ fees have been subject to savage cuts since 1997. It is our view that the premise of these reforms is misleading and that the reforms represent an attempt to introduce further substantive cuts to the legal aid budget. Having summarised the various ways in which this government is dismantling our criminal justice system, including cuts to the budgets of Probation, the Prison Service, HMCTS, and the police, the Criminal Bar Association has now advised criminal barristers to refuse instructions in cases under the new fee regime.

 

Members of Doughty Street's Crime Team have accepted that advice. We will not accept cases under the new fee regime and we will take part in days of action. We will support our colleagues across the criminal justice system who wish to protest against this government’s lack of respect for the work that they do every day to keep the system afloat.  

 

In particular, we support our colleagues at chambers and solicitors’ firms who will engage in direct action. We will work hard to support junior barristers who, through taking this direct action, will increase the financial strain under which they already labour as members of this profession – a profession whose value continues to elude the Ministry of Justice.

   

Associated/MailOnline pay libel damages and apologise in ‘Trojan Horse’ plot defamation case

29.03.18 | |

Associated Newspapers today became the latest newspaper group to pay damages and apologise in defamation proceedings brought by Nasim Ashraf and Hafizan Zaman against a number of newspaper groups for articles which falsely claimed the couple were involved in an Islamist ‘Trojan Horse’ plot to take over a primary school. Mark Henderson, instructed by Rahman Lowe Solicitors, acts for the Claimants.

 

A statement by Associated Newspapers published today on MailOnline states that:

 

"Our reports on 19 and 20 February last year suggested that Nasim Ashraf and Hafizan Zaman were involved in a suspected ‘Trojan Horse’ plot involving an Islamist campaign of intimidation to take over Clarksfield primary school in Oldham with the aim of imposing an aggressive and separatist Islamic agenda on the school. We accept that such allegations are unfounded. We apologise to Mr Ashraf and Mrs Zaman for any distress caused and have agreed to pay them substantial damages and costs."

 

Mark Henderson and Zillur Rahman of Rahman Lowe also act for the couple in claims arising from similar articles which were published by most other national newspapers. Claims regarding The Sun, Daily Telegraph, and Mirror have already been concluded with damages, published retractions and apologies by News Group Newspapers, Mirror Group Newspapers, and Telegraph Media Group. Claims continue with respect to articles in The Express, The Times, and Sunday Times.

 

Speaking today, Mr Ashraf and Mrs Zaman said:

 

We are really pleased with this outcome. These allegations against us have now been recognised to be false by four different newspaper groups.  MailOnline is the most widely read news website in the UK and some of the online comments that were made on their articles concerning our family were truly horrific. We are therefore particularly pleased that they have now set the record straight.”  

 

Associated Newspapers’ retraction and apology is published on MailOnline here.

 

The statements published in The Sun, Mirror, and Telegraph can be found herehere, and here.

 

 

Amal Clooney to represent Reuters reporters detained in Myanmar

29.03.18 | |

Amal Clooney, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers specialising in international law and human rights, has confirmed that she will serve as counsel to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters reporters currently on trial in Myanmar. Ms Clooney has been instructed jointly by Reuters and the two defendants in the case.

 

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are investigative reporters who were arrested last December following their reporting of a massacre of 10 Rohingya men and boys in Rakhine State, Myanmar. They are accused of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act, a colonial-era statute which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, and are currently detained in a Yangon prison while the criminal trial against them is ongoing.

 

When asked why she decided to take on this case, Amal Clooney stated that: “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are being prosecuted simply because they reported the news. I have reviewed the case file and it is clear beyond doubt that the two journalists are innocent and should be released immediately. Yet they have been denied bail and face 14 years in prison. The outcome of this case will tell us a lot about Myanmar’s commitment to the rule of law and freedom of speech.“

 

Gail Gove, Chief Counsel of Reuters, said, “We will pursue all avenues to secure our reporters’ release. Retaining Ms Clooney greatly strengthens our international legal expertise and allows us to broaden those efforts.”

 

Any inquiries relating to this press release can be directed to Abbe Serphos at Reuters.

Theo Huckle QC wins landmark ruling over musician’s ruined hearing

28.03.18 | |

In a 125 page Judgment handed down on 28/03/2018 at the High Court, London by the Honourable Mrs Justice Nicola Davies DBE, the Royal Opera House has been found responsible for failing to protect the hearing of its Musicians and for causing Acoustic Shock to former Viola player, Chris Goldscheider.

 

The full press release can be found here

 

Read about this case in the press here.

Former British champion ice dancer and Olympic coach has been found not guilty of raping a skater when she was 13

28.03.18 | |

Former British champion ice dancer and Olympic coach has been found not guilty of raping a skater when she was 13. The former ice dancer turned coach was involved in the coaching of current Team GB skaters competing at the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics. He was unanimously acquitted after a two week trial at Reading Crown Court, defended by Sarah Elliott QC. Sarah was instructed by Natalie Smith and Nigel Richardson of Hodge Jones & Allen.

 

Press coverage can be found here and here

Misuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements: Submission to the Women and Equalities Committee’s Inquiry into Sexual Harassment

Jennifer Robinson has, together with Anya Proops QC, Aileen McColgan and Natalie Connor of 11KBW, yesterday made written submissions to the Women and Equalities Committee’s Inquiry into Sexual Harassment, specifically in relation to the misuse of non-disclosure agreements in cases of sexual assault and harassment.

 

The Committee was established in June 2015 to hold the Government and its Equalities Office to account.  Its Inquiry into Sexual Harassment was launched at the beginning of this year and the Committee is currently hearing evidence from various individuals who have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment, and individuals which have signed NDAs in that connection.  

 

Controversy over the use of NDAs in relation to sexual assault and harassment cases arose after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in late 2017 and it became apparent that NDAs had been used to effectively suppress repeated allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment over several decades. Concern has been raised about the extent to which NDAs conceal wrongdoing and potential criminal acts, contribute to a culture of silence and foster an environment in which wrongdoers feel that they can continue to act with impunity, placing others at risk.  In the UK, Zelda Perkins, Weinstein’s former personal assistant in London, has spoken out about the NDA she felt pressured to sign in relation to the alleged sexual assault of a colleague. Further controversy followed the President’s Club annual charity dinner in London in January, where it was reported that women staffing the event had been groped and harassed but had been required to sign NDAs prior to the event, which they understand prevented them from speaking out. It was further reported that the women did not have a proper opportunity to read the agreements prior to signing them and were not permitted to retain a copy of what they had signed. In response, Prime Minister May called for a review of the use of NDAs.

 

The submissions provided yesterday to the Committee highlight that there is a real risk of ‘wrongdoers’, i.e. the people in respect of whose conduct the NDA is drafted, acting with impunity and abusing their dominant position so as to induce an individual (who may be a victim of criminality) to enter into an oppressive and excessive NDA which prevents serious or criminal wrongdoing from coming to light. The submissions look not only at NDAs which have the effect of concealing sexual harassment of women, but also more broadly at confidentiality agreements signed by men and women alike which are designed to conceal serious wrongdoing, including possible criminal conduct, and to prevent free speech and legitimate public interest disclosures.  The submissions examine the existing legal and regulatory landscape in this area, including the protections against enforcement of such agreements, protections for whistleblowing and the possible criminal and regulatory sanctions which might apply to those who facilitate their creation, including lawyers.   

 

Ms Robinson told Channel 4 news tonight that “there are real and legitimate concerns” that NDAs have been misused “in a way that creates a culture of secrecy and impunity for wrongdoers”, emphasising that “we must do as much as we can to encourage women who have suffered sexual assault and harassment so that they feel comfortable coming forward and we don’t put any additional legal pressure or otherwise on them to stop them”. 

Statement of Doughty Street Crime Team in response to MoJ reforms to legal aid funding

26.03.18 |
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Doughty Street’s Crime Team is appalled by the decision of the Ministry of Justice to implement AGFS reforms. Our chambers was one of many who submitted a detailed consultation response and financial data to the MoJ in order to demonstrate the flawed and misleading premise of these reforms and the impact on members in enacting them, particularly junior members of the bar, women, and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

 

It is our view that this scheme represents yet another unacceptable and devastating reduction in funding of a criminal justice system which is already on its knees. We have balloted our members in accordance with the questions posed by the Criminal Bar Association. Our members are overwhelmingly in support of refusing instructions under this scheme and returns in respect of any cases which are funded under it. We will support any proposed action by the CBA. We support our colleagues across the bar and at chambers and solicitors’ firms who take action in response to these reforms.

 

Joel Bennathan QC

Head of DSC Crime Team 

 

Kate O'Raghallaigh

Deputy Head of DSC Crime Team 

Kristy Brimelow QC to speak at the SLS Annual Seminar 2018: Legal Legacies of the Iraq War 2003

Kirsty Brimelow QC will be part of a panel alongside Dr Ayça Çubukçu, Assistant Professor in Human Rights, London School of Economics; Erica Gaston, Gates Scholar, University of Cambridge and Non-Resident Fellow; Dr Robert Knox, Lecturer in Law, University of Liverpool and Dr Paul O’Connell, Reader in Law, SOAS University of London

 

For more information on the event click here

Federal Republic of Germany suspends imprisonment for 29 frauds totalling €96,766 over 6.5 years

23.03.18 | |

In January, Abigail Bright, instructed by Edward Jones, secured withdrawal of a European Arrest Warrant (‘EAW’) issued by the Federal Republic of Germany. 

 

Abigail and Edward then framed and supported submissions on behalf of the eighty-four year-old Requested Person, in pleadings before the Amtsgericht, the court of 'ordinary jurisdiction' of the German judiciary (Ordentliche Gerichtsbarkeit).

 

This month, a judicial decision of the Amtsgericht took into account information made available to the Court by Abigail and Edward.

 

The Amtsgericht decided:    

 

  • On the Order of the Court, a suspended sentence to be passed for a period of one year.
  • Order that the duration of the ‘probation’ period of the suspended sentence is five years.
  • Order that the only restriction on the liberty of the Requested Person is a condition
that must inform the Court of any change to residence.
  • Order to pay reparations of EUR 70.00 (circa £60) per month to the German State for a period of five years, i.e. EUR 4,200.00 (circa £3,590 @ RoE 1.17).

 

Reasons given by the Court for passing this sentence read:

 

  • Advanced age and vulnerability if confined in a prison.
  • Recognition that psychological stress endured to date
whilst under threat of an order of extradition to Germany and resultant confinement.
  • No criminal offences committed before and none committed since these admitted 26 acts of fraud.
  • Recognition of an offer to make amends, as now administered by this Court, on the basis of free admissions made to the acts of which accused and of which convicted by admitted pleas.
  • Non-execution of this sentence to be classed and recorded as a warning, rather than a penalty of enforcement.

 

Abigail Bright defended A, instructed by Edward Jones, partner, Hodge Jones & Allen LLP.

BBC publishes retraction of Andrew Neil/ This Week claim that UK Imam believes Jews are descended from pigs - Mark Henderson Instructed

22.03.18 | |

The BBC has published a retraction of a statement made by BBC presenter Andrew Neil on BBC1’s This Week about a nationally and internationally prominent UK scholar, academic and jurist, Dr Haitham al-Haddad.  

 

Mr Neil had stated on This Week on 5 March 2015 that Dr al-Haddad believes that Jews are descended from pigs. The statement was, it transpired, based on an inaccurate internet post attributing words to Dr al-Haddad that he had never in fact said. The BBC had not corroborated or checked the internet site with Dr al-Haddad before broadcasting Mr Neil’s statement as a statement of fact.

 

The published retraction and undertaking not to repeat the claim concludes long running litigation in which Saracens Solicitors, instructing Mark Henderson of Doughty Street Chambers, acted for Dr al-Haddad against the BBC Litigation Department, instructing Andrew Caldecott QC and Jonathan Scherbel-Ball.

 

The BBC’s statement, published on its website, states that the BBC accepts that Dr al-Haddad “has not stated that "Jews are descended from pigs"” and that “It has withdrawn this allegation and confirms that it will not repeat it.”

 

The BBC continued to broadcast the allegation on its website for almost three years while litigation continued, until it was required to halt ongoing publication last week pursuant to an undertaking as part of the settlement. At the point when Mr Neil’s statement was first broadcast on This Week, Dr al-Haddad had already confirmed on the record that he had never said those words. The BBC made no contact with Dr al-Haddad to verify the statement before broadcasting it on This Week.

 

Nishtar Saleem, Senior Partner at Saracens Solicitors and Dr al-Haddad’s solicitor, stated as follows:

Andrew Neil’s statement that my client believes that Jews are descended from pigs was, it turned out, based on nothing more than an inaccurate posting on a foreign website. The BBC breached its own accuracy rules by doing nothing to verify this uncorroborated internet source before broadcasting Andrew Neil’s claim as if it were established fact. Had it first done some elementary research, it would have seen, including from video online, that my client had confirmed that the report was indeed false and that he had never said such words. The BBC also breached its own guidance and Ofcom fairness rules and failed to respect basic principles of fair and responsible journalism by broadcasting this allegation without first making any approach to my client for comment.

 

Dr al-Haddad is horrified that the BBC relied on an unverified internet posting to broadcast such an allegation. In the course of the long battle to correct it since it was first broadcast, the BBC has produced not a shred of evidence to support the claim. To make this incendiary allegation against an Imam, scholar and jurist respected within the British Muslim community and abroad without any corroboration at all, undermines the trust that the community places in the BBC.

 

Dr al-Haddad was clear throughout these proceedings against the BBC that his aim was to win a public retraction of this allegation and a recognition that it was untrue, and to ensure that the BBC would stop broadcasting the allegation online and never repeat it. He is relieved to have finally achieved all these aims.

 

Dr al-Haddad remains deeply concerned that the BBC continued to broadcast Mr Neil’s allegation online for almost three years after he had confirmed directly to the BBC that it was relying on a false report. He very much regrets that he had to fight for so long to win a public retraction and a published acceptance that he had not said what was attributed to him, together with an undertaking not to repeat it, which finally halted all online publication on the BBC’s website and Facebook pages.

 

Proceedings were pending before Ofcom about the fairness of other statements made by Mr Neil on This Week which completely misrepresented Dr al-Haddad’s adherence to orthodox Islamic beliefs. Again, the BBC gave him no opportunity to correct them or respond before broadcasting. My client respects that people may disagree with Islamic principles, but they should not be distorted by the BBC in breach of fairness rules. Nicky Campbell had repeated similar statements, shortly afterwards, on BBC1’s Sunday morning programme, The Big Questions, also without approaching my client to obtain a response. The BBC itself partly upheld the complaint about The Big Questions.

 

Dr al-Haddad pursued a regulatory complaint about the statements on This Week which was still unresolved by the BBC Trust when it was abolished in April 2017. In January 2018, Ofcom agreed to take over the unresolved appeal and investigate on fairness grounds once this litigation ended.

 

The BBC however, sought an agreement from my client not to pursue any part of the regulatory proceedings about This Week as part of the settlement of the litigation which led to the published retraction and undertaking from the BBC. Having faced years of unresolved litigation with the prospect of years more if the matter was not settled, Dr al-Haddad was not prepared to risk further delaying a public retraction of the abhorrent claim that he believed that Jews were not human. Nor did he want to delay obtaining the undertaking from the BBC, by which it was required to halt the ongoing online broadcasting of the claim, which would otherwise continue to mislead audiences, who may not know that it was based purely on a false internet post of words that he had never said.

 

Dr al-Haddad therefore reluctantly agreed with the BBC to discontinue his regulatory complaint which has the effect of preventing Ofcom’s investigation proceeding. He is however surprised and disappointed that the BBC sought this undertaking which would halt the Ofcom investigation into whether Mr Neil’s statements about his Islamic beliefs breached Ofcom’s Fairness Code. The effect is to prevent these statements being exposed to the independent scrutiny that Ofcom was going to give them, and their fairness will therefore remain unresolved.

 

Mark Henderson was instructed by Nishtar Saleem of Saracens Solicitors - click here for a link to the firm's website where you can find out more about their work.

 

NOTES

The BBC’s retraction published in the following terms:

 

This Week, BBC One, 5 March 2015

During an episode of This Week broadcast by the BBC on 5 March 2015, the BBC made a number of statements about Dr Haitham al-Haddad. One was that Dr al-Haddad believed that Jews were descended from pigs. Dr al-Haddad has made clear to the BBC that he has never stated that Jews were descended from pigs and that the BBC had referenced an incorrectly attributed sermon. The BBC accepts Dr al-Haddad's assurance that he has not stated that "Jews are descended from pigs". It has withdrawn this allegation and confirms that it will not repeat it.

 

You can view the BBC's retraction by clicking here.

 

The BBC’s earlier Finding in its complaints process partly upholding Dr al-Haddad’s complaint about The Big Questions can be found by clicking here.

 

 

Three Judicial Appointments for Doughty Street Chambers

Doughty Street Chambers is extremely proud of Heather Williams QC, Rebecca Trowler QC, and Richard Thomas who have been appointed as Recorders of the Crown Court by HM The Queen, on the advice of the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice.  Heather has been assigned to the Northern Circuit, and Rebecca and Richard have both been assigned to the South Eastern Circuit.  They will all be trying criminal cases later this year.

 

Although they have taken up these part-time judicial roles they will, of course, maintain their busy practices at the Bar. 

 

We congratulate them warmly on their success in what is – rightly - a challenging and competitive appointments process.

 

Heather, Rebecca and Richard join the long list of practising members of Doughty Street who hold current judicial office (as Crown Court Recorders, Tribunal Judges, Assistant Coroners, and Deputy High Court Judges), as well as those who have left practice in Chambers to sit full-time in the Court of Appeal, High Court, and elsewhere.  We are proud that the quality and expertise of our barristers and former members benefits not only our client, but also justice more widely by this service on the Bench.

EUROPEAN COURT MISSES THE OPPORTUNITY TO CORRECT THE HOODED MEN RULING OF 1978

If you would like to dowload a copy of the press release please click here

 

Today a chamber of the European Court of Human Rights issued its decision on Ireland’s request that the Court revise one of its most controversial and damaging judgments. In that judgment, issued in 1978 in the case Ireland v UK, the European Court considered that the treatment of 14 men who were subject to five sensory-deprivation techniques whilst interned in Northern Ireland constituted “inhuman and degrading treatment” but not torture. These men became known as the ‘Hooded Men’ because one of the techniques involved the forcible use of a dark hood over the men’s faces in between interrogations. The Court’s 1978 judgment has given rise to serious criticism. It was inexplicable even at the time, given that it ran counter to a diametrically opposed conclusion by the Court’s own fact-finding body, and --- crucially --- also ran counter to the UK’s own admission in the case that the techniques used on the Hooded Men amounted to torture.

 

Ireland’s request to revise this old judgment provided an opportunity for the European Court to correct the record. The request referred to fresh evidence discovered at the UK’s National Archives that had finally been made available after 30 years. That new evidence undoubtedly supported the conclusion that the treatment of the Hooded Men constituted torture, and that those at the highest level of the UK government had authorised it.  This is sufficient to allow the Court, under its rules of procedure, to revise the initial judgment. But it chose not to do so.

 

The Court’s 1978 judgment was the first case in which the European Court defined torture, and it has been relied on by governments around the world to justify similarly brutal practices. But in the US the Obama administration reversed the position outlined in legal memos that had referred to the 1978 judgment to justify ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’. And since the judgment the House of Lords of the United Kingdom and the High Court of Belfast have recognised that the five techniques, if evaluated today by a Court, would very likely be found to constitute torture. The European Court has itself u-turned on the case in subsequent jurisprudence, including the Selmouni case which was referred to by the majority in today’s judgment.

 

So the question the Court was looking at today was not: do the five techniques constitute torture, as this crime is defined today? The answer to that question is clearly yes. The question was whether the new evidence disclosed facts which were unknown at the time of the original judgment and which could have had a decisive influence on it.

 

In order to answer this question in the negative, the Court applied a misguided reading of the original judgment and the applicable legal standard, such that “it is difficult to avoid the impression”, as the dissenting opinion points out, that the Court has ”sought to shelter itself” behind the principle of legal certainty to refuse to re-open the case. By doing so, as the dissent points out, “it risked damaging the authority of [its] case-law”.

 

In reacting to today’s judgment, our clients, who suffered the effects of these interrogation techniques, have expressed their disappointment that the Court has not taken up this opportunity to correct this grave injustice.  Indeed it is shameful that the request by the Hooded Men to intervene in the case was completely ignored by the Court in its judgment. In an era where human rights litigation is supposed to be victim-centred it is disappointing that the decision reached by the European Court is one taken without first affording the victims an opportunity to address the Court in their capacity as directly affected persons.

 

Commenting on today’s judgment, Mr Francis McGuigan, one of the Hooded Men, said:

 

“After a long and turbulent road, we are dismayed by today’s judgment.  It is now 40 years since the judgment, 15 years since the start of the Iraq war, and 3 years since we lost our fellow hooded man Gerry McKerr, it comes as a truly devastating blow.  It is with regret that we learn that the Court has sought to side step this opportunity to correct the grave injustice of the Ireland v UK ruling.  This has ultimately allowed for many other torture victims like us, to be the subject of these techniques under the veil of an erroneous legal finding”. 

 

We are also dismayed that the European Court of Human Rights has not taken up this opportunity to uphold the very principles it was designed to protect in this most crucial field of human rights protection. Our clients have instructed us to take steps to support a referral of this case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court. It is hoped that this injustice can be corrected in that forum, for the sake of the integrity of the Court and survivors of torture all over the world.

 

Ben Emmerson QC

Amal Clooney

Adam Straw

Darragh Mackin

 

Counsel/Solicitor for Francis McGuigan, Jim Auld, Patrick McNally, Liam Shannon, Kevin Hannaway, Brian Turley, Joe Clarke, Paddy Joe McClean, Brian Shivers on behalf of Pat Shivers (Deceased), Deirdre Montgomery on behalf of Michael Montgomery (Deceased), and Jim McKerr on behalf of Gerard McKerr (Deceased)

 

Theo Huckle QC & Christopher Johnson to speak at the APIL annual conference and AGM 2018

Theo Huckle QC & Christopher Johnson to speak at the APIL annual conference and AGM 2018  on Tuesday, 17 April (2.00pm - 3.00pm)

 

The de minimis argument in the context of noise induced hearing loss


• Pushing the limits of Rothwell: can (or should) NIHL which is objectively identifable ever be dismissed as de minimis? Is there room for a test case?

• An update on de minimis “hot topics” after Evans v Department of Energy and Climate Change and Anor:

• Losses at or above 4 kHz

• The status of the 2015 Guidelines (the LCB) • The phenomenon of “loudness recruitment” • The threshold of subjectively appreciable hearing loss.

 

More information can be found here

 

 

Hearing the Arguments

Theo Huckle QC and Christopher Johnson ask whether a recent case spells the end of de minimis and loudness recruitment arguments in NIHL cases. 

 

Read the article here

An International Use of Force in Salisbury?

15.03.18 | |

In the afternoon of Sunday, 4 March, Mr Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury. Mr Skripal is a former Russian agent convicted of espionage for the West, exchanged in a spy swap and brought to live in the UK. He, his daughter and a number of individuals who had attended to them were found to have been exposed to a nerve agent known as Novichok. At the time of writing, both remained in critical condition in hospital, with uncertain prospects of recovery. One of the first responders, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, was also kept in hospital in a serious condition.

 

On 12 March the British Prime Minister addressed the House of Commons. She claimed that it was ‘highly likely’ that the government of the Russian Federation was responsible for the action. She asserted that ‘either this was a direct action by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.’ She demanded a ‘credible response’ by Russia within a day, indicating that, failing such a response, the UK would conclude that this action ‘amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.’

 

The responsibility for the action was placed on the Russian Federation by the UK government in view of its previous suspected involvement in the assassination in the UK of former Russian security operative Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 using the similarly exotic means of radioactive polonium, instances of politically motivated killings allegedly undertaken by Moscow elsewhere, and Moscow’s perceived generally aggressive attitude towards the West, and the UK in particular, especially after its purported annexation of Crimea in 2014.

 

The Russia government dismissed the allegations and requested samples of the nerve agent in order to mount its own investigation, ignoring Ms May’s deadline. Moscow instead offered cooperation through the relevant mechanism of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). While Russia’s responsibility for the action will evidently remain contested, this post considers the claim of the UK government that it amounts to a ‘use of force’.

 

Read more here.

BBC Calls for Talks with Iran over BBC Persian Journalists

The Director of the BBC World Service Group, Jamie Angus, has today called on the Iranian authorities to stop the harassment of BBC Persian journalists in London and their families in Iran and appealed to the authorities to discuss any grievances they may have about the BBC Persian Service coverage. BBC Persian staff and their families have come under sustained harassment and persecution from the Iranian authorities for the last nine years.

 

Jamie Angus said: “I invite them to come to speak to us at any time and any place. In public or in private. We are happy to investigate any complaints respectfully.” He was speaking at a side-event at the 37th session of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in Geneva. Angus emphasised that Iran should raise any editorial complaints with the BBC and that “the persecution of BBC Persian families and their staff is unacceptable”. 

 

The UK Ambassador to the UN, Julian Braithwaite, also called on Iran to cease all action against the BBC staff and their families, and end its harassment of independent journalism. “Freedom of expression and of the press is a hallmark of an open society,” he said.

 

Speaking via a video message the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye, said it was clear that for the Iranian authorities any affiliation with the BBC is a crime; “Iran should cease all legal action against BBC Farsi staff and their families and cease the use of repressive legislation against independent journalists whether affiliated to the BBC or not.”  

 

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, counsel for the BBC World Service, said: “Harassing journalists and accusing them of espionage for simply doing their jobs is not a new tactic. But targeting family members and their sources, and taking this across borders, is new and deeply concerning.”

 

Jeremy Dear, Deputy General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, said: “Iran stands condemned – for its human rights abuses, for jailing journalists, for those forced into exile, for those barred from returning, for the arbitrary arrest, detention, intimidation and harassment of media workers.”

 

Journalist and human rights campaigner, Maziar Bahari, recounted his own experiences in Iran: “I was arrested for doing my job in 2009 when I was a reporter for Newsweek magazine and making documentaries for different channels in the UK. During my interrogation I realised that doing my job as a reporter was my only crime.”

 

On Wednesday this week, a senior correspondent with the BBC Persian Service and NUJ member, Kasra Naji, delivered the first ever appeal to the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of his colleagues. He address the Council and said: “When security forces arrested a 27-year-old woman in Tehran and took her to Evin prison, her captors contacted her sister in London, one of my colleagues in BBC Persian, with an ultimatum: Stop working for the BBC, or at least spy on your colleagues for us, in return for the release of your sister. When she refused they kept her in solitary confinement for 17 days.”

 

Naji also highlighted there are many other cases of persecution and harassment and Iran has escalated its attacks on BBC Persian staff, “by accusing 152 present and former BBC Persian staff of conspiracy against national security, and freezing their assets.” He described this latest act as an “unprecedented collective punishment” and a “mass assault on freedom of expression”.
 

Details of the Appeal to the UN can be found here. 

New crime team book on drugs offences published by Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury Press have published The Drug Offences Handbook this week, written by Tim Moloney QC, Steven Bird, Tom Stevens, Abigail Bright, Paul Mason and Harriet Johnson. The Handbook provides a comprehensive, focussed and concise analysis of the often complex evidential and litigation issues that relate to drugs cases.

 

It addresses the key areas in drugs offences, evidence and post-conviction matters.  These include manufacture and cultivation, importation, possession and supply, police powers of search and seizure, sentencing and confiscation.

 

The Handbook is the latest addition to the Bloomsbury Professional Criminal Practice Series.  It is a joint venture between members of the Doughty Street Crime Team and Birds solicitors. 

 

It can be purchased from the publisher here.

 

 

Russia nerve gas attack: Malcolm Hawkes discusses the legal questions on CNN: Hala Gorani Tonight

14.03.18 | |

Malcolm Hawkes was interviewed by CNN to add a legal commentary to the issues arising out of the nerve gas attack at Salisbury, following Prime Minister Theresa May’s public condemnation of alleged Russian state involvement in the offence.

 

Stephen Cragg QC speaks at Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

13.03.18 |
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Stephen appeared on a panel for the London Premiere of the French film 12 Days. Every year in France, 92,000 people are placed under psychiatric care without their consent. By law, the hospital has 12 days to bring each patient before a judge. Relying on little information beyond doctor recommendations, a crucial decision must be made: will the patient be forced to stay or granted the freedom to leave?  Focusing primarily on these public hearings, renowned filmmaker and photographer Raymond Depardon captures the raw and vulnerable interactions at the border of justice and psychiatry, humanity and bureaucracy. Absorbing and thought-provoking, 12 Days gives a platform to those whose voices are so rarely considered.

 

Stephen Cragg QC specialises in cases concerning the police, the criminal justice system, access to information and social welfare law, and has appeared in many Court of Appeal and Supreme Court cases in these areas. He has been involved with mental health law for over 20 years, acting for patients, NGOs and sometimes healthcare bodies in tribunal and High Court cases. He has been a part-time judge of the mental health tribunal for ten years, sitting on over 200 cases where mental health patients appeal against their continued detention in hospital.
 

The festival continues this week and more detail can be found here

Lekić v. Slovenia

On March 14, 2018 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear oral arguments in the matter of Lekic v. Slovenia (application No. 36480/07).

 

The case concerns the adverse effects of the Financial Operations of Companies Act (so-called FOCA), passed by the Slovenian Parliament in 1999, on the rights of a former minority shareholder of a limited liability company. Notably, the FOCA introduced the unparalleled measure that purportedly inactive companies incorporated under Slovenian law were to be struck off the register of companies by the registry courts on their own motion. The striking off resulted into the former shareholders’ personal, joint and severe liability for the struck off company’s outstanding debt.

 

Mr Lekic, as a former shareholder who was forced to surrender his personal assets to cover the outstanding debt of the company in which he once held 11.11% share, complains that the implementation of the FOCA breached his rights under the European Convention of Human Rights. Namely, under Article 6 of the Convention, it is claimed that the proceedings which resulted in the striking off of the company did not measure up to the fair trial guarantees. Under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention, it is submitted that the implementation of the former shareholders’ personal and unlimited liability for the outstanding debt of the struck off company amounted to an interference with the right to property which lacked the necessary procedural safeguards in terms of foreseeability and proportionality.

 

These complaints have been rejected by the Fourth Section of the European Court of Human Rights with a judgment of February 14, 2017.

 

On September 18, 2017, however, a panel of five judges of the European Court accepted the request to refer the case to the Grand Chamber, that was submitted, on behalf of the applicant, by Professor Andrea Saccucci, member of Doughty Street International, together with two Italian attorneys, Giulia Borgna and Matteo Zamboni, who act for the applicant before the Grand Chamber.

 

In the request for referral, as well as in the procedure before the Grand Chamber, the applicant’s representatives point to the extraordinary nature of the measure. Indeed, such a blanket implementation of the shareholders’ personal and unlimited liability for the company’s debt is unknown to any other State party to the Council of Europe. It contradicts the universal principle of company law of the strict distinction between a company and its shareholders.

 

They also point to the systemic implications of the FOCA. As a matter of fact, according to the data published by the Slovenian Ministry of Economy, from 1999 to 2007 more than 24,000 limited liability companies have been struck off. As a result, tens of thousands of former shareholders have been forced to pay the outstanding debt of these companies out of their pockets.

 

For this reason, the hearing of March 14, 2018, will have a crucial impact on the future of the Country entrepreneurship, and it will be of great concern for as much as 2.5% of the entire population of Slovenia.   

 

A webcast of the hearing can be found here.

BBC Makes Unprecedented Human Rights Appeal to UN with assistance of Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jennifer Robinson

 
For the first time in its history, the BBC is making an appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to protect the human rights of BBC journalists and their families. This unprecedented move comes in response to years of persecution and harassment by the Iranian authorities, which escalated in 2017. BBC journalists will address the Human Rights Council 37th session (HRC37) to call upon member states to take action to protect BBC staff and to ensure their ability to report freely.
 
Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jennifer Robinson were consulted by the BBC last year after 152 current and former BBC Persian were accused by the Iranian authorities of crimes against national security for their reporting work with BBC and subjected to an asset freezing order which prevents them from buying and selling property. This followed almost a decade of persecution and harassment, commencing in 2009, of BBC Persian staff and their families. Represented by Doughty Street, BBC World Service filed an urgent appeal to the UN Special Rapporteurs David Kaye and Asma Jahangir on behalf of BBC Persian staff: the first time in the BBC’s history that it has had to resort to the UN to protect its journalists and staff.
 
BBC Director General, Tony Hall, said: “The BBC is taking the unprecedented step of appealing to the United Nations because our own attempts to persuade the Iranian authorities to end their harassment have been completely ignored. In fact, during the past nine years, the collective punishment of BBC Persian Service journalists and their families has worsened. This is not just about the BBC – we are not the only media organisation to have been harassed or forced to compromise when dealing with Iran. In truth, this story is much wider: it is a story about fundamental human rights. We are now asking the community of nations at the UN to support the BBC and uphold the right to freedom of expression.”
 
Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC said: “Journalism is not a crime, but for almost a decade BBC Persian journalists have been systemically harassed and threatened simply for doing their jobs, and their families targeted. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right which underpins other freedoms. Without it, societies wither. The international community must stand up to the Iranian authorities and speak out to support BBC Persian and protect freedom of expression.”
 
In addition to the urgent appeal, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jennifer Robinson have advised BBC World Service on the international legal and advocacy campaign to protect BBC Persian staff. Working with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Doughty Street Chambers, the BBC has organised a series of events during HRC37 in Geneva this week about BBC Persian. BBC journalists will speak during the session as IFJ representatives and there will be a side event on Thursday 15 June where Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC will speak about Doughty Street’s legal efforts.

The event will raise awareness about the persecution of BBC Persian Service journalists in London and their families in Iran. In additional to the criminal investigation and asset freeze injunction, they have faced arbitrary arrest and detention of family members in Iran, the confiscation of passports and travel bans preventing people leaving Iran, ongoing surveillance of journalists and their families, and the spread of fake and defamatory news targeting individuals especially women journalists.

 

 
As a result of the work of Doughty Street counsel, the treatment of BBC Persian staff is now firmly on the international human rights agenda of the UN. After the urgent appeal was filed by BBC World Service, UN Special Rapporteurs David Kaye and the late Asma Jahangir issued a joint statement expressing concern that the “Iranian authorities appear to regard any affiliation with the BBC as a crime” and that the “measures are clearly aimed at targeting the BBC and at preventing journalists from continuing their legitimate work with BBC Persian.”
 
During HRC37, the UN Secretary-General’s report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/HRC/37/24) specifically mentioned the persecution of BBC Persian staff and their families and the fact that “special procedure mandate holders issued a statement calling upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease all legal action against the BBC staff and their families, and to end the use of repressive legislation against independent journalism, whether affiliated to the BBC or not.”
 
Today in Geneva, the late UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, Asma Jahangir’s report will be tabled and discussed at the Human Rights Council. The late Ms Jahangir, a celebrated Pakistani human rights lawyer, reported being “disturbed after hearing the accounts of the staff members” and how the UN Special Rapporteurs have “issued a statement calling upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease all legal action against the staff and their families, and to cease the use of repressive legislation against independent journalism.”

Harriet Johnson secures acquittal for abuse victim who stabbed her husband

09.03.18 | |

Harriet Johnson has successfully ensured the acquittal of her client in a trial at Manchester Crown Court. Harriet’s client, K, was in a violent and abusive 5 year marriage. K had frequently reported the assaults by her husband to police, then withdrawn the allegations. 

When K was pregnant with their child, K’s husband attacked her with a weapon in a vicious assault causing her head injuries.  Fearing for her life and the life of her unborn child, K stabbed him in self-defence causing her husband life-threatening injuries.

 

After hearing detailed submissions at the close of the prosecution case, the Judge at Manchester Crown Court ruled that the case could not proceed beyond the half way mark, and directed K’s acquittal.  After spending five months on remand awaiting trial, K was duly discharged.

 

Harriet Johnson was instructed by James Goodfellow of Connor Ross Brown solicitors.

 

For information on instructing Harriet in similar cases, please contact her clerks 

Not guilty of “Hit Squad” murder.

09.03.18 | |

The Defendant, Connal Cocker-Dawkins, represented by Piers Marquis, was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter by an Essex jury after a four  week trial.

 

He was alleged to have been part of a “hit squad” in an organised revenge killing; a brutal machete murder, in broad daylight on a suburban street.

 

The Prosecution built a largely circumstantial case after a “huge” police investigation, generating hundreds of hours of CCTV evidence and more than 60,000 pages of used prosecution material.

 

The Crown’s case theory had to be systematically unpicked to give credence to the Defendant’s case, that he was unwittingly present at what he thought would be the scene of a drug deal. Two co-defendants who were also at the scene were convicted of murder.

 

With Giles Cockings QC and instructed by Sasha Sidhu at SVS Solicitors.

 

Read about this case in the press here

Independent legal report on Brexit and Human Rights launched today in Westminster

The European United Left / Nordic Green Left ("GUE / NGL") Group of the European Parliament today launched an independent legal report on the Human Rights Implications of Withdrawal from the EU, authored by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Angela Patrick and Katie O'Byrne.

 

The report analyses the mechanics of the European Union (Withdrawal Bill), the Joint Report of negotiators, and the draft Legal Text published by the European Commission.  The report finds that Brexit, and the UK’s proposed withdrawal from the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, will result in a significant shrinking of human rights protections for UK citizens generally, as well as UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK, and for the people of Northern Ireland in particular.  

 

The report provides concrete case study examples of the forms of rights regression that are likely to occur on Brexit across a number of different areas of law. It goes on to make recommendations to MEPs and negotiators on how human rights arguments might inform the future EU-UK relationship. 

 

The report was launched at Westminster today and is available online here

 

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