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Archive for November 24th, 2009

Blawg Review #238 from Ireland….

‘Main of the Match: Appalling Conflations and Tenuous Links As An Island Recovers From A Close Brush With Injustice…

Today HRinI is pleased to host this week’s Blawg Review, following in the footsteps of previous Irish hosts Daithí Mac Síthigh and Eoin O’Dell.

An amusingly themed Blawg Review – but one from a very good Human Rights blog from Ireland
Read….

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Whatever your political leanings, this speech by Jack Straw, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice is interesting; providing a review of constitutional change over the last 12 years .

Constitutional change and the future of parliamentary democracy
24 November 2009| Magna Carta Institute, Brunel University

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RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES: CIVIC DUTY AND THE RULE OF LAW
Lord Neuberger MR

Denning Lecture 2009 at The Inner Temple

Very good – very thorough review.

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The New Statesman reports:

Police arrest people just to get their DNA, inquiry warns

Well… there’s a surprise… came right out of left field that one did.

My thanks to fellow twitterer  @CrimeCounsel for inspiring me…and there was I thinking that there weren’t any law stories in the press today to mock… shows how wrong a blogger can be.

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Nemo iudex in causa sua: Do me a por favor!

Today, Britain begins a process of carefully controlled investigation. We do public inquiries rather well.  We appoint distinguished men and women to listen to evidence and they then go off and write something to the taste of the government in power. Newspapers, television channels, bloggers and other commentators get hot under the collar for a while and we move on. The Hutton Inquiry was a prime example of the genre. The Hutton Inquiry website is no longer operational.  The Ministry of Justice is maintaining it for archive purposes… or possibly… in the modern parlance… for ‘training purposes’.

Will the Iraq Inquiry go the same way?

1. Sir John Chilcot, has insisted that the legality of the invasion in 2003 will be one of the key issues it addresses. Fine.  But where are the lawyers on the panel to conduct appropriate and searching cross-examination?

The Guardian notes: “Lawyers are trained to weigh up evidence and will know and say when they see a decision-making process that appears to be out of the ordinary,” said the British international law expert Professor Philippe Sands QC. “The fact that the members of the inquiry do not include a lawyer is very, very telling”.

The Guardian continued to tap the nails in: “Some of the debates around the legality of the war are quite sophisticated – it is not all clear-cut,” the senior legal figure said. “It’s going to be very difficult to deal with someone like Blair without a panel experienced in cross-examination.”.

2. The issue of the war’s legality is, one would have thought, the central issue.  The judiciary are right to express ‘surprise’ at the absence of a senior lawyer or member of the judiciary on the panel.

3. The Telegraph reports that witnesses could be given immunity from prosecution. This is all very well (and may, indeed be valuable for some appearing?)  but are we really going to get any where near the truth with imprecise questioning?  Are we going to have men and women appearing behind black curtains talking into a voice synthesiser?  Inevitably, there will be some evidence which cannot be aired publicly – in the interest of state security?

Off to a good start then?  We shall see.

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