Archive for May 12th, 2010

I apologise, given that I have already covered this.. but this Pic from the new Government’s first day (of how many?) in office.. I could not resist.  Also.. Mr Oddbins has arrived with his little bag of goodies…  (I also use my blog as a diary so when I finally go gaga I can look back and see if I remember anything)

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Ken Clarke  has been appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor. Ken Clarke was a lawyer, he has kept in touch at his Inn (Gray’s, where he is a bencher) and gets a resounding endorsement from former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer.  Clarke could be good news for, law, the rule of law and for  lawyers.

Clarke is known for his independence – affirmed by Charlie Falconer on the BBC this morning.  Clarke has, of course, had experience of the law and order brief when he was Home Secretary.  Will he be liberal?

This interesting BBC report from 2006 is worth reading again…

Former Conservative Chancellor Ken Clarke has said David Cameron’s plans for a British Bill of Rights are “xenophobic and legal nonsense”….Mr Clarke said the Tory leader would find it difficult to find lawyers who would agree with his plan to replace the Human Rights Act with the new Bill.

With law bloggers Carl Gardner (Head of Legal blog) and Jack of Kent I plan to keep a very close watch on the Justice Ministry and, of course, The Home Office now headed by Theresa May.

Also of considerable interest, given the new coalition is The Freedom Bill. The coalition could well prove to be a moderating influence and a new era for lawyers given plans to repeal a number of repressive new Labour laws.  There is also a commitment to scrap ID cards.

It is just a pity, for those of a Labour disposition, that it will take a Tory-Lib coalition to undo what Labour has done or planned to do.  Hopefully Labour, in opposition, will note that civil liberties are far more important to most people than the minutiae of dogma and policy. Hopefully, the cuts to the legal aid budget will not be too vicious – it costs money to have a rule of law and justice system worthy of Britain.

I return now to my daily detailed Law Reviews…. not before time, some might say? I shall, of course, continue to watch the vagaries and absurdities of political and life generally… but there will be a lot more law from now on – as evidenced by my podcast with Jack of Kent below.


10. Civil liberties

The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.

The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.

This will include:

  • A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.
  • The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.
  • Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
  • The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
  • Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.
  • The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.
  • The restoration of rights to non-violent protest.
  • The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
  • Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
  • Further regulation of CCTV.
  • Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
  • A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.

Seems to be based substantially on the Freedom Bill. It will be interesting to see how this shapes up and how quickly it will come through.

Download the Coalition Agreement


Home Office:

Both Parties that now form the new Government stated in their manifestos that they will cancel Identity Cards and the National Identity Register. We will announce in due course how this will be achieved. Applications can continue to be made for ID cards but we would advise anyone thinking of applying to wait for further announcements.

Until Parliament agrees otherwise, identity cards remain valid and as such can still be used as an identity document and for travel within Europe. We will update you with further information as soon as we have it.

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Today I am talking to the blogger Jack of Kent about the extraordinary decision in the case of Paul Chambers, a young trainee accountant, who  posted a ‘bomb’ message on Twitter. The message was “Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!” This was in response to a news feed that he had just received that the airport was closed due to the weather conditions prevailing at that time.

Paul Chambers was arrested and questioned on suspicion for the “bomb hoax” offence under the Criminal Law Act 1977.
The CPS realised that they did not have sufficient evidence for the bomb hoax offence under the 1977 Act, that is the actual legislation dealing with supposed bomb hoaxes….and as Jack of Kent said on his blog…. “So some bright spark came up with section 127 of the Communications Act 2003”…. a provision which the CPS actually sees as not requiring any evidence of intention.

Listen to the podcast

Jack of Kent: Paul Chambers: a Disgraceful and Illiberal Judgment

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Prime Minister Cameron being greeted by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell as he enters 10 Downing Street.

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