Archive for June 8th, 2010

Far be it for  me to be cynical about governments and law, governments and  interference with the judiciary, governments and  their scant regard for the rule of law – I suspect those charged with the administration of justice at the Ministry of Justice and The Home Office find it most inconvenient when journalists and bloggers question their ‘efforts’.

The Coalition agreement trumpets a desire to get civil liberties back on track and repeal the hideously wasteful and repressive laws introduced by Labour.  While I am in full agreement that there is a raft of laws which need to be repealed, I had no idea the government planned to repeal *Law* per se…. and just take decisions without regard to the inconvenience of complying with law.

The government hasn’t got off to a very good start. The Guardian reports today….

Don’t delay deportation flight, government warns judges

Treasury Solicitor’s Department moves to head off last-minute judicial review calls that could hold up Baghdad-bound plane

Government lawyers have warned high court judges that last-minute legal challenges should not be allowed to “disrupt or delay” a special deportation flight to Bagdhad due to leave Britain early tomorrow.

A letter from the Treasury Solicitor’s Department asks high court judges to facilitate the scheduled charter flight by refusing to consider last-minute judicial review applications by detainees due for deportation. The flight is only the second of its kind ever to Baghdad.

In a letter dated 2 June, Andrea McMahon of the department says: “Because of the complexities, practicalities and costs involved in arranging charter flights, it is essential that these removals are not disrupted or delayed by large numbers of last-minute claims for permission to seek judicial review.”

While the letter was worded ‘respectfully’, we can disregard such nonsense.  This is a clear attempt to pressurise the junior judiciary. The Guardian notes…

The Treasury Solictor’s Department letter says that to “ensure the viability of this latest operation to Iraq” the usual rules, under which a judicial review will normally result in a removal being deferred, may not apply and the deportation will still go ahead.

Not a very good idea to try to influence the judiciary. They guard their independence jealously – thankfully.   If the government wishes to repeal existing laws it may do so.  Parliament may not bind it successors but is bound by the law of its predecessors until repealed.  If the government wishes to remove rights of deportees (or for that matter any law)  repeal the right, but by due process  – then, because law is public, we can see the cut of the jib of the government which governs in our ‘Big Society’ name.  This is not the way to go about it.  Shoddy or at the very least, incompetent.

Our Court service is creaking at the seams, legal aid is about to be cut back again, family lawyers just can’t afford to provide a service.  There is a danger that people charged with criminal offences will not be properly represented because of a desire to cut costs. (Please note that I do not say ‘criminals charged with criminal offences’.  There is a reason for this – we call it the ‘presumption of innocence’, a concept which those in government  and editors of tabloids often find most inconvenient.

And.. Damien Green MP (above and below?)  should really know better – he got a lot of support from civil liberties organisations and bloggers when he was put through an ordeal some time ago by the police

Sir Mark Potter: children in danger due to court service crisis

Guardian: Former president of the family division claims ‘poorly funded and overburdened system’ leaves children in violent environments

This is perhaps a more worrying story.  I am not a family lawyer , so I won’t make any comment.  Do have a read of it.  If Sir Mark Potter, known for his measured stance,  is worried, I think we should all be concerned.  This is a serious issue.

It is early days, but the new government seems to be making a bit of a hash of their law reform planning already. The proposal to increase the age of criminal responsibility does not seem, as yet, to be particularly well thought out or ‘baked’  and the ‘Kill a burglar’ nonsense does seem to be all over the place as well – the government, no doubt, does not wish to be seen to be taking a different line now from pre-election nonsense.

Fortunately, there is evidence of sense emerging… and I certainly won’t criticise the Tories for quietly burying this plan or refining it to be roughly what the law is today.  None to keen on licensed vigilantes in the street either!

Minister plays down quick change to self-defence law

And finally… some sense at last… a Commission to kick this particular half baked football into the long grass from whence it shall, hopefully, never emerge.  (BBC)

Human rights cave-in: Cameron pledged to scrap Act… now Clegg champions it under ANOTHER coalition compromise

Daily Mail

I await The Great Repeal Bill with interest – hopefully, there will be enough sanity and money to actually pay for it.?

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