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Archive for November 18th, 2010

Ex-minister Lord Knight rapped for doctoring form

BBC: A former minister has been criticised for doctoring a form in an attempt to justify subsidising Labour Party literature with parliamentary expenses.

Lord Knight signed and backdated a paper as he faced an investigation by the Commons sleaze watchdog.

The Standards and Privileges Committee called it a “serious misjudgement” and ordered him to repay more than £3,600 spent on a printing machine.

Lord Knight, formerly Jim Knight, lost his Commons seat in May’s election.

 

Well… the good news is… at least the CPS can be kept busy with important cases instead of farting about with #twitterjoketrial nonsense. The House of Lords is becoming a laughing stock… or, rather…even more of a laughing stock.  I’d better not refer to Guy Fawkes… lest some CPS prosecutor has a sense of humour failure and does me under s.127.

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Justice’s hidden backbone – a tribute to BAILII

UK Human Rights blog has an excellent piece on the remarkable work being done by BAILLI.  I use it extensively, as do countless students who download the free legal resources, lectures and materials on my Insite Law magazine.

Anti-Piracy Lawyers Knew They Targeted Innocent Victims

Torrent Freak: “Davenport Lyons, the law firm which pioneered the lucrative file-sharing pay-up-or-else scheme in the UK, will head off to Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal proceedings next year. According to details just made available, among other things Davenport Lyons partners were responsible for knowingly targeting the innocent and relied on unreliable evidence in doing so.”

These allegations, if proven, are serious.

Court says News of the World staff who ordered phone hack must be named

Guardian: Judge rules that private investigator Glenn Mulcaire must identify journalists who instructed him to intercept voicemail messages

This is interesting.  It may be that we are getting closer to the truth…one way or the other?

Legal aid: annotated government proposals for reform

Guardian Legal affairs correspondent, Afua Hirsch, dissects the green paper on legal aid and gives her views on the most important passages. • Do you agree with her analysis? Will these proposed reforms affect you? We want to know…

I have now  read most of Ken Clarke’s magnum opus – quite a task.  The BBC has a quick summary.

MI5 officer escapes charges over Binyam Mohamed torture case

‘Insufficient evidence’ to prosecute over treatment of prisoner in Pakistan before transfer to Guantánamo Bay, advises DPP

Coming in the wake of the Government’s decision to settle the litigation with the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, this decision is not entirely unexpected.

This commentary from The Guardian is particularly noteworthy…

Today’s decision, and yesterday’s mediation settlement involving 16 UK residents and citizens incarcerated in Guantánamo, helps to pave the way for an inquiry by Sir Peter Gibson into the torture allegations. The Met police are still investigating an MI6 officer over a separate incident.

Tim Cooke-Hurle, of the legal charity Reprieve, which represented Mohamed, said: “Rather than scapegoating frontline officers, the investigation must focus on the chain of command that may have allowed torture complicity … to ensure that it never happens again.”

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of civil rights group Liberty, said: “Accountability, like decision-making, must go to the heart of government on both sides of the Atlantic and that is what only a robust and open judicial inquiry can achieve.”

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP for Chichester and chairman of the all-party group on extraordinary rendition, said: “Any information that would have been available in the court cases and criminal investigations must be available to the [Gibson] inquiry.”

Theresa May scraps legal requirement to reduce inequality

Guardian: Measure introduced by Harriet Harman under Labour dismissed by home secretary as ‘ridiculous’

Private civil litigation curbs: A last chance to reopen the debate?

Guardian: The Jackson report has been adopted as though it emanated from the heart of Tory central office itself

Neil Rose of legalfutures.co.uk has dissected this issue very well… and his article is worth reading in full.  For that reason, I make no extracts here.

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Mr. Assange detained in his absence

www.aklagare.se: As a result of the court’s decision to detain Mr. Assange in his absence, an international arrest warrant will be issued.

(Swedish) Director of Prosecution, Ms. Marianne Ny, today requested the District Court of Stockholm to detain Mr Assange in his absence.

At the hearing on the detention issue, the District Court decided to detain Mr Assange in his absence, on probable cause suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. To execute the court’s decision, the next step is to issue an international arrest warrant.

On Thursday 18th November 2010, @wikileaks said:

Press release by counsel for Julian Assange

LONDON, 2pm Thursday November 18, 2010

Mark Stephens of law firm Finers Stephens Innocent said today, “On the morning of 21 August 2010, my client, Julian Assange, read in the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen that there was a warrant out for his arrest relating to allegations of “rape” involving two Swedish women.

However, even the substance of the allegations, as revealed to the press through unauthorized disclosures do not constitute what any advanced legal system considers to be rape; as various media outlets have reported “the basis for the rape charge” purely seems to constitute a post-facto dispute over consensual, but unprotected sex days after the event. Both women have declared that they had consensual sexual relations with our client and that they continued to instigate friendly contact well after the alleged incidents. Only after the women became aware of each other’s relationships with Mr. Assange did they make their allegations against him.

The warrant for his arrest was rightly withdrawn within 24 hours by Chief prosecutor Eva Finne, who found that there was no “reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” Yet his name had already been deliberately and unlawfully disclosed to the press by Swedish authorities. The so called “rape” story was carried around the world and has caused Mr. Assange and his organization irreparable harm.

Eva Finne’s decision to drop the “rape” investigation was reversed after the intervention of a political figure, Claes Borgstrom, who is now acting for the women. The case was given to a specific prosecutor, Marianne Ny.

The only way the accused and his lawyers have been able to discover any substantive information regarding the investigation against him has been through the media. Over the last three months, despite numerous demands, neither Mr. Assange, nor his legal counsel has received a single word in writing from the Swedish authorities relating to the allegations; a clear contravention to Article 6 of the European Convention, which states that every accused must 澱e informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him”. The actions by the Swedish authorities constitute a blatant and deliberate disregard for his rights under the Convention.

We are now concerned that prosecutor Marianne Ny intends to apply for an arrest warrant in an effort to have Mr. Assange forcibly taken to Sweden for preliminary questioning. Despite his right to silence, my client has repeatedly offered to be interviewed, first in Sweden before he left, and then subsequently in the UK (including at the Swedish Embassy), either in person or by telephone, videoconferencing or email and he has also offered to make a sworn statement on affidavit. All of these offers have been flatly refused by a prosecutor who is abusing her powers by insisting that he return to Sweden at his own expense to be subjected to another media circus that she will orchestrate. Pursuing a warrant in this circumstance is entirely unnecessary and disproportionate. This action is in contravention both of European Conventions and makes a mockery of arrangements between Sweden and the United Kingdom designed to deal with just such situations. This behavior is not a prosecution, but a persecution. Before leaving Sweden Mr. Assange asked to be interviewed by the prosecution on several occasions in relation to the allegations, staying over a month in Stockholm, at considerable expense and despite many engagements elsewhere, in order to clear his name. Eventually the prosecution told his Swedish lawyer Bjorn Hurtig that he was free to leave the country, without interview, which he did.

Our client has always maintained his innocence. The allegations against him are false and without basis. As a result of these false allegations and bizarre legal interpretations our client now has his name and reputation besmirched. Thousands of news articles and 3.6million web pages now contain his name and the word “rape”. Indeed, three out of four web-pages that mention Mr. Assange’s name also now mention the word “rape”—a direct result of incompetent and malicious behavior by Swedish government prosecutors. My client is now in the extraordinary position that, despite his innocence, and despite never having been charged, and despite never receiving a single piece of paper about the allegations against him, one in ten Internet references to the word “rape” also include his name. Every day that this flawed investigation continues the damages to his reputation are compounded.”

-ENDS-

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