In The Sun this morning, under the headline “TAKE HIM DOWN” the deputy political editor writes: “TOP judges last night blasted Ken Clarke’s soft-touch plans to HALVE the time some criminals serve in prison. The revolt was sparked by the Justice Secretary’s proposals to halve sentences for offenders who plead guilty early. They were included in Mr Clarke’s controversial sentencing white paper published last year – and rubbished last night in the judges’ formal response. Lord Justice Thomas, the Queen’s bench Division vice-president, and Lord Justice Goldring, England and Wales senior presiding judge, said: “In our view, it would not be right neither as a matter of principle nor as a matter of practice to go beyond a maximum discount of one third.”
This report is part of a continuing attack by The Sun on Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Ken Clarke. The Sun does not approve of Ken Clarke’s moderate and ‘unpatriotic (?)’ stance on law and order. Interesting to see the judges, apparently, weighing in. I am no expert on prison policy, but it does seem to many that we have far too many people in prison for relatively minor offences – at significant cost to the public purse; money which could be put to better use in providing access to legal representation and justice?
And another example of government interference – perhaps not fully thought through?….
Legal Services Board rebuffs Djanogly on ILEX rights
James Dean, in The Law Society Gazette writes: “The Legal Services Board has dismissed a call by justice minister Jonathan Djanogly for it to consult more widely on proposals to extend the rights of legal executives to conduct litigation and appear in court.
Last week, Djanogly told the House of Commons that an application by the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) to the LSB to extend the litigation rights of ILEX members was ‘unusual’ and merited ‘wider consultation and engagement’. But a spokesman for the LSB this week told the Gazette: ‘We have not and do not currently intend to consult more widely.’ The LSB is considering whether or not to allow legal executives to conduct litigation and appear before the courts in civil and family proceedings, and to deliver probate services…”
One wonders what the government is going to pull out of the hat for their next trick on justice and the legal system. Cuts to legal aid and closure of courts plans are already having an impact….. do it yourself justice next? Ah.. the old litigant in person stunt… very Big Society? Perhaps a bit of trial by ordeal to save money? Ducking stools in every town?
On to more sensible analysis from the UK Human Rights Blog : Police, Protests and other Hot Potatoes- the Human Rights Roundup
I enjoyed the piece on Burglar human rights by Matthew Flynn of the UK Human Rights blog: “The proposition that burglars have rights incites debate, and sometimes anger, which is often directed towards the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention of Human Rights. However, on closer examination, the idea of “burglars’ rights” is not a new phenomenon in English law, and nor has it been imposed upon us by Strasbourg. The rights that burglars enjoy have long been part of the fabric of English common law”
Judges tell Theresa May to revoke ‘flawed’ control order on terror suspect
The Guardian: Court of appeal gives the home secretary 48 hours to drop the control order or get a new one – ‘if she considers it necessary’
I missed this story the other morning. Maybe I am reading more into it than it merits – but this Court of Appeal intervention is fairly robust and calls into question the competence of the Home Secretary and her officials? Perhaps those readers with more experience of government would comment?
Three appeal court judges ruled that the order imposed on BM, a 38-year-old British national, was so flawed that it could not be allowed to stand. They gave the home secretary 48 hours to comply with the ruling and to obtain a new order “if she considers it necessary to do so”.
Lord Justice Sedley, Lord Justice Thomas and Lord Justice Hopper also ordered that a prosecution against BM for breaching the control order be discontinued.
And finally for the time being.. Alex Aldridge, writing in The Guardian, notes….
Legal aid cuts will put pressure on students to do more pro bono work
Pity the poor law students of 2012. Not only will they face tuition fees of £9,000 a year, but they’ll be under pressure to do much more free legal work to help fill the gap created by the legal aid cuts.
I’m all for students doing pro bono work – but I don’t think it is credible policy for the good work being done by many university law school pro bono units to be a part of government policy on access to justice.
“Frankly, we’re very worried, as there’s already a tremendous demand for our students’ services as it is,” says John Fitzpatrick, director of Kent Law Clinic, the pro bono service of Kent University which won best law school at the annual LawWorks and attorney general student pro bono awards on Wednesday.
And really finally…. I am grateful to fellow tweeter @pugandwhistle for drawing my attention to this... “An email promoting a ‘Beaujolais breakfast’ at Corney & Barrow wine bars has been banned after advertising watchdogs said it could encourage irresponsible drinking.”
I find, on a Sunday morning, that a glass of red makes both breakfast and the newspapers more amusing. Sir John Mortimer QC, who regularly came to speak to students when I was CEO at BPP Law School in the 1990s, told me that a glass of champagne at 6.00 am was a useful aid to life. It didn’t do him any harm…quite the opposite, I suspect, judging by his excellent writing.