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Reasons Tony Blair would be best staying out of British Politics

Iraq - enough said. Europe - he agreed to the widening of the EU without any attempt to limit economic migration from the poorer areas of the EU to the richer areas. This failure to think about the impact on the living conditions of skilled workers is the main cause of the Brexit vote. Forced Adoption - this was another of his failures. This may not have been fully recognised yet, but I expect it soon will be. Increasing spending at a rate faster than the economy was growing - Gordon Brown shares some of the blame for this, but Tony Blair was PM. This is why we have a more difficult problem today than Germany.

The Transparency Project and Adoption Targets

The Transparency Project have today produced a blog English councils confirm they set targets for the number of children to be adopted . That in itself is not news. Councils have prioritised adoption for many many years. What is new is that they recognise that when I say rather than being used to get children out of the care system, such ‘targets’ instead risk impacting on decision making at the stage where people are deciding if children should enter the care system i.e. when a decision is made to apply to the courts for a care order, and whether they should be adopted as opposed to some other care arrangement being chosen. I may be right.

I would like to thank them for this. BASW warned that the effect of adoption targets would be to stop children being with their birth families. That warning was ignored by government. I have seen a number of cases where local authorities have delayed telling pregnant mothers of their intentions until after the date for a legal termination. …

Teresa Kirk - a question for the Official Solicitor

There is no sense me sending this question to the Official Solicitor himself because his view is that he is not accountable to anyone other than the secret courts. The question is why did his representative on behalf of MM (the protected person) argue that Teresa Kirk should be kept in prison?

If people remember the case of the Italian woman forced to have a C section when she visited the UK, there the Official Solicitor was acting and did not really defend her against the forced medical treatment - which various expert commentators at the time the judgment was published decided was unnecessary. There is also the case of Lee Gilliland who was evicted from his house without notice because the OS was appointed to represent him and did not tell him what had happened. Obviously the RP case where RP's case was conceded against her by the Official Solicitor on the papers without a hearing is another example of something where questions need to be answered.

There is also the questi…

17e Assises nationales des avocats d’enfants

This is a link to the agenda of the 17th national conference of French family lawyers. Here is part of the agenda:
Vendredi 4 novembre 2016 9 h – Accueil 9 h 30 à 12 h 45 Jean-Marc ANDRE, bâtonnier Versailles Dominique ATTIAS, vice-bâtonnier Paris, présidente groupe de travail mineurs du CNB Geneviève AVENARD, défenseure des enfants auprès du défenseur des droits (sous réserve) Les maîtres du temps : Martine PERON et Josiane OLEOTTO-GUEY 30 ans d’application de la CIDE par les pays européens : Renate WINTER, vice-présidente du Comité des droits de l’enfant de l’ONU, ex-présidente du tribunal spécial pour la Sierra Leone et juge internationale au Kosovo Pause Angleterre : John HEMMING, ancien député, avec Florence BELLONE, correspondante RTBF au Royaume-Uni Suède : Ruby HARROLD-CLAESSON, avocate, présidente du Comité nordique des droits humains It is interesting how lawyers across Europe are unhappy with what is being done in England (and Wales). There is also a group of P…

Whats the name of the secret cat?

This case has been reported in the media today. I have linked to the judgment for the case.

To give a summary of the recent timescales:
On 18th August 2016 Mrs Teresa Kirk was sentenced to a 6 month suspended sentence for not signing over a man in his 80s to an anonymous council (one presumes in England or Wales given the jurisdiction of the court).
She was arrested on Sunday 25th September at around 10am and taken to prison.
This week the Daily Mail started asking questions as to where the public judgment was for this process and surprise, surprise, one popped out of the system. On Monday this week Mrs Kirk was lost somewhere in the prison system, but she managed to get a note passed out with another prisoner who told people where she was.

The judgment makes it potentially contempt of court to Name MM's cat.
More importantly the judgment makes it potentially contempt of court to name the local authority. If I were still involved in running a council (as I was for 22 years) I …

Whats the name of the secret cat?

This case has been reported in the media today. I have linked to the judgment for the case.

To give a summary of the recent timescales:
On 18th August 2016 Mrs Teresa Kirk was sentenced to a 6 month suspended sentence for not signing over man in his 80s to an anonymous council (one presumes in England or Wales given the jurisdiction of the court).
She was arrested on Sunday 25th September at around 10am and taken to prison.
This week the Daily Mail started asking questions as to where the public judgment was for this process and surprise, surprise, one popped out of the system. On Monday this week Mrs Kirk was lost somewhere in the prison system, but she managed to get a note passed out with another prisoner who told people where she was.

The judgment makes it potentially contempt of court to Name M's cat.
More importantly the judgment makes it potentially contempt of court to name the local authority. If I were still involved in running a council (as I was for 22 years) I wou…

Reactive Attachment Disorder and the Care System

I am currently highlighting the question as to whether the psychological damage caused to children who have been taken into care at a young age is caused by the care system or by their treatment prior to entering care.

The research that is relevant to this is summarised here and basically says that reactive attachment disorder can be avoided if a stable attachment is achieved from between 4 and 6 months. Previously I have seen an argument that the key period is 6-18 months and that not having a stable attachment established in that period causes lifelong problems.

Some information is difficult to find, but some information is not so difficult to find. It is possible to find out the ages of children taken into compulsory care. In the year 1st April 2014-31st March 2015 (the last period for which the detailed information is available).
1,190 children were taken into care in the first week of their lives 1,576 children were taken into care in the first month of their lives 2,000 w…

Secret Prisoners - the campaign continues

There have been two stories related to secret imprisonment reported today. One by PA has been published in a number of outlets including This one. The other was in the Daily Mail.

The cases have a number of common features. Someone is imprisoned "for their own good". There are all sorts of assessments as to their capacity. In the end they have run away and are not now in the English and Welsh jurisdiction.

In the Kathy Danby case (which relates to her granddaughter) Kathy was imprisoned for meeting her. The judge at the time said Granny (aged in her 70s) had to be imprisoned because when she met her granddaughter afterwards the granddaughter was upset and tried to run away. From a scientific perspective it is a fact that the granddaughter ran away. However, she continued running away even though she had not met her grandmother for 2 1/2 years. I would argue, therefore, that the evidence is that she runs away because she is not happy having her liberty constraine…

Section 50 and negotiations with the EU - delay is key.

Given that Brexit is now certain the UK has a challenging negotiation. It was to be expected that the UK would not immediately give notice to the EU under Article 50. What the UK needs to do ideally is to negotiate the settlement in substance before giving notice. Time and delay is in the UK's interest as is obvious from the comments by the EU Commission. The challenges to negotiate is how much the UK has to pay to the EU for access to the Single Market and what the continuing rules on freedom of movement will be. If the UK were to cease being a member of the EU without some solutions to many of the major issues then it would cause considerable economic disruption (beyond what is in the financial markets). On the other hand this would not really impact the EU that much. Hence the UK needs to avoid being forced into the corner and delaying on giving notice is the only solution for this. Interesting articles
Nick CohenJames Strong
Experimental Traffic Alerts System
Experiment…

Norway vs the UK - Brexit could mean 10 Euros per person (per year) higher net contributions to the EU budget.

Because the UK's realistic alternative to the EU is membership of the EEA it is worth comparing Norway's situation to that of the UK. This is a relevant story about how being in the EEA (not having to follow the CAP or CFP) can mean countries having to follow laws and regulations the setting of which countries have not participated in. However, there is also the question about cash.

Full fact have looked at the issue of what our net contribution to the EU is. They conclude it was about £8.5bn in 2015. Norway was a lot less. Their contribution according to This page from the Norwegian government is around 388+447+6+25 Million Euro per year. (ie 886 million Euro - see page for detailed breakdown. However, Norway has a population of only 5m and we have a population of 64m. If you look at the per capita contribution it is £132 in the UK and 177 Euro in norway. The Euro Sterling Exchange rate has varied recently from almost 1.5 to 1.25. Yesterday was 1.267. Converting £132 …

John Hemming's Statement following Supreme Court upholding injunction

"I am surprised that the Supreme Court have upheld this injunction. The logical conclusion of this is that gossip about anyone with children will become a criminal offence subject to a potential penalty of 2 years's imprisonment.

"It is important to note that the injunction covers people talking in pubs, gossiping over the garden fence, or twittering on the internet. All of these could potentially see an application for committal for contempt of court. That comes with large amounts of legal costs and up to 2 years imprisonment. One would assume that it would not be assumed that this would only apply to claimants who have a large amount of money, but also everyone else. Such a constraint on freedom of speech is something that the House of Lords Judicial Committee of the last millennium would not have supported. I am surprised that the Supreme Court does.

"It is to be recognised that injunctions are still being used to cover up malpractice by public officials…

Barristers, Conflicts of Interests and the Family Courts

I have been having a debate with various Family Court barristers as to what the rules are in respect of a barrister taking on a case for a parent when they previously have taken on a case for the local authority the parent is facing in the court.

The rules on the Bar Standards Board website are difficult to link to clearly. The basic rules can be found from here.

The relevant rule is:
rC21 You must not accept instructions to act in a particular matter if:

-3. there is a conflict of interest between the prospective client and one or more of your former or existing clients in respect of the particular matter unless all of the clients who have an interest in the particular matter give their informed consent to your acting in such circumstances; or

If, therefore, we consider the case of a barrister considering whether they should accept instructions to act for a parent Mr Smith against the Huntingdonshire County Council. This particular barrister had earlier acted for Huntingdonshire…

Alternatives to The EU

What is good about the video below is that it simple takes part of the arguments of the people who wish to leave the EU and puts them together.

I have looked at this issue before. UKIP used to propose the EEA which means not having a vote and just being consulted on the rules that the UK has to follow.

Trade agreements and the EU

It is interesting that Barack Obama has been clear about what is entirely obvious in terms of trade agreements. The EU is a Common Market. It starts out as a trade agreement. It has rules as to how the trade agreement's detailed rules change, but it is a trade agreement. There is a debate about establishing an agreement between the EU and the US which is called TTIP. However, the UK should not expect to establish trade agreements before the EU has completed its agreements. More importantly the terms of any agreement the UK has with other countries is likely to be essentially the same rules as in the larger regional trade agreements. Hence we end up in a situation in which we are subjected to rules that we have no control over.

Court of Appeal Judgment on injunction - John Hemming comment

Comment by John Hemming: "The Court of Appeal are right to strike down the injunction. They are also right, however, to give leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. This issue needs to be resolved such that it is not subject to an almost immediate challenge. People generally need to know that they do not face jail for joking and gossiping. The media need to know what they can write without having to spend shedloads of cash with legal advisers before they put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). The powerful need to know that if they don't want something on the front page of the newspaper they should not do it."

"In the end it is more important that this issue is properly resolved than it is resolved quickly. We need an answer that allows people to go about their daily lives knowing what the law is. There have been too many injunctions recently and that needs to come to an end."

"Additionally there is a difference between the way in which the Eu…

Guardian decides newspaper name is a state secret

What is interesting about this guardian article is that they have decided that naming the Sunday Mail is potentially in breach of the court order (which I have not seen). They do, however, reveal that if you want to confirm the names involved you have to go to Scotland. Hence as that is the hardest part of the process I would presume that if they are right about naming the outlet they are wrong about naming the country.
Still it is all a bit silly really. My big worry about the legal aspects here is that the people who are being gagged (not the newspapers, but the people who want to talk about what happened to them) cannot sensibly take the financial risk of defending their position in court. Unless there is a guarantee costs won't be awarded against them they are forced into a legal corner.

Injunctions, the Streisand Effect and Spycatcher

There is no sense me writing much about The Streisand Effect. It suffices to read the wikipedia article I have linked to and note that as with Ryan Giggs taken legal action to prevent something being publicised can actually draw attention to it. We have that now with an injunction that has been sustained by the Court of Appeal on privacy.

It always seems a bit odd that such relatively minor things are made state secrets ... for those with enough money to spend on the lawyers. What would be a one or two day story at the most then becomes a running sore that gets far more attention than just having the one day story.

The House of Lords decision in Spycatcher was clearly right. I have linked to the judgment.

" If Mr. Wright were to publish a second book in America or Australia or both and it were to become readily available in this country, as has happened in regard to his first book, newspapers which published its contents would have as good a defence as the respondents in…

Animated political map of Europe 1000ad-2000ad

This is an interesting thing to look at. UK history has been relatively static particularly since 1700. However, the continent has historically been quite fluid. Not so much since 1945, but still some changes.

Home Alone - law and cases in the UK and abroad

Justice for Families has been publicly campaigning on the issue of the law in respect of children left at home without parental or other adult supervision. Our biggest concern is that the law is not clear. The government claim that parents are allowed to decide whether their child is mature enough to be left alone. That, however, is not true. What happens is that either the police or local authority social workers decide whether in their opinion the parents have neglected their child.

What is most unfair is when parents are prosecuted or have their children taken off them for something which they have done reasonably and with the best intentions for their child/children.

There is, in fact, no published information about what does happen and when action is taken. Some of the cases are covered by family court secrecy which makes it much harder to review the case. Others have injunctions on the criminal cases which make looking at the case harder. However, here are a few exam…

The EU and Democracy (making some reference to the referendum)

The debate about the EU has in many ways similarities to that in respect of the Scottish independence referendum. The SNP argument could in essence be summarised as "we can do a lot better on our own our problems are caused by London." The Leave argument is "we can to a lot better on our own our problems are caused by Brussels".

In any rational sense the wheels fell of the financial argument for Scottish independence as the price of oil plummeted.  Although I expect oil prices to go back up (and there may even be a spike as a result of the cuts in investment) it remains a really tenuous argument.

The narrative on this issue, however, is difficult because it is easy for the Scottish Executive to blame everything on the UK parliament.    The fundamental political debate that creates much division is about how to respond to the financial crisis of 2008 and the cut in GDP that resulted.  There are many people (myself included) who do not like the consequences of …

English Boundary Review Launched

The English Boundary review was launched today. These are the boundaries for the next General Election. We will know what they are in 2018. What is interesting is looking at the division of English seats as proposed in 2013 to now. Region 2010 Seats 2013 Proposal 2016 Eastern 58 56 57 East Midlands 46 44 44 London 73 68 68 North East 29 26 25 North West 75 68 68 South East * 83 81 81 South West 55 53 53 West Midlands 59 54 53 Ykshire/Humber 54 50 50 (Isle of Wight) 1 2 2 I would expect this mainly to have arisen from individual registration. To be fair there is an issue about people who are properly multiply registered in more than one constituency in that they should…

Pat McFadden - what did he say that was sufficient to get him fired

"May I ask the prime minister to reject the view that sees terrorist acts as always being a response or a reaction to what we in the West do? Does he agree that such an approach risks infantilising the terrorists and treating them like children, when the truth is that they are adults who are entirely responsible for what they do? No one forces them to kill innocent people in Paris or Beirut. Unless we are clear about that, we will fail even to understand the threat we face, let alone confront it and ultimately overcome it."
Whereas there is conflict in the world. Even though some of that conflict is caused by errors of foreign policy by the UK and other Western nations - that does not warrant the intentional murder of innocent people.
I do intend writing a summary of unjust acts of war looking how there is a continuum including what are called acts of terror and those which are called war crimes. Indeed those things overlap. However, for the Labour Leader to sack a minis…