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Showing posts from May, 2013

McAlpine v Bercow

This is the judgment in McAlpine v Bercow. I always expected Sally Bercow to lose this case. This is the key paragraph The Defendant does not have any burden of proof in the issue I have to decide. She does not have to offer an alternative explanation of why a peer, whose name and career is known to few members of the public today, might have been trending on 4 November 2012 without her knowing why he was trending. But where the Defendant is telling her followers that she does not know why he is trending, and there is no alternative explanation for why this particular peer was being named in the tweets which produce the Trend, then it is reasonable to infer that he is trending because he fits the description of the unnamed abuser. I find the reader would infer that. The reader would reasonably infer that the Defendant had provided the last piece in the jigsaw. This was a clear example of jigsaw identification. THE TWEET The Tweet reads: "Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *I


Birmingham stands united in joining the nation in strongly condemning the abhorrent and brutal murder in Woolwich yesterday. The incident is a truly barbaric crime and has no place in any society. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and his family. We understand the victim to be a serving British soldier and extend our sympathy to members of the Armed Forces at this difficult time. We also condemn the attacks on places of worship following the murder and urge communities to remain calm and come together in solidarity. We call upon all people to join us in praying for the victim, his family and for the peace of our Cities. Birmingham Social Cohesion Forum Birmingham Faith Round Table (Although this is a statement on behalf of the above groups I am happy to endorse it myself)

Tax cut for the poorest in Birmingham

This story confirms that the council is now going to accept the £2.1m from the government in order to cut the amount of council tax paid by people on means tested benefits. The question the Council need to answer is why they didn't take this money in January when it was on offer. However, we should welcome the progress that has been made even though more progress on this is needed. Mike Whitby and I were both lobbying the government to be flexible on this issue. I have already called for the funding to be extended into future years in a debate in Westminster Hall.

Secret Jailings and the BBC

This story on the BBC news website is as follows: A woman was reportedly jailed secretly by the Court of Protection recently for disobeying its orders. The court decides on issues affecting mentally incapable people. The claims , reported in the Daily Mail, suggest the woman disobeyed orders relating to care for her 80-year-old father, who was suffering from dementia. It is a bit odd that the BBC report this as if there isn't a court judgment that has been published which already indicated that Wanda Maddocks' imprisonment was subject to reporting restrictions. Interestingly a BBC journalist actually turned down the story on the basis of the anonymous judgment. It demonstrates the BBC's general complacency about criticisms of the establishment. This is a big problem in Jersey.

Secret Jailings for Contempt of Court to come to an end

This is a copy of the new rules in respect of jailings for contempt of court. There are two key elements that are new: a) That all hearings will be listed, so that people know they are happening and, b) That a public judgment will be published on Bailii. b) particularly is the key element although a) is important. b) is what was in my private members bill Section 8 (2). Result! This is a clear victory for the Justice for Families - secret prisoners campaign - where with the assistance of the Daily Mail the rules have been made workable and more accountable. It remains important, however, that we keep an eye on the system to make sure it is following the rules. (which it wasn't in the past) There are, of course, the issues of a single social worker being able to imprison someone through the court of protection. That I will come to later. I will also keep an eye on the court to make sure that the rules are followed. What is important about this practice direction is tha

The government responds on secret prisoners

We see the difficulty of the operation of the British Constitution with the government writing to Munby P about the Court of Protection. In my view James Munby is one of the better judges. However, there are issues that cannot simply be left to the judges. Yes, the judiciary should be consulted, but in the end parliament writes the laws not the judiciary. The problems in the Family Division (and I include the Court of Protection in this) have arisen because individual judges have been left to just get on with it. Some do a good job and others do a dreadful job (and of course there are those in between). The Rule of Law is supposed to mean that it should not matter which judge a case is heard by. However, things don't work like that in practise. The biggest issue for the court of protection is actually the question as to how reliable the assessments of capacity are. It is driven by this. Alistair Pitblado (the Official Solicitor) has also managed to escape scrutiny. His