Posts

National Identity Cards

Image
Following the Second World War, Britain called for help from the people of the Commonwealth to come and fill thousands of job vacancies. Many answered the call and came to be known as the Windrush Generation after named the MV Empire Windrush, which docked in Tilbury on the 22nd June 1948 bringing the first workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago. The Home Office inevitably screwed up and caused a huge number of problems for members of the Windrush Generation. But their story is not the subject of this blog. Instead, I want to look at a side issue that has raised its weary head once again: ID cards. Alan Johnson and Charles Clarke, both former Home Secretaries, have begun a call for ID cards as the solution to the troubles of undocumented British citizens who have not had their status regularised. ID cards pop up every few years and I’ve no doubt that eventually we’ll have a compulsory piece of plastic foisted upon us that will actually do very little for anybody in the UK, but which …

Off to war

Image
The UK government recently launched airstrikes against targets in Syria alongside the US and France. The result was a lot of criticism from people in the UK arguing that the use of force is unlawful because it either breaches international law or because the UK Parliament was not consulted.
Lots of this furore seems to be stoked by Russia who are already upset at having been accused of poisoning one of their former spies in Salisbury recently and who have responded with an upsurge in propaganda aimed at the West in general and the UK in particular, including bizarre claims that the UK staged the chemical attack that triggered the air strikes.
So, what is the law on committing British forces to military action?
I’m going to gloss over international law for two reasons. First, I don’t really understand it and do not feel qualified to comment on it. Secondly, I’m not entirely convinced it exists. Sure, there are rules but they are really just political agreements and there is little that c…

Sentencing drink drivers: analysis of the Ant McPartlin case

Image
I haven’t blogged about drink driving for a while, which is a bit of a shame for me since drink driving cases form the bulk of my case load. So, with the conviction and sentencing of Ant McPartlin, of Ant and Dec fame, this seems like a great time to talk about how sentencing works in drink driving cases using this case as an example. Mr McPartlin entered a guilty plea when he appeared in court, which negates the need for a trial because he admits that he committed the offence. The maximum sentence is six-months imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving disqualification. The minimum driving ban is 12 months but there is no cap on what the magistrates can impose, although I have yet to personally witness anybody receive a ban longer than five years and first-time offenders will rarely get such a lengthy ban. It should be noted that although the ban may end after a year or two, the conviction remains recorded on your driving record for 11 years. Once the defendant pleads guilty, the m…

What's so wrong about hacking an MPs website?

Image
Kemi Badenoch, Conservative MP for Saffron Walden and, bizarrely for an MP with just a few months experience, Conservative Party vice-chairman with responsibility for selecting candidates in the 2022 election today confessed that ten-years ago she hacked into the website of a Labour MP to make changes to that MP’s website to “say nice things about Tories”.
This is a problem for two reasons so far as I can see.
First, we live in a climate where allegations of underhand and barely legal election tactics are thrown about regularly, apparently with some evidence to suggest that they are more than just allegations. Do we really want people in the House of Commons and at the top of the governing party who have confessed to engaging in completely illegal behaviour to influence voters?
Secondly, I mentioned that this sort of thing is illegal because it is a serious offence. It would appear likely that the MP whose website was hacked was Harriet Harman, then deputy leader of the ruling Labour Par…

Video evidence

Image
Legal practice, at least contentious legal practice, is all about evidence. One side brings a case by putting to the court and their opponent some evidence that they say proves their case. The other side responds by seeking to exclude, undermine or rebut that evidence, usually with evidence of their own. Exchanging evidence, call it discovery or disclosure as you will, is the all-important key to winning a case. Effective disclosure leads one side to thrown in the towel and give up. Failing to disclose leads to a loss in court, at best, and a wasted costs order at worst. Since evidence is so important you’d think somebody would have thought up a way to get that evidence to the people who need to see it quickly and efficiently while preserving the security of the information. I manage it in my firm through the use of encrypted uploads to secure cloud services and software that lets me to email the links to encrypted files that magically decrypt themselves upon receipt. It costs me about …

Can a court take my car after a drink driving conviction?

Image
Most people realise that once they are convicted of drink driving the court will take away their driving licence for at least 12 months, but most people aren’t too sure whether the court can also take away their car, it’s probably right to say that most people never think about it at all.
The answer is, yes, a court can take your car from you if you are convicted of drink driving.
Section 143 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 grants criminal courts the power to deprive a convicted defendant of any rights in property they to the property that was used to commit or facilitate a criminal offence or any property that the defendant intended to use to commit a crime, this specifically includes motor vehicles.
It is called a Deprivation Order and means that a court can lawfully deprive you of your car not only if you are convicted of driving with excess alcohol but also if you are convicted of attempting to drink drive. It also applies to somebody convicted of being drunk i…

The cost of saving your family

Image
This is a blog about legal aid, but first I want to set out the facts of a case.
A few weeks ago, the Court of Appeal heard the case of M (A Child) [2018] EWCA Civ 240 in which a mother appealed against an order that would have permanently separated her from her five-year-old daughter.
The facts are that on the 23rd October 2014 and on the 8th May 2015 the mother administered to her daughter an epi-pen and subsequently called an ambulance reporting that her daughter was having an allergic reaction. On both occasions, the doctors at the hospital felt that the epi-pen had been unnecessary. It is worth saying that the mother is a qualified nurse who later accepted that she had over-reacted because her motherly concern for her child had overridden her medical training. In 2016, the local authority and mother would sign a threshold document agreeing that the mother’s error had in part been made because she was not aware of the severity of her daughter’s sleep apnoea. In fact, during the appe…