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[ 15 Apr 2014 | No Comment ]
ECJ outlaws “snoopers’ charter” – but snoop they shall yet

By Richard Allison
The European Court of Justice has invalidated the European Parliament’s Data Retention Directive. The decision, following requests from the Irish and Austrian courts, is a blow to Theresa May’s plans to push through a data retention scheme which would indiscriminately collect and store data from UK citizens’ internet and phone use for up to 12 months for later examination.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are considering the judgment and its implications carefully. The retention of communications data is absolutely fundamental to ensure law enforcement have the powers they …

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[ 14 Apr 2014 | One Comment ]
Eve’s Law: addresses of domestic violence victims must be kept secret

By Christine Land
In busy working environments it is easy to make mistakes but some mistakes are more costly than others. An inadvertent disclosure of a domestic violence victim’s safe address to their abuser, for instance, could cost someone their life. Now signed by 87 MPs, Early Day Motion 900 so called “Eve’s Law” is calling for the greater protection of safe addresses.
The motion comes as a result of the tireless campaign of Eve Thomas, herself an escapee of domestic violence. In August 2012, Eve faced being sent to prison for …

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[ 10 Apr 2014 | No Comment ]
Should judges question vulnerable witnesses?

By Matthew Seys-Llewellyn
Sir Keir Starmer, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, has been in the news this week with the suggestion that vulnerable witnesses should be questioned by the Judge in the case rather than by counsel, and this idea should give us pause to reflect on both the role of the judge and the role of the advocate.
The English have traditionally viewed judges with a certain amount of distrust, perhaps because one man seemed easier to bribe than 12 men of the jury, or possibly because judges can become …

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[ 28 Mar 2014 | 2 Comments ]
Bar calls off action – views from the profession

By Rebecca Carter
In a turbulent week for criminal lawyers, the profession, until recently so united in protest against legal aid fee cuts, has voiced strong and mixed reaction to the Criminal Bar Association’s (CBA) decision to call off the imminent two days of action and their no returns policy.
The announcement from CBA Chairman Nigel Lithman QC came following a deal reached with the Ministry of Justice in which they agreed to suspend all fee cuts for graduated fee cases until the next general election in summer 2015: “This gives 89% …

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[ 7 Nov 2013 | Comments Off ]
Niqabs in the witness box: yes or no?

By David Allan
Niqab-wearing defendants should be obliged to remove their veils before giving evidence say 90% of my colleagues in a poll conducted by the Bar Council for The Times (although personally I’d like to see what the participation rate was for that). Former justice secretary, Ken Clarke, agrees, likening wearing a full-face veil in the witness box to giving evidence “in a bag”. The Lord Chief Justice says that trial judges should be able to decide whether a defendant may give evidence wearing a face-veil or not, but promises …