2007年11月

2007年11月30日

(1) NatWest Three’s plea-bargain

Despite fiercely maintaining their innocence since Sep 2002, three NatWest bankers, who fought extradition from Britain to answer a multimillion-dollar fraud charge, struck a deal with the US government and pleaded guilty to stealing $7.3m that lead to the collapse of the energy trading giant Enron. Without the plea-bargain, sentence could have been 35 years in jail, but they instead face 37 months in jail. They must also repay their ill-gotten gains of $7.3m to NatWest’s owner, Royal Bank of Scotland.

(2) Plans to reform rape trials

As part of reforms announced yesterday by the solicitor general aimed at boosting a conviction rate in rape trials, myth-busting packs to juries will be issued. A panel of judges, doctors and academics will start work next month to put together a package to inform the jury how rape victims typically respond so as to dispel “rape myths”. Furthermore, video recordings of statements made to police by alleged rape victims can now be used as their main evidence in court.

(3) Judge in the US jailed entire court for phone interruption

A judge in the US who was presiding over a domestic violence case jailed everyone in the court when he could not find out whose phone interrupted the proceedings.

(4) Report says UK’s anti-corruption laws not up to scratch

In an effort to revive the country’s damaged credibility on tackling bribery, a Home Office commissioned review will be issued to day to say that the UK’s anti-corruption laws are fragmented, out of date and need to be brought in line with international obligations.

(5) Japan’s prosecutors arrested ex-defence aide

Japanese prosecutors yesterday arrested a former top defence official as part of a widening investigation into alleged collusion between defence contractors and the ministry.

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2007年11月29日

(1) Lawyers launch recruitment drive

In order to encourage many from less fortunate backgrounds to consider a career in the law, the Bar Council and a group of big City law firms announced separate plans aimed at showing potential entrants that there was more to the profession than pricy training, arcane customs and gothic court rooms. A report published by the Bar Council makes 57 recommendations for change, including setting up a soft-loan scheme to support study for the Bar.

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2007年11月28日

(1) English test for barristers urged

A Bar Council report said that too many students of poor quality were being admitted to the Bar Vocational Course at the expense of more able students from less privileged backgrounds who had fewer contacts, and urged that students should be made to take a basic aptitude test in English. The report made 57 recommendations for making entry to the course fairer, and suggested discouraging students with a 2-2 degree or below from applying.

(2) Calls to stop the use of staves at migrant detention centres

Despite its use being banned, staff at an immigration removal centre are still routinely issued with staves to enforce discipline. The chief inspector of prisons stressed that the use of wooden staves is unnecessary, particularly because they are not regarded as necessary in privately run immigration detention centres. The chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency, acknowledged her concerns and said that she would work closely with the contractor, Serco, to address the problems.

(3) Data protection

As the row over government failures to protect personal information escalated last night, the information commissioner has called for greater powers to enforce the Data Protection Act, including spot checks on government departments and other bodies processing data, and a new criminal offence of committing serious security breaches. He admitted that ID cards would have to be looked again in the light of this.

(4) Reform of Competition Law

The reform of Competition Law is designed to offer consumers considering litigation more protection against court costs and better access to no-win, no-fee legal advice. By changing litigation procedures, hopefully it will make it easier for consumers to launch class-action cases against companies that break competition law.

(5) Online inquiries into job applicants may be illegal

An internet expert warned that employers and education officials could be infringing privacy if they screened information about applicants from social networking websites. However, regulators say that accessing publicly available information over the internet would not necessarily breach the data protection laws. It remains unclear whether this will constitute a breach of the law, but the Information Commissioner’s Office issued guidance to users of social networking sites, urging them to take their privacy more seriously.

Londate

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2007年11月27日

(1) Juries to be warned of rape victim ‘myth’

In order to boost the conviction rate in rape trials, ministers will outline plans such as issuance of “myth-busting” packs to juries so as to demolish notions such as that women who drink or dress provocatively are “asking for it”.

(2) Inquiry into the missing discs with judges’ details

The government was forced to begin an investigation into how personal information about the judiciary came to be sent by post, as further details emerged about lost discs containing taxpayers’ details. Recorded on the files were the addresses, phone numbers, email details and bank information of people such as Lord Falconer of Thornton, the recently retired Lord Chancellor, and Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice.

(3) New court to help parents fight addiction and keep families together

A new court will be formally launched today to help parents fight addictions and keep families together. This is based on a model which has proved successful in the US, and this £1.34 m initiative will offer mothers threatened with losing their children the chance to tackle their addiction with the help of health professionals and support workers.

Londate

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2007年11月21日

(1) Concern over the shake-up in appointing judges

In response to criticisms from the public that the method of appointing judges lacks transparency, from last year the Judicial Appointments Commission took over the responsibility for selecting judges from the Lord Chancellor. But Britain’s most senior judge has expressed fears that reforms to the way judges are appointed risks politicizing the judiciary and threatening standards.

(2) Who can get legal aid?

The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that bereaved families could not generally claim legal aid for inquests unless there was a wider public interest or it aided the coroner’s investigations.

(3) UK government condemned for failing to protect children’s rights

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) published a report on UK government’s poor record of protecting children’s human rights. Their analysis found that handcuffs were used on youngsters in custody and in some cases some needed oxygen after being restrained.

(4) Shooting victim is jailed for refusing to help police

A shooting victim who repeatedly misled police because he was terrified about retribution from his attackers was jailed for perverting the course of justice. His defence lawyer had been pleading that prison would be a very heavy penalty.

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2007年11月19日

(1) Immigration and migration figures

According to the official figures published yesterday, the number of Britons migrated abroad rose to a record 207,000 last year, but more than twice as many foreign nationals came to live in the UK.

(2) Jill Dando case – conviction quashed

At the Court of Appeal, the man jailed for murdering the BBC presenter Jill Dando had his conviction quashed yesterday because of scientific doubts over the firearms evidence. A second murder trial is expected to begin early next year.

(3) A high court judge was removed after making racist jokes
A High Court judge was ordered to step down from a multi-million pound divorce case for saying a Saudi sheikh might “depart on his flying carpet”. He later apologized by saying his comments were not intended to be racist.

(4) Abu Hamza’s extradition to the US possible

The Home Secretary made a final decision that the radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza ,who was jailed in the UK for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred, can be extradited to the US on terror charges.

(5) Constitutional reform bill could ban tax exiles from House of Lords

A forthcoming constitutional reform bill could include measures to stop tax exiles from sitting in the House of Lords.

(6) Judge warns on prison crisis

England’s top judge, Lord Phillips warned that prison overcrowding has become “critical” after the government failed to foresee the impact of forcing judges to pass longer jail sentences. He said it would be wiser to find some way of linking sentencing framework to the resources available, rather than simply building more jails and have huge prison budget.

(7) Security advisor warns over detention period

A government advisor on new security measures warned that extending the detention period of terror suspects could bolster the recruitment of radical Islamists. “The experience with the IRA tells us that we risk handing a propaganda tool to radical Islamists, drying up our intelligence sources and turning innocent people into agents of dissatisfaction”, he said.

Londate

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2007年11月16日

(1) Slow pace of law reform criticised

A High Court judge and a chairman of the Law Commission criticised the slow pace of law reform, pointing a finger at civil servants for regularly disregarding the need to respond quickly.

(2) Government wins the asylum deportation case

The government won an appeal against a court ruling which would have made it more difficult to send Darfuri asylum-seekers to Sudan. The law lords overturned a Court of Appeal ruling that it was “unduly harsh” to send people back to the Sudanese capital despite warnings they faced torture.

(3) Gordon Brown seeks all-party consensus on extending detention limit

Gordon Brown is to compromise his plan to extend detention limit in an attempt to win all-party agreement for a higher limit.

(4) Retiring age cases put on hold until 2009

The Employment Tribunals Service has put all British retirement age discrimination cases on hold pending the European Court of Justice ruling, which is not expected until at least 2009.

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(1) Immigration

Media sensitive Home Office, who was anxious to avoid further damaging publicity, is accused of covering up the fact that more than 9,000 illegal immigrants could have been cleared to work in the private security industry, some of them guarding sensitive Whitehall locations and some even under Metropolitan police contracts. Concerns were first raised in April by the Border and Immigration Agency, but the Home Office decided that the issue was not ready for public announcement.

(2) Call for change divorce law

Under the existing law, any souse who has been paid a lump sum or awarded property can be forced to hand it back if their partner is declared bankrupt within five years of a marriage dissolution. A divorcee who could lose her home after her former husband was declared bankrupt is to seek a change in the law which could benefit thousands of other ex-wives threatened with financial ruin by their spouses’ creditors.

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2007年11月14日

(1) Police – points-for-justice system criticised

It has been revealed that for the last 5 years police has been focused on increasing the number of “offences brought to justice” to meet the government targets, that they are neglecting to tackle serious, violent crimes and focusing instead on minor offences.

(2) DNA helps to jail girl’s killer -32 years on

When the real murderer of schoolgirl 32 years ago was jailed for life, Stefan Kiszko, the tax clerk who spent 16 years in prison for murder he did not commit received his final vindication yesterday. The real murderer was arrested for another sexual attack and the DNA taken then was a direct match for traces found on the dead girl’s clothing.

(3) Age discrimination case

The first case of an employee to sue her employer and claim discrimination for being too young won the case yesterday.

(4) Rape conviction rates

The Conservative leader David Cameron is right to draw attention to the issue of rape but his claim that “tougher sentences” are necessary is wrong, because the problem with the rape lies not with the deterrent, but the prosecution.

(5) Conservative party to carry out separate inquiry into failing prison system

The Conservative party is to launch an official enquiry into the failing prison system that is separate to the one being led by the disgraced cabinet minister Jonathan Aitkin. The inquiry will be announced in the next few weeks and it will report in spring next year.

(6) Tribunals see surge in equal pay claims

According to research published today, there is a sharp increase in equal pay claims particularly in public sector pursued by no-win, no-fee lawyers.

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2007年11月13日

(1) Disgraced Aitken returns to Tory fold to advise on prison policy

The disgraced former cabinet minister Jonathan Aitkin, who was jailed in 1999 for perjury after lying in a libel action brought against Guardian, is to chair a group of criminal justice experts examining the penal reform policy.

(2) UK terror detentions – longest of any democracy

According to the research carried out by Liberty, the human rights organization, Britain‘s existing 28-day limit on detention of terror suspects without charge is already the longest compared to other democratic countries.

(3) Illegal immigrants given security jobs

The Home Office admitted that thousands of illegal immigrants may have been working for private security companies, and some were actually working at the Metropolitan police in Whitehall, and at ports and airports since July. The government have ordered new checks to be carried out by its Security Industry Authority, which has licensed 250,000 people since 2004 without checking their legal right to work.

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2007年11月09日

(1) Child custody battle – judges back two British boys who refuse to live in France

Senior judges in England granted two boys who refuse to live in France with their mother to stay in England. French mother had taken them back to France after her marriage to their British father had broken down, but they failed to settle into their new lives in France and after a holiday in England with their father, they refused to return. This prompted the mother to accuse the father of abducting the boys and to start a High Court action under the Hague Convention for the boys’ return. *The Hague Convention enshrines the international ban on child abduction.

(2) Terrorists in British jails set to rise by tenfold

An internal Whitehall document predicts that the number of terrorist prisoners held in jails in England and Wales will rise more than tenfold in the next nice years. The Director-General of the Prison Service, said that if this happens, we would have to make more maximum security Category A prisons or convert existing prisons, giving them additional security.

(3) More pressure for Met chief to resign over de Menezes case

Pressure is mounting for the Met chief to resign over de Menezes case. Today the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will publish its “Stockwell I” report, which formed the basis of last week’s prosecution case against the Metropolitan Police over health-and-safety failures. This report will highlight multiple errors that led to the Brazilian’s death and identify 16 areas where police must change to prevent a repeat of the tragedy. Met chief insisted once again that he had no intention to resign.

(4) Legal drama over parental rights and responsibilities

A woman who put a child conceived during a one-night stand up for adoption has turned into a legal dilemma over parental rights and responsibilities. A county court has already ordered that the woman’s parents and the father should know, so that her local authority can see if they are willing and able to look after the baby girl. But the woman who does not want to reveal the identity of the father made an appeal

(5) Dando case – decision to be made before the end of the month

The appeal of the man convicted of murdering the television presenter Jill Dando, has focused on whether evidence of a particle of firearms discharge residue played too great a part in George’s conviction at his trial in 2001. The court heard evidence from scientists from the Forensic Science Service, who indicated that it might not have been clear to the jury that this evidence was “neutral” or inconclusive. The court of appeal reserved its judgment yesterday but indicated that a decision would be made before the end of the month.

(6) Video links between courts and the homes of elderly victims

The CPS said that elderly victims of crime would be allowed to give evidence via video links from home, as it immerged that up to 500,000 older people a year could fall victim to abuse and neglect, bogus traders, or street crime. There is a huge under-reporting of crimes against older pole, due to fear, embarrassment, and a lack of access to trusted people to whom they can report their worries. The CPS said measures such as video links between courts and the homes of victims, and the potential admissibility of hearsay evidence, could help to increase the number of successful prosecutions.

(7) Home Secretary – defiant over extending limit on holding terror suspects

Despite all-party opposition to the plans, the Home Secretary told the Commons last night that moves to increase the period that terror suspects can be held without charge would go ahead. The revelation in internal Whitehall documents which estimate that the number of extremists in jail could leap from the current to 131 to 1,600 by 2016, will make it more difficult for the Home Secretary to stand by her plans.

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2007年11月08日

(1) Legalising brothels to protect prostitutes

The Women’s Institute has started a campaign to license brothels to protect prostitutes. They put forward their argument by citing Netherlands’ example, where brothels are licensed and sex workers are given health checks to protect their clients from sexually transmitted diseases. The UK Government has said that it would reform the law but only to encourage prostitutes to rehabilitate from drug addiction. The government says that there is little evidence to suggest that legalized brothers or zones protect the safety of sex workers.

(2) Queens speech – focus on counterterrorism and immigration laws

In the Queen’s speech, Gordon Brown has made counterterrorism his priority and put forward the most controversial measure to extend terror suspects’ detention without charge beyond 28 days. The Home Office plans to publish a counter-terrorism Bill before the end of the year. The Government will also streamline the immigration laws and plans to publish a draft citizenship and immigration bill providing a legal definition of the “rights and duties” of being a British citizen.

(3) Dando conviction

On the second day of Barry George’s appeal to his murder conviction, prosecution lawyer told three appeal judges that although the firearm discharge residue evidence was focused on, it was just one component of what was a compelling case. He argued that the Crown had presented “a classic circumstantial case” which proved George’s guilt.

(4) Coroner accepted defeat at Diana inquest

The coroner conducting the inquests into the death of the Princess of Wales accepted defeat yesterday in his efforts to secure the cooperation of French photographers to appear in court as witnesses. He told the hearing in the high court that the French authorities had refused British requests to force the paparazzi to give evidence. British Law will not be able to force them to appear.

Londate

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2007年11月07日

(1) Bills announced to boost Brown’s popularity

In an attempt to return to his pre-autumn lead over the Conservatives, Gordon Brown will announce 23 bills at today’s State Opening. Amongst those are Bills on immigration, setting out a points-based system, for workers coming to the UK, and counter-terrorism, in which he will try to increase the 28-day limit for dententnion of suspects.

(2) Jill Dando’s killer – start of his second appeal

In Dundo murder case, the defence lawyer said that Barry George’s conviction was unsafe as the case against him had been “significantly weekend” by a new assessment of the value of a microscopic particle of gunshot residue found in his coat pocket.

(3) Crackdown on global paedophile ring that abused to order

International hunt to crack down on a paedophile ring that filmed tailor-made attacks for individual abusers has started by police in 28 countries. So far officers have arrested 93 people in connection with the case, about half of whom were living in Britain. Confiscated material and details of customers were forwarded to Europol and Eurojust, which coordinates cross-border operations.

(4) Plans to allow judges to return to the Bar ditched

Jack Straw, has ditched his predecessor’s controversial reforms that would have allowed judges, including former lord Chancellors to go back to work as lawyers. The reforms were aimed at making the job of a judge more attractive, particularly to women, but received strong opposition from judges who condemned plans as unworkable, possibly unlawful, counter-productive and damaging to judicial independence.

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(1) Prison terms to fit the prison capacity

One of Britain’s most senior judges, who is also a deputy chairman of the Sentencing Guideline Council, said that he believed that judges should reduce jail terms if prisoners are going to be locked up in “dreadful conditions” due to prison overcrowding. The views of such a senior judge may have huge ramifications, and could now lead to new guidelines being issued. The opposition party criticised his views by saying “Sentencing should fit the crime, not the prison capacity”.

(2) Independent review on allowing wire-tap evidence in court

The Home Secretary has instructed an independent review to consider whether allowing wire-tap evidence in court would jeopardize secret eaves-dropping methods. Among those who want juries to see transcripts of trapped calls are the head of the CPS, the Shadow Home Secretary and the Lib Dem spokesman for home affairs, who all ague that the move would reduce the need for more draconian measures. The report is expected to be completed by Christmas.

(3) Detention extension of terror suspects – compared to apartheid era

At the Bar Conference in London, one of the world’s leading civil-rights lawyers compared the current UK, whose government was trying to extend detention period of terror suspects even further, with that of South Africa’s apartheid era. He said he had not seen any evidence to justify any extension beyond 28 days. He also expressed his disappointment towards the law lords for saying it might be reasonable for terror suspects to be given curfews for up to 16 hours a day under the Government’s controversial control orders.

(4) Jill Dando’s killer begins his new appeal

The man convicted of shooting the television presenter Jill Dando was granted a new appeal after a five-year review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission raised concerns about forensic science evidence and will begin his latest attempt to overturn his conviction today. The key evidence, a peck of gunshot residue found in his jacket pocket, was called into question and there is a strong possibility that the conviction will be quashed.

(5) Divorce payout – women entitled to half of her former husband’s assets

A leading family QC said that on the principle that the couple had entered their marriage with nothing, and all the wealth was accumulated during the marriage, it was arguable that a wife was entitled to not less than half of her former husband’s assets. As there are growing dissatisfaction about awards in big money, Britain’s most senior family judge said that there should be a review of the law on the division of assets.

(6) Six-year limit for suing over assault to be tested

Three men who were sexually abused as children by teachers will bring their cases before the Lords, highlighting legal loophole which has allowed public bodies to escape liability for the actions of pedophile care workers and teachers. The current law stipulates that if the victims had been injured due to deliberate assault, claims for assaults had to be brought within six years of occurrence, or six years after the victim’s 18th birthday, if later. In 2001, the Law Commission recommended that the courts should be given discretion to allow assault claims outside the time limit. Although the government accepted the recommendation in 2002, no bill has been introduced since.

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2007年11月02日

Nov 1, 2007 (Thursday)


(1) Police may be ordered to erase criminal records of minor offences

Information Commissioner argues that holding decades-old information of minor criminal offences breaches privacy laws. The Data Protection Act stipulates that personal data retained for any purpose should be adequate, relevant and not excessive, and should not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose. He believes that the police are holding on to some old conviction data for too long whereby having adverse effect on the rehabilitation of many.

(2) Former Lord Chancellor may sue the government over pension row

Lord Falconer, who resigned from the Cabinet just before Mr Brown took over in June, is preparing to sue the Prime Minister over his refusal to allow him to claim a six-figure sum pension. If he does take legal action, it will be the first case of its kind to be brought against the Government, opening up old wounds between Brownites and Blairites.

(3) Control Orders – lords gave backing to the control orders

Britain’s highest court gave broad legal baking to the government’s controversial control order regime for terror suspects, but also created important new rights for the accused to know the thrust of the case against them. Law lords ruled that the most draconian power of an 18-hour curfew breached the human rights to liberty but held that 12 Hours was acceptable.

(4) Diana inquest – French authorities attempting to protect the paparazzi witnesses

Despite UK authorities’ attempt in persuading French Government to compel witnesses to give evidence at the Princess’s inquest, the French authorities made a political decision not to do so. The revelation was made by the Lord Justice Baker, the coroner, at a special hearing at the High Court without the jury to decide how the inquest should proceed in the light of paparazzi’s refusal to give evidence.

(5) Government’s attempt to deport the killer of headteacher was rejected yet again

A judge rejected the government’s attempt to appeal against an asylum and immigration tribunal decision last August that Chindamno, the killer of headteacher, must be allowed to remain in Britain. The decision was based mainly on immigration rules, which say a national of an EU state who has resided in the UK for 10 years cannot be deported except on “imperative grounds of public security”.

(6) Law lords order protection for credit card purchases abroad

A ruling, that ends a 12-year battle between the Office of Fair Trading and a number of credit card companies, was given at the law lords yesterday whereby credit card firms were ordered to provide customers the same protection when buying abroad that they receive in the UK.

(7) More foreigners fill new UK jobs than Britons

The revelation that foreign nationals – not Britons- are filling the jobs in the expanding labour market may fuel the heated immigration debate. Despite Gordon Brown’s pledge to work with business to give “a British job to every British worker”, the latest figures show how formidable the challenge his is facing with is.

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