Something must be done about the problem of convicted criminals refusing to attend court for their sentencing hearings. So both main political parties are agreed. And so, according to polls, is the public. The issue has returned to the fore this week with the refusal of Thomas Cashman to attend his sentence following his conviction…Read more
We need to talk about Gary Glitter
Yesterday, as newspapers reported that convicted sex offender Paul Gadd – formerly known as Gary Glitter – had been recalled to prison having apparently breached the conditions of his licence, the following tweet was posted by a legal commentator and practising barrister: Now, it is a matter of personal interpretation as to whether this tweet…Read more
When is human trafficking not human trafficking? When it makes a good story
The New York Times has recently carried a series of articles, offering a critical insight into the failings of the English and Welsh – or, as the NYT insists on calling it, the “British” – criminal justice system. It is fair to say that the reception has been mixed. Earlier pieces focused on case studies…Read more
Why are criminal barristers taking part in an “unnecessary and irresponsible strike”?
According to Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, today I, along with thousands of my fellow criminal barristers, am taking part in an “unnecessary and irresponsible strike” which will “cause delays for victims and the wider public”. This comes as something of a surprise to me. It’s an odd sort of “strike”, given that we will, today…Read more
A thought experiment on criminal damage
Following the ongoing fallout from the trial of the Colston Four, and amid much confusion caused by the way in which the complicated issues have been presented by commentators and politicians, it may help to say a little more about criminal damage. I would like to take a hypothetical situation, wholly unrelated to the Colston…Read more
Do the verdicts in the trial of the Colston 4 signal something wrong with our jury system? 10 things you should know
1. What happened in this case? On 7 June 2020, in the course of a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol, a monument of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down and thrown into the harbourside. Consequently, four of those involved, Milo Ponsford, Sage Willoughby, Rhian Graham and Jake Skuse were charged with criminal damage….Read more
Harper’s Law: A grim tale of political exploitation and incoherent lawmaking
“You’d want to see him put to death! You’d want it to be cruel and unusual, which is why it’s probably a good idea that fathers of murder victims don’t have legal rights in these situations – now we’re going back to school!” Toby Ziegler, The West Wing, Season 4 Episode 6 Four weeks after their…Read more
The Hillsborough judgment: what just happened?
Today, at the Crown Court at Manchester (sitting in a temporary “Nightingale Court” at the Lowry theatre in Salford), the trial of three men accused of offences arising out of the Hillsborough disaster was brought to an abrupt halt, when the judge ruled at the close of the prosecution case that the defendants had “no…Read more
How can a 5-year prison sentence ever reflect the intentional taking of a life?
Yesterday, at Swansea Crown Court, 70-year-old Anthony Williams was imprisoned for 5 years for the manslaughter of his wife, Ruth. He had on Monday this week been acquitted by a jury of murder, having admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility at an earlier stage of proceedings. The standard reporting clichés ring particularly hollow in…Read more
What happened in the case of Emily Jones?
Today, on the second day of the trial of Eltiona Skana, who was charged with the murder of seven-year-old Emily Jones, the prosecution at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court offered no evidence on the charge of murder, and accepted the Defendant’s guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. There has been much…Read more