Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry this morning became the latest media casualty of Labour’s attempts to justify their much-criticised attack adverts on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in particular the tweet claiming that Mr Sunak “[doesn’t] believe that adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison”. Appearing on Radio 4’s Today programme to be interviewed…Read more
How do we force cowardly murderers to face up to what they have done?
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
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
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
Why did the Court of Appeal refuse to change the sentences of the killers of Pc Harper?
Following the Court of Appeal handing down judgment yesterday in the appeals against sentence by the killers of Pc Andrew Harper, and the Attorney General’s application to refer the sentences as unduly lenient, I posted the below thread, looking at what the judgment means.Read more
The UK government responded to Black Lives Matter – by protecting statues
I have written something for The Guardian about our politicians’ rush to create new criminal offences protecting statues. The piece can be found here.Read more
Televising sentencing remarks is a gimmick that has not been thought through
As somebody who spends more time than is healthy banging the drum for better public understanding of the justice system, today’s announcement from the Ministry of Justice that sentence hearings in the Crown Court will be televised should be right up my wheelhouse. The proposal sidesteps any worries about a rush to an Americanised celebrification…Read more
10 things you should know about the London Bridge attacker and “early release”
No time can be afforded in 2019 to respect the dead. Not when there’s an election at stake, and the tantalising prospect of scoring cheap political points winks coyly at you from a special advisor’s email. So it is that, within 24 hours after the killings by Usman Khan at London Bridge, politicians have lined…Read more
“Life means life for child killers” – the truth behind the headlines
There used to be a time, once Chris Grayling had hung up his butcher’s apron at the Ministry of Justice and Theresa May ushered in a quieter, more respectful justice strategy of wanton neglect, that I wrote about something other than Boris Johnson. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister keeps booting the justice football around the pitch…Read more
The Tories’ tough talk on crime is shameless and cynical
Something I wrote for The Guardian about the tough-on-crime rhetoric at the Conservative Party Conference is available here.Read more