“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
Don’t fall for Boris Johnson’s criminal justice con tricks
Yesterday morning, newly-appointed Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told Radio 4’s Today programme of his pleasure that the Prime Minister is taking an interest in the criminal justice system. And certainly, after three years of wilful abandonment under Theresa May, I would in principle gladly welcome some Downing Street-level political attention on the ruinous state of…Read more
The assault on Jack Grealish – is 14 weeks’ imprisonment the right sentence?
I fired off a quick thread last night offering my rough take on yesterday’s conviction and sentence of Paul Mitchell, the Birmingham City supporter who ran onto the pitch during Sunday’s match between Birmingham and Aston Villa and assaulted Villa footballer Jack Grealish. Below are my provisional thoughts. What were the charges? Paul Mitchell was…Read more