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
The law’s broken. Here’s how to fix it.
As has been widely reported, in light of Justice Secretary Dominic Raab’s refusal to implement the urgent recommendations of the government-commissioned Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid, criminal barristers have voted in record numbers in favour of an unprecedented indefinite walkout. Barristers defending in legally aided criminal cases will no longer be attending Crown Courts,…Read more
Why on earth would the Metropolitan Police ask Sue Gray to redact key parts of her independent report?
This has been the question reverberating around Twitter all day. It’s the first question I asked myself when I saw the story, and was a question that appeared several hundred times in my mentions from people understandably confused by the Met’s curious statement, released this morning: “For the events the Met is investigating, we asked…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
The Big Interview with Chambers Student
I was kindly invited to take part in The Big Interview with Chambers Student, and took the opportunity to sound off in the usual gibbering fashion. If gibbering is your thing, the interview can be found here.Read more
What can be done to appeal an unjust acquittal?
It was reported this morning that Lissie Harper, the widow of Pc Andrew Harper, has written to the Prime Minister asking for a retrial of her husband’s killers, who at their trial last week were acquitted of murder and convicted of manslaughter. There is also a petition, signed by over 200,000 people, seeking a similar…Read more