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Law | The Guardian

Latest news and features from, the world's leading liberal voice

Q&A's #MeToo show failed to answer the question: why was it on at all? | Gabrielle Jackson

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 23:32:17 GMT

The debate about sexual harassment got more heat than light from an ABC panel set up for a fight

I tried to be open minded, I really did. For a second, I even thought Janet Albrechtsen was being reasonable. But it was only a second. Just when the #MeToo episode of ABC’s Q&A was responding to a great question about including exploited and powerless women – who are over-represented in crimes of abuse, harassment and violence – Albrechtsen, a columnist for the Australian, pulled the favoured manoeuvre of people losing arguments everywhere: the whataboutery move.

“I think #MeToo needs to get a passport because there are these kind of things going on around the world,” she gasped. “If we don’t shine the light then who on earth does?”

Related: #MeToo movement must not turn into 'trial by Twitter', Q&A special hears

Related: Turnbull's sex ban has thrown petrol on a political bonfire | Katharine Murphy

Related: Carnality and consent: how to navigate sex in the modern world

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UK high court refuses Turkey extradition due to overcrowded prisons

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:59:45 GMT

Judge says prison numbers since attempted coup means guards may not be able to assert control

The high court in London has refused to return an absconding British prisoner to Turkey on the grounds that the country’s jails are so overcrowded they are unsafe following the 2016 attempted coup.

The decision – the latest in a series of extradition setbacks inflicted by British judges – is diplomatically embarrassing for a fellow member of Nato and sets a significant legal precedent.

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Are Britain’s prisons facing a meltdown?

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 21:31:26 GMT

Few in government can now deny that our jail system is in severe crisis. Yet no one seems to want to tackle it

It is highly likely that Khader Ahmed Saleh felt fear in the weeks before he was murdered. And if he did, the wiry young father from London’s tight-knit Somali community would not have been alone. In a recent survey, more than two-thirds of his fellow inmates inside Wormwood Scrubs prison admitted feeling unsafe. That finding was published weeks before Saleh was stabbed to death on the afternoon of 31 January.

Last Thursday Saleh’s family and friends assembled outside the west London prison, demanding answers in relation to another violent tragic episode inside the UK penal estate; one that has left three inmates charged with murder.

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America's top feminist lawyer, Gloria Allred: 'Men who have been wrongdoers are living in fear'

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:00:44 GMT

As a Netflix documentary reflects on Allred’s decades fighting for women and minorities, the attorney is still going strong

At 76, the renowned women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred shows no sign of letting up.

In the post-Weinstein era, she’s busier than ever, claiming there are many high-profile men guilty of sexual misconduct who have not yet been exposed and are terrified their victims will speak out at any moment.

Related: Seeing Allred: the life of the outspoken equal rights lawyer

Related: Who’s afraid of Gloria Allred? | Alex Clark

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Biohacker fights for 'cyborg rights' after implanted travel card cancelled

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 20:30:30 GMT

Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow had Opal chip placed under skin of his left hand

A body-hacking scientist has said he plans to launch legal action against the New South Wales government after it cancelled a travel card he had surgically implanted in his hand.

Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow – his legal name – cut out the chip of the card, had it encased in biocompatible plastic, then had a piercing expert implant it just under the skin on his left hand.

Related: Biohackers push life to the limits with DIY biology

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First online courtroom hearings to pave way for digital justice

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:15:56 GMT

Claimants will begin attending UK tax appeal tribunals via video link this spring

The first online courtroom hearings for claimants, in which they and their lawyers will participate via video link, are to begin this spring.

Letters are being sent to people due to attend tax appeal tribunals, asking if they would prefer to conduct their cases over secure camera and audio connections.

Related: Justice system at 'breaking point' over digital evidence

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Exclusive: shock figures reveal state of UK’s brutal prisons

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 21:31:26 GMT

Observer analysis of inspection reports shows two in five jails are unsafe and inadequate conditions prevail in over two-thirds

The scale of the crisis engulfing Britain’s prisons can be revealed, after an Observer investigation found that two-thirds are providing inmates with inadequate conditions or unacceptable treatment.

An analysis of hundreds of inspections covering 118 institutions found that a staggering 68% are now providing unsatisfactory standards in at least one respect, with two in five jails deemed to be unacceptably unsafe.

Related: More inmates to be released early under home curfew rules

Related: Violence and self-harm in UK prisons continue to surge

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More inmates to be released early under home curfew rules

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:20:33 GMT

England and Wales prison service says scheme was previously too bureaucratic

The government hopes to increase the number of inmates released early from jail under strict home curfew rules, it has emerged.

The Ministry of Justice has issued revised guidance for its home detention curfew (HDC) scheme, which sees eligible prisoners released under strict monitoring conditions, including a tag and a requirement to be home between 7pm and 7am.

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Lady Hale: 'Studying law? Make sure you have the stomach for it'

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:56:04 GMT

The first female head of the supreme court shares her advice for would-be lawyers, and remembers her rise to the top

After graduating from the University of Cambridge in 1966, Lady Hale taught law at Manchester University until 1984, during which time she also qualified as a barrister. She has also served as a high court judge, a lady justice of appeal, a lord of appeal in ordinary, and was appointed the first female president of the supreme court in October 2017.

What are your tips for students looking for their first job in law?

'The law should be as reflective of the population as it is possible to be'

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Outrage as US border agents cut visit times for divided families

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 22:16:11 GMT

  • Border Patrol restricting access to Friendship Park in California
  • ‘This has to do with the message of hate that Trump screams out’

US Border Patrol is restricting access to a park on the California-Mexico border where families separated by immigration laws frequently visit each other, sparking outrage from human rights advocates.

At Friendship Park, which extends from San Diego to Tijuana, US authorities are now limiting meetings to 30 minutes and allowing only 10 people at a time, a major policy change that dismantles what is for many families the only opportunity to spend time with their loved ones in person.

Related: Why Democrats should support open borders | Reece Jones

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The Guardian view of Boris Johnson’s Brexit vision: all about me | Editorial

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 17:37:44 GMT

It was billed as a Valentine’s Day letter to remainers. But the foreign secretary’s love affair with himself got in the way

The foreign secretary Boris Johnson made a speech on Wednesday in praise of optimism, confidence and a liberal Brexit. It was rich in rhetorical flourish and almost empty of detail. It was the speech of a politician whose only credibility is as the tribune of the leave campaign, a shameless piece of oration that fell back on his old journalistic trick of describing an EU that does not exist in order to justify his determination to get out. It was billed as an overture to the 48% who wanted to stay in the EU and a definitive speech about the shape of Britain’s future relationships outside it. But it was singularly free of the kind of irksome detail needed to understand a world beyond Europe.

It was rich in what Whitehall describes as optimism bias, “an estimate for a project’s costs, benefits and duration [made] in the absence of robust primary evidence”. It was a Valentine’s Day card to himself and his ambition to be the next Tory leader, an ambition he betrayed with his incoherent answer to a question about whether he would rule out resigning this year.

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Woman abandons rape case in despair at legal process

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 06:00:08 GMT

Metropolitan police and CPS errors left complainant enduring five years of delays

A woman who endured five years of delays due to Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan police errors in pursuing a rape case is abandoning the legal process in despair.

The CPS has apologised to the complainant, now in her mid-twenties, for mistakes involving police and prosecutors who failed to communicate with one another while the suspect skipped bail and a European arrest warrant (EAW) went missing.

Related: Underfunded justice system 'crumbling', top criminal barrister says

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The Guardian view on Barry Bennell: a chapter, not the whole story | Editorial

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:13:30 GMT

For 20 years a football coach was allowed to abuse terrified children in his care. There is no confidence yet that it can never happen again

Barry Bennell, the former football coach convicted last week on 50 counts of abuse of young boys in a ruthless and brutal exploitation of the power he had to fulfil their dreams, will be sentenced on Monday. He will probably spend the rest of his life in prison. That will be small satisfaction for his victims, many of whose lives have been irredeemably scarred by the experience of his abuse. There may be two or even three times as many victims as have already come forward: this has been a slow and painful reckoning, and scores of men who had spent their lives in denial have finally felt able to speak out since November 2016, when Andy Woodward first told the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor about the appalling trauma of being one of Bennell’s boys.

Bennell had already served two terms in prison in the UK and one in the US before the scale of his cruelty finally became clear. It may never have come to light if Mr Woodward had not found the courage to forego his right to anonymity and speak out. The familiar outlines of serial abuse have now emerged. Bennell was a cunning and manipulative man with what an American court called an “insatiable appetite” for young boys. For more than 20 years, in what became a well-established grooming routine, he had boys to stay, scared them with horror movies, lured them into the false security of his bed and made victims of these terrified children, often only 11 or 12, sometimes hundreds of miles from home. He knew they would stay silent from the shame of admitting what had happened, from their belief that he could help them to realise their talent on the football field, and from fear that they would not be believed. Some adults had their suspicions and shared them, but to no effect: at Manchester City, the Guardian has been told, the youth team manager Steve Fleet warned the board about Bennell. Bennell went on to Crewe Alexandra, where a board member reported his suspicions to management in the late 1980s, before Bennell was sacked in 1992.

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Taylor Swift copyright lawsuit dismissed by US judge

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 12:02:33 GMT

Songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler alleged the singer stole the lyrics to their song Playas Gon’ Play for her 2014 hit Shake It Off

A California judge has thrown out a copyright lawsuit filed against Taylor Swift. Songwriting duo Sean Hall and Nathan Butler alleged that Swift stole lyrics from their 2000 song Playas Gon’ Play, written for the US girl group 3LW, for her 2014 hit Shake It Off.

The 3LW hit includes the lyrics, “Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate”. The chorus to Swift’s single features the lines, “‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play / And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”

Related: Taylor Swift: Reputation review – superb songcraft meets extreme drama

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New Zealand legal profession shocked by sexual harassment scandal

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 04:37:10 GMT

Prestigious firm Russell McVeagh at centre of allegations of sexual misconduct towards interns

One of New Zealand’s most prestigious law firms has become embroiled in allegations of sexual misconduct towards interns – allegations which have cost two lawyers their jobs, and caused the entire profession to question how it treats its most vulnerable staff.

An investigation by website Newsroom has alleged “a pattern of sexually inappropriate behaviour” by a number of senior male lawyers at the firm Russell McVeagh towards female university students who spent a summer clerking for the firm in Wellington in 2016.

Related: #MeToo: how a hashtag became a rallying cry against sexual harassment

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Focusing on animal welfare is a smart move for Labour | Abi Wilkinson

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 11:43:56 GMT

Policies that motivate your base are no bad thing if they’re also popular among the wider electorate. Priorities such as a ban on exporting live animals will play well

During the last general election, animal welfare issues generated relatively little mainstream media attention. Though polls showed the vast majority of people opposed repealing the fox hunting ban, the consensus among commentators (myself included) was that the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge – to allow a vote on the issue in parliament – wouldn’t be a priority for voters. Other things, like the NHS, security, education and perceptions of competence, seemed far more likely to swing the result.

Meanwhile, on social media, something significant was happening. Not so much on Twitter, where journalists tend to spend a lot of their time. But over on Facebook, which has a far larger active user base, articles and videos about the potential legalisation of fox hunting went viral, sometimes racking up seven-figure view counts and reaching people who weren’t necessarily particularly politically engaged. The other big animal welfare story of the election – the Conservative U-turn on banning wild animals from circuses – spread similarly rapidly. That ban is also supported by the vast majority of voters and has already been implemented in Scotland.

Related: Foie gras and badger culling would be banned under Labour proposals

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Modern slavery ruling may lead to more victims getting leave to remain

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 14:47:46 GMT

Home Office guidance on trafficking victims fails to reflect European convention obligations, court finds

A man who spent more than two decades as a slave has won a significant victory in the court of appeal, in a ruling which could lead to many more victims of trafficking being granted leave to remain in the UK.

However, in an interview with the Guardian, the man said despite no longer being locked up as a slave he continued to suffer because he does not yet have leave to remain.

Related: Tens of thousands of modern slavery victims in UK, NCA says

Related: Home Office accused of cruelty for ordering cannabis slave back to Vietnam

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Walsall council ban on cemetery borders and flowerbeds challenged

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 18:11:59 GMT

Muslim man claims ban on edging around father’s grave breaches right to freedom of religion

A Muslim man is mounting a legal challenge over a prohibition on edging, or borders, around individual graves in his local cemetery, saying that the ban breaches his right to freedom of religion.

Atta Ul-Haq has been granted permission for a judicial review of Walsall council’s policy on the basis that it is a matter of public interest.

Related: Defying gravity

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If the abused can’t speak, we need other routes to their pain | Andy Connolly

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 00:05:29 GMT

It took decades before any of Barry Bennell’s abuse victims came forward – we need to understand why

‘Why did it take them so long to tell anyone?” This is a question we often hear at SurvivorsUK, especially when a high-profile trial, such as that of Barry Bennell, is in the news.

Based on an analysis of our client data from a few years ago, we estimate that the average length of time it takes the men who we support to come forward is 26 years. And this is the average for the men who do come forward. We cannot know how many men never come forward, never report to the police and never ask for help. It has been estimated that this could be as high as 96% and that as many as one in six men has experienced sexual violence. Perhaps the kinder and more revealing question to ask is: “How is it that these men did report, given that so few do?”

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Lady Hale: courts and judiciary should reflect diversity of UK

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:32:22 GMT

Country’s most senior judge favours affirmative action over positive discrimination to address gender imbalance

The courts and judiciary should as far as possible reflect the full diversity of the UK population, the country’s most senior judge, Brenda Hale, has told the Guardian.

In an interview with the student section of the paper, Lady Hale, the president of the supreme court, said she regretted that women were still “seriously underrepresented” among senior judges.

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