The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

June 2013 Archives

Twitter users who named the schoolgirl who ran away with disgraced teacher Jeremy Forrest could have broken the law that protects anonymity for victims of child sexual abuse, reports The Daily Mail.

Forrest was jailed for five-and-a-half years on Friday last week, after pleading guilty to five charges of sexual activity with a child under section 9 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and one charge of abduction.

However, it has now been revealed that the police and Crown Prosecution Service are investigating whether Twitter users who named his victim on social media have broken a law that protects the anonymity of victims of child sexual abuse.

A parliamentary watchdog set up after the MP expenses scandal in 2009 has revealed it has spent almost half-a-million pounds on legal advice in the three years to 2012, reports the BBC.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was set up in 2009 after revelations in The Daily Telegraph concerning MP's expenses claims. The scandal dominated the news agenda for much of the summer of that year, as the details of several claims were made public, sparking huge condemnation.

The scandal resulted in a long investigation into MPs' expenses claims that resulted in several criminal convictions for false accounting and saw a number of MPs sentenced to time in prison.

Barry Brooks claimed over one million pounds in disability benefits whilst walking unaided and living a life of luxury, reports The Daily Mail.

Barry Brooks, Derek Arnold and Stephen Isaac, all men in their 50s, have defrauded the Government out of £1.88 million in benefits they were not legitimately entitled to.

The protagonist, Brooks, claimed that he was too weak to lift a hand and subsequently claimed around £29,000 a month in benefits, purporting to be eligible for the Government's Access to Work Scheme. In reality, Brooks was an able-bodied man, working in a pub restaurant and a motorcycle shop, both of which he owned.

The wife of a secretive billionaire is being sued by her estranged spouse after she raided his safe in order to obtain information as to the sum of his assets, reports The Daily Mail.

In anticipation of an upcoming divorce, the wife of the billionaire, neither of whom can be named, endeavoured to discover the extent of her husband's wealth. The lengths to which she took this search heightened when she raided his private safe in the hope of discovering paperwork to detail the sum of his assets.

Using the information she found during this raid, she successfully obtained a freezing order for £20 million of her husband's assets. This included a luxury property he owned in Spain.

A deeply disturbing rapist who walked free from trial in 1997 on a technicality has finally been brought to justice under the recently revised laws allowing 'double jeopardy', reports The Independent.

Wendell Baker committed a horrific rape on a 66-year-old woman who was asleep in her own home in January 1997.

Hazel Backwell was woken as Baker broke into her flat in Stratford, East London, on the morning of 23 January 1997. Baker struck her over the head, tied her hands behind her back and then raped her.

Immigration: UK citizens leave to bring their relatives home

UK citizens are using a legal loophole to bypass immigration rules in order to bring relatives into the country, reports the BBC.

The technicality means that relatives who have worked in another European country for at least three months can be considered under EU law rather than UK law.

The technicality is called the 'Surinder Singh route', named after a famous court case involving immigration law. Essentially it allows non-UK citizens to avoid UK legal requirements that a family member must earn more than £18,600 per year in order to come to the UK.

Perverting the course of justice: Top judge brought before court

A leading black female judge faces court as a defendant, charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice during a speeding case, reports The Telegraph.

Constance Briscoe, a 56-year-old judge who has been working as a lawyer since 1983 will face the court from an unfamiliar perspective. She has been charged with deceiving police when providing statements during a case involving her friends, Huhne and Pryce.

The case in question regarded the speeding offence, which Chris Huhne had convinced his wife, Vicky Pryce, to bear points for on his behalf in order that he would subsequently avoid a driving ban.

Convicted of physically abusing his own children, illegal immigrant Antonio Alfredo Bazomba, won his fight against deportation, reports The Daily Mail.

Despite entering the country illegally in 2001 and having his bid for asylum rejected, Mr Bazomba was granted three years exceptional leave to remain in the country.

During this time, he has been convicted of three counts of cruelty to his own children and one count of actual bodily harm. Yet Mr Bazomba has managed to win a case against his deportation, granting him leave to remain in the UK under the Human Rights Act.

Defamation: Psychic wins case against defamatory Daily Mail article

The Daily Mail has been ordered to pay out a considerable amount in damages for a defamatory article about a psychic, Sally Morgan, reports the BBC.

An article published by The Daily Mail in September 2011, following a performance by Mrs Morgan to an audience in Dublin, has been deemed unfair.

In the article, The Daily Mail purported that the well-known psychic had worn an earpiece during her performance in which her research team fed her information relating to members of the audience which she then passed off as messages from the dead. Suggesting that Mrs Morgan's performances were a dishonest scam caused serious damage to the psychic's reputation.

Facebook has admitted to the accidental leak of millions of users' private contact information, reports The Daily Mail.

Of Facebook's 1.1 billion users, some six million have fallen victim to a data breach. As a result of a technical error, Facebook admits to user information, including phone numbers and email addresses, being accidentally leaked.

The information was given out when other users downloaded the contact information of their friends, providing them with more information than should have been issued.

Celebrity chef Marco Pierre-White has been branded a 'dishonest idiot' by a judge and left with a £500,000 legal bill after losing a High Court battle with two former business associates, reports The Independent.

Pierre-White, famously known for his fiery temper, had taken two former business partners, Andrew Parton and Peter Featherman, to court, after claiming that he had lost out on shares worth around £175,000 relating to the running of gastropub, 'The Yew Tree', in Highclere, near Newbury, Berkshire.

The dispute centred on the use of Pierre-White's name in association with the pub, which for years was called 'Marco Pierre-White's Yew Tree Inn'.

Passengers using the 'UK-to-mainland-Europe' rail service, Eurostar, could enjoy cheaper ticket prices in future, after the EU Commission ordered France and Britain to charge less for using the tunnel between the two countries, reports The Daily Mail.

The Channel Tunnel was constructed between mainland England and France between 1988 and 1994, at a total cost to the UK and French governments of £4.65bn (around £11bn today). Ten workers died during the project.

The result of the efforts of over 15,000 people employed to work on the project was a twin tunnel, high-speed rail line linking Paris and later Brussels to London Waterloo. In 2007 the London terminal for Eurostar changed to the newly renovated and expanded London St Pancras International.

Mosques and Islamic centres are to be offered free government legal assistance to help rid themselves of rogue preachers who incite racial hatred, reports The London Evening Standard.

The Prime Minister told Parliament that in the wake of the shocking murder of Drummer Lee Rigby he had instructed his anti-extremism task force to investigate the idea.

Mr Cameron says he picked up the idea on a visit to Woolwich in the immediate aftermath of the killing that shocked the entire nation.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is facing a legal battle over its plans to hire more than 900 of its staff on temporary contracts, reports the BBC.

The legal action was launched yesterday in the High Court by Northern Ireland's largest public sector union, the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA).

NIPSA was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the decision to award the contract last October.

Phone hacking: Jolie stunt double first to sue in US

A UK stuntwoman who has doubled for Angelina Jolie in films has become one of six people to commence legal proceedings against Rupert Murdoch's media empire in the US over phone hacking, reports The Independent.

The former stunt double for Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has begun legal proceedings in the US in what is thought to be the first of a series of legal cases over phone hacking in America.

Eunice Huthart, best known in the UK as the only contestant ever to become one of the Gladiators on the hit ITV television programme, is now a well-known stunt actress in the US.

Gambling: Paddy Power wins case against Newham Council

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has won a court case against Newham Council that would have prevented it from opening a shop in the borough, in a test case that could badly dent other council's plans to stem the rise of gambling, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The bookmaker was appealing a decision by Newham Council to reject an application for a gaming licence.

The council blocked the licence for a shop on the basis that it believed the shop would make the majority of its income from 'fixed-odds terminals' or gaming machines.

Right to die: Moors murderer Brady in court for right to die

Infamous Moors murderer Ian Brady has appeared in court for the first time in many years to hear whether his mental health would support a move to a prison in Scotland, reports the BBC.

Brady, 75, was convicted in May 1966, along with his accomplice Myra Hindley, of the murders of five children aged between 10 and 17. The case gained huge national publicity, making them two of the most notorious murderers in English criminal history.

The murders were dubbed the 'Moors murders' because two of the bodies were discovered in shallow graves on Saddleworth Moor near Manchester. Only three bodies were initially found and it was a further 20 years before the pair admitted to killing two other children.

Technology giant Apple has become the latest major US firm to publish requests made of it by the US Government to disclose communications and account data for users, reports the BBC.

The disclosure comes after the publication of confidential documentation by the Guardian newspaper earlier this month, handed to it by a former contractor working for the US National Security Agency.

The documentation, leaked by the now highly sought-after Edward Snowden, showed the existence of the 'Prism' programme, said by the NSA to comprise data handed over to it voluntarily by major technology organisations including Facebook, Apple, Google and Yahoo.

The Swedish Government has ended a bizarre legal loophole that meant that sex with animals was actually legal, reports The Daily Mail.

The act of performing a sexual act on an animal is known as bestiality and is commonly outlawed in most countries around the world, including in the UK where section 69 Sexual Offences Act 2003 makes it an offence to knowingly or recklessly perform a sexual act on an animal.

Sweden and Denmark have notoriously not carried laws prohibiting sexual acts with animals, although that now looks set to change as the Swedish Government announced plans to legislate.

A legal campaign has been launched to try to ensure that women remain recognised on Britain's bank notes, after the Bank of England announced that Elizabeth Fry, the last female to be shown on the reverse of a bank note, will be replaced by Winston Churchill when the new five pound note is released, reports The Huffington Post.

The co-founder of a feminist website 'The Women's Room UK' has announced plans to launch a legal action to challenge the Bank's decision to replace the last woman on the reverse of a bank note.

Caroline Criado-Perez has previously written to the Bank of England to ask them to reconsider their decision to replace the picture of Elizabeth Fry, the groundbreaking prison and social reformer, from the current five pound note.

Yorkshire electrician Tim Haries faces criminal damage charges over vandalising a portrait of the Queen, reports the BBC.

The defendant reportedly used spray paint to deface the oil canvas, causing in excess of £5,000 worth of damage. The attack on the royal portrait took place on Thursday morning whilst on display at Westminster Abbey as part of the celebrations of the anniversary of the Queen's Coronation.

Australian artist Ralph Heimans painted the portrait, entitled 'The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II', during a sitting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace last year. The painting was commissioned to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

NHS: Doctors given chance to legally opt out of league tables

Doctors will be legally allowed to opt out of new league tables designed to measure their performance according to the Government, reports The Independent.

Government plans to create a more transparent NHS have been dealt a blow as it emerged that surgeons will be allowed to opt out of providing data to allow them to compile league tables to compare performance.

The league tables were conceived to allow patients to compare the work of individual surgeons in the NHS, to make them more accountable and to allow patients to choose more successful surgeons for their procedures. It was also hoped that the tables would highlight poor practice.

An official report into the tragic death of dentist Savita Halappanavar has found that Irish law on abortion was a 'key factor' in her death, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The report by Ireland's Health Service Executive came after the tragic death of Ms Halappanavar last October. She died one week after being admitted to hospital with back pain and a fever.

Despite repeated pleas to have an abortion by Mrs Halappanavar and her husband, doctors and nurses continually refused them, unclear as to the law on abortion in Ireland.

The ex-wife of a Nigerian oil tycoon has won a landmark court case that could change the face of divorce settlements, after the Supreme Court ruled that assets held by companies could form the basis of a divorce settlement, reports Reuters.

Yasmin Prest had been married to Nigerian oil tycoon Michael Prest for 15 years when the couple filed for divorce in March 2008.

After their separation, Mr Prest, who lives abroad in tax haven Monaco, refused to pay the multi-million pound settlement awarded to his wife as part of the divorce case.

A leading report into human trafficking has warned the UK Government that it risks losing its battle against 'modern-day slavery', reports The Independent.

The Independent exclusively report the findings of the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group, a coalition of groups set up in 2009 to study government response to the problem of human trafficking and its implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

The ATMG, which includes Amnesty International Northern Ireland, Anti-Slavery International and seven other leading organisations in the field, claim in their report that the Government is in danger of losing its battle against the practice.

A leading QC has highlighted a major discrepancy in the rules on legal aid, after claiming that whilst millions of society's most vulnerable are seeing cuts to legal aid cases, the banks receive hundreds of millions of pounds from the budget to help them fight fraud cases, reports The Independent.

The legal aid cuts are biting deep, amid news that family courts are struggling under the weight of warring parents who are now choosing to represent themselves after legal aid was removed from divorce cases in April.

The next swathe of cuts to the legal aid budget look set to bring competition to the fees charged by criminal lawyers, prompting many to claim that access to justice will be denied to those in receipt of legal aid, who will now receive the cheapest rather than the best representation.

Family lawyers have warned that the court system is in danger of collapse after revealing that changes to legal aid that took effect in April this year have resulted in more people representing themselves, clogging up an already overworked system, reports The Daily Telegraph.

New figures released this week have shown that the number of children caught up in custody battles between divorcing parents has rocketed up 27% in the past month and is almost double the number seen two years ago.

The agency responsible for securing the best interests of children involved in family law disputes is Cafcass. It has disclosed that it received more than 5,000 new cases in May, a record number since it was set up in 2001.

Legal aid: Changes to the law will price out talented candidates

Lawyers believe that the Government's proposed changes to the rules on legal aid will make practicing law as a barrister the privilege of the social elite, pricing out those from modest backgrounds who would be unable to make a living from the profession, reports The London Evening Standard.

The warning came from the head of the Young Barristers' Committee, Hannah Kinch, who told The London Evening Standard that the Government's proposals to change legal aid would result in a dramatic cut in fees for criminal barristers.

The result of the cuts would mean that barristers would find it hard to make a living from their bread-and-butter work, pricing many from modest backgrounds out of a career at the bar.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has defended the work of spy station GCHQ, after it became embroiled in a row over the use of data gathered by the controversial American 'Prism' programme, reports Yahoo! News.

The news that the UK was a recipient of data from the US Prism programme broke on Friday, as The Guardian and The Washington Post published details of information provided to it by Edward Snowden, a former US National Security Agency (NSA) employee.

The papers disclosed details of the US 'Prism' system, which gathers information about individuals' use of American-based internet sites for analysis by US government agencies.

Business leaders have called for new stiff penalties to make it tougher for workers who bring malicious claims for compensation against their employers, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The claims came after Tory MP Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax was cleared after being falsely accused by his housekeeper of sexual harassment over claims that he had invited her to be involved in a threesome with himself and his wife.

The news that the MP had successfully defended the case was welcomed by other MPs and by corporate leaders, amid news that businesses settle around 25% of the claims made against them despite receiving advice that they could win if they were to proceed to court.

Former X-factor judge and singer Tulisa Contostavlos has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a newspaper 'sting' operation that resulted in an £800 cocaine deal, reports The Daily Mail.

The singer, who formed part of urban trio, N-Dubz, before going on to appear as a judge on the popular ITV singing competition, was allegedly arrested at her home with her friend, rapper Mike GLC.

The arrests came after the 'Sun on Sunday' newspaper conducted a sting operation in which a reporter approached the singer with a view to purchasing half an ounce of illegal class A drug, cocaine.

An internet blogger who tried to sue a council chief executive for libel has found herself on the wrong end of an order to pay £25,000 in damages after losing her case, reports the BBC.

Jacqui Thompson started legal proceedings for libel against the chief executive of Carmarthenshire council's chief executive, Mark James, after he distributed a letter responding to a complaint of hers to 74 councillors.

The letter was later posted on an online blog, where it was viewed a further 825 times, prompting Mrs Thompson to bring her case.

The mother of a Sussex teenager tragically killed whilst cycling has called for a change in the law that would see motorists automatically at fault in the event of an accident, reports the BBC.

Marie Vesco, 19, was killed after a collision involving two cars on the A23 near Hickstead in 2008. She had been cycling to the coast with friends when she died.

Now on the five-year anniversary of her daughter's death, her mother has spoken out to request a change in the law that would see the UK join the vast majority of other EU nations in having a 'no fault' law for motorists involved in collisions with more vulnerable road users.

Family law: High court recognises Brazilian adoption

The High Court has recognised a Brazilian adoption in a case that could allow more couples to have adoptions recognised abroad made legal in the UK, reports familylawweek.co.uk

The case concerned a Brazilian-born woman, known in the case only as Z. Z moved to the UK in 1995 and married a UK citizen in 2001. In 2002 she successfully applied for permanent resident status.

Following her marriage, and due to an inability for her and her husband to conceive children, they decided to adopt. To retain links with Mrs Z's home nation, they chose to adopt Brazilian children.

Education: First year law exam 'shocks' students at Cambridge

Some law students at Cambridge University were left shocked and appalled after a first-year criminal law exam asked them to analyse graphic scenes of sexual offences committed at a fictional college initiation, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Students who sat the paper apparently remained silent throughout, with no comments or eyebrows raised during the exam.

However, on leaving the building many described their shock at the questions that described a male rape, torture and a death.

Retail: Harrods wins legal fight over fur trading

Harrods department store has won a legal fight against fur-trade protesters after successfully arguing that they had 'harassed' families outside their store last year, reports The Daily Mail.

The High Court agreed with lawyers representing the store and imposed tighter restrictions on those who choose to protest outside the store in future.

Harrods went to court after protests outside its store last October and last December, which coincided with the visit of Lady Gaga and the first day of its Christmas sale.

Doctors in the UK are asking the Government to change the law so that they can lawfully test a patient for their HIV status without their consent if they are exposed to the patient's blood during an operation, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Under the present law, contained in the Mental Capacity Act 2007, doctors are not allowed to test for HIV, or Hepatitis B or C without a patient's express consent, even if they are unable to obtain that consent because the patient is unconscious during an operation.

The law is designed to protect patients who lack capacity to make decisions for themselves and states that doctors must act in the patient's best interests in such circumstances.

The Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for a new 'red card' system that would allow countries to veto EU laws when they feel the European Parliament is going too far in attempts to legislate for all member countries, reports the BBC.

Mr Hague was speaking at the 63rd Konigswinter Conference, which aims to bring together speakers from Germany and Britain to 'improve the relationship' between the two nations.

In a speech to the conference he said the EU was suffering from a 'crisis of legitimacy' and called on the EU to initiate a 'red card' policy to complement the existing 'yellow card' policy on new EU laws.