Perverting the course of justice: Once a crime, now government policy

Chequebook justice: Your unelected government wants to ensure that nobody can challenge its policies and decisions - by putting justice within the reach of only the wealthy.

Chequebook justice: Your unelected government wants to ensure that nobody can challenge its policies and decisions – by putting justice within the reach of only the wealthy.

David Cameron and Chris Grayling have been messing with the justice system again. This time, according to The Telegraph, they are planning to make it “tougher” for judicial reviews to be brought to court, to stop the process being “abused” by pressure groups and campaigners.

There’s a lot of Telegraph-speak in that first paragraph, as the Tory-supporting newspaper was working desperately to make governmental perversion of justice acceptable. What this actually means is that Cameron wants to make it impossible for organisations that are capable of mounting legal opposition to unreasonable Conservative/Coalition policies ever to do so.

The only people able to seek judicial reviews of government policy would be individuals who are directly affected – and the government is hoping that these mostly poor people would be unable to afford the cost, thanks to changes in Legal Aid that mean it could not be claimed for welfare or employment cases.

You see how this works? With those changes to Legal Aid and the possibility of wholesale privatisation of the entire court system, where justice was once open to everyone, it will soon be a privilege available only to the wealthiest in the UK.

To Cameron, and his crony Grayling, justice isn’t for you. In fact, it won’t be for anyone. The UK will be about money and power, just as Michael Meacher stated in his recent blog article.

So, for example: The ‘Poundland’ case, which The Guardian reported was to be heard in the Supreme Court yesterday (Monday). The original judicial review was launched in the names of Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson, who were both directly affected – but were both unemployed and penniless, and therefore could not afford to take the case to court on their own. Their case was brought with the aid of Public Interest Lawyers – who would most likely be barred from taking part, being considered a pressure group with no direct interest in the matter.

The original case resulted in the government taking the unusual – and highly suspect (in legal terms) – step of passing an emergency retroactive law to legalise its employment schemes, after the tribunal ruled that all of the Coalition’s schemes were acting illegally and opened the government up to a potential £130 million worth of claims for wrongfully-withheld benefits.

PIL has now started a second judicial review – on the retrospective law – claiming it undermines its clients’ right to justice and violates article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under the new procedures this, too, would be inadmissible.

On the same lines, the judicial review that ruled (in May) that the test used to decide whether people are fit for work actively discriminates against the mentally ill, brought by the Black Triangle Campaign with the charities MIND and Rethink Mental Illness, would also be inadmissible.

So we have examples in which it is clearly in the interests of justice for new laws to be challenged – but which would be blocked outright under Cameron and Grayling’s plan.

According to The Telegraph, “Ministers plan to change the test for applying for a review so that only people with a direct link to policies or decision can challenge it, rather than anyone with a ‘sufficient interest.’

“The concerns echo those of the Prime Minister who previously said the judicial review process was slowing the country’s economic growth as well.”

In fairness, the paper adds: “There are fears that changing the judicial review process could lead to government decisions going unchecked, and charities have also raised concerns about not being able to use the process to challenge decisions and ensure the government is meeting its obligations.”

Meanwhile, Unison has been given leave to launch a judicial review of the introduction of fees for workers seeking employment tribunals.

The BBC reported that people wanting to bring tribunals must now pay a fee for the first time since they were created in the 1960s. It will cost £160 to lodge a claim for matters such as unpaid invoices, with a further charge of £230 if it goes ahead.

More serious claims, such as for unfair dismissal, would cost £250 to lodge, and a further £950 if the case goes ahead.

The plan here is clearly to make it impossible for an unfairly-sacked worker to take a firm to judicial review; how many poorly-paid working class people (and remember, wages have fallen by nine per cent since the credit crunch) have twelve hundred quid knocking around in their back pockets?

“The introduction of punitive fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal would give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights,” Unison general secretary Dave Prentis told the BBC.

“We believe that these fees are unfair and should be dropped.”

The judicial review will take place in October. Considering Lord Judge’s recent change of heart over privatisation of the courts, it’s a safe bet that by then the government will have ‘persuaded’ any judges hearing the case to support the new charges.

As Mr Meacher wrote: David Cameron’s instincts are “that there is no such thing as the rule of law, and that the only things that ultimately matter are power, fear and money”.

23 thoughts on “Perverting the course of justice: Once a crime, now government policy

  1. Pingback: Perverting the course of justice: Once a crime,...

  2. bookmanwales

    Unfortunately this country is now dead and buried as a civilised democratic society.

    30 years of dumbing down and encouragement of self interest have brought us to the point of no return.

    24 hour booze, 24 hour tv, 24 hour gambling, 24 hour shopping, a culture of “well I’m alright” and a blitzing of our education system by all parties in the last 30 years has destroyed whatever social cohesion was ever in us.

    Government is now in a position to do whatever it likes, too many lawbreakers ( by which I mean the bankers, thieving politicians and other prominent figures and corporations) have escaped scot free for the general population to be even the slightest bit interested in what happens in the justice system.

    Too much media “spin” passing for the truth has been accepted by the self indulgent population who are either too lazy or too ignorant to see the truth for themselves.

    Reality shows like big brother, Jeremy Kyle , the Valleys, Geordie shore, TOWIE etc show working class people as lazy, loud, drunken, uneducated, promiscuous, good for nothing members of society fully deserving of all the government do to control them. And let’s face it a good portion of these people go out of their way to prove this point every weekend.

    All human rights in this country will be gone within the next 5 years, the media have already spent a good deal of time on people who have ” abused human rights” to the point if they were abolished it would be universally accepted.

    Police powers now exceed those of the Nazi’s or other dictatorships around the world. All ushered in with the quiet acquiescence of the general population as necessary for “terrorism prevention” ( much the same as the nazi’s did)

    “Work camps” will be introduced within 5 years as a natural progression of workfare and welfare cuts. These will “enable people to gain a work ethic” whilst doing something for the “hard working taxpaying community” and again there will be no objection from the general population.

    The NHS will cease to exist during the next Parliament (most likely a Tory one). Already we have a concerted mass media attack on it’s “fitness for purpose” and the idea that “time wasting sick people” should pay to see their GP

    Euthanasia will soon become legally acceptable and encouraged by the government. This will bring down the costs of work capability assesments, disability benefits, social care costs and free up space for a younger fitter population. Again we have already had a media campaign about how well pensioners have done during austerity.

    Employees will lose the right to leave a job without their employers agreement, in effect becoming their employers property. This will be done in the interests of the workers giving them ( at their employers whim) security of employment and guaranteeing them a place to live ( though it may only be a bed in a dormitory)

    The mere tinkering with access to justice means nothing to the general population and neither will all the points above. After all by the time I have been to work, texted all my mates on facebook, done my late night shopping, watched a bit of reality tv and gotten really rat a***d over the weekend I will be too tired to protest about things that have no effect on me at all !!

    1. susan

      well said, you’re right, I now am grateful I’m getting old, mind you ,euthanasia will probably end up being compulsory by a certain age. or when your ‘allowed’ pension is used up 🙁

  3. Pingback: Perverting the course of justice: Once a crime, now government policy | Vox Political | this 'n that

  4. Edward Melville

    Welcome to Russia before the wall came down….total control of the people….there will no viting right for the poor soon..only rich and business men will have the vote…

    1. Roger Gough

      My ignorance denied me from knowing until Occupy came along that rich men have two votes, whilst the poor only have one – that is if you work in the City Of London. In general elections, employees of the Square Mile can vote in that constituency and in the constituency which they call ‘home’. (i.e. the ‘home’ which they have in the UK and not the one they have in the Bahamas). PS I am trying to keep up.

      1. Mel

        In all my political days, nobody ever appeared to mention this 2 votes, system. I am amazed that that alone doesn`t compromise our Human Rights. As Animal Farm siad, `All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others`…or words to that effect. Really annoyingly unfair . Feed the wide public with media drivel and keep the facts from them.

  5. Pingback: Save UK justice: The Blogs | ilegality

  6. Linda Bruce

    What chance do we stand? The thing that’s criminal about this is the Government .

  7. Sid

    Anyone who sees him, anyone who meets him ought to know- here stands the man who took your liberties away, who stood by and effectively ruled over untold amount of deaths, who smiled in the Commons while he was doing so, a semblance of conscience wouldn’t go amiss, a semblance of tax from the top-tier wouldn’t either. This is not Britain as I know it. Just as well i’ve made my crust.

  8. Mel

    Heaven help us if we go the way of America where ,as John Langbein , Professor of Law at Yale Law school stated, ` a single officer, the prosecutor, now is in charge of investigating…bringing formal charges, evaluating that evidence, (deciding) whether or not in his/her judgement you`re guilty or not and then basically sentencing you.In comes the plea bargain…which works by threat.. The prosecutor puts pressure on you to do things , `his way`.`Surrender your right to a jury trial, or, if you go to trial and are convicted of an offence,we will see to it that you are pinished twice. Once for the offence & once for having had the temerity to exercise your right to jury trial. That is the coersive system`…and guess what? It`s coming to a court room near you by the back door…whilst Legal Aid walks out of the front….

    1. guy fawkes

      The innocent being accused for crimes of the guilty as in victorian times i.e. christie.

  9. Thomas

    I suppose the directly affected could use the legal system as “Litigants in Person” but I doubt they would do very well up against trained lawyers.

  10. joanna

    I am currently watching monarchy, in it is quite a lot about Magna Charta. Part of it says that ” to no-one shall we, sell, or deny, or delay justice”. Correct me if I am wrong but by getting rid of legal aid, isn’t that the coalition stripping us of our basic liberties? I don’t know if the Magna Charta was ever enshrined in law, and if so does any government have the power to totally disregard these liberties to suit their own agenda. From what I am seeing and hearing there can be no better time for Magna Charta’s relevance than now!!! Sorry if I am talking rubbish!

  11. buster

    It is good to find such a website. My concern at present is the use of Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). It was set up supposedly to protect the public from serious sexual offenders, it has now morphed into a collaborative quango of private and public stakeholders and does just the opposite of the stated intention, where people are being stitched up by many with an agreed agenda, very dangerous if not exposed asap.

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