Tag Archives: court

DWP threatens court action against man who owes just 2p

We’ve heard the expression, “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”, but this is ridiculous.

It seems that a man whose sole contact with the benefit system was a week on Housing Benefit has been contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions about an overpayment – of just 2p.

The letter, which cost more than the alleged overpayment, threatens court action that would be even more expensive if Damien Dove, of West Rainton in Sunderland, fails to pay up.

It states – in all seriousness: “If you cannot pay this amount in full we can discuss terms for repayment… We recommend that payments are made by Direct Debit.”

Mr Dove, 53, has said he will pay but questioned whether the DWP was “having a laugh”.

The Department itself has pointed out that the debt is actually owed to local government, which administers Housing Benefit.

Apparently the DWP is required to collect such debts when requested, and the process is automated, meaning no human being was involved in the notification process.

That seems feasible – but it still isn’t good enough. If collection of a debt costs more than the debt itself, then it clearly isn’t worth the effort.

There is no reason this cannot be written into any automated debt collection process and it staggers the imagination that it was not anticipated before such a process was implemented.

What’s even more astonishing is that nobody has mentioned making these changes now.

Source: Department of Work and Pensions demands man repay 2p | Metro News

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New three-point independence referendum plan for Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon: she’s going all-out for Scottish independence – and who can blame her, when Boris Johnson has made such a mess of the United Kingdom?

It seems the Scottish National Party is planning to race Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein to be the first to gain independence from Boris Johnson’s UK.

The new majority party in NI has a plan to secede from the Union within the next five years, but the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon has proposed October 19, 2023 as the date for a referendum on Scottish independence.

Her party has published a Referendum Bill, to be debated by the Scottish Parliament – but this will not happen until the UK’s Supreme Court has ruled on whether the Scottish government has the power to hold a vote without UK government approval.

She has requested this approval, writing to Boris Johnson to request formal consent for the vote to be held. He has said the UK government will consider it, but its position that “now is not the time” for another referendum has not changed.

Sturgeon’s aim is to avoid legal challenges to her Referendum Bill when it comes to be debated in the Scottish Parliament; Supreme Court backing will make that possible.

So the plan is that – in the belief that Johnson’s government will refuse to back her request – it will still receive validation that it is lawful and constitutional from the Supreme Court and the Referendum Bill will be passed by the Scottish Parliament.

There is a back-up plan, which is for the SNP to fight the next UK-wide general election on a single issue: “should Scotland be an independent country?”

It is only eight years since the last referendum on Scottish independence, so one can understand why the UK government in Westminster is reluctant to tolerate another one.

In 2014, around 45 per cent of voters supported independence, with 55 per cent against. Current polling shows little change, with 48 per cent in favour and 52 per cent against.

This makes a new referendum a big gamble for the SNP. It may annoy voters into believing that the party is too focused on a single aim, to the detriment of a nation – the UK – that is trying to pick itself back up after the double-blow of Brexit and Covid-19.

Alternatively, the same phenomena may be the reasons for people to support the plan – as the current version of Brexit was Johnson’s brainchild and has been a disaster, while his policies on dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic have been similarly ham-handed, resulting in many thousands more deaths than should have happened.

In any event, the Supreme Court may simply rule against the referendum, forcing Sturgeon’s party into its fall-back plan – but what if Johnson calls a general election early in order to wrong-foot her?

Meanwhile, across the Irish Sea, Sinn Fein’s leaders have a plan to get Northern Ireland out of the union at some point over the next five years – if they can get Unionist parties to stop throwing their toys out of the pram over their election loss and allow the Assembly at Stormont to sit again.

They will be watching what happens in Scotland very carefully, no doubt.

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Tory government slammed for bullying and trying to silence the disabled – Dorset Eye

Well done to Dorset Eye for picking up on this:

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has accused the government of “using its might” to “bully” and “silence” disabled campaigners in the courts.

People allegedly damaged by the drug Primodos are in a high court battle with both the UK government and the German pharmaceutical company Bayer.
Campaigners say that both the company and the UK regulators were aware of the potential risk of the pregnancy test drug to deform babies in the womb.

Mr Burnham is calling on the government to drop the case and “compensate them for the damage they have suffered”.
Primodos has been described as “the forgotten thalidomide”, however manufacturer Schering, now owned by Bayer, has always denied any association between the drug and malformations, saying there is not sufficient scientific evidence to support the claim.

In 2020 an independent government review found that the drug should have been removed from the market in 1967, a decade before it was, and that UK regulators had been repeatedly warned of the risk.

Read the full article here: Tory government slammed for bullying and trying to silence the disabled – Dorset Eye

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Julian Assange’s extradition to USA is rubber-stamped by Priti Patel

Protest: you can tell the strength of public feeling in support of Julian Assange from this image – but the law is the law, even if it is a bad one.

The UK Home Secretary who wants to send asylum-seekers to a country with a record of human rights abuses has approved the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States. Is anybody surprised?

The decision flies against fears that Assange will be mistreated by US authorities who – it is alleged – planned to either kidnap or assassinate him while he was in UK custody.

The United States has been foiled in its attempts to prosecute Assange for around 12 years after he published reports on Wikileaks that alleged war crimes and corruption by that country.

The US government wants to prosecute Assange for 18 alleged crimes – 17 of them under a 1917 terrorism act – because his reports allegedly caused risk to the lives of American military personnel.

No evidence has been brought forward to substantiate the claim. US prosecutors have admitted that they do not have any.

Those said to be responsible for the alleged war crimes and corruptions have not faced any form of justice and were allowed to walk free, despite the allegations and the evidence supporting them.

The US has been foiled in its attempts to bring Assange to trial for 12 years – firstly because the journalist, fearing his own life would be under threat if he was brought into US custody, fled to the UK’s Ecuadorian Embassy seeking asylum, which he received until 2019, when he was arrested for breaking UK bail by British police.

He has stayed in Belmarsh Prison since then – long after his jail term for the bail offence was over – because the US had applied to extradite him and he has a history of absconding.

This has led him to suffer mental ill-health, according to his supporters.

It led a court to deny the US extradition request in January 2021, on the grounds that his mental health would suffer much more if he were subjected to the US penal system, which is far more hostile that that in the UK.

Meanwhile, it is understood that US secret service operatives planned to either kidnap or assassinate Assange, while he was in UK custody.

Former CIA director and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, confronted with the allegation, said the 30 sources who spoke to Yahoo News reporters “should all be prosecuted for speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency” – which seems to be an admission that the claims were accurate.

It seems that in 2017, US intelligence agents plotted to poison Assange. They bugged the Ecuadorian embassy in London so they could listen to meetings with his solicitors, followed Assange’s family and associates, targeted his then six-months-old baby to steal his DNA, and burgled the office of his lawyer.

Given this information, one would expect a UK court to dismiss any extradition request at once, on the basis that Assange’s life is in clear danger.

Unfortunately, the UK has a one-sided extradition treaty with the US – signed during Tony Blair’s period in office – that makes no provisions for such circumstances. Indeed, the UK must take US assurances that a suspect will not be ill-treated at face value, with no evidence requirement, and US claims cannot even be cross-examined in court.

So it should be unsurprising that the Home Office has said the courts found that extradition would not be “incompatible with his human rights” and that while in the US “he will be treated appropriately”; the law binds them into saying that.

Once extradited to the States, it seems Assange will face a kangaroo court, rather than receiving any actual justice.

The law under which he is charged does not allow a public interest defence, meaning he cannot argue that he was holding the US government to account by publishing details of its alleged war crimes.

And as Assange is not a US citizen, it seems he would not enjoy constitutional free-speech rights.

Furthermore, the US authorities have arranged for his case to be heard in Alexandria, Virginia – home of the US intelligence services, where people cannot be excluded from a jury because they work for the US government – prompting fears that Assange will be judged by people with a vested interest in supporting their employer.

He could go to prison for 175 years, according to colleagues at Wikileaks – although the US government says the term is more likely to be between four and six years. Who do you believe?

Assange has 14 days to appeal the decision and Wikileaks has said that it will.

Otherwise the UK will send a man to a foreign country whose government, we understand, has already tried to kill him, to face a trial on crimes for which there is no evidence, judged by people employed by the prosecutor, facing a possible 175-year prison sentence – on the basis of safety assurances that aren’t worth the time it takes to speak them.

So much for British justice!

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EU to launch court action against Liz Truss’s smuggler’s charter for Northern Ireland

I can’t say I blame the European Union chiefs.

As mentioned on This Site before, Liz Truss’s plan to ease the burden on businesses caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol of the Brexit deal effectively creates a “smuggler’s charter”.

It creates the concept of “green lanes” and “red lanes” for trade, with goods coming from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) into Northern Ireland and which are staying there using the green lane – meaning no checks and minimal paperwork, while goods moving from Great Britain through NI into Ireland or the wider European Union would use the red lane –  continuing to be checked at ports in Northern Ireland.

How would anybody know the “green lane” goods were stopping in Northern Ireland – or even whether the goods in the lorries were really as described in the paperwork?

I previously suggested that, alongside plans to ease checks on goods coming into the UK from the EU, this could create a people-smuggling pipeline all the way through to Ireland, wrecking any strategy to prevent it put up by Priti ‘Send ‘Em To Rwanda’ Patel.

The UK also wants the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) to have no future role in deciding disputes involving the protocol, with an independent arbiter sitting in judgement instead.

Independent, as defined by whom? I can see legal disputes over who should judge rattling on until Doomsday.

In response, the EU has indicated it will restart legal action it began in March last year, when it accused the UK of delaying, without consultation, the enforcement of parts of the protocol relating to customs checks – and may go further by taking the UK to the ECJ over claims it did too little to set up border control posts and share data with the EU.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the very law intended to remove the UK from ECJ judgments led to it facing just such a fate?

The problem facing the UK’s Tory government – particularly those dunces Liz Truss and Boris Johnson – is that unionists in Northern Ireland are likely to tear up the Good Friday Agreement if they can’t get free trade between the Province and Great Britain.

That could lead to a resurgence of the infamous “Troubles”.

Sadly, the Labour opposition has no better ideas. Keir Starmer has said negotiation with the EU is the best way forward – but advocated using “guile”, which implies that he wants to deceive the EU into giving UK vested interests what they want.

Level heads can see that no workable solution is being suggested by anybody. They all seem determined to upset each other rather than find a way forward.

How sad to see our supposed national and international leaders squabbling like children.

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Killing of Shireen Abu Aqleh referred to international criminal court

Shireen Abu Aqleh: it’s hard to see the justification for killing someone with the word “PRESS” emblazoned across their jacket.

The death of Shireen Abu Aqleh has been referred to the International Criminal Court as part of an investigation into whether Israeli security forces have been targeting Palestinian journalists in violation of humanitarian law:

The case originally submitted in April by Bindmans had focused on four Palestinian journalists wearing press helmets and vests, two of whom were maimed and two shot dead. It also covers alleged attacks on Gaza media infrastructure in May 2021.

Lawyers from Bindmans and Doughty Street Chambers announced the addition of the death on 11 May of Abu Aqleh to the existing claim at a press conference in London.

They said the case was vital owing to the repeated failure of the Israeli security forces to investigate such incidents and the inability of Palestinian reporters to secure reparations in Israeli domestic courts.

There will also be issues of jurisdiction… Israel itself is not a party to the ICC, raising issues of enforcement of any eventual ruling.

Why isn’t it? Why does Israel get away with this kind of unaccountability?

This comment from one of the solicitors involved is extremely telling:

Tayab Ali, the Bindmans solicitor in the case, said “evidence was not lacking, but the political will”, adding “Israel in the past has been gifted immunity”.

He said: “Israel has enjoyed a devastating impunity against accountability for the actions of its armed forces, and has repeatedly demonstrated that it is a bad faith investigator. It has not managed to hold anyone to account for the tens of Palestinian journalists that have been killed or maimed so far”.

The Palestinian Authority announced the results of an investigation into Abu Aqleh’s death, saying that it revealed Israeli forces deliberately shot and killed the reporter.

Israel’s defence minister, Benny Gantz, said, “Any claim that the IDF intentionally harmed journalists or noncombatants is a blatant lie.”

Source: Shireen Abu Aqleh: killing of reporter referred to international criminal court

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Home Office staff take government to court with concerns ‘culture of fear’ is illegal

Minister for inhumanity: Priti Patel’s “Hostile Environment” policies have involved Home Office staff in illegal activities in the past. Now she is being challenged in court to prove her plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda is not also against the law.

10 years after the launch of the ‘Hostile Environment’ policy, representatives of Home Office staff are challenging the government in court over things they are being asked to do.

The Public and Commercial Services Union and the Immigration Services Union are challenging Priti Patel’s policies to “pushback” small boats in the English Channel and to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

They have strong justification: the “pushback” policy is likely to break international law on asylum while the idea of deportations to Rwanda copies a previous policy by Israel – that didn’t work and was abandoned.

And the Conservative government has a record of “Hostile Environment” criminality.

We all know – don’t we? – about the Windrush Scandal that illegally targeted for deportation a generation of people who had the right to live in the UK but whose documentation had been destroyed.

The Home Office has also wrongly accused 34,000 international students of cheating in English language tests and failed to ensure that innocent people were not wrongly deported.

An Institute for Public Policy Research report in 2020 concluded the hostile environment policy had fostered racism, pushed people into destitution, wrongly targeted people who were living in the UK legally, and had “severely harmed the reputation of the Home Office”.

In the wake of the Windrush scandal the Home Office committed to introduce a total transformation of the department, including a review of the hostile environment policies – and failed to complete it.

So it should be no surprise that civil service representatives are trying to protect workers from having to take part in Priti Patel’s potential crimes.

One glance at comments on the “Hostile Environment” policy by Nazek Ramdan, the director of the charity Migrant Voice, should make the reason crystal clear:

“Perhaps no other policy in living memory has left such a malign mark, a stain like an oil slick. It is racist, xenophobic, immoral, illegal, unfair, punishing, divisive, mean-spirited, discriminatory and counterproductive.”

Source: Home Office staff worry they may be asked to act illegally in ‘culture of fear’

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Help this crowdfund for journalism to support human rights in Palestine

It isn’t easy to be taken seriously if you’re a journalist trying to report events in Palestine accurately.

The dominance of the pro-Israel lobby means coverage of human rights violations in occupied Palestine are played down or ridiculed – and the reporter involved may face attacks against their professionalism, along with those of a more personal nature.

One such journalist is Peter Bolton of The Canary, who has written extensively about the conflict in Palestine, human rights violations committed by the state of Israel, and the impact of the Israel lobby on British politics.

He’s currently involved in a lawsuit relating to this part of his work – and needs help to progress it.

Peter himself is currently being cagey about the purpose to which the funds will be put. This Writer knows what it is all about – and I can say that it will serve a very useful purpose.

But you can probably draw your own conclusions from Peter’s words on his CrowdJustice page:

This case could serve as a turning-point in the fight for a public space in which no one gets targeted for simply speaking up for the Palestinian people. I see this case as being as much about vindicating others who have been attacked as it is about my own circumstances.

So this is about protecting those who speak up for people in Palestine from being attacked unreasonably.

As another writer who has suffered such attacks, I strongly urge anybody reading this to support Peter’s CrowdJustice page. I will.

The reason those of us who support human rights – anywhere, but particularly in Palestine – are derided is the fact that the other side is vastly better-resourced than any of us individually.

But I know from personal experience that, together, we can achieve wonders.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Law on records of government comms is badly out-of-date, WhatsApp court ruling shows

Social media junkie: Boris Johnson is probably deleting WhatsApp messages in this shot.

The Tory government has been crowing after High Court judges said there is nothing in the law to stop ministers from using services like WhatsApp and personal email accounts to make decisions and authorise action.

But this doesn’t mean ministers are justified in carrying out their business away from the official records.

It means the law on what should be counted as a public or official record is badly out of date and must be amended at once.

In fact, let’s face it, there should have been a constant policy of updating as soon as the Internet emerged as the communications revolution it has become.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has used WhatsApp to make decisions on the procurement of ventilators and on Covid-19 testing in care homes. We only know this because his ex-aide, now enemy, Dominic Cummings took screenshots of the now-deleted messages.

The procurement decisions are important because we know the Tory government paid huge amounts to fellow Tories who were not able to fulfil the contracts, while ignoring experienced firms that could have honoured any deals easily, and lives are certain to have been lost as a result.

And we know that government failures on Covid-19 in care homes certainly led to more than 20,000 deaths there.

Lord Brownlow discussed his funding of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat refurbishment with Johnson on WhatsApp, and it has been suggested that he only put up the money because Johnson had made a vague undertaking to consider his “Great Exhibition” idea.

Then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock diverted £40 million to Alex Bourne for vials to be used in Covid-19 tests, despite his having no previous experience of providing medical supplies, after the former landlord of a pub close to Hancock’s constituency home sent him a WhatsApp message.

Lord Bethell claimed that he never used his private email or telephone accounts for official business – but then replaced his mobile phone before it could be searched for information relevant to £85m of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) deals.

None of the information in the messages mentioned above is covered by the 1958 Public Records Act, so judges at the High Court said it was not illegal to have used WhatsApp, or to have used auto-delete software to remove evidence of the decision-making carried out there:

In their ruling, Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Johnson said the 1958 act “says nothing about such matters as whether a person can use a personal device to communicate with others about government business”.

They added: “Nor… does it require the production of a record of something in the first place.”

The widespread use of instant messaging services such as WhatsApp meant it was often a forum for workplace conversations “that would previously have been undertaken face-to-face” and not recorded, the judges said.

And the act’s wording meant there would “in practice be a large measure of discretion [within government] involved as to precisely what ‘arrangements’ there should be”, according to the ruling.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said the ruling “vindicates our long-standing position that we have acted in a proper and appropriate manner” – but it doesn’t do anything of the sort. It merely states that a 64-year-old, out-of-date law did not foresee changes in the way we communicate.

Gemma Abbott, legal director of the Good Law Project, one of the groups that took the case to the High Court, had it right when she said, “The use of private email accounts by ministers creates information black holes, thwarting Freedom of Information requests and critically undermining public inquiries.”

For that reason, the law needs to be updated to bring new methods of communication under its authority.

But, having got away with a killing (or, indeed, tens of thousands of them), can you see your corrupt Tory government lifting a finger?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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One rule for them: the privileges enjoyed by this Tory MP sex offender have been astonishing

Khan and can’t: Imran Ahmad Khan has been convicted of a serious crime – but will his erstwhile boss, that utter incompetent Boris Johnson, also be convicted of a criminal offence before long?

Are the newspapers really sure they have permission to reveal that now ex-Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan is a convicted sex offender?

The lengths to which he – and, it seems, the authorities – went to avoid admitting he was facing charges were phenomenal, and strongly reinforce the prevailing opinion that MPs, and particularly Tories, get preferential treatment:

  • His victim said he wasn’t ‘taken very seriously’ when he made the allegation of sexual assault to the Tory press office days before Khan was elected as MP for Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in the December 2019 general election.
  • Turned away by the Tories, the victim resorted to the police, making a complaint days after Khan was elected. But Khan was sent a questionnaire by Staffordshire Police rather than being interviewed under caution at a station because of “Covid protocols in place at the time”.
  • Neither Staffordshire Police nor the Crown Prosecution Service informed the media or the public when Khan was charged by postal requisition – the point at which suspects in criminal cases are routinely named.
  • His first appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court by video link on June 3 last year did not appear on the public or press lists. Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring granted him an interim anonymity order ahead of another unlisted hearing, which the CPS refused to confirm was taking place as well as what charge Khan was facing.
  • He attempted to stop key details of the case – including the age of his victim, his own homosexuality, and even his fondness for a gin and tonic – coming into the public domain.
  • On June 17 last year, Khan argued in court that he should be granted anonymity.
  • Then he tweeted in support of press freedom, retweeting a message by then-foreign secretary Dominic Raab about the situation in Hong Kong. He had previously claimed Extinction Rebellion had constrained press freedom when the protest group blocked a newspaper printing press.
  • His anonymity – unprecedented in a case not involving national security – was only lifted after legal challenges from two media organisations.

Now Khan has been convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old male at a house in Staffordshire in 2008.

Southwark Crown Court heard how Khan forced the teenager to drink gin and tonic, dragged him upstairs, pushed him onto a bed and asked him to watch porn before the attack.

The victim, now 29, told a jury he was left feeling “scared, vulnerable, numb, shocked and surprised” after Khan touched his feet and legs, and came within “a hair’s breadth” of his genitals.

The boy ran to his parents and a police report was made – but no further action was taken at the time because the victim did not want to make a formal complaint.

Of course, now that a court has returned a “guilty” verdict, the Tory Party’s attitude has gone into reverse. Whereas in 2019 the victim wasn’t “taken very seriously”, now Khan has been expelled from the organisation.

He is awaiting sentencing for the offence and if he is imprisoned for more than a year he will be automatically expelled from the House of Commons.

He could also be subjected to the recall process, by which Wakefield constituents may have him removed as their MP.

Labour has already called for him to resign, so the people of Wakefield “can get the representation they deserve”.

This Writer is fine with all of that; whatever is appropriate, I’ll go with it.

But I want to know how the police and courts will be prevented from treating accused MPs as though the law doesn’t apply to them.

Source: Tory MP guilty of sex attack on boy after forcing him to drink gin | Metro News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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