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Pierce Glynn news archive / 2010
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Challenge to DPP finding that Bahraini prince has immunity from prosecution

A Bahraini torture survivor known only as FF is challenging the Director of Public Prosecution‘s (DPP) decision that a Bahraini Prince has state immunity from prosecution. The court decided the judicial review was arguable and granted permission for it to proceed in 2013, but at that stage there was a confidentiality order.

Prince Nasser bin Hamid Al-Khalifa is the son of the King of Bahrain and a regular visitor to the UK. As chair of Bahrain’s Olympic Committee, he represented Bahrain at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. FF a Bahraini refugee in the UK, who had himself been detained and tortured instructed Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors to write to the CPS in August 2012 asking for the prince to be arrested and prosecuted while he was visiting the UK. The CPS replied stating that the Prince had immunity from arrest and prosecution. FF applied for a judicial review of the DPP’s decision on 26 October 2012. The client is anonymised as FF to protect his family from possible reprisals and a strict anonymity order was made at the outset of the case. There was a delay to allow the court documents to be served via the British embassy in Bahrain so the State of Bahrain and the prince could consider if they wanted to join the case as interested parties. The trial is expected to take place later this year. The case may now be publicised because the prince, having been served with court papers has not applied for the confidentiality order to be continued.

On 9 May the court led by Lord Justice Moses made this order. He confirmed that confidentiality restrictions are removed and made the previously secret judgement of Laws LJ public.

FF is represented by Sue Willman, partner in Deighton Pierce Glynn, with assistance from Adam Hundt and Charlie Dobson. Barristers are Dinah Rose QC and Tom Hickman of Blackstones Chambers and Kirsty Brimelow QC of Doughty Street Chambers. The DPP has instructed Guglielmo Verdirame.

Ms Willman said: “The case raises important issues about whether foreign officials should be exempt from investigation, arrest and prosecution for serious crimes. The court has made it clear there is no reason why the public should not be informed about this challenge to the UK government’s approach”.

Background

In February 2011, at the height of the arab spring, a pro-democracy movement in Bahrain rallied for more participation in the political process in Manama and other cities of Bahrain. The protests were brutally put down by Bahraini security forces, but are nevertheless still on-going. On 15 March 2011, the King of Bahrain declared a state of emergency and a first wave of repressive actions by governments forces took place. At this time, two opposition leaders of Bahrain, when detained in the Manama Fort prison clinic Al-Qala’a (seat of the Ministry of Interior), alleged being flogged, beaten and kicked by the son of the King, Nasser bin Hamad. They were sentenced to lengthy imprisonment despite raising allegations of torture at their trials. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch recognise them as prisoners of conscience, amongst the “Bahrain 13”. A national investigation team set up of international experts, the Bahraini Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), published its report in November 2012, detailing torture allegations against government security personnel and recommending investigations. To date, an investigation of the allegations of the prisoners of conscience against Nasser bin Hamad has not been initiated. Meanwhile, Nasser bin Hamad travels freely to the UK and a number of other European states.

Date added: 13/05/2014

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Inquest into the death of Natalie Thomas begins Thursday 8 May

10am Thursday 8 May 2014

Westminister Coroner's Court, 65 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2ED

Before Deputy Coroner Dr. Shirley Radcliffe

28 year old Natalie Thomas was found on 2 January 2013 by a fellow patient hanging in her room in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit of London's St Charles Hospital. She died 4 days later at St Mary's Hospital. The inquest into her death will be heard by a jury at Westminister Coroner's Court starting on 8 May. It is due to last 3 days.

Natalie became ill in November 2011 and she was admitted to hospital thought to be suffering from depression. She was quickly discharged home but readmitted twice more within the next two months. When she was dicsharged, against the wishes of her family, in January 2012 the diagnosis was of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and a Mental and Behavioural disorder due to use of alcohol and cannabinoids. During her time in hospital Natalie's young son was removed from her care and care proceedings begun.

Natalie engaged with the help offered while in the community but complained that she didn't feel she was getting the support she needed. Supervised contact visits with her son were stopped in June 2012 after Natalie tried to leave the visits centre with him.

Natalie's behaviour declined and shortly after she was arrested for offences of assault. She was released on bail and sentenced on 7 August to a 12 month community order with a mental health and alcohol treatment requirement. She was arrested again on 16 August for criminal damage following an argument with her boyfriend and remanded to HMP Bronzefield.

Once at HMP Bronzefield her mental health seriously declined. She was held in the Separation and Care Unit from 22 September because her behaviour made her difficult to manage. She was locked in her cell for 23 hours a day and three officers had to be present to unlock her.

She was referred to St Charles Hospital on 30 October and transferred from prison on 28 November 2012. She was diagnosed as suffering from Bipolar Affective Disorder and various medications were started. Her family visited often, especially over Christmas and New Year. They thought Natalie was withdrawn and down. She missed her son who she had not seen for 6 months and was worried about the ongoing adoption proceedings.

During a reading activity on 31 December Natalie said she was feeling depressed without hope and tired of living. On 1 January she asked for medication for depression as she was feeling low. She was found at about 7pm on 2 January hanging from her bathroom door by a scarf given to her as a Christmas present by her mother. She was taken to St Mary's Hospital where she subsequently died.

Natalie's family hope that the inquest will be able to address the serious questions and concerns they have about the care and treatment Natalie received including:

1. The adequacy of risk assessments and care planning

2. The role of a primary/named nurse

3. The adequacy of the audit process

4. The adequacy of documentation

5. Security provisions

Natalie's family are being represented by Jo Eggleton, Partner of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors and barrister Tim Baldwin of Garden Court Chambers.

Date added: 07/05/2014

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Incinerator legal challenge filed in High Court

On 24 April, Croydon resident Shasha Khan filed judicial review proceedings challenging Sutton Council's decision to allow a municipal waste incinerator at Beddington Farmlands in south London, on land earmarked for London's newest country park. He faces a fierce legal battle - Sutton council and interested parties Viridor and Thames Water Utilities Ltd are all well represented by corporate law firms.

Mr Khan is challenging planning permission for the £990m incinerator on the basis Sutton made a serious error by applying the wrong planning policy to the incinerator and that local residents have a legitimate expectation that the site would become part of the Wandle Valley Regional Park, a haven for wildlife and migrating birds.

Mr Khan said, "It's been a long, hard fight so far, not only for me, but other key figures in the campaign. Now that I've actually handed in the papers to court I'm nervous but remain optimistic that justice will prevail. I'm doing this to protect my family and others from the incinerator's emissions but it's also about what's right. Years of broken promises have led us here and if Sutton Council had done what they said they would do - which is end waste treatment on site and turn it in to a country park - then I wouldn't be taking them to court".

Father of a 22 month old daughter, a founder of the Friends of Thornton Heath Recreation Ground and a co-coordinator of the Croydon and Sutton Green Party, he added "Going to court against a Council who has the backing of a FTSE 250 company is a scary thing! I couldn't have done it without all the generous donations I've received and the messages of support I'm getting on a daily basis. Please help by going to www.stoptheincinerator.co.uk ".

Sue Willman, representing Mr Khan said "We believe Sutton has acted unlawfully by misinterpreting their own planning policies. There are serious questions to be answered by local councils across the UK treating incinerators as a source of renewable energy instead of investigating cleaner alternatives. We hope the court process will result in the parties being asked to look again for a more sustainable solution for dealing with South London's waste".

Mr Khan is represented by Sue Willman and Charlie Dobson of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors and Justine Thornton, barrister of 39 Essex Street Chambers.

Date added: 25/04/2014

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High Court gives Farm Terrace Allotment Challenge the go-ahead

The High Court has given the Farm Terrace allotment-holders permission to proceed with a challenge to Eric Pickles' decision to allow Watford Council to build on their allotment site. There will now be a full hearing of the case later this year.

The claim has been brought by 3 plot-holders who face eviction to make way for housing. The site cannot be built on without the Secretary of State’s consent, and there are strict criteria that have to be met before Council’s are given the all clear. In this case consent was granted even though the criteria were not met, because everyone agrees that the site is not ‘surplus to requirements’. Consent was nonetheless granted because, in the Secretary of State’s opinion, building on the allotments is in the public interest. The campaigners and many allotment holders and gardeners around the country disagree, arguing that the development could go ahead without building on the allotments, and that retaining allotments is also in the public interest.

On 14 April 2014 a High Court judge looked at the case carefully and, after considering the Secretary of State’s and the Council’s calls for the claim to be refused permission, has disagreed and has decided that the grounds of challenge are arguable. The Order can be accessed here. There will now be a full hearing of the judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice in London later this year.

Andrew Moore, one of the Claimants, said today:

“It is a shame that we have had to take the case this far. It’s not too late for the Council and the Secretary of State to change their minds and accommodate the allotments within the development, as the developers have acknowledged they could. As recently as yesterday the Mayor of Watford publicly stated that the development will be completed with or without the allotments, which proves our point.

I am glad that the judge has recognised that this case raises serious issues that merit a full hearing. This case is not only important to me and the other Farm Terrace Allotment holders. It will affect many other sites across the country that are also under threat from development, and we hope to set a precedent that will help to protect allotments for future generations as well as our own. I firmly believe that our children will thank us for standing up to the authorities.”


Adam Hundt, of Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, who represent the Claimants, said:

“The Secretary of State has criteria by which applications for consent to build on allotments are assessed, but he has effectively decided that those criteria can be ignored if profit margins are said to be at risk. What is the point of having criteria that are designed to protect allotments from development if they can be ignored with so little justification? I am hopeful that the Court will ensure that allotment holders can, in reality, rely on the protection from developers that the Secretary of State’s criteria are said to give their sites.”

Further details can be accessed here on the campaigners’ website and on twitter @SaveFarmTerrace.

The allotment holders are represented by Adam Hundt of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Jason Coppel QC and Hannah Slarks, both of 11 King’s Bench Walk.

Date added: 23/04/2014

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Police refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court in 999 case

On Wednesday three Supreme Court Judges, Lady Hale, Lord Wilson and Lord Reed refused Humberside Police permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal's judgment of 18th October 2013.

The case concerns the response of police officers to 999 calls made when a gang of youths rampaged through our clients' estate in Grimsby. Both our clients were assaulted by the gang. Christopher Sarjantson sustained serious head injuries after the call to the police.

Our clients claim is that the police's failure to respond promptly to the 999 call for assistance amounts to a breach of Articles 2 and/or 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and therefore contrary to the Human Rights Act. The police were successful in striking the claim out in the County Court on the basis that the test defined in Osman v UK was not met as Christopher Sarjantson was not identified by name as being at risk until such time as it was not possible for the police to prevent the attack upon him. They also successfully argued that no similar obligation exists under Article 3.

Our clients successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal and judgment was given by the Master of the Rolls on 18th October 2013. The Court unequivocally rejected the police's arguments from the court below and went on to express the view that to have required the police to respond in accordance with their target of 15 minutes would not have imposed an unreasonable or disproportionate burden on them.

The police sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Their reasons included that this decision is a major development in domestic law and one with far reaching practical implications for the police and other emergency services. They said that the judgment effectively imposes, for the first time, a duty under article 2 and/or 3 to respond to a 999 call,

In refusing permission the Supreme Court confirmed that the Court of Appeal's decision was correct for the reasons they gave.

The claim will now return to the Central London County Court for trial.

Our clients are represented by Jo Eggleton of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Hugh Southey QC of Matrix Chambers.

Date added: 11/04/2014

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Poverty Policy challenge successful

Some of the poorest children in East London are now better off thanks to a court case brought by one of our clients, in which the Council's policy to give each child just £23.10 per week to live on has been successfully challenged.

Mrs Z has won her case challenging Barking and Dagenham's decision to give her family only £43.20 per week to buy food and other essentials. After considering evidence about the effect of this level of poverty upon the family, and other comparable support rates, the court ordered an increase in the amount of support on an interim basis. This then led to Barking and Dagenham reviewing their policy to all destitute families – around 90 families – and providing support equivalent to the level given under section 4 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This is still far below the poverty level, and far below what the family would receive on means tested benefits, but over twice what families had been receiving until now. A further challenge to this rate is now being contemplated.

Polly Glynn, Mrs Z’s solicitor said “it is outrageous that families in the UK are having to subsist on such low levels of support. It is hoped that this case will send a message to other Local Authorities to look again at the level of support provided to destitute families under Part 3 of the Children Act.

Mrs Z is represented by Polly Glynn of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors, instructing barrister Nick Armstrong of Matrix Chambers.

Date added: 28/03/2014

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Father sues Council in battle against incinerator in London's newest country park

Lawyers for Croydon resident Shasha Khan have today served a formal letter on Sutton Council threatening to file a judicial review in the High Court unless the council withdraws planning permission for a multi-million pound incinerator. Sutton now has two weeks to respond to the legal arguments.

Mr. Khan’s solicitor Sue Willman, explained “We believe Sutton has acted unlawfully. They have failed to demonstrate the very special circumstances needed to build an incinerator on Metropolitan Open Land which is the London equivalent of Greenbelt. Mass burn incineration is an outdated and unsustainable technology and there are major questions about its effect on people’s health. This case is just one of many which local people are bringing across the UK to stop an army of waste incinerators being built when councils should be focused on cleaner renewable energy and recycling.”

Mr Khan said “I am taking the significant financial risk of taking legal action so that my little daughter can enjoy this green space as she grows up. We hope the thousands of Londoners who care about clean air and migrating birds and open space will support our legal case.”

He added: “This mass burn approach also puts off recycling efforts. Sutton should be forward thinking like Southwark who have just developed a modern and sustainable solution that separates out the contents of black bag waste for recycling and reuse of raw materials.”

Mr Khan is backed by legal team Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors and Justine Thornton, barrister of 39 Essex Street Chambers.

Shasha Khan is father of a 22 month old daughter, a founder and treasurer of the Friends of Thornton Heath Recreation Ground and co-coordinator of the local Green Party.

A copy of the letter can be seen here. For more information on the challenge see Mr Khan’s fundraising page here.

Date added: 25/03/2014

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AIRE Centre intervention in Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has granted the AIRE Centre permission to intervene in a test case on the rights of EU citizens and their dependents, and which turns on an issue of wide importance; how the requirement to have comprehensive sickness insurance is interpreted.

The case is called SA (Pakistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, and the hearing will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice on 2 or 3 April 2014.

Adam Hundt and Sasha Rozansky are representing the AIRE Centre in the intervention, along with Adrian Berry of Garden Court Chambers.

Date added: 24/03/2014

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Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain files OECD complaint against Formula 1 Bahrain

Deighton Pierce Glynn, acting for Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) has filed a complaint against UK-based Formula One management, teams, and sponsors under the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The complaint alleges that the defendant organizations have not mitigated the human rights impact caused by their actions in the country. The complaint has been filed with the United Kingdom Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills in London, which is the UK’s National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines.

In 2011, thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets in a peaceful uprising for a more democratic and egalitarian government and better observation of human rights in their country. In March, the Bahrain government responded by violently attacking the protesters, leaving dozens dead and hundreds more wounded. In April of that year, the government cancelled the scheduled Formula One Grand Prix, citing the instability in the country accompanying the government’s crackdown. In 2012 and 2013, however, the Grand Prix returned. Crackdowns on protests related to the event resulted in the death of protester Salah Abbas and injuries to hundreds of others, as well as the arbitrary detention and torture of hundreds more.

The death of protester Salah Abbas was an avoidable tragedy,” said ADHRB Executive Director Husain Abdulla. “If Formula One management, sponsors, and teams had demanded that the Government of Bahrain better observe the human rights of protesters during the race, or had pulled their support of the race during any number of escalations prior to the event, Salah Abbas would still be alive and hundreds of protesters would not have been jailed or tortured.”

According to the 2011 OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, organizations have a responsibility to “… avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts and address such impacts when they occur.” Organizations falling under OECD jurisdiction additionally must “seek ways to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their business operations…” and “carry out human rights due diligence…” as appropriate to their involvement with abuses.

Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn stated as follows:

“The OECD Guidelines require multinational corporations such as the formula 1 companies to avoid causing or contributing to human rights impacts and to mitigate more remote impacts linked to their operations. Yet when Bernie Ecclestone was asked about F1’s policy, his answer was “I don’t know what human rights are”. In our view these failings breach the guidelines and we hope to reach a mediated dialogue with the companies as soon as possible. It is clear from Human Rights Watch’s 2014 report that the human rights situation in Bahrain is deteriorating further.”

Date added: 21/03/2014

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Court case starts to save Farm Terrace Allotments

Allotment holders in Watford have asked the High Court to rule on the legality of Eric Pickles’s decision to grant Watford Borough Council consent to build on the Farm Terrace allotment site. Papers were issued in the High Court today, and the Court is being asked to quash the Secretary of State’s decision, in a case that is seen as a key battle in the fight to protect allotments from development. The case has garnered widespread support across the country.

Further details can be accessed here on the campaigners’ website and on twitter @SaveFarmTerrace.

The allotment holders are represented by Adam Hundt of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Jason Coppel QC and Hannah Slarks, both of 11 King’s Bench Walk.

Date added: 17/03/2014

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Meeting with the Commissioner of Police

The Commissioner of Police yesterday met with Duwayne Brooks and his solicitor Jane Deighton following the publication of the Ellison report last week. The Commissioner of Police has apologised to Duwayne for the collection of personal information and the sharing of such personal information with others. The Commissioner has confirmed that the Metropolitan Police will fully co-operate with all current investigations and will seek to address the key concerns raised by Jane on behalf of Duwayne.

Date added: 14/03/2014

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Metropolitan Police officer disciplined over using CS spray on UK Uncut protesters

PC James Kiddie was today disciplined by the Metropolitan Police for using CS spray on UK Uncut protesters on 30 January 2011 during a protest against corporate tax avoidance.

PC Kidding was found to have used CS spray in a dangerous and reckless manner from close range. PC Kiddie gave evidence that he believed that CS spray was the lowest form of force he could use and that he did not believe that it was harmful. He was given a written warning but plans to appeal.

This disciplinary hearing is the result of two internal investigations by the Met Police and two appeals to IPCC by our clients. The Metropolitan Police Department of Professional Standards repeatedly declared that PC Kiddie had done nothing wrong, and were in effect forced to hold the misconduct meeting by the IPCC. It should not take this amount of time or resources to reach the conclusion that PC Kiddie's use of force was disproportionate and excessive.

Lochlinn Parker of Deighton Pierce Glynn commented "The finding of misconduct against PC Kiddie is the end of a three year struggle for accountability by my clients. In light of his recent conviction, it is worrying that PC Kiddie has remained on the beat over the last three years when he is clearly unable to control his anger. We trust that the Metropolitan Police will make a clear statement condemning PC Kiddie's actions and review the training and advice they give to their officers when dealing with protesters".

Matthew Butcher one of the protesters said "It's obviously no surprise to me that PC Kiddie has been guilty of misconduct. His actions were wholly disproportionate and utterly reprehensible. On the day he pepper sprayed me I was convinced he would be sacked immediately. It's astounding that it's taken this long for this verdict to come.

Of course this incident, of a police officer harming protesters, isn't isolated and shouldn't be treated as such. Over the last few years we've seen many incidences of police violence and, as PC Kiddie's case shows, recourse to justice for victims is often slow, and sometimes non-existent.

What scares me most about cases like this is that the Metropolitan Police are now clamouring to hnd more weapons to officers as they look to buy water cannons. While I was only temporary blinded by the pepper spray the evidence from abroad shows us that water cannons can do permanent damage. PC Kiddie has shown us that officers can't always be expected to follow guidelines for the use of force".

Notes to editors

Lochlinn Parker is a solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn who specialises in bringing actions on behalf of Claimants against police forces. He can be contacted at lparker@dpglaw.co.uk or on 0207 407 0007, and is available for interview.

Matthew Butcher is available for interview. Please contact Lochlinn Parker.

Previous press coverage can be found here.

Date added: 13/03/2014

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Family of Maria Stubbings speak out against state failings on domestic violence

On Saturday 8 March, Maria's daughter Celia Peachey and her brother, Manuel Fernandez, along with their solicitor Sarah Ricca, spoke at seminar that was part of the Women of the World event at the Southbank. The seminar, hosted by Liberty, was entitled State Failure, Personal Justice and can be viewed here.

Date added: 12/03/2014

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Proposal to the Home Secretary to redress police wrongs of Lawrence investigation

Yesterday, following publication of the Ellison report, the Home Secretary met Duwayne Brooks and his solicitor Jane Deighton. They raised the issue of redress and received a promising response.

As Jane Deighton explains:

Ellison has found that wrongs have been done. For instance, undercover officers informed on Duwayne, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner covertly recorded him, the Police National Computer carries some exaggerated and inaccurate records about him. In our meeting with Theresa May, we argued that the state should take the initiative to put these wrongs right. Parts of the report read as the basis for a series of legal actions that Duwayne could bring against the police. But why should that burden be on him? Litigation is time consuming, difficult and expensive. We invited the Home Secretary to respond to us by setting out how the state could now start to put things right . For instance we would welcome a letter saying “this is the incorrect information held about you on the Police National Computer, this is how we propose to correct it – are you satisfied with that?” She seemed receptive and we look forward to hearing from her, and hope other victims will too.

I argued this partly as common sense and partly out of desperation. Duwayne, as a teenager, had to suffer the trauma of being the victim of a violent racist attack and of seeing his friend being murdered. His attempts to move on were hampered by the way he was treated by the police and the investigation mishandled. He is now nearly 40. Each subsequent revelation has knocked his confidence in the police. Each subsequent investigation has forced him to relive that racist attack but not provided all the answers he, and the public, deserve. The public inquiry and holding police officers to account is necessary but it is a heavy cloud for Duwayne. The delay is oppressive. It makes things worse if it is Duwayne who has to take the initiative to get redress. It is about time the state did what it could to remedy the wrongs.

Duwayne has taken remarkable steps himself to move on from the tragedy. He has turned his experience of racism and police misconduct into constructive work on police training. He was voted onto Lewisham Council and is standing to be Mayor in May. Having to deal with righting the wrongs catalogued in the Ellison report should not distract him from his daily life
.”

Date added: 07/03/2014

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Pensioner's court victory on controversial biomass plant

Pensioner Shirley Giles has won her fight to overturn planning permission for a large biomass plant in Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire. Mrs Giles took the case to the High Court in London last minth because she was concerned that South Holland District Council had not properly considered the sustainability of the proposal before giving it the green light. After considering Mrs Giles' legal arguments the council have decided to concede the case rather than fight it. The court will now be asked to make a fast tracked judgment overturning the planning permission. The council have indicated that they will then consider the planning application.

Mrs Giles said "We have won the battle but the fight continues. I am calling on South Holland councillors to re-think the impact of the biomass plant on our community, and properly consult the community on any new decision. It makes no sense to burn imported wood for a limited amount of energy. I hope that the council will not just rubber stamp the application but will now consider important questions about how efficient at turning fuel into energy this plant actually is. In the view of experts who have been consulted by my legal team, the proposed plant is an extremely inefficient type of biomass plant. Should we allow more trucks clogging up the roads, more air pollution and more wood being transported from all over the world?"

Sue Willman, Mrs Giles' solicitor said "It is important that the council now looks properly at the planning application and makes a lawful decision, taking into account whether the development is sustainable. There are questions about the viability of the plant - the government last year decided to phase out financial support for this type of biomass because of sustainability issues. We are still waiting for the council to provide documents to show the efficiency level of the plant, an essential consideration in any future decision".

The story has been covered by the local press here.

Mrs Giles is represented by Sue Willman and Charlie Dobson of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors, instructing barrister Justine Thornton of 39 Essex Street Chambers.

Date added: 06/03/2014

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Save Farm Terrace Allotments - Round two!

Last year we helped allotment holders in Watford successfully challenge the decision by Eric Pickles to give Watford Council his unconditional consent to build on Farm Terrace Allotment Site, which has been in existence for almost 120 years. After our intervention and a vigorous campaign he was forced to reconsider his decision, but just before Christmas he again granted consent unconditionally. We have been instructed to challenge this decision as well, and a letter before claim was sent on 19 February 2014 setting out the plot-holders' case.

The campaign is being watched closely by allotment-holders across the country, many of whose sites are under threat from developers. For more information see http://savefarmterrace.wix.com/savefarmterrace.

BBC Inside Out London covered the story on Monday. It is available to view here until 10 March 2014 (story from 11.10 onwards).

The allotment holders are represented by Adam Hundt of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Jason Coppel QC and Hannah Slarks, both of 11 King’s Bench Walk.

Date added: 04/03/2014

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Court of Appeal gives permission to intervene in diplomatic domestic worker appeal

On Wednesday 26 of February the Court of Appeal allowed our client Kalayaan (an NGO which works to protect for the rights of migrant domestic workers) to intervene in the case of Al-Malki & Anr v Reyes & Anr, due to be heard in the Court of Appeal.

The Appellants were employed by a Saudi Arabian diplomat and his wife in their private household. They made employment law claims against their employers for unfair dismissal, failure to pay the national minimum wage and breach of working time regulations. The Home Office decided that there are reasonable grounds to believe that they had been trafficked. Their employers raised the defence of diplomatic immunity under s2(1) of the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964 as a bar to the claims. The first instance tribunal allowed the employees claims but the employment appeal tribunal allowed the employers' appeals on the basis that the defence of diplomatic immunity meant that the claims should not have been heard. The employees argued that this amounted to a breach of their rights under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They also stated that Article 4 of the ECHR required their claims to be heard. The employment appeal tribunal held that the application of immunity did not amount to a breach of Articles 4 & 6 and that an employment tribunal had no power to consider matters concerned with Article 4.

Zubier Yazdani and Silvia Nicolaou Garcia of Deighton Pierce Glynn who represents Kalayaan said: "Diplomats should not hide behind diplomatic immunity if mistreating their staff. Ensuring migrant workers working in diplomatic households have access to justice is consistent with the UK's positive obligation under Article 4 ECHR, which prohibits slavery and forced labour. If migrant domestic workers are barred from accessing legal remedies then they can be exploited with impunity".

Kalayaan's barrister is Tom Hickman, of Blackstone Chambers.

Date added: 04/03/2014

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Judicial Review of Leicester Care Home Closures is Given the Go Ahead

The High Court has ordered that a judicial review claim seeking to halt the closure later this year of three of Leicester City Council’s care homes (Herrick Lodge, Elizabeth House and Nuffield House) and challenging the council’s withdrawal from direct care provision altogether should receive an urgent full hearing.

The claim has been brought by a Mrs Karia, a 101 year old resident of Herrick Lodge, one of the three homes threatened with imminent closure. Herrick Lodge is in Latimer Ward, opposite the Peepul Centre, and its location at the heart of the local Asian community is valued by residents and relatives alike. They fear that the Council’s closure decision is based on a misreading of the data regarding future demand: the council predicted a 5% increase in demand, whereas the national indicators point towards a 25% increase in demand over the next 10 years. And they argue that the loss of the culturally sensitive care that Herrick Lodge in particular provides was not adequately recognised by the Council.

A High Court judge has now reviewed the case carefully and, after considering the Council’s calls for the claim to be refused permission, has instead ordered an urgent hearing. Mr Justice Green has ordered a ‘rolled-up hearing’ at which the Council’s technical objections to the claim will be considered first, followed by a consideration of all of the arguments in the claim if it is satisfied on those points. Although quite rare, ‘rolled-up hearings’ occur in urgent cases where a judge recognises that the case is arguably meritorious. The one day judicial review hearing is likely to take place in April or May this year, at the High Court in London.

Mrs Karia said today:

“These decisions have a profound impact on people’s lives. The council should only be making them if they have all the information and it is up to date. The people of Leicester expect nothing less. Yet they didn’t do it in the case of Leicester’s care homes. I am very grateful to my legal team for helping me get this far.”

Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, who represent Mrs Karia, said:

“The council’s decision to withdraw from care home provision was a momentous one. Yet its predictions of future demand were out, not by 10% or 20%, but by 400%. And there was little consideration of the effect of closure on elderly residents who currently receive a first class and culturally appropriate care home service. Balancing the books is all well and good, but you have to get it right, and you cannot side-line the impact of your decision. I am hopeful therefore that the judicial review court will ask the Council to think again.”

For further information, please click here.

Date added: 25/02/2014

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Legal challenge to Biomass plant

Lincolnshire resident Shirley Giles has filed a judicial review on 18 February of the decision by South Holland District Council to grant planning permission for a large biomass plant. The plant is to be built on the outskirts of the tiny rural village of Sutton Bridge, close to the Wash, an important habitat for birds. The village already has a gas turbine power station and seven wind turbines.

Planning documents suggest the plant will burn mainly imported wood and wood products. The Forestry Commission made representations in the planning process that there is not enough wood in the region to supply the plant and suggested it was energy inefficient. The planning conditions that are designed to ensure the wood being supplied is sustainable are linked to government incentive schemes. But the government announced last year that electricity only biomass plants like this one are not a long term solution to meeting our energy needs and decided to phase out incentives for this type of plant.

The Council has been asked for clarification of their decision-making on the sustainability and efficiency of the plant. The judicial review proceedings have been stayed, to allow the Council time to respond.

Mrs Giles said: "As a local resident, I am worried about the effect of the gasifier on air quality, traffic and the environment in general. It is right next to 50 residential properties and two food processing factories employing several hundred local people. It just doesn't make sense to import wood to burn, producing a proportionately low amount of electricity, subsidised by the public. We haven't had answers during the planning process and the District Council will not tell us where the wood will come from."

Solicitor Sue Willman said: "This case raises important questions about the sustainability of this biomass plant and of the burning of imported wood for energy in the UK. It is crucial that South Holland District Council answers Mrs Giles’ questions about the efficiency and sustainability of this plant."

Mrs Giles is represented by Sue Willman and Charlie Dobson, instructing barrister Justine Thornton of 39 Essex Street Chambers.

The Spalding Guardian have covered the story here.

Date added: 21/02/2014

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UK continues to fall short on energy efficiency

Deighton Pierce Glynn partner, Gareth Mitchell, has warned that the UK continues to fall short in meeting its EU energy efficiency obligations.

Since 2008 the UK has been required by the Energy Services Directive to work towards consumption-based energy charging. The absence of consumption-based charging is a particular problem in the social housing sector where communal heating systems and flat-rate energy charges are common. These flat rate charges can be 2 to 4 times higher than the metered charges paid by those who buy their energy direct from energy companies; and because the charges are payable to landlords non-payment results in eviction. As a result, many low income households lose their homes each year because of excessive and unaffordable heating charges.

In response to a judicial review brought by a Deighton Pierce Glynn client, Roy Ofogba, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has published a consultation paper on its proposed approach consumption-based charging for households connected to district heating systems. The consultation paper takes on board two of the key criticisms raised by Mr Ofogba in his judicial review claim: the lack of a robust evidence base and the need to assess the cost effectiveness of consumption-based charging at a local level. However, in his consultation response Mr Ofogba highlights a number of significant shortcomings in DECC’s proposed approach, including the misconceived suggestion that social landlords who operate district heating schemes do not need to act until December 2016.

A statement from the Government on its next steps in light of the consultation responses is expected shortly.

Date added: 19/02/2014

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Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law unless you are a football fan

Are we seeing the emergence of a two-tier legal system in which football fans are treated as a class apart? Martin Cloake and Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitor Darren White examine the evidence and ask whether we should have cause for concern.

Article in the New Statesman can be found here.

Deighton Pierce Glynn work with fans on a range of issues connected to the policing of football. This includes challenging wrongful arrests, assaults and prosecutions, incorrect information on police intelligence files, ‘bubble’ matches, and the use of section 27 dispersal powers. We work closely with the Football Supporters Federation.

Contact Darren White or Lochlinn Parker for advice and assistance.

Date added: 17/02/2014

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Supreme Court refuses to consider hunger striker Muazus appeal

The Supreme Court has decided on 12 February not to grant permission to consider the appeal by the Nigerian hunger striker Isa Muazu in relation to his detention, and the wider issues of the detention of those refusing food and fluid.

The Court accepted that the case may raise a point of law of general public importance, but decided this was not a suitable case to explore that issue because of factual decisions made in the courts below.

Isa Muazu’s solicitor Sue Willman said “Isa’s case provoked an emotional response which obscured the underlying legal argument. We argued that no-one should be held in immigration detention if their medical needs can no longer be met there. In this case the healthcare staff were so concerned about the risk to life that they had produced an end-of-life plan for him. We are also left with a decision that migrants may be detained in hospital, which has serious implications for both the NHS and the Home Office. We will be considering an application to the European Court of Human Rights.”

Isa was deported in December and remains in hiding in Nigeria with an asylum appeal is pending.

Isa Muazu’s legal team were Elisabeth Laing QC of 11 Kings Bench Chambers, Leonie Hirst and Nicola Braganza of Garden Court Chambers, instructed by solicitor Sue Willman working with Silvia Nicolaou Garcia.

He is separately represented by Toufique Hossain of Duncan Lewis in his asylum/immigration claim.

Date added: 13/02/2014

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Slack criticise the Serious Case Review

Rachael and Auden Slack's family have criticised Derbyshire Safeguarding Board’s Serious Case Review into the death of Auden Slack on 2 June 2010. Auden and his mother Rachael were killed by Auden’s father, who then killed himself. At the inquest into the deaths last year, the jury found that Auden’s killing was in part due to the failing of Derbyshire police to tell Rachael that they had assessed them both at high risk of homicide and also to the police’s failure to discuss with Rachael steps to address the risk. Yet the Serious Case Review doesn’t mention this or explore the lessons to be learned from this failure.

Rachael’s mother Jean, and her brother Haydon, say:

What is the point of these reports if they don’t address the findings of juries who have listened to weeks of evidence? It makes us wonder whether the authorities who were party to this report, including Derbyshire police, are serious about improving the service they give to women and children facing domestic violence.

The report says Auden’s killing was not predictable, but the evidence of the officers at the inquest was that they assessed both Auden and Rachael as being at high risk of homicide. And the report says that Rachael was not convinced of the risk that Auden’s father posed – yet the jury specifically found that the police failed to inform her of their assessment of that risk and that this failing contributed to her and Auden’s death. The police have professional tools and expertise to assess risk. Rachael didn’t have these. How could she be convinced of a risk that she hadn’t even been told about?'


Sarah Ricca, of Deighton Pierce Glynn, who represents the family, says:

The Serious Case Review is fatally flawed by its failure to refer to and address the jury’s findings. This is a great shame. The Review highlights important lessons to be learned about sharing information and placing children at the heart of decision-making, where different state agencies are involved in a case of domestic violence. But its omissions and errors undermine it. The fight for justice for Rachael and Auden continues through the civil claim which will now proceed.”

Date added: 30/01/2014

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Detained psychiatric patients win right to fair procedure in transfers to high secure hospitals

The Court of Appeal today found that the current procedure for transferring patients from medium to high secure hospitals is unfair and that the Mental Health Act Code of Practice is deficient in failing to provide a fair procedure for patients facing transfer to high security. Although the Court found that the claimant had not been treated unfairly on the facts of his case, it ruled that in future, all patients facing transfer to high security should be provided at least with the gist of the reports before the Admissions Panel of the high secure hospital and an opportunity to make written representations before transfer, unless the transfer had to be effected urgently.

This ruling represents a significant step forward in patients’ rights. Transfer to high security was acknowledged by the Court to have a significant impact on patients’ prospects of release and conditions of detention. Such transfers were historically seen as a matter of ‘doctor knows best’, with patients as the objects rather than the subjects of the procedure (per Lord Justice Beatson). That situation has now been rectified in a long overdue judgment that brings patients’ rights into line with those of prisoners.

L was represented by Anne-Marie Jolly of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Dan Squires of Matrix Chambers. The full judgment is available here.

Date added: 29/01/2014

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Victory for mentally ill detainees

The Court of Appeal has today allowed an appeal by a woman who was unlawfully detained by the Home Office despite being seriously mentally ill.

The judgment gives importance guidance on when the Home Secretary can lawfully detain people with serious mental illnesses who are liable to be removed from the UK.

The Court had agreed to allow a joint oral intervention by Medical Justice and Mind. We represented Medical Justice who provided shocking evidence about the continuing detention of vulnerable people with illnesses ranging from schizophrenia to PTSD linked to torture. Hamish Arnott of Bhatt Murphy (representing Mind) and Sue Willman of Deighton Pierce Glynn (representing Medical Justice) said: “This decision makes it crystal clear that the Home Office will be acting unlawfully if it ignores mental ill-health when detaining vulnerable migrants. Mental health and the impact of detention on mentally ill detainees are also relevant to the length of time for which a person may be detained.”

For a summary of the key points of the decision, see here. The full judgement is available here.

The barristers who were jointly instructed by the interveners were Dinah Rose QC, Blackstone Chambers, Tim Buley, Landmark, and Martha Spurrier, Doughty Street. Ms Das, the appellant, was represented by Stephanie Harrison QC and Michelle Brewer of Garden Court Chambers, instructed by Sutovic and Hartigan.

Date added: 28/01/2014

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Challenge to GCHQ Surveillance fast-tracked by European Court of Human Rights

The challenge to GCHQ surveillance programme in the European Court of Human Rights has been fast tracked by the court. It has informed the applicants that it will move quickly in determining whether the recently revealed internet surveillance programmes operated by GCHQ are in breach of the law.

Big Brother Watch, the Open Rights Group and English PEN, along with German internet activist Constanze Kurz, brought the action after revelations about the collection of huge amounts of internet data by the British spy base.

The court has completed its preliminary examination of the case and has communicated it to the British government, asking it to justify how GCHQ's practices and the current system of oversight comply with the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention. The court has also given the case a rare 'priority' designation. The government now has until 2 May to respond, after which the case will move into the final stages before judgment.

The groups claim that by collecting data on millions of people not under any suspicion, GCHQ has infringed on the privacy rights of not only British but also European citizens.

Daniel Carey, solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors, who represent the applicants, said: 'The European Court of Human Rights has acted remarkably quickly in communicating the case to the Government and designating it as a priority. It has also acted decisively by requiring the Government to explain how the UK's surveillance practices and oversight mechanisms comply with the right to privacy. This gives real hope to the public that the European Court of Human Rights will require reform if the Government continues to insist that nothing is wrong.'

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: 'We now know that GCHQ operate a central database of communications despite Parliament being told such a database would not be built. This legal challenge is an essential part of getting to the bottom of why the public and Parliament have not been properly informed about the scale of surveillance and why our privacy has been subverted on an industrial scale.'

Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, said: 'The government has so far failed to address the revelations about GCHQ's activities with any sense of urgency. We're delighted that the European Court of Human Rights has made the action a priority. This only ever happens in a minority of cases and is a measure of the significant international concern about the UK's unchecked surveillance.'

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said: ‘The digital age comes with the potential for government to try to monitor everything and everyone almost constantly. We've learnt that our laws have been abused to fulfil this ambition.

Constanze Kurz, computer scientist and Internet activist, said: 'The European Court of Human Rights expects fast answers from the British government. It is vital now that human rights and the respect of the privacy of millions of people will also be prioritized not only by the British government and parliament but also at EU level.'

For further details see https://www.privacynotprism.org.uk/ and coverage in the Guardian newspaper here.

Date added: 24/01/2014

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Shipment of Tear Gas to Bahrain Halted

Bahrain Watch, represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn, has succeeded in preventing a massive shipment of tear gas from South Korea to Bahrain. As part of its successful #StopTheShipment campaign, Bahrain Watch lodged complaints with the Korean National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and with a number of UN Special Rapporteurs. Citing “complaints from human rights groups”, the Korean Government has now denied two requests from a Korean arms manufacturer to export the chemicals, as reported in the Financial Times.

The article states that the Bahraini government was planning to buy 3 million tear gas canisters – around 4 canisters for each Bahraini citizen. The Korean Government’s decision to cease exports means that this tear gas will not reach Bahrain.

Deighton Pierce Glynn, alongside other members of the legal team, will continue to pursue the complaints, to ensure that there is no change in the Korean Government’s position and so that no other state succeeds in supplying tear gas to a state that has been found to use tear gas in systematic breach of fundamental human rights.

For further details, see https://bahrainwatch.org/blog/2014/01/07/south-korea-halts-massive-tear-gas-shipment-to-bahrain/.

Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, said:

“The South Korean Government’s decision doesn’t just reflect good governance. International human rights law requires states to prevent the supply of tear gas to countries such as Bahrain, which has deployed it against civilian populations causing systematic loss of life, inhuman treatment and disproportionate interferences with the freedoms of expression and assembly. Those obligations apply with equal force to any other state whose arms industry is now contemplating filling this ‘gap in the market’. Our complaints to the UN Special Rapporteurs also apply to them.”

Date added: 08/01/2014

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Verdict reached at inquest into the death of Robert Edwards

On Friday the jury reached a verdict on the death of Robert Edwards after a long inquest. They have found that Robert's death was due to "inadequate care between 20 and 21 May 2011 whilst in police custody.”

Robert’s wife, Susan, his daughters Jaime, Lauren and Sara, and his sister Belinda wish to say the following:

Rob is missed and loved by all of us. He had a number of challenges in life but our love for him is unchanged. His death has been a tragedy and it is a source of immense sadness that Rob’s life could have been saved at a number of points throughout the night of 20 May 2011 had he received prompt medical care.

When Rob went into custody at Bury St Edmunds Police Station he was a vulnerable man who needed to be cared for. The police and medical professionals have a particular duty to the wellbeing of vulnerable people in their care. The jury have found that on a number of different occasions police officers or medical professionals failed in that duty and did not provide prompt or adequate care. The jury concluded that had Rob been taken to hospital earlier he would have survived.

We can only hope that the lessons of this tragedy will be understood and that future deaths will be prevented as a result.

We want to thank the Coroner and the Jury for their careful deliberation of the issues surrounding Rob’s death.”


Notes to Editors:

The family will not be answering questions directly and ask that they are allowed to grieve in peace.

Please direct any questions to the family’s solicitor, Lochlinn Parker of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors, by email: lparker@dpglaw.co.uk

The family’s barrister is Tim Baldwin, of Garden Court Chambers.

The family has been assisted by the charity Inquest who provide free advice to bereaved people facing an inquest, with a focus on deaths in custody.

Date added: 23/12/2013

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Legal Proceedings Initiated On Behalf Of Victims Of Suspected UK Drone Attack In Afganistan

Deighton Pierce Glynn have commenced legal action on behalf of the relatives of two Afghan farmers killed in a drone attack in Helmand, Afghanistan in October 2011.

Haji Abdullah, 56, and his son Habibullah, 18, were killed by a drone as they drove a tractor on their farm in Nawzad province, Helmand. Their relatives watched as a high altitude drone launched a missile which struck the tractor, killing Habibullah almost instantly and leaving his father fatally wounded.

Operational updates issued by the RAF at the time of the strike record a period of intense drone activity. The Ministry of Defence currently only acknowledges a single case of civilian death arising from the use of a drone, which occurred in the same year as this incident and in the same district and province.

A letter before claim has been sent on the family’s behalf seeking an investigation into the incident and requesting disclosure of the RAF’s records relating to the incident.

Speaking today, Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn, said: “The use of lethal force is only lawful if it is absolutely necessary and distinguishes between civilians and combatants. This did not happen in this case. We now seek full disclosure from the UK government of the details it holds relating to this tragic incident.”

See coverage in today's Times at:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/defence/article3946519.ece

For further information contact:

Daniel Carey, Deighton Pierce Glynn

Tel: 0117 317 8133

Email: dcarey@dpglaw.co.uk

Date added: 12/12/2013

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Bahrain Watch Lodges Complaints with UN Special Rapporteurs re. Shipment of Tear Gas

Deighton Pierce Glynn has lodged complaints with several UN Special Rapporteurs on behalf of Bahrain Watch requesting urgent action to halt further shipments of tear gas to Bahrain. The action has been prompted by the leak of documents suggesting that a shipment of massive quantities of tear gas from Korea to Bahrain is imminent. The complaints argue that Bahrain’s government has used previous shipments of tear gas to violate the right to life (39 deaths are attributable to misuse of tear gas); torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading mistreatment; and freedoms of expression, association, and religion.

Separate complaints have been lodged with the following:

• Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

• Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions

• Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

• Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

• Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

For further details, see https://bahrainwatch.org/blog/2013/12/10/urgent-appeals-to-un-ohchr-to-stop-tear-gas-shipment/.

Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, said, “The UN Special Rapporteurs are able to put substantial pressure on governments to comply with their international human rights obligations, which prevent states from exporting tear gas to governments that use it to cause significant loss of life and mistreatment. The Bahrain Government’s use of tear gas is globally unprecedented. We hope they will act quickly to require Korea and other states to refrain from exporting to it.”

Date added: 12/12/2013

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Alliance of Welsh environmental charities to challenge proposal to build a motorway through precious habitat on the Gwent Levels

The Welsh government have issued a consultation about the proposal to build a motorway through the Gwent Levels – a site of particular environmental importance.

Where the environment is effected by proposals, public consultation is required by law. The Government appears to be attempting to circumvent this requirement by consulting on very limited options – a motorway through the Gwent Levels, a motorway through a slightly different part of the Gwent Levels, or a dual carriage way through the Gwent Levels. Given the history of opposition to major road building through the Gwent Levels, the options given appear to be designed to restrict public discussion of the available options, rather than to encourage public involvement.

The consultation is also deficient in that it specifically excludes from consideration the effect of the recently announced investment in public transport known as the “South Wales Metro” – despite that scheme’s aim including the same reduction of congestion as the proposed motorway.

The failure of the consultation to include reasonable options have been opposed by a group of environmental organisations who have come together under the name of CALM to oppose major road building through the Levels. It has also been condemned by major opposition parties in Wales – the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, together with the Federation of Small Businesses.

The motorway has been a contentious issue in South Wales for many years, and the concern is that the consultation is drafted in such a way to prevent any meaningful discussion taking place about the possible alternatives to the proposal.

A pre-action letter has been written to the government, and a reply is expected by 4pm on 18th December 2013.

CALM are fundraising through http://www.gofundme.com/5mibb0

Gareth Clubb, of Friends of the Earth Cymru, says:

The fact that all options have been eliminated other than a motorway/dual carriageway across the Levels is devastating in environmental terms. It means that there is effectively no option to choose from. It has disenfranchised people who might otherwise have responded to the consultation but who feel that the outcome of the consultation is a done deal.”

Friends of the Earth and the Gwent Wildlife Trust are represented by Polly Glynn of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Alex Goodman of Landmark Chambers.

Date added: 11/12/2013

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Legal action taken to stop the shipment of tear gas from Korea to Bahrain

A formal complaint to the Korean Contact Point for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development was submitted yesterday by a joint UK-US legal team, including Michael Mansfield QC, Mark McDonald of Mansfield Chambers, Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn, Ahmed Ali of Bahrain Watch, and James Suzano of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights. The complaint is seeking to prevent the shipment of 1.6 million tear gas canisters to Bahrain by the Korean company Dae Kwang Chemical Corporation.

After documents leaked last month which showed that the Bahraini government are intending to purchase a huge stockpile of the canisters, it is understood that Dae Kwang, who have previously admitted to supplying approximately one million tear gas canisters to Bahrain in 2011 – 2012, are currently seeking the Korean government’s permission to export a further huge shipment.

The reckless and indiscriminate use of tear gas by Bahraini security forces for the suppression of legitimate protest has been criticised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Incidents of canisters being fired directly into houses and at protesters’ heads are widely documented, and the independent organisation Physicians for Human Rights has identified at least 39 deaths in the country which can be linked to tear gas canisters fired by security officers.

The formal complaint was submitted to the OECD’s National Contact Point in Korea yesterday, seeking confirmation of whether or not the NCP would act to stop the export. The legal team, acting for Bahrain Watch, argue that Dae Kwang’s shipment would be in breach of OECD guidance on human rights standards. Daniel Carey said:

"The OECD guidelines require corporations to refrain from facilitating human rights breaches. Supplying tear gas to a government that systematically deploys tear gas in massive quantities leading to substantial loss of life and torture and inhuman treatment clearly falls into this category. The Bahrain Government has been criticised by its own independent commission and several human rights NGOs for its dangerous use of tear gas. Foreign corporations should not be facilitating it."

The Bahrain government’s Human Rights Minister has been sent to Korea, in a move Bahrain Watch fears may be intended to persuade the Korean government to approve the shipment. Meanwhile, the state abuse of tear gas in Bahrain continues, with more reports in recent weeks of serious injury caused by tear gas canisters, and the targeting by police of women taking part in a religious procession.

The team has received support from REDRESS, the Omega Research Foundation, and Ceartas (Irish Lawyers for Human Rights). More information on Bahrain Watch’s campaign can be read here.

Date added: 27/11/2013

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Substantial defamation damages from social services

Substantial defamation damages and an apology have been secured for a Deighton Pierce Glynn client where a social services authority had circulated false and highly damaging information about him.

Our client’s family came into contact with the local authority’s social services department on a number of occasions. On the first occasion a very serious error was made by the local authority when information supplied by a third party was misunderstood and mis-recorded. Subsequently, the information was not checked and the false information was circulated both internally within the local authority and to external agencies but not to our client. When the social services file was reopened several years later the false information on the file was assumed to be accurate and tainted in a seriously detrimental way the social services department’s treatment of our client and his family.

Through defamation and Human Right Act proceedings in the High Court, and subsequent negotiations, we have been able to secure an apology, the correction of the false information and substantial damages for our client, finally bringing to an end a very difficult chapter for him. The claim was conducted by Gareth Mitchell of Deighton Pierce Glynn, a specialist in private and public law claims against public bodies, and Lorna Skinner of Matrix Chambers.

Date added: 14/11//2013

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Court of Appeal grants permission to appeal against High Court judgment in MN & KN v Hackney

The Court of Appeal has granted permission for two children, known as MN and KN, to have their appeal heard against an unfavourable High Court decision for their family and others in their situation.

The High Court ruled, in May 2013, that Hackney had acted lawfully in declining to accept that the children were ‘children in need’, and were therefore not entitled to support under s17 Children Act. The judgment was relied upon by other local authorities when refusing to support destitute migrant families because the parents could not provide sufficient evidence to prove to the local authorities that they were destitute. There will now be a full hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice next year.

The clients are represented by Frances Lipman and Adam Hundt of our Bristol office and Nick Armstrong of Matrix Chambers.

Date added: 12/11//2013

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Independent living: legal victory for disabled people

The Court of Appeal today upheld a legal challenge by five disabled people against the Government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in March 2015. In a powerful, unanimous judgment handed down today, the court held that the Minister for Disabled People had breached equality duties when making the decision in December 2012 to close the ILF.  The Court of Appeal has quashed the decision.

ILF is funded by the DWP and provides vital support to some 19,000 severely disabled people in the UK to enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives. The ILF system was set up in 1988 in recognition of the fact that severely disabled people are at high risk of social exclusion and face particular barriers to maintaining independent life and working, and that their needs in this regard were not adequately addressed by council provision. The claimants, represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn and Scott-Moncrieff & Associates, feared that the loss of their ILF support would threaten their right to live with dignity, and that they could be forced into residential care or lose their ability to work and participate in everyday activities on an equal footing with other people.

The public sector equality duty required the Minister to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity for disabled people. In particular, this includes the need to remove or minimise the disadvantages suffered by disabled people and the need to encourage their participation in public life. The court made clear that these requirements are not optional in times of austerity. In his judgment, Lord Justice McCombe emphasised that by including these duties in the Equality Act 2010, it was clearly: ‘the intention of Parliament that these considerations of equality of opportunity… are now to be placed at the centre of formulation of policy by all public authorities, side by side with all other pressing circumstances of whatever magnitude.’He concluded that there was no evidence that the Minister had specifically considered these issues when deciding to close the ILF and that the Minister was not fully informed about the impact the decision would have on disabled people.

The judgment is of major importance not just for the claimants, but for all disabled people. As Paris L’Amour one of the Claimants represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn said: “This is an amazing breakthrough and an incredible outcome.”

The full press release is here, and background briefing on the case is here. The judgment can be found here. The BBC and the Guardian are reporting the case here and here, respectively.

Three of the Claimants were represented by Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn and all of the Claimants were represented by David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers.

Three of the Claimants in the case have issued a statement on the appeal outcome and it can be accessed here.

The solicitors for the Claimants have also prepared a legal briefing on the appeal ruling and this can be accessed here.

Date added: 06/11//2013

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Response to the Government's judicial review consultation

Deighton Pierce Glynn today responded to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on judicial review. We are gravely concerned that the proposals will severely and negatively affect an essential constitutional protection, to the detriment of the most vulnerable in society. We have responded in detail, but our principal concern is that the consultation itself exceeds the constitutional limits of the role of the Ministry of Justice. It is primarily for the courts to determine their procedure and their rules of admission. There is an obvious conflict of interest in government making changes that will radically reduce citizens’ ability to ensure the lawfulness of its conduct. As for the proposals themselves:

- They do not make the case for change: very little data is relied upon, and no account is taken of the fact immigration and asylum cases (the majority of the Administrative Court’s caseload) are to be transferred into the tribunal system.

- The proposed changes are not sufficiently targeted. Preventing many meritorious cases for the sake of weeding out a few unmeritorious ones is too high a price to pay.

- The proposals are one-sided. They do not consider the way government causes delay and cost in judicial review.

We hope that the Government will think again, before proceeding with such ill-considered and partisan reforms.

The full response can be found here.

Date added: 01/11//2013

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Judgment given in ground breaking British drones case in Information Tribunal

The Information Tribunal today declined to lift the veil of secrecy shrouding the UK's drones programme, accepting the Ministry of Defence's argument that to do so could jeopardise the effectiveness and security of British troops in Afghanistan. Controversially however, the explanation of how the information would compromise troops was not disclosed to the applicant: drones campaigner, Chris Cole. He is considering appealing on the basis that, in refusing to disclose even the MoD’s explanation for refusing the request, the tribunal has failed to give sufficient reasons for its decision.

In an important judgment, the Information Tribunal acknowledged public concerns regarding Britain’s prolific drone use (362 strikes from mid-2008 to end 2012) and concerns that the UK is carrying out so-called “targeted killings” away from the heat of battle. However, it refused the information sought, namely:

1. How strikes take place (whether they are ‘dynamically targeted’ in the moment or whether they are pre-planned); and

2. Where they take place (he seeks a breakdown by province and year).

The case has however shed some light on the UK’s drones programme: it involved the first public cross-examination of a UK drones pilot; and the judgment contains the clearest acknowledgement yet that the UK carries out controversial “targeted killings” away from the heat of battle (paragraphs 3, 46, 47, 66).

Chris Cole is currently considering an appeal due to the failure to explain why disclosure will compromise British troops; the tribunal’s misapplication of the law; and its conclusions that the RAF’s own disclosures do not undermine the MoD’s case that disclosure will compromise troops.

Speaking today, Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK said:

The growing use of armed unmanned drones is a matter of serious public interest here in the UK and right around the world. In order to answer the many legal and ethical questions raised by such systems, a proper understanding of how they are being used on a day-to-day basis is needed and it is right that the public have access to such information. The Tribunal has not robustly tested the MoD’s case in the way we expected and we are strongly considering an appeal.

Speaking today, Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn, who is acting for Chris, said:

The tribunal have decided that when the MoD waves the flag of troop safety this creates a virtually insurmountable barrier to disclosure, yet, in not disclosing to us even the explanation given by the MoD, it has been impossible for us to respond meaningfully. We are considering an appeal, although we are pleased that the proceedings have already shed some much-needed light on the UK’s drones programme.”

For further information contact Daniel Carey.

Date added: 30/10/2013

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Inquest jury finds that police failures contributed to the unlawful killings of Rachael Slack and her two year old son Auden

The jury in the inquest into the death of Rachael and Auden Slack has found that failings by the police contributed to their deaths. The jury found that Rachael’s unlawful killing by her ex-partner Andrew Cairns was in part due to the police’s failure to tell Rachael of their assessment that she was at risk of serious injury or death from him. They found that Auden’s unlawful killing was in part due to the same failing, and also to the police’s failure to discuss with Rachael steps to address the risk.

The coroner described domestic violence as an epidemic and announced that he is going to write to the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Health, ACPO, College of Police and the Chief Constable about the outcome of the inquest and his recommendations for change.

Rachael’s brother Haydon said: ‘The space that has been left in our lives by the tragic loss of Rachael and Auden, as well as Rachael’s unborn child, will never be filled and never should be. Rachael was a devoted mother, a beautiful and truly caring person with a positive outlook on life. We hope that the jury’s findings and the coroner’s recommendations will ensure that lessons are learned that could protect the lives of other women and children threatened by domestic violence. And we add our voice to the calls of domestic violence charity Refuge and other families such as the family of Maria Stubbings for a public inquiry into state failings in response to domestic violence.’

Sign the petition for a public inquiry here

Sarah Ricca of Deighton Pierce Glynn, the family’s solicitor, said, ‘The particular tragedy of this case is that the lives of Rachael and Auden were lost after they were both assessed as being at high risk of homicide. Why did this assessment not lead to steps to protect Rachael and Auden, who as a very young child is owed separate and even more pressing obligations by the authorities? What makes it so difficult for the police and other agencies to get it right on domestic violence? We need a public inquiry to get to the bottom of this pressing question’.

Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of the national domestic violence charity Refuge says:

‘This inquest has shone a spotlight on a number of failings made by Derbyshire Police that contributed to the deaths of Rachael Slack, 38, and her son Auden Slack, 23 months. I am shocked and saddened that the police did not do more to protect Rachael and Auden. Lessons must be learned from their tragic deaths – we must not let their killings be in vain. The reality is that Rachael and Auden’s case is not a one-off. Across the country, women and children are being failed by those agencies that have a duty to protect them. That’s why Refuge is calling on the Government to open a public inquiry into the police and state response to domestic violence. We need to discover the truth about what’s going wrong.’

Read domestic violence charity Refuge’s press release here

Date added: 22/10/2013

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Court of Appeal hands down decision on police response to 999 calls

In a unanimous judgment delivered by the Master of the Rolls the court agreed with the Claimants and found that the police have a duty to do all that could reasonably be expected of them to prevent serious injury to victims of criminal activity even where an incident is on-going when they are made aware of it.

On 15th August 2012 Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith sitting at Central London County Court granted the police’s application to strike out the claim. The appeal was of this decision and the case will now go to trial.

On 9 September 2006 Humberside Police were made aware of the actions of a violent gang in several 999 calls but did not attend for 26 minutes by which time Mr Sarjantson had been assaulted and sustained serious and life changing injuries. An interval investigation was critical of the performance of the police and found an 11 minute delay in dispatching units to attend the incident.

Humberside Police told the court that no obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights arose because the second Claimant was not identified until after he had been assaulted and because even if they’d responded immediately they may not have got there in time to prevent the attack.

The Master of the Rolls acknowledged that the issues raised in this appeal are of considerable importance for the police.

The Master of the Rolls stated:

The facts strongly suggest that to have required the police to respond in accordance with the target of 15 minutes would not have imposed an unreasonable or disproportionate burden on them.”

This is an important domestic authority on the scope of Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention on the police.

The full judgment is available here.

The Claimants are represented by Jo Eggleton and Hugh Southey QC of Matrix Chambers.

Date added: 22/10/2013

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Inquest jury has retired to consider whether police failures contributed to the deaths of Rachael Slack and her two year old son Auden

The jury has today retired to consider its verdict in the inquest into the death of Rachael and Auden Slack and Andrew Cairns at Derby Coroner's Court.

The Coroner has directed the jury to consider the cause of death and also whether seven separate failings by the police contributed to the death of Rachael and Auden:

1. Was there a failure to warn Rachael Slack expressly that she was assessed by the police as being at high risk of serious injury or homicide by Andrew Cairns?

2. Was there a failure to warn Rachael Slack expressly that Auden was assessed by the police as being at high risk of serious injury or homicide by Andrew Cairns?

3. Was there a failure by the police to discuss with Rachael Slack adequate steps that could be taken to address the risk to her and/or Auden?

4. Was there a failure by the police to implement adequate steps that to protect Rachael and/or Auden?

5. Was there a failure to inform Rachael Slack of Andrew Cairns’ comment to the neighbour to abduct Auden on 28th May 2010?

6. Was there a failure to update Rachael Slack’s risk assessment following the comment to the neighbour to abduct Auden on 28th May 2010?

7. Was there a failure to update Auden Slack’s risk assessment following the comment to the neighbour to abduct Auden on 28th May 2010?

Rachael’s solicitor, Sarah Ricca of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors, said, ‘Rachael’s family are determined that lessons be learned from the tragic deaths of Rachael and Auden. They are supporting the call of the family of Maria Stubbings for a public inquiry into the state response to domestic violence. They hope that this inquest will be a step towards achieving that.’

Notes to editors:

• On 2 June 2010, the bodies of Rachael Slack, her two year old son Auden and Andrew Cairns, Rachael’s ex partner and Auden’s father, were found at Rachael’s home in Derbyshire.

• Andrew Cairns had been arrested by Derbyshire Police on 28 May 2010 after Rachael reported that he had threatened to kill her. In accordance with the force’s domestic violence policy, Rachael was assessed as at high risk. Andrew was released on bail pending further inquiries, with a condition that he did not contact Rachael.

• The evening of the 28th May 2010, a neighbour reported an apparent threat to abduct Auden by Andrew Cairns.

• Rachael had recently told Andrew that she was in a new relationship and that she was expecting a child.

• The IPCC conducted an independent investigation into the police handling of the case and found no failings.

• The inquest is before Dr Robert W Hunter Senior Coroner, sitting at Derby Coroner’s Court, St Katherine’s House, St Mary’s Wharf, Mansfield Road, Derby DE1 3TQ

Date added: 21/10/2013

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"The law that applies to most of us should also apply to the police"

Jane Deighton was asked by the Evening Standard to comment on their coverage of the news that Daniel Kaluuya had begun proceedings against the Metropolitan Police.

The full quote of what Jane said:

"Daniel’s claim resonates with so many other claims against the police that have been made over the years. Some are proven some are not. It’s worth pausing to think why is it that senior police officers often don’t seem to be able to keep proper control over their officers? One answer lies with the police disciplinary system. It is much harder for police managers to discipline officers than it is for most employers to discipline their staff. The law requires most employers to be reasonable and fair but allows them to take a robust view and take fast and firm steps including dismissal when they have decided an employee has done something wrong. The police disciplinary system strips police managers of much of that power. It is time for police officers to be subject to the same employment law as most of us. When this happens stricter discipline may improve police behaviour."

The letter as published in the Evening Standard can be found here.

Date added: 16/10/2013

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Court of Appeal to consider police obligations when responding to 999 calls

On 9th September 2006 the Claimants (husband and wife) were assaulted by a rampaging mob on the housing estate in Grimsby where they lived. One of the Claimants sustained life changing head injuries as a result. Those responsible were prosecuted and convicted of offences of GBH and/or Violent Disorder.

Despite calls to the police by scared residents the police did not arrive for 26 minutes and by the time they did arrive the Claimants had been assaulted. The Claimant's claim concerns the police’s delay in attending the scene which they say was a breach of the obligations imposed on the police by Articles 2 or 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The police do not deny that there was a delay in responding but say it does not amount to a breach.

On 15th August 2012 Her Honour Judge Walden-Smith sitting at Central London County Court granted the police’s application to strike out the claim. She subsequently granted permission for the Claimants’ to appeal against her decision directly to the Court of Appeal. The appeal was heard on Tuesday 8th October before the Master of the Rolls. Judgment is awaited.

The appeal raises three important issues in relation to the obligations on the police under Article 2 and 3 ECHR.

• Whether there needs to be a risk to identified individuals and if so what is meant by this eg. must they be named;

• Whether it is correct to apply hindsight in deciding if there has been a breach eg does no obligation arise if in fact the police could not have got to a scene quickly enough to prevent someone being seriously injured; and

• The extent to which the obligations on the state under Article 3 are the same as those under Article 2.

The Claimants are represented by Jo Eggleton of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Hugh Southey QC of Matrix Chambers.

Date added: 10/10/2013

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GCHQ to face European Court over mass surveillance

Three of Britain's most prominent campaign groups have today announced the launch of a legal challenge against the actions of GCHQ, alleging it has illegally intruded on the privacy of millions of British and European citizens.

Big Brother Watch, the Open Rights Group and English PEN, together with German internet activist Constanze Kurz, have filed papers at the European Court of Human Rights bringing an action against the UK Government.

They allege that by collecting vast amounts of data leaving or entering the UK, including the content of emails and social media messages, the UK’s spy agency has acted illegally.

When details recently emerged in the media about the Prism and Tempora programmes, codenames for previously secret online surveillance operations, it was revealed that GCHQ has the capacity to collect more than 21 petabytes of data a day - equivalent to sending all the information in all the books in the British Library 192 times every 24 hours.

The disclosures have raised serious parliamentary concerns both in Britain and at the EU level.

Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors represent the applicants, instructing Helen Mountfield QC of Matrix Chambers and Tom Hickman and Ravi Mehta of Blackstone Chambers.

The legal action will be funded through donations at www.privacynotprism.org.uk

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The laws governing how internet data is accessed were written when barely anyone had broadband access and were intended to cover old fashioned copper telephone lines. Parliament did not envisage or intend those laws to permit scooping up details of every communication we send, including content, so it’s absolutely right that GCHQ is held accountable in the courts for its actions.”

Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, said: "Mass surveillance systems create risks for everyone, and place extreme degrees of power in the hands of secret agencies. This is made worse by the lack of democratic accountability and judicial oversight. People living across the UK, Europe, the USA and beyond need the courts to protect their rights and start the process of reestablishing public trust."

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN, said: “Privacy is now an essential condition for freedom of expression. Following the revelations about the extent to which GCHQ and the NSA have been harvesting our personal data, no citizen in the UK can be confident that their communications are private. If this legal challenge is successful then I’m hopeful that we will secure effective protection of our rights.”

Daniel Carey, solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn, who are representing the applicants, said: “We are asking the court to declare that unrestrained surveillance of much of Europe’s internet communications by the UK Government, and the outdated regulatory system that has permitted this, breach our rights to privacy. This is not something the secret investigatory powers tribunal can do. Indeed, it is precisely the sort of case that we need the European Court of Human Rights for. We are asking for the case to be dealt with on a priority basis, so I am hopeful that it will be formally communicated to the UK Government within a period of weeks. After that, the timetable will be determined by the court.”

The groups initially sought to bring their case in the UK domestic courts and wrote to the UK Government on 3 July 2013 stating that a judicial review challenge would be brought. However, the Government said an action in the English Courts was barred and that the groups should complain to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the secretive body that hears complaints about the intelligence agencies and from which there is no appeal to the courts. However, proceedings before the tribunal would not permit the public examination of these important issues, nor are they capable of providing the remedy the applicants seek: a new legislative framework respectful of British and European citizens’ privacy rights.

The European Court has previously held that the IPT does not provide an effective remedy and that it will hear complaints directly. The applicants have therefore pursued their legal challenge in the European Court of Human Rights. It is believed that this is the first complaint to be made to an international court relating to the disclosures of the Prism and Tempora programmes.

Date added: 03/10/2013

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Drones Campaigner Challenges MoD Drone Secrecy in Information Tribunal Today

The drones campaigner, Chris Cole, has today taken his case for disclosure of the UK's secretive drones programme to the Information Tribunal. The case will be heard 23-24 September 2013.

Deighton Pierce Glynn represents Chris Cole, of the Drone Wars UK website. His Freedom of Information requests seeking important information about how British drones operate in Afghanistan were refused by the Ministry of Defence. He has therefore taken his case to the Information Tribunal, who will decide whether the information should be released. He seeks the following information:

1. How strikes take place (whether they are ‘dynamically targeted’ in the moment or whether they are pre-planned); and

2. Where they take place (he seeks a breakdown by province and year).

The Ministry of Defence claims that releasing this information will jeopardise armed forces’ capabilities and security and the UK’s international relations, but it refuses to explain why. A drone pilot today gives evidence publicly on these issues for the first time. However, the MoD has successfully applied to have part of the hearing ‘closed’ to the public.

Speaking today, Chris Cole said:

The growing use of armed unmanned drones is a matter of serious public interest both here in the UK and around the world. In order to answer the many legal and ethical questions raised by such systems, a proper understanding of how they are being used on a day-to-day basis is needed and it is right that the public have access to such information.”

Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn, who is acting for Chris, also said:

“The Ministry of Defence is stifling public debate as to the legality and ethics of its prolific drone use in Afghanistan. Under a veil of secrecy, it has carried out over 350 lethal strikes in Afghanistan. The public and victims need to know how and where these strikes are happening in order to have their say.”

For further information please email Daniel Carey

Date added: 23/09/2013

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Inquest into family's death raises questions about domestic violence responses

The inquest into the death of Rachael and Auden Slack and Andrew Cairns will resume tomorrow at Derby Coroner’s Court.

On 2 June 2010, the bodies of Rachael Slack, her two year old son Auden and Andrew Cairns, Rachael’s ex partner and Auden’s father, were found at Rachael’s home in Derbyshire.

Andrew Cairns had been arrested by Derbyshire Police on 28 May 2010 after Rachael reported that he had threatened to kill her. In accordance with the force’s domestic violence policy, Rachael was assessed as at high risk. Andrew was released on bail pending further inquiries, with a condition that he did not contact Rachael. Rachael’s family are concerned that inadequate steps were then taken to protect Rachael and Auden, and that inappropriate reliance was placed on Rachael’s own assessment of the risk, rather than on a full assessment of the risk, including to Auden, undertaken by relevant professionals.

Rachael had recently told Andrew that she was in a new relationship and that she was expecting a child. He was known to be unhappy about this.

Andrew Cairns had been under the care of Mental Health Services in Derbyshire since approximately 2008. Although they were no longer in a relationship, Rachael nonetheless tirelessly provided support and tried to find help for Andrew throughout these difficult times. The inquest will consider whether more could have been done to address Andrew Cairns’ mental health issues.

The Coroner will sit with a jury to consider how Rachael and Auden Slack and Andrew Cairns came by their deaths and whether any contribution to those deaths was made by acts and omissions of the relevant authorities, including Derbyshire Police and mental health services.

Rachael’s family hope that any failings will be identified and lessons will be learned that could protect the lives of other women and children threatened by domestic violence.

Hayden Slack, Rachael’s brother said, ‘Rachael was a devoted mother and a truly caring person with a positive outlook on life. The tragic loss of Rachael and Auden has been and will continue to be felt deeply by friends and family to whom they brought so much joy and love.’

Sarah Ricca, Haydon Slack’s solicitor, said, ‘The tragedy of this case is that the lives of Rachael and Auden were lost after Rachael was assessed as high risk. Why did this assessment not lead to steps to protect Rachael and in particular Auden, who as a very young child is owed separate and even more pressing obligations by the authorities? The family hope that lessons will be learned that will prevent future deaths’.

Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of the national domestic violence charity Refuge says:

‘One woman in four will experience physical violence in the UK at some time in her life and two women are killed every week by a current or former partner. Refuge would like to see radical improvements in the way in which police and other statutory agencies such as the CPS, Social Services and Health services respond to domestic violence across the country to bring these harrowing statistics right down’.

The inquest resumes on Thursday 12 September 2013 at 10.30am Before Dr Robert W Hunter Senior Coroner Sitting at Derby Coroner’s Court, St Katherine’s House, St Mary’s Wharf, Mansfield Road, Derby DE1 3TQ.

Date added: 11/09/2013

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Court of Appeal gives the go ahead for challenge to legality of data-sharing between Hospitals and Home Office

The challenge will show evidence that the policy is deterring people from accessing treatment, which could have wider public health implications.

As reported earlier this year, we have been instructed by a number of patients to challenge guidance which requires hospitals to tell the Home Office if patients have received medical treatment but cannot pay for it. There is evidence that the rules are deterring people from accessing treatment, and the basis of the challenge is that the rules breach patient confidentiality and unlawfully tell hospitals that they have no discretion to refrain from informing the Home Office (for example where there are concerns about public health if the patient disengages from treatment or about child welfare).

Judicial review proceedings were issued in the High Court last year, but permission was refused by Mr Justice Collins at a hearing in May. The Claimants appealed to the Court of Appeal and Lady Justice Arden overturned Mr Justice Collins’ decision. She also ordered that the Claimants be granted anonymity. There will now be a full hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice early next year. The clients are represented by Adam Hundt of our Bristol office and David Wolfe QC and Nick Armstrong of Matrix Chambers.

Date added: 29/08/2013

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Daniel Carey arrival boosts DPG international law team

Award winning public law and human rights solicitor Daniel Carey has joined Deighton Pierce Glynn, to develop our human rights and international law team. The move signals an increased focus by DPG on challenging human rights and environmental abuses which take place abroad.

Previously at Public Interest Lawyers, Daniel worked on high profile domestic and European human rights cases, many of which related to human rights abuses including torture, committed by the British army and intelligence services in Iraq and Afghanistan. Daniel also worked on the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry and was solicitor for the victims in the Al-Sweady Public Inquiry. Daniel brings a wealth of knowledge of using international law in domestic courts.

Daniel also has substantial experience in public law challenges to local and national government, particularly those based on human rights and equalities law. He has acted in successful challenges to library closures in Surrey, Gloucestershire and Somerset (for which he was named Times Lawyer of the Week) and Ministry of Justice alterations to legal aid funding, amongst others. Before practising in domestic public law, Daniel worked as an international observer/accompanier in Guatemala with the human rights NGO Peace Brigades International, and on death penalty cases in Louisiana, USA with the charity Reprieve.

Daniel received the Law Society New Solicitor of the Year award in 2007 for his work in Guatemala. He also received the Peter Duffy Award from Liberty and JUSTICE in 2009 for his work at Public Interest Lawyers. The award recognizes the work of a young human rights lawyer or campaigner. Daniel is ranked as a “Star Associate” in Administrative & Public Law and as “Up & Coming” in Civil Liberties & Human Rights in the current edition of Chambers & Partners and is ranked in these areas in the Legal500.

Daniel joins the Bristol office of Deighton Pierce Glynn.

Speaking today, Daniel said:

“I am really excited to be joining such a dynamic and progressive firm. Deighton Pierce Glynn is known for taking on difficult and controversial cases on behalf of the disadvantaged, and that is something very close to my heart. I will be focusing on cases involving international human rights law, against government and against multi-national corporations. I look forward to working with not only the DPG team, but also the campaigners, NGOs, counsel and journalists who help ensure these cases make a difference.”

Date added: 21/08/2013

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Success in challenge to Home Office decision to display adverts on vans telling migrants to go home.

The Home Office have agreed never to run adverts telling migrants to go home again without consulting.

Following our letter to the Home Office, threatening legal action of the decision to pilot a campaign driving large vans around London which displayed messages telling migrants to ‘go home’, the Government has confirmed that if any further campaigns of a similar nature are planned, they would carry out a consultation with local authorities and community groups. The Government accepted that the purpose of consulting would be so that it could have ‘due regard’ to the effect a campaign of this nature would have on the communities living in the affected areas.

Our clients’ legal challenge was based on the Government’s failure to comply with the public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010. This duty requires the Government to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment based on race and religion, as well as to foster good relations between people from different racial and religious groups. Due to the inflammatory nature of the campaign, as voiced by several prominent public figures including Vince Cable MP and the leaders of Brent and Redbridge Councils, the due regard duty was high, and a consultation should have been carried out before the pilot began so that the Government could have properly considered the effect of the campaign before deciding whether to go ahead.

The one week pilot has ended. However, the Government has provided an assurance that if the Home Office were to carry out any further campaigns of this nature it would have due regard to the effect this would have on migrants living in those communities and in so doing would carry out a consultation. Any such consultation would of course have to be meaningful.

Our clients’ solicitor, Louise Whitfield, stated, “I am still very surprised and concerned that the Home Office took the view that they did not need to consider race equality at all when deciding to go ahead with the pilot. Whilst my clients are very pleased that future decisions will address this issue, we are still pressing the Home Office to explain themselves properly.

Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (RAMFEL) and Migrant Rights Network (MRN) will be running a series of workshops across London to support those interested in campaining against the Government’s anti-immigration policies. Solicitors from Deighton Pierce Glynn and Bhatt Murphy will be on the discussion panels. See here for further information about the workshops.

For further information about this story see the Guardian newspaper's coverage here.

The Claimants are represented by Louise Whitfield and Sasha Rozansky.

Date added: 12/08/2013

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IPCC recommend disciplinary action against police officer who used CS Spray on UK Uncut protesters

The IPCC have recommended that a police officer of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) be referred to a Misconduct Meeting after complaints were made by UK Uncut protesters who were sprayed with CS spray at a protest outside Boots on Oxford Street on 30 January 2011.

Michael Firth and two others made complaints against the police officer. They were supported by three witnesses, Stephen Reid, Matthew Butcher and one other. The three other protesters involved do not wish to be identified. The protesters all suffered from the effects of CS spray at close quarters which led to intense burning in their eyes and throats, and breathing difficulties. The effects took many hours to diminish.

The complaints were investigated by the Metropolitan Police’s Department of Professional Standards (DPS) which dismissed all allegations. The Complainants appealed to the IPCC which sent the case back to the DPS having decided that the original Investigating Officer’s report was “brief, poor and reveals very little evidence that sufficient enquiries have been made.” The second DPS report also dismissed all the complaints made.

The final IPCC decision has found that not only does the police officer have a case to answer in respect of the allegation of excessive force, but also that had the IPCC reviewed the decision earlier then they would have recommended the matter was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider charging the police officer with common assault. Representations made to the police by Deighton Pierce Glynn that the matter amounted to a common assault were dismissed by the DPS prior to the six month time limit.

The protesters now hope that the Misconduct Hearing will be rigorous, and that the MPS will admit liability and apologise to them for the incident itself and the defective investigations carried out by the DPS.

Stephen Reid commented “The police may try to portray the use of CS spray on a busy high street as the isolated stupidity of one officer, but I believe incidents like this are inevitable when the police allow themselves to become the tool of an unpopular government. As we speak, hundreds of officers in Balcombe are bullying residents to ensure the progress of the government's unpopular fracking initiative. The role of the police should be to protect people, not corporations.”

The protestor's solicitor, Lochlinn Parker, commented “The failure to deal with this matter properly through the complaint system is unfortunately symptomatic of the experience of many complainants. It should be of concern to the police and the wider public that internal systems of accountability within the Met are not fit for purpose.”

For further information on this story see the Guardian newspaper's coverage here.

Notes to editors:

Lochlinn Parker is a solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn who specialises in bringing actions on behalf of Claimants against police forces. He can be contacted at lparker@dpglaw.co.uk or on 0207 407 0007, and is available for interview.

Michael Firth, Stephen Reid and Matthew Butcher are also available for interview. Please contact Lochlinn Parker.

Date added: 08/08/2013

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Reprieve for Farm Terrace Allotments

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has agreed that his decision to grant Watford Borough Council consent to build on the Farm Terrace allotment site was unlawful and should be quashed. Congratulations to the plot-holders who have fought this battle courageously. Press coverage can be accessed here. The allotment holders are represented by Adam Hundt of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Jason Coppel QC and Hannah Slarks, both of 11 King’s Bench Walk.

Date added: 05/08/2013

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Campaigners demand that Boris blocks plans to build incinerator on country park

We have today written to the Mayor of London to formally ask that he refuse the proposal by Viridor to build an incinerator on land earmarked for the Wandle Valley country park and wildlife reserve. If he will not reject it we have asked that he call it in to make the decision himself. The site which has two lakes and a population of rare tree sparrows, is sandwiched between Mitcham Common and Beddington park in south London. Its value to London wildlife was recognised when it was designated as a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation by the Greater London Authority. David Lindo, the “urban birder”, has identified the site’s potential for further improvement for nature and people when he described it as the “sleeping giant in London’s ornithological world”.

The letter argues that the mayor should exercise his powers to refuse or “call in” the decision by Sutton council, because the development would breach London, national and international planning and waste policies.

Our client Paul Pickering of the Stop the South London Incinerator Campaign asks: “Would they grant permission to build an incinerator with 95 metre chimneys on the edge of Richmond park? In 1995 local residents were promised this land would revert to open land. We need to re-use and recycle our waste, and use alternative technology like anaerobic digestion. Burning it will cause more pollution and greenhouse gases. We hope the mayor will recognise this is a precious habitat for endangered birds and wildlife”.

His solicitor Sue Willman commented “Viridor has simply failed to demonstrate special circumstances to justifying large quantities of burning domestic and commercial waste on metropolitan land (equivalent to the green belt). Viridor have said that the incinerator is justified because it will provide heating to the local area but our evidence shows that other incinerator projects have failed to deliver in providing the costly infrastructure to do this.

Sue Willman and Charlie Dobson are acting for Paul Pickering, counsel is Justine Thornton.

Date added: 01/08/2013

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Legal challenge to racist vans

We have been instructed to challenge the government’s decision to launch a campaign telling migrants to “go home or face arrest”. The much-criticised campaign has “racist vans” driving around six ethnically diverse London boroughs with large adverts, as well as posters and leaflets. We have sent a letter threatening the Home Office with judicial review, arguing they are in breach of the duty to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment and to foster good relations between communities. The Home Office seems not to have considered these issues at all before it launched the pilot, or to have consulted the local authorities.

We are working closely with the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London which is extremely concerned about the impact on community relations and the risk of an increase in racist hate crime in east London. Solicitor, Louise Whitfield commented “Our clients believe that although the government says the campaign is aimed at migrants who are in the UK illegally, it will adversely affect attitudes towards people from migrant communities who are here lawfully. We are instructed to apply for a judicial review after 8 August unless the Home Office agrees not to continue the campaign and to remove the offending literature from the communities”.

For further background on the story see coverage on the Guardian website here.

Our clients are represented by Louise Whitfield and Sasha Rozansky. Updates will be published on our website and via twitter as the case progresses.

Date added: 31/07/2013

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Victory for women on banknotes: campaign and threat of legal action secure change

Today, following the threat of litigation, the Bank of England announced that it would review their process for selecting historical figures for banknotes, and that author Jane Austen would appear on ten pound notes from 2017.

This followed a high profile three-month campaign led by our client, Caroline Criado-Perez, to keep women on UK banknotes. Caroline threatened to start judicial review proceedings against the Bank for their failure to comply with the public sector equality duty when deciding to replace Elizabeth Fry with Winston Churchill, and she believes this was a key issue in making the Bank see sense.

Our client said: “This is a brilliant day for women and a fantastic one for people power. Without this campaign, without the 35,000 people who signed our Change.org petition, the Bank of England would have unthinkingly airbrushed women out of history. We warmly welcome this move from the Bank and thank them for listening to us and taking such positive and emphatic steps to address our concerns; to hear Jane Austen confirmed is fantastic, but to hear the process will be comprehensively reviewed is even better.”

Ms Criado-Perez was represented by Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn who commented: “This is a great result for Caroline’s fantastic campaign, but it was very disappointing that it needed the threat of litigation to secure a sensible response from the Bank and that they refused to accept that who appears on banknotes was highly relevant to gender equality: this was blindingly obvious and shouldn’t have needed a lawyer to point it out. It is clear we need a statutory equality duty and the ability to enforce it in situations such as this.”

Our client’s press release with more information can be accessed here. Louise Whitfield can be contacted on 020 7407 0007.

Date added: 24 July 2013

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Legal action starts to Save Farm Terrace Allotments!

As previously reported, we have been instructed to challenge the government’s decision to allow Watford Borough Council to let Farm Terrace Allotments be built on.

A letter before claim has now been sent on behalf of three members of the Farm Terrace Community Association, which can be accessed here. Andrew Moore, co-chair of the Association, said:

“We hope that this case will not only save the Farm Terrace allotments but will also prevent the rampant redevelopment of allotment sites throughout the UK. A recent Freedom of Information response from the Department for Communities and Local Government shows that since 2007, 128 applications to either close or reprovide allotment land have been approved by the department. This is out of a total of 132 applications showing that 97% of applications have been granted.

We are still fund raising for the cause and any donations would be gratefully received. Please visit our fund raising site that provides more specific information about the fight. We have also put a video together on youtube about our ongoing fight against their Council to keep the allotments for present and future residents of this densely populated area of Watford.


The allotment holders are represented by Adam Hundt of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Jason Coppel QC and Hannah Slarks, both of 11 King’s Bench Walk.

Date added: 19/07/2013

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APPG meeting on access to healthcare for migrants

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration met at Portcullis House on 10 July 2013 to discuss the government's recently issued consultation on the imposition of further restrictions on migrants’ access to healthcare in the UK. Adam Hundt of our Bristol office attended and spoke about the disastrous impact that the current restrictions are having on vulnerable people. He also pointed out that the consultation itself recognises that there is a lack of clear research on this issue, and that an audit is currently underway, the results of which are expected to be produced in the autumn. He asked why the policy was being proposed before that evidence was available. The government’s admirably honest answer was that although that would generally be the approach, in this case the government’s priorities were such that the consultation had to be released before the evidence was gathered. A recording of the meeting and its associated documents can be accessed here.

Date added: 18/07/2013

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Court to consider if it is lawful to refuse Free School Meals to poorest children in UK

The government has announced it is considering extending free school meals to all children, following a government commissioned report which stresses the value of providing well-balanced, nutritious meals, stating “many studies have shown that hunger affects concentration, and that well-nourished children fare better at school. The government has agreed to allocate money to help schools in the poorest areas establish breakfast clubs. And it has promised to look at extending free school meal entitlement, to ensure that the children of the so-called ‘working poor’ do not go hungry at lunch.”

Our client, A, has brought a judicial review of the government policy excluding children whose parents are on “section 4” support* from entitlement to free school meals. Our client is a child born in the UK almost 8 years ago. She now has leave to remain in the UK but has spent years in poverty waiting for the Home Office to make a decision upon her claim. Her mother, who is giving instructions in this case, feels that the policy to deny children on section 4 support free school meals is unjust and unfair. On 26th July the High Court in Bristol will consider the first stage of the case.

Her solicitor Polly Glynn commented ”Given this recognition of the importance of school meals and the commitment to looking at extending the scheme to children of the “working poor” who are currently not entitled to school meals, it is very disappointing that the government is still fighting this case, rather than accepting that the situation is unjust and unfair for those children, and extending free school meals to all those who need it”.

* Families in receipt of support under Section 4 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 are the poorest in England. A single parent family with one child on section 4 support receives £70.78 per week from the government in food vouchers. An equivalent family on income support would receive £154.62 per week, and additionally would receive free school meals for school age children. The Children’s Society has stated that there are 105 children in the UK in this position.

The Claimant in this case is represented by Polly Glynn of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Elizabeth Prochaska of Matrix Chambers

Date added: 16/07/2013

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Update on covert recording of Duwayne Brooks and his solicitors

One of Duwayne Brook's goals in the last 2 weeks has been to obtain copies of the authorisations for these recordings.

We now have a copy of what we have been told by DAC Taylor is an authorisation for a meeting in our former offices on 24 May 2000. The information on the document is that John Grieve provided the authorisation while he was actually on the premises of our former offices, where the meeting was held. John Grieve himself was at the meeting. The gist of the purpose of the authorisation was to protect the police against any future complaints about their conduct and “to ensure what is said by all parties can be corroborated by the Senior Investigating Officer”.

We have been told that the gist of what John Grieve has stated to the media was that the purpose of the covert recording is to “protect the integrity of any evidence…..” This is inconsistent with the reasons given on the document.

We have also listened to John Grieve on Channel 4 news yesterday saying that he was “just not going to get authority”. This is also inconsistent with the document. It was he who gave the authority.

John Grieve asked for these meetings with Duwayne Brooks and ourselves. The contents of the meeting were to be confidential.

We recall their purpose as being primarily to enable John Grieve to update Duwayne Brooks as to the progress of his enquiry. They were primarily a means of providing the victim support to Duwayne as a consequence of the damning criticism of police treatment of Duwayne in the Mcpherson Report.

Covertly recording confidential meetings between the police, a victim of serious crime and his lawyer is a gross breach of trust. That it was done in the context of making amends after the McPherson report is cynical, and could not have been better calculated to damage the trust victims of crime would like to have in the police. It echoes the disrespect with which the police treated Duwayne Brooks at the scene.

The piecemeal way this information is coming out, the apparently contradictory explanations for the recording and the fact that we do not know how much more surveillance there has been is sinister and exceptionally distressing.

Our view is that this covert recording is not only immoral but unlawful. We have asked the police if they can provide a legal justification. They have failed to do so.

The authorisation can be viewed here. The police have blanked out various bits and have asked us to keep them confidential. We are enquiring as to why, but meanwhile are respecting this request.

Date added: 09/07/2013

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Save Farm Terrace Allotments!

We have been instructed to challenge the government’s decision to allow Watford Borough Council to let Farm Terrace Allotments be built on.

There has been a long-running campaign to keep the site, which is in central Watford, for allotments, but the Council has nonetheless pressed ahead and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has allowed them to do so. The allotment holders now plan to apply for judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision, and are fundraising here in order to do so.

The allotment holders are represented by Adam Hundt of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Jason Coppel QC of 11 King’s Bench Walk.

Date added: 08/07/2013

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Statement on meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister

Duwayne Brooks and his legal team met with the Deputy Prime Minister this morning for about 40 minutes. Jane Deighton his solicitor explains: "The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the position that our client has been put into by the police’s past conduct and by the piecemeal fashion in which allegations of different police actions over the last 20 years have come to light. We argued that it was untenable for a Government not to do everything in its power to secure the quickest, most transparent and thorough investigation to reach final conclusions as to what the police have been doing. This is the least it can do to enable Duwayne to continue to rebuild his life after the racist attack on himself and the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Our client welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister’s statement that he was committed to ensuring that there is an investigation that Duwayne has confidence in. We are liaising with the Deputy Prime Minister next week re the details. Duwayne’s immediate concern is the authorisation of covert recordings of himself, us and the police at our former offices. He wants to see the authorisation documents. He is very pleased that the Deputy Prime Minister agreed to raise the immediate disclosure of those documents to us with the Home Secretary”.

Latest on Allegations of Covert Recording of Duwayne Brooks

The Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) of the Metropolitan Police, Fiona Taylor has confirmed that she has located one authorisation document relating to the covert recording of a meeting between Duwayne Brooks, his solicitor Jane Deighton and the police. Our client believes there is more and he very much wants to see the documents. We consider that they should be disclosed now, so that he can see for himself exactly what has gone on, and we have formally asked DAC Taylor to provide them.

Date added: 05/07/2013

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Meeting with Deputy Prime Minister

Duwayne Brooks is meeting the Deputy Prime Minister at 10.45 tomorrow Friday July 5 in order to discuss ongoing allegations of police misconduct in relation to Mr Brooks. The meeting is at the Deputy Prime Minister’s invitation. The meeting will take place at the office of the Deputy Prime Minister at 66 Whitehall. Mr Brooks will be accompanied by his legal team Jane Deighton and Beverley McBean. A short statement will be made after the meeting.

Date added: 04/07/2013

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Update on allegations of covert recordings in our former offices

We have today written again to the Commissioner reminding him that two days have passed since we asked him about allegations that the police had authorised the covert recording of meetings at the former offices of Deighton Guedalla. We asked for the immediate disclosure of the authorisation forms. But we have had nothing concrete back.

The Commissioner told the London Assembly this morning that everyone wanted to know who authorised the recording and why, and that the police were looking into it.

We today pointed out to the Commissioner that we understand that the police have and have had for some time the authorisation forms, in which case the Commissioner already has the key answers. We have asked again that he now supply copies of those forms by return. We have pointed out that that prevarication breeds suspicion and compounds the distress the police are causing Mr Brooks.

We have also asked the Commissioner to explain why he did not tell the London Assembly who signed the authorisation forms.

Jane Deighton, Partner, Deighton Pierce Glynn

Date added: 27/06/2013

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Solicitor Jane Deighton's statement about allegations that police covertly recorded their own briefings of Duwayne Brooks

In 1993 Duwayne Brooks and Stephen Lawrence were both attacked by racists, and Duwayne Brooks witnessed his friend being murdered. I have represented Duwayne as his solicitor since that time. Recently allegations have surfaced that the police detailed undercover officers to try to smear Duwayne’s character. They failed. They dug up material which triggered a prosecution of Duwayne in 1993. But that prosecution was stayed (that is brought to an end) by a Judge as an abuse of the process of the Court. Allegations have also been made that police officers who attended our former offices at Islington Green in 1999 covertly recorded 2 meetings between Duwayne, me, Jo Eggleton (solicitor) and themselves. The meetings were arranged by the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police, John Grieve in order to brief Duwayne and his legal team on the progress of police investigations into the attack on Duwayne and murder of Stephen Lawrence. We do not know whether the allegations about the covert recordings are true. If true it is scandalous. We have asked the Commissioner of Police for urgent information as to the truth or otherwise of the allegations. It is horrific for Duwayne that now, 20 years on, he is still haunted by the spectre of yet another layer of police misconduct which affects him and his daily life. It is also very cruel. What Duwayne now wants is urgent answers and an urgent reassurance that there are no more sinister stories about police misconduct in relation to him to come – or if there are he wants to know about them now rather than in 5 or 10 years time.

The allegations that a meeting with the police and our client may have been covertly recorded are very serious. The allegations are limited to these 2 meetings in the former offices of Deighton Guedalla. In an abundance of caution we have had our current City offices security checked and are assured that there is no covert surveillance taking place.

Jane Deighton, Partner, Deighton Pierce Glynn

Date added: 26/06/2013

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Bank of England face judicial review of all-male banknotes decision

Our client, Caroline Criado-Perez, has instructed us in relation to the decision by the Bank of England to replace the only female historical figure on a banknote with a man. She began a petition which has over 28,000 signatures and she is now planning a legal challenge of the Bank’s decision on the basis that it has breached the gender equality duty. She is fundraising here.

In response to pre-action correspondence from us, the Bank say that they do not consider there is any impact on gender equality of having all-male banknotes. Our client is appalled by the original decision and the Bank’s response; as she put it “the Bank of England thinks this doesn't matter, they claim to have considered equality anyway, but they also refuse to provide any evidence of having done so." She is determined to challenge the Bank’s approach but needs considerable help to do so, given the Bank’s resources in comparison to her own. She is calling for support from the public: “We are up against a behemoth, but the Bank of England is just one institution. We are the people, and together, we can beat them!

Ms Criado-Perez is represented by Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Karon Monaghan QC of Matrix Chambers.

Date added: 13/06/2013

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Please join us at today's demo to #saveukjustice

We will be outside the Ministry of Justice from 4.30pm today joining a mass protest of people who believe that government plans to reform legal aid will have a devastating impact on access to justice in the UK. The proposals are discriminatory, see our consultation response here.

If a client can't prove their immigration status and 12 months’ lawful residence in the UK, they will be excluded from legal aid. The proposals erode the rule of law by making it more difficult to challenge the decisions of government and public bodies which make mistakes.

See the letter to the Times here.

The proposals also mean more suffering for those in detention, especially those with mental health needs. See consultation reponse from the Mental Health and Immigration Detention Action Group here.

If you can’t make the demo, there is still time to reply to the consultation.

Date added: 04/06/2013

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NHS England starts work on accessible information for visually-impaired patients

Following the threat of a judicial review by our client Graham Kirwan, a visually-impaired patient and disability rights campaigner, the Department of Health has agreed to take the necessary steps to establish a system for all healthcare providers to obtain and use information on the preferred reading format of all visually-impaired patients, so that they can have healthcare information in an accessible format. There is currently no national system and local healthcare providers invariably fail to record an individual’s accessibility needs, or only offer formats (such as Braille or large font letters) which are in fact inaccessible for many visually-impaired patients.

The RNIB had been campaigning on this issue for many years, including producing research which showed the impact on visually-impaired people of not receiving health information in an accessible format: 20% had missed appointments because they had been sent information in a format they could not access and 95% wanted their information in a format they could access for themselves, as they feel a loss of independence and privacy if they have to rely on someone else to read information to them. Despite this, the Department of Health had repeatedly refused to introduce a mandatory “information standard” that would force healthcare providers to capture and use preferred reading format for all visually-impaired patients.

Mr Kirwan argued that the Department of Health had breached the public sector equality duty by refusing to introduce the information standard, and by refusing to provide proper guidance to healthcare providers. He pointed to the discrimination he and 100,000s of other visually-impaired patients faced constantly through not being given accessible information, and he explained how his human rights and patient confidentiality were repeatedly breached when hard copy letters were sent to him that he could not open. Eventually, solicitors for the Department of Health confirmed that the NHS Commissioning Board had agreed to “prepare and publish an information standard that addresses the need for patients to be able to record (or have recorded about them) their preferred reading format, in order to support information access for the visually impaired.”

NHS England has now set up an advisory group to oversee the design, development and implementation of the Information Standard, and it met for the first time earlier this month. This exercise will inevitably take a long time, but Mr Kirwan welcomes this important first step in the process which shows a firm commitment to the introduction of the long-awaited Information Standard. In the meantime, the Department’s Health & Social Care Equality Act Coordination Group has also agreed to consider producing new guidance specifically addressing the needs of visually-impaired patients for accessible information; it has indicated that it is “favourably disposed” to doing so but will confirm the position in June.

Mr Kirwan was represented by Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Steve Broach of Doughty Street Chambers.

Date added: 30/05/2013

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Porn mags in newsagents may breach sex discrimination laws

A number of leading human rights lawyers wrote to the Guardian newspaper yesterday to warn that displaying lads' mags and pornographic papers in "mainstream" shops could result in legal challenges by staff, and in some cases members of the public, as displaying these magazines can amount to sex discrimination and sexual harassment contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

Sarah Ricca of Deighton Pierce Glynn signed the letter, which can be read here.

Date added: 28/05/2013

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Family of Maria Stubbings call for public inquiry into how state fails victims of domestic violence

We act for the family of Maria Stubbings, who was killed by her ex- partner Marc Chivers in December 2008. Marc Chivers killed Maria just 11 months after being released from prison in Germany for killing a previous girlfriend. Essex police were aware of Marc Chivers’ previous conviction for domestic murder. In July 2008 Chivers assaulted Maria and was prosecuted and sent to prison. After his release, there were a number of missed opportunities to protect Maria.

The family will be pursuing an inquest and a civil claim arising from Essex police’s failings, but they also want to see more lasting change in Maria’s name, and see a public inquiry as the best way to achieve this.

The family is represented by Sarah Ricca of Deighton Pierce Glynn.

Read the Guardian article here.

See coverage on the BBC website here and here and coverage on Channel 4 news here.

Sign the petition here.

Date added: 21/05/2013

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Claim issued challenging a decision by Nottinghamshire Police not to investigate historic child abuse

We have been instructed by a 50 year old man to challenge the police's decision not to further investigate allegations that he was sexually abused by his stepmother in the 1970s.

Our client was taken into care at a very young age. When aged 9 he was returned to the care of his father and step-mother despite his father’s convictions for violence and indecent assault on children. He was physically and sexually abused for the next 5 years until he ran away and reported the abuse to the police.

His father was convicted in 1977 of 8 counts of sexual offences involving children and given a prison sentence of 7 years. His stepmother has never been prosecuted.

In 2011 our client contacted the police to request that they reinvestigate his stepmother. He was told in February this year that the police would not investigate further as he did not mention all the allegations in the 1970s and his credibility may be in issue as he now has a criminal record.

A claim for judicial review was issued in the High Court on 8th May 2013. The basis of the challenge is that the police have failed to comply with the obligation on them to conduct an effective investigation into what are grave crimes. Our client is represented by Jo Eggleton and Hugh Southey QC of Tooks chambers.

Date added: 17/05/2013

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Supreme Court hands down decision in community care test case of SL

The Supreme Court today gave judgment in the test case of SL on the extent of the local authority duty under section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948. The Section 21 duty requires local authorities to provide accommodation to people who have been assessed as being in need of ‘care and attention’ which is not ‘otherwise available’ to them.

The case concerned the meaning of the expressions ‘care and attention’ and ‘otherwise available’.

Following a period as street homeless and a suicide attempt, Mr L was admitted to hospital for several months as a voluntary psychiatric patient. Westminster Social Services assessed that on discharge he would need various services including monitoring and practical assistance from his social worker by way of weekly meetings, the support of a “befriender” and counselling services from gay support groups but that this did not amount to “care and attention”, or that if it did, this support was “otherwise available” to him as it could be provided without also providing accommodation. Westminster therefore decided there was no duty to accommodate Mr L under s21 NAA. He applied for judicial review which was refused in the High Court, but allowed on appeal by the Court of Appeal. Westminster appealed to the Supreme Court.

In a disappointing decision, overturning the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court has held that what amounts to ‘care and attention’ is ‘something well beyond mere monitoring of an individual’s condition’ and ‘must take its colour from its association with the duty to provide residential accommodation’. The Court did, however, reject Westminster’s restrictive approach that that care and attention is limited to personal care or service of a close and intimate nature. On the issue of whether ‘care and attention’ is ‘available otherwise than by providing accommodation’ the Court held that the services provided must be ‘accommodation-related’.

The judgment represents an adjustment rather than a sea change: to qualify for support under section 21 there will now need to be a closer connection between the applicant’s needs and the accommodation.

Mr L was supported in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court by Freedom from Torture and Mind who made written submissions and provided expert evidence on the need to give equal weight to the needs of those with mental health problems as to those with physical health problems and on the importance of services, including stable accommodation, to promote social recovery. The Supreme Court was at pains to emphasise that the judgement did not seek to question this evidence, nor the relevance of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in this context.

Mr L was represented by Joanna Thomson of Deighton Pierce Glynn, together with Stephen Knafler Q.C. and Jonathan Auburn.

The judgment can be viewed here.

Date added: 09/05/2013

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Inquest jury finds communication failures contributed to death of vulnerable female prisoner

An inquest jury in Woking delivered their verdict yesterday after hearing 12 days of evidence about the circumstances leading up to the death of Melanie Beswick on 21 August 2010 whilst a prisoner at Send Prison.

Deighton Pierce Glynn were instructed by Melanie’s husband, mother and step-father. Melanie, an accountant and mother of two girls, was aged 34 when she died.

The jury heard that Melanie was taken to the Royal Surrey County Hospital on the morning of 21 August 2010 having been found under her bed and unresponsive to verbal and pain stimuli. Whilst at the hospital her behaviour changed. She pulled out cannulas, tried to push past officers and leave the treatment room. She was given a sedative and calmed down. Later she put the escort chain (the chain attaching her to a prison officer) around her neck a number of times, attempted to self-strangulate, and expressed feelings of worthlessness and a wish to die. After examinations confirmed no physical injury or illness, Melanie was discharged back to the care of Send Prison. The jury were told by the A&E doctor that she made clear to the senior escorting officer that Melanie was a high risk of self-harm and required constant supervision and a mental health assessment. The doctor told the senior officer that the worst case scenario was that Melanie would be found dead in her cell. The officer reassured her that this would not be allowed to happen. The officer in question denied that this exchange took place.

The doctor set out her views on Melanie’s risk and the measures needed to keep her safe in a discharge document but this was not sent back to the prison with Melanie nor was it faxed immediately to the prison.

Once back at the prison Melanie was met by the Duty Governor, the Orderly Officer and the Senior Officer who had attended on Melanie at the hospital. By this time Melanie’s behaviour was calm. None of the staff at the meeting knew Melanie and no attempts were made to look at her previous self-harm monitoring documents, which recorded past concerns that Melanie was most vulnerable when locked alone in her cell, stated that Melanie had previously expressed concern that she might hang herself with her shoe laces, and indicated that Melanie’s shoe laces had previously been removed to keep her safe. In addition, none of the escorting officers who had witnessed Melanie’s behaviour at hospital earlier in the day were asked to contribute to the meeting. Based mainly on her current presentation at the meeting, the senior prison officers returned Melanie to her cell and she was placed on hourly observations.

At about 1945 Melanie asked to see a Listener (a prisoner trained by the Samaritans to provide support to other prisoners) but as the on-duty listener was seeing another prisoner in the Listener room Melanie was told she would have to wait. No one updated Melanie on the progress of the delay following her initial request.

Melanie was found at about 2035 hanging from the window of her cell by a pair of shoe laces. She could not be resuscitated and was later pronounced dead at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. Documents from the hospital arrived by fax at the Send healthcare department at 21:26, 50 minutes after Melanie was found. The healthcare department was closed and locked overnight.

The jury were critical of the lack of communication between hospital and prison staff, and between prison staff. In particular, they identified the fact that no written confirmation of the doctor’s concerns was sent back with Melanie to the prison, that not all staff who had dealt with Melanie on the day were consulted prior to the meeting, and that too much reliance was placed on Melanie’s current presentation rather then on the events of the whole day.

Following the jury’s verdict, the Coroner indicated that he would be writing to the Secretaries of State for Justice and Health, as well as the Governing Governor at Send Prison, in order to highlight steps that should be taken to prevent the continuation of circumstances revealed by Melanie’s case that could create a risk of further deaths in future. First, a new policy on communication between Send Prison and the Royal Surrey & County Hospital that could have prevented Melanie’s death will be flagged up in order to consider whether such a policy could be used nationally across the prison estate to prevent future deaths. Second, the Coroner intends to raise the issue of the ineffective use of the section within the self-harm monitoring document that should detail key risk factors so that a future reader of the document can identify those risks. In Melanie’s case, even had the senior prison officers read her previous self-harm monitoring documents, they would not have been able to identify Melanie’s key risk factors.

Melanie’s family are represented by Jo Eggleton and counsel Jesse Nicholls of Tooks Chambers.

Jo Eggleton says “Firstly I must pay tribute to Melanie's family who have waited patiently to find out what happened to their much loved wife, mother and daughter. I have no doubt that without their determined persistence the outcome would have been very different. Melanie’s family was very important to her and I'm sure she would be very proud of them now. The inquest has not been easy for them. The jury’s findings are welcome but it is devastating to hear that her death was so easily preventable.

We have heard that changes have been made locally by the Royal Surrey & County Hospital and Send Prison. The family hope the lessons will not be limited to just Send but will be adopted nationally across the prison estate, as issues of poor communication between those responsible for the care of prisoners is a recurring theme in deaths in custody.

Lastly, the family would urge the Ministry of Justice to demonstrate their commitment to preventing further deaths by providing safer cells at Send (there were none at the time of Melanie's death; there is now one anti-ligature cell) and by considering the introduction of 24-hour healthcare provision.


Further details can be found in INQUEST press releases available here. Both Jo Eggleton and Jesse Nicholls are members of INQUEST lawyers group.

Date added: 01/05/2013

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High Court success

On 24 April 2013 the High Court gave judgment in F v Director of Public Prosecutions, granting 'F''s application for judicial review against the DPP for failing to charge her ex-partner with rape and other sexual offences.

It is notoriously difficult to successfully challenge the decision making of the CPS, but the Lord Chief Justice, considered that it was “an appropriate case in which to order a judicial review”. The Crown Prosecution Service must now re-consider the case and make a fresh decision on whether to charge and prosecute ‘F’’s ex-partner.

The judgment will be of benefit to many victims of abuse and offers hope to others by demonstrating that prosecutorial decisions can be successfully challenged.

‘F’ says:

“This decision represents the first acknowledgement that I am in fact a victim in this case. I have often heard of the difficulties faced by victims of abuse when pursuing justice, but nothing could have prepared me for the way in which I have been treated and continually dismissed by the Crown Prosecution Service. The difficult decision to go down this route was made with the support and encouragement of The Henna Foundation, Wales, and Rights of Women. But most of all because I knew that it was the only right thing to do, both in terms of protecting myself and my family and also in the hope that no other woman would be victimised in the same way I have been. It has taken a long and exhausting three years to get to the point we have reached now and although I'm aware that there is a long road ahead I am relieved and grateful to have finally been heard. The Judges treated the case with sensitivity and compassion and came to a conclusion which has thankfully afforded me an opportunity to have my case reconsidered.”

Notes to editors:

‘F’ is represented by Christina Juman of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Counsel Helen Mountfield QC at Matrix Chambers.

Christina Juman is a solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn who specialises bringing cases against the State. She can be contacted at cjuman@dpglaw.co.uk or on 0207 407 0007, and is available for interview. Helen Mountfield QC is a leading specialist in public law, human rights and discrimination at Matrix Chambers.

‘F’ and ‘A’ are both protected within the proceedings by anonymity orders and the documents filed at court are also subject to an order and not accessible to the public. Any publication of the factual details contained in the documents or the names of the parties is a criminal offence.

A copy of the judgment is available here.

Date added: 25/04/2013

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Claimants to appeal High Court decision concerning closure of the Independent Living Fund

The Court of Appeal will be asked to over-turn the decision of the High Court in the judicial review brought by five service-users of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) of the Government's decision to close ILF in March 2015. In its judgment handed down today, the court held that the consultation process concerning the closure had been lawful and that the DWP had met the public sector equality duty when deciding to go ahead. All five claimants have begun an appeal against this ruling.

ILF provides vital support and funding to some 20,000 severely-disabled people in the UK to enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives. The closure of the Fund will threaten their right to live with dignity and in many cases, their ability to work. The Claimants, represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn and Scott-Moncrieff & Associates, fear that without ILF funding and support, they may be forced into residential care or may end up unable to leave their homes.

The Claimants’ concerns over the consultation process relate to the failure by the DWP to explain the proposals properly: there was insufficient information to enable consultees to respond in a meaningful way. In addition, further information came to light as a result of the claim which revealed the DWP had not been open and candid in its approach to the consultation exercise. The judge dismissed these points as having no impact on the lawfulness of the consultation exercise.

The public sector equality duty required the Minister for Disabled People to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity for disabled people but there was no evidence that she had specifically considered these issues when deciding to close the ILF and the impact this would have on disabled people. In its ruling, the court did not explain how it reached the conclusion that the Minister had met the statutory duty in the specific way required.

The Claimants therefore intend to pursue their appeal on the basis that the judge’s conclusions did not reflect the evidence before the court and that the reasons for ruling that the process was lawful were not properly set out. All five are adamant that the process was flawed and that the impact of closure will be devastating for very large numbers of severely-disabled people. They see it as vital that the decision is quashed and the matter reconsidered on a fair and lawful basis.

A briefing note on the background to the case is available here and the full judgment is available here. Coverage of the case on the Guardian website is available here.

Three of the Claimants are represented by Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn, and all the Claimants are represented by David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers.

Date added: 24/04/2013

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Trial begins of CPS failure to prosecute ex-husband for rape

This case is to be heard before the head of the Judiciary of England and Wales, Lord Chief Justice Judge, along with two others at the Administrative Court, Royal Courts of Justice, London on Tuesday 19 March 2013.  The hearing is expected to last one day.

In 2009 ‘F’ approached the police to report incidents of sexual abuse by ‘A’ to the police, but F was too afraid to pursue the charges at the time.  Later in 2010 after she was raped by ‘A’, ‘F’ ended the relationship and went to the police to report the catalogue of abuse at his hands.  The police investigated and passed evidence to the CPS to make a decision on whether to charge ’A’.  In 2011 the CPS decided that there was no realistic prospect of convicting ‘A’ and so decided he should not be charged.  ‘F’ instructed solicitors and following legal action a review was conducted of her case.  Alison Levitt QC, Principal Legal Advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), reviewed the case, but upheld the decision not to prosecute ‘A’.

‘F’ challenges the decision of the CPS which is flawed, in particular the CPS has failed to understand the complex realities of domestic violence and taken into account erroneous information about the nature of the couple’s relationship when making their decision.  ‘F’ asks for the decision of the CPS to be quashed and a declaration that the evidential threshold for prosecution has been met.

Notes to editors:
‘F’ and ‘A’ are both protected within the proceedings by anonymity orders and the documents filed at court are also subject to an order and not accessible to the public.  Any publication of the factual details contained in the documents or the names of the parties is a criminal offence.

A full press release can be found here

‘F’ is represented by Christina Juman of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Counsel Helen Mountfield QC of Matrix Chambers.

Christina Juman is a solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn who specialises bringing cases against the State.  She can be contacted at cjuman@dpglaw.co.uk or on 0207 407 0007, and is available for interview.

Helen Mountfield QC is a leading specialist in public law, human rights and discrimination at Matrix Chambers.

The hearing is open to the public and is listed for 10.30am Tuesday 19 March 2013.

Date added: 18/03/2013

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Sue Willman to give talk on using domestic law to challenge corporate environmental abuses abroad

The 2013 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference is today being held in London. The conference is titled 'Development or Land Grabbing? What legal challenges face us in light of the 21st century Global Land Rush?'

Sue Willman, partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn, is giving a talk on the topic of 'Using domestic law to challenge corporate environmental abuses abroad, with a focus on Latin America’.

For more information about the conference and to listen to the talks on a live stream visit PIEL's website here. Sue Willman's talk will be streamed at 4.25 pm.

Date added: 15/03/2013

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High Court trial begins of DWP decision to close the Independent Living Fund

The trial begins tomorrow, Wednesday 13 March 2013, of the judicial review brought by five service-users of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) of the Government’s decision to close ILF in March 2015. ILF provides vital support and funding to some 20,000 severely disabled people in the UK to enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives. The closure of the Fund will threaten their right to live with dignity and in many cases, their ability to work. The Claimants, represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn and Scott-Moncrieff & Associates, fear that without ILF funding and support, they will be forced into residential care or will end up unable to leave their homes.

The basis of the challenge is that the consultation process and the decision taken on 18 December 2012 to close the Fund did not comply with basic legal requirements:

• The government has failed to explain why it is only considering closing the fund, rather than other options, such as continuing the fund and re-opening it to young adults who want to live independent lives;

• The consultation exercise did not give enough information about the difference between local authority assessment and provision and the ILF; local authority services focus on basic needs whereas the ILF is about enabling people to be independent, to work and be full citizens;

• The government has failed to undertake a proper assessment of how the proposal will affect disabled people, in breach of their legal duties under the Equality Act 2010 and under Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

The Claimants are asking the court to quash the decision to close the Fund. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has been given permission to intervene by the Court and will be making oral submissions at the hearing. The hearing is listed for two days, 13/14 March 2013, and judgment is likely to be reserved; updates will be available on this website. Three of the Claimants are represented by Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn; counsel for all the Claimants is David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers.

Further information, including individuals’ stories, on the campaign against the closure of ILF is available at the DPAC website.

The case has also featured on the Guardian website.

Date added: 12/03/2013

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Settlement with British Security Services for Complicity in Torture

Deighton Pierce Glynn was instructed by a client who experienced torture abroad to claim compensation from the British Security Services for complicity in his detention and torture. The parties have now agreed a settlement, the terms of which are confidential.

Our client was represented by Hugh Southey QC of Tooks Chambers and Tom Hickman of Blackstone Chambers, and by Sue Willman and Adam Hundt.

Date added: 11/03/2013

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Home Office pays 70,000 pounds to British man unlawfully detained and threatened with deportation

Deighton Pierce Glynn’s client, a British citizen, was unlawfully detained in an immigration detention centre for eight months before the Home Office admitted its error and released him. We have negotiated that the Home Office pay our client £70,000 in compensation.

Our client was represented by Alasdair Mackenzie of Doughty Street Chambers and by Adam Hundt of our Bristol office.

Date added: 05/03/2013

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Report calls on UK lawyers to tackle the impact of British companies on Colombian minorities

Mike Mansfield QC is the key-note speaker at tonight’s launch of a new report which highlights the inadequacy of current remedies for corporate excesses abroad.

Sue Willman led the Alliance of Lawyers at Risk delegation to Colombia to investigate whether hard and soft-law remedies were adequate to protect Colombian communities from corporate environmental and human rights violations.

The report’s findings included a call for more litigation in the UK to bring British multinationals to account, and help in the form of amicus curiae in Colombian cases.

The importance of international support is reflected in the comment of a member of the Colombian judiciary: “When a Colombian human rights defender tries to intervene in a case which involves a significant risk to business interests, they are likely to receive threats which in some cases will result in death.

Date added: 27/02/2013

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15 year old Hull City fan to challenge West Yorkshire Police

A 15 year old Hull City fan, Louis Cooper, has instructed Lochlinn Parker of Deighton Pierce Glynn to challenge the restrictions put in place by West Yorkshire Police for the Huddersfield Town versus Hull City football match on 30 March 2013.

Louis says “The police have made it impossible for a lot of fans to go to the game. It has been done without consulting fans and doesn’t reflect what has happened at previous games. I travel from Manchester to home and away games and this will be the first away game I will miss this season. I have travelled to Beijing to watch Hull City and have done so without restrictions. I hope the police change their mind sooner rather than later.”

Lochlinn Parker has commented “Fans like Louis are baffled as to why the police have categorised this game at the highest risk level and placed restrictions on the free movement of fans. We believe the decision is unlawful and will be writing to the police shortly to ask them to drop the restrictions. We hope that they will but if not then we will be left with no alternative but to make an application for judicial review of the decision.

Amanda Jacks, the Director of Case Work at the Football Supporters Federation has said “It is unusual for football fans to seek a remedy through the courts but on this occasion they seem to be left with no alternative. We have put Hull City fans in touch with Deighton Pierce Glynn as part of our on-going service to football fans. As with any case legal action is always a last resort and we sincerely hope WYP will drop these restrictions on ordinary law abiding people enabling them to travel to this match unimpeded.

In their public announcements West Yorkshire Police have said that this match has been categorised at the highest level of risk (Category C – Increased Risk) and that due to the cost of policing the game they have imposed restrictions on away fans. They have said they are concerned at the prospect of away fans drinking in Huddersfield for the hours before the 5.20pm kick off.

The police are able to restrict the liberty of individuals where there is a genuine concern that disorder may occur. So called ‘bubble matches’, where away supporters are escorted by the police into and the out of football grounds, are considered lawful in situations of heightened tension between rival supporters that may lead to violence and the destruction of property.

Louis and many other fans cannot understand why the police have categorised this match as the highest risk possible. There is no historic rivalry between the clubs or the towns. The supporters of the clubs are some of the most well behaved fans in the championship. Of particular note is the fact that last season not a single Hull City fan was arrested for an alcohol related offence. Thirteen Huddersfield Town fans were arrested for the same kind of offence. In total Hull City had 14 fans, and Huddersfield 27 fans, arrested for all offences last season.

Notes to editors:

Lochlinn Parker is a solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn who specialises in bringing actions on behalf of Claimants against police forces. He can be contacted at lparker@dpglaw.co.uk or on 0207 407 0007, and is available for interview.

As Louis Cooper is under 18 years old his grandmother, Sylvia Rothwell, will act as his litigation friend should Court proceedings become necessary. Louis has a blog https://freedomforfansblog.wordpress.com/ and is available for interview.

Amanda Jacks of the FSF can be contacted at amanda.jacks@fsf.org.uk and on 0330 44 000 44. She is available for interview.

The restrictions put in place are:

- Only 1,500 tickets will be made available to Hull City supporters

- Away supporters are only permitted to travel to the John Smith's Stadium using the club's official 'Tiger Travel' transport departing and returning from Hull.

- Disabled supporters will be allowed to travel to the game independently from Tiger Travel, providing they are only accompanied by their sole carer.

Date added: 25/02/2013

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Children's Commissioner in challenge to use of force against children

We are representing the Children’s Commissioner as an interested party in a judicial review brought by three children (and a pregnant woman) against the Home Secretary. The children were challenging the UK Border Agency’s (UKBA) recent withdrawal of policy guidance governing the use of force during the removal process. The Commissioner has evidence which identifies the risks involved in the use of force on children in immigration detention and has been expressing concern about this issue to UKBA over a number of years.

Shortly before Friday’s High court hearing, UKBA agreed to reinstate part of its previous policy which suggests that force should not be used on children except to prevent harm. But there is a still a lack of clarity about the use of force and the use of restraint, especially on younger children, and whether the UK is complying with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The case may continue in order for this to be addressed.

For more information on this story click here to see an article written by the Guardian newspaper.

The Commissioner is represented by solicitor Sue Willman (Deighton Pierce Glynn) and barristers, Nadine Finch and Stephen Knafler QC (Garden Court Chambers). The children are represented by solicitor Janet Farell (Bhatt Murphy) and barristers Tom Hickman (Blackstone’s) and Richard Hermer QC (Matrix chambers).

Date added: 25/02/2013

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Home Secretary backs down in mental health court battle

Just days before a Court of Appeal hearing, the Home Secretary has pulled out of her appeal against the decision that the UKBA caused inhuman and degrading treatment to an immigration detainee known as HA.

She must now fulfil her promise to the High Court to conduct an equality impact assessment on the effect of policy changes on holding mentally ill people in detention. We represented Medical Justice, which was given joint permission to intervene in the appeal with Mind. This case was just one of four recent High Court findings of an article 3 ECHR breach by UKBA.

Medical Justice was represented pro bono by Sue Willman of our Central London office, who instructed Tim Buley of Landmark Chambers and Raza Husain of Matrix Chambers

Date added: 18/02/2013

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Challenge to legality of data sharing between the hospitals and the Home Office

We have been instructed by a number of individuals to challenge immigration rules and guidance which require hospitals to report patients with debts to the Home Office, and which then permit the Home Office to refuse those patients leave to remain in the UK. The basis of the challenge is that the rules breach patient confidentiality and are discriminatory.

Judicial review proceedings have been issued in the High Court, and a permission hearing will take place on 1 May 2013.

Our clients are represented by David Wolfe QC and Nick Armstrong of Matrix Chambers, and by Adam Hundt and Rachel Etheridge of our Bristol office.

Date added: 11/02/2013

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Leading lawyers respond to IPCC report

The Home Affairs Select Committee has today published a highly critical report into problems with the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Responding to the report, Lochlinn  Parker, a lawyer in our highly-rated Actions Against the Police department, said: “The report rightly identifies serious problems within the IPCC. Our experience is that those problems run much deeper. The dominant narrative reported this morning is that the IPCC lack the resources to do an effective job.  It would be misleading to conclude that more resources would solve the problem.  Our clients experience  poor levels of decision making, a lack of curiosity and a tendency to defend  police officers’ actions – this appears to be the  culture of the  IPCC.  The IPCC is failing to make effective use of the resources it does have.  It is a culture change that is most urgently needed."

Jo Eggleton
, a partner at the firm said: "The report assumes that  the IPCC have correctly decided appeals against investigations by police forces. This is not our clients’ experience. The decision making is often extremely poor and the delays (currently 20 weeks before an appeal is assigned to a caseworker) unacceptable.  This poor decision making is compounded by the fact that the IPCC are unable to change their decision even when they accept that it is so wrong as to be unlawful. This leads to proceedings for judicial review being issued with resultant costs consequences and delays.

For a copy of the Police Action Lawyer’s Group’s (of which we are member) submissions to the Committee click here.

Date added: 02/02/2013

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Supreme Court hearing of SL v Westminster

The important test case of SL v Westminster was heard by the Supreme Court this week on Monday and Tuesday. Judgment is expected in a couple of months.

The case concerns Section 21(1)(a) of the National Assistance Act 1948, what amounts to ‘care and attention’ for the purposes of the statute and the meaning of ‘otherwise available’.

Following a period as street homeless and a suicide attempt, Mr L was admitted to hospital for several months as a voluntary psychiatric patient. Westminster Social Services assessed that on discharge he would need various services including monitoring and practical assistance from his social worker by way of weekly meetings, the support of a “befriender” and counselling services from gay support groups but that this did not amount to “care and attention”, or that if it did, this support was “otherwise available” to him as it could be provided without also providing accommodation. Westminster therefore decided there was no duty to accommodate SL under s21 NAA. He applied for judicial review which was refused in the High Court.

The Court of Appeal allowed his appeal finding that the assessed needs did amount to care and attention. The Court emphasised that support does not need to be particularly intense to constitute care and attention and nor is it limited to acts done by the local authority. The Court also ruled that local authorities must accommodate under section 21 unless it would be “reasonably practicable and efficacious” to supply the care services without giving housing. The Court found that given Mr L’s mental health condition it would be “absurd to provide a programme of assistance and support through a care coordinator without also providing the obviously necessary basis of stable accommodation”. The Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and the mental health charity, Mind, intervened in the proceedings supporting the appeal because they were so concerned about these issues.

Westminster City Council applied for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court which was granted on 14 March 2012.  The Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and Mind made written interventions supporting the case of SL. 

SL was represented by Joanna Thomson of Deighton Pierce Glynn, together with Stephen Knafler Q.C. and Jonathan Auburn.
 

Date added: 30/01/2013

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Written judgment on Virgin care case now available

Previous updates (see below) reported a partially successful judicial review of the decision to outsource children's health and social care services in Devon to Virgin Care Ltd. The transcript of the judgment is now available and can be downloaded here.  

Date added: 29/01/2013

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DPG success in test case that will help destitute families

Deighton Pierce Glynn's client KA has won an important test case on when local authorities have to help destitute families.

KA and her children are waiting for the Home Office to give them a right of appeal to a Tribunal to argue their case for leave to remain in the UK, but the Home Office has delayed that decision. In the meantime they faced street homelessness and destitution so they asked Essex County Council for help. Essex refused, saying they should return to their country of origin voluntarily and threatened to take the children into care. KA challenged the decision by applying for judicial review, and the High Court agreed with her lawyers that the Council’s refusal to accommodate and support the family breached her rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A copy of the judgment is available
here.

KA was represented by Nick Armstrong of Matrix Chambers, and  Adam Hundt and Rachel Etheridge of our Bristol office. 
 

Date added: 21/01/2013

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In defence of judicial review

In a Solicitor's Journal article Deighton Pierce Glynn partner, Gareth Mitchell, has responded to the Prime Minister's, David Cameron MP's, suggestion that the right to bring judicial review claims should be curtailed.

Mr Cameron told the CBI conference that one of the reasons British businesses are not thriving is because too many members of the public are challenging unlawful government decisions using judicial review. He also said that the government will in future reduce the amount of consultation with members of the public and other stakeholders likely to be affected by policy decisions. In response, the article explains that outside the immigration and asylum field the number of judicial review claims has remained static for many years, in large part because it is already very difficult for ordinary members of the public to afford to challenge important government decisions in the courts, for example hospital closures or environmentally damaging new development. Further, whilst it may be politically embarrassing for the government to be told by the courts that its decisions are unlawful, judicial review performs an essential constitutional role and there is no evidence at all that it is contributing to the UK’s poor economic growth under the coalition government.

For a copy of the article click here: page 1 and page 2.

Date added: 17/12/2012

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Crown Prosecution Service drops prosecution

In response to a judicial review claim, the Crown Prosecution Service has discontinued a criminal prosecution against our client in what is understood to be the first challenge to a decision to prosecute relying on the Equality Act 2010.

The prosecution arose out of an incident in our client’s home to which the police were called following a 999 call by a family member. It was explained to the police and subsequently to the CPS that our client suffered from a serious mental health condition and that the family member who had contacted the police wanted help in managing our client’s behaviour, not for him to be arrested or to be subject to a criminal prosecution. The CPS’s decision to prosecute was challenged in judicial review proceedings on the basis that there was expert evidence that the alleged offending behaviour was due to a disability and on the basis that a criminal prosecution was a disproportionate response to that behaviour. After several months of prevarication, the CPS confirmed that the prosecution would be discontinued.

The claim was conducted by Gareth Mitchell of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Heather Williams QC and Henrietta Hill both of Doughty Street Chambers.

Date added: 29/11/2012

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Judgment now available in Pryce v LB Southwark

We previously reported the successful decision of the Court of Appeal in the test case of Pryce v LB Southwark (see news story added on 08/11/12). In this appeal, the Court of Appeal held that a Zambrano beneficiary has an EU right of residence and is not a person subject to immigration control, and is therefore eligible for homelessness assistance. The judgment is now available here.

Ms Pryce was represented by Sasha Rozansky of Deighton Pierce Glynn instructing Adrian Berry and Richard Gordon QC.

Date added: 28/11/2012

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Gloucester City Council agrees to continue funding GLOSREC

In response to pre-action correspondence Gloucester City Council has agreed to continue funding Gloucester Race Equality Council (GLOSREC).

We were instructed by a service user of GLOSREC to challenge the Council’s decision to cut GLOSREC’s funding. GLOSREC is a registered charity which, since the 1960s, has helped Gloucester residents to combat race discrimination through advice, support and legal assistance.

The service user was represented by Adam Hundt, of our Bristol office.

Date added: 27/11/2012

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DPG rated as leading UK firm by Chambers and Partners

Deighton Pierce Glynn has been rated as one of the leading firms in the UK in five areas of law: administrative and public law; police law; civil liberties and human rights; social housing; and environmental law.

In relation to administrative and public law the directory states: “Sources agree that the firm is at the top end for public law work and comment that its solicitors have fantastic judgement in terms of working out exactly what will take the law forward and what cases will contribute to the public law field.” The work of our actions against the police team is described as “outstanding”, our social housing team is described as: “uniformly excellent", and our environmental law team received: “glowing feedback from market sources.” As for our human rights and civil liberties practice, the directory notes that we have been: “long been recognised for their expertise in this field. Discrimination, immigration detention, public inquiries and claims against the police and the security services are key areas of focus for the practice.”

In addition, a total of nine of our lawyers are recommended as “leaders in their field” in one or more areas of their practice. For full details click here.

Date added: 20/11/2012

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Broadmoor patient wins in High Court

On 12 November 2012 the High Court ruled in favour of a Broadmoor patient who claimed that the way he had been transferred to Broadmoor had been unfair. The claimant, L, had previously been detained in medium secure hospitals for over two years. When he was accepted for admission to Broadmoor in September 2010, he disputed the decision and asked to put in representations, but was not allowed to do so.

On 30 September 2010, he issued proceedings, claiming that the procedure for transferring him was unfair at common law and under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Mr Justice Stadlen found that the procedure had been unfair at common law but did not engage Article 6, as although the dispute directly impacted on L’s right to receive unmonitored mail, the dispute itself was not over this right.

At paragraph 558 of the judgment, which can be accessed here, Mr Justice Stadlen set out detailed guidelines for the procedure that should be afforded to patients in future who are seeking to challenge their transfer to high secure hospitals.

This ruling is the first to recognise that the decision to transfer a patient to conditions of high security is not merely a clinical decision, but one in which patients themselves should also have an opportunity to be heard. In recognising the right to procedural safeguards, the High Court acknowledged the vulnerability of this group of patients and the severity of the impact that transfer to high security could have on their conditions of detention and prospects of release.

L was represented by Anne-Marie Jolly of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Dan Squires of Matrix Chambers. A press release can be accessed here.

Date added: 13/11/2012

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Court of Appeal success

On 7 November 2012 the Court of Appeal gave an ex tempore judgment in Pryce v London Borough of Southwark and Secretary of State for the Home Department (Intervener), allowing Ms Pryce's appeal and holding that she was and is eligible for homelessness assistance as a beneficiary of rights arising under Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), as elaborated by the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case of Zambrano v ONEm, C-34/09. This is the first time the Court of Appeal has considered the application of Article 20 TFEU and Zambrano in the social welfare context.

Ms Pryce was unlawfully present under domestic law, but the sole carer of her British citizen children. She was successful in establishing that she has an EU right of residence under Article 20 TFEU, following the case of Zambrano. This enabled her to be eligible for homelessness assistance because she was not a person subject to immigration control and was a person with a right of residence. This right was not excluded by the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006.

The judgment benefits all persons who meet the Zambrano criteria who applied for homelessness assistance and/or an allocation of social housing prior to 8 November 2012. It also helps Zambrano beneficiaries establish eligibility for benefits and tax credits, as well as to secure healthcare treatment in hospitals. In addition, Zambrano beneficiaries should not be excluded from social services support, for example under the National Assistance Act 1948 or the Children Act 1989, on immigration grounds because they are not unlawfully present in the UK. This case is important for confirming the principle that an EU right of residence confers substantive and not merely procedural benefits. Zambrano beneficiaries do not have to apply for or be granted a derivative residence card before being granted social assistance.

New regulations came into force on 8 November 2012 that attempt to limit access to housing and benefits for persons applying on or after that date. Deighton Pierce Glynn are happy to advise on eligibility under both the new and old provisions.

Ms Pryce is represented by Sasha Rozansky of Deighton Pierce Glynn instructing Adrian Berry and Richard Gordon QC.

Date added: 08/11/2012

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Sue Willman to give talk with leading environmentalists

Sue Willman, partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn, will be giving a talk alongside Michael Meacher MP and the author of Eradicating Ecoside, Polly Higgins, at a public event entitled 'Ethics, Sustainability and Eradicating Ecocide’.

Sue will speak about the impact of British corporations on the rights of nature in Colombia, focusing on the current strategies of the Wayuu indigenous community to prevent the diversion of the Rio Rancheria by the open cast coal mining companies. Sue recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Colombia to investigate how UK lawyers can support Colombian NGOs to tackle corporate environmental and human rights violations, as part of the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk group.

The talk begins at 6pm on Tuesday 13 November at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. The event is free and open to the public. For more details and to reserve a place see here.

Date added: 31/10/2012

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Judgment in Virgin Care judicial review

The High Court today declared that Devon County Council & NHS Devon failed to comply with their legal obligations when appointing Virgin Care Ltd as the preferred bidder for the contract to provide integrated children's services in Devon.

Adam Hundt, partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn, commented, "the judge has found that the decision to appoint Virgin Care Limited as the preferred bidder for the contract to provide integrated children’s services in Devon did not comply with the law, but he declined to prevent the contract from being awarded, in part because the abolition of PCTs in March 2013 means that there is no room for slippage in the procurement process. The contract is therefore tainted by illegality, and although my client is disappointed that the court was not willing to stop the process, she is pleased that this judgment makes it clear that outsourcing decisions of this kind will engage the public sector equality duty, and that the impact of outsourcing to the private sector cannot be dismissed as having no impact on service users, and has to be carefully assessed at a sufficiently early stage of the process in order to be lawful."

The team who acted in this case was Karon Monaghan QC, Nick Armstrong and Kirsten Sjovoll of Matrix Chambers, and Adam Hundt and Rachel Etheridge of our Bristol office.

Date added: 19/10/2012

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Virgin Care judicial review - judgment due 19.10.12

We have been instructed to challenge Devon County Council & Devon Primary Care Trust's decision to outsource integrated children's services to Virgin Care Ltd (see news item below for further information).

The hearing took place on 8 and 9 October 2012 and judgment will be handed down on Friday 19 October 2012 at Swansea Civil Justice Centre.

Date added: 16/10/2012

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Legal challenge to outsourcing of children's health and social care services to Virgin

Deighton Pierce Glynn has been instructed to challenge NHS Devon & Devon County Council's decisions to outsource Integrated Children's Services to Virgin Care Ltd.

On 12 July 2012 Devon County Council announced Virgin Care Ltd as is its preferred bidder to take over responsibility for managing Integrated Children’s Services in Devon from 2013. The services include child and adolescent mental health services, public health nursing and services for children with disabilities and long-term health conditions.  We have been instructed by a parent of children who need such services.

An application for judicial review has been issued and the hearing is due to take place on 8 & 9 October 2012.  The team representing our client is Karon Monaghan QC, Nick Armstrong and Kirsten Sjovoll of Matrix Chambers,, and Adam Hundt and Rachel Etheridge of our Bristol office.

Date added: 01/10/2012

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Meeting of the Community Care Practitioners Group to discuss Draft Care and Support Bill & White Paper

There will be a meeting of the Community Care Practitioners Group on 8th October at 6pm at Garden Court Chambers in London. 

The meeting has been arranged to look at the Draft Care and Support Bill & White Paper which has been published for consultation. The proposed legislation has the potential to change the way community care services are provided, and in particular could exclude the support currently provided to disabled asylum seekers under section 21 National Assistance Act.

See link for details of the venue : http://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/contact_us

Jean Gould will give an overview of the Bill, and Stephen Knafler QC will discuss particular aspects which could cause concern, followed by a discussion about whether any formal response to the consultation should be made by the group.

Please can you RSVP to BPhillips@dpglaw.co.uk  to say if you are able to attend.

Date added: 01/10/2012

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DWP discrimination claims compromised

Discrimination specialist Gareth Mitchell of Deighton Pierce Glynn has settled two disability discrimination claims against the Department for Work and Pensions.

In the first claim, a client with learning difficulties had his Jobseekers’ Allowance suspended on a number of occasions. The benefitsuspensions were imposed when benefit officers decided that the client had failed comply with various work-search steps which the benefit officers had laid down. In fact, the client had done everything he could to find employment, but his learning difficulties meant he was unable to compile the detailed information the benefit officers had insisted upon. The client spent several periods without enough money for food as a result; his case was then picked up by a Law Centre and then referred subsequently to this firm. Following a claim for disability discrimination, a confidential settlement has now been reached.

In the second claim, a client experienced a very serious deterioration in her health after the DWP ignored a wealth of medical evidence on their files as to the severity of her health problems and threatened instead to stop her benefits unless she attended a medical examination conducted by the U.S.-based outsourcing company Atos. We highlighted to the DWP that their approach was unlawful, not least because their procedures and their approach were contrary to the Equality Act 2010. The EA 2010 prevents discrimination against disabled people and requires reasonable adjustments to policies and procedures to ensure that they do not put people with disabilities at a substantial disadvantage. The DWP has now agreed to award benefit to our client without the need for her to attend an Atos assessment.

Date added: 01/10/2012

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Legal 500 top ranked

The newly published Legal 500 directory, which is based on confidential interviews with former clients and with our peers, has ranked Deighton Pierce Glynn as one of the leading firms in the UK for administrative and public law, for civil liberties and human rights, for healthcare, and for social housing.

In administrative and public law, our team is recommended for having an “in-depth understanding of how the voluntary sector works” and for being “consistently involved in ground-breaking work [with] a very good success rate”; in civil liberties and human rights, Deighton Pierce Glynn is identified as “an unsung hero of this area – quietly producing amazing results and changing the law in key ways”; in healthcare, the directory refers in particular to our “expertise spanning public and private healthcare, in particular in challenging decisions relating to transplants or refusals of treatment”; whilst our social housing team is rated as “excellent” and “always willing to go the extra mile”.

Five of our lawyers are included in the Legal 500’s elite "Leading lawyers" list: Jane Deighton; Polly Glynn; Gareth Mitchell; Stephen Pierce; and Sue Willman. Whilst Adam Hundt, Sarah Ricca and Louise Whitfield are also identified as recommended lawyers in their fields of expertise.

For more details click here.

Date added: 1/10/2012

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Investigation of corporate environmental/human rights abuses in Colombia

Sue Willman is visiting Colombia to investigate British companies’ corporate social responsibility (or irresponsibility). She is part of the Alliance of Lawyers at Risk Mission, an initiative of Peace Brigade International (PBI) UK.

PBI has become increasingly concerned at the apparent involvement of British companies in violations of fundamental rights of local farming communities, who have been forcibly moved from their land.

Sue is visiting Cerrejón one of the largest open-pit coal mines in the world, run by BHP Billiton, Anglo American PLC and  Xstrata Plc, with majority British ownership.

They are currently planning to expand the mine, including diverting 26 kilometres of the local River Rancheria which runs through indigenous lands. The mission has heard from legal collective CCAJR that the mine has resulted in widespread pollution
and displacement of indigenous communities who can no longer hunt on lands now occupied by the mine. Afro-Colombian communities have also suffered from ill-health and loss of livelihood.

The aim of the mission is to investigate implementation of the UN “Ruggie” principles on business and human rights and to offer support and collaboration to local lawyers.

Date added: 28/08/12

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UKBA unlawfully detained mentally unwell man for 14 months

The High Court has found that D, a former asylum-seeker with serious mental health needs, was unlawfully detained for 14 months by UKBA, due to UKBA's failure to take into account its own policy on whether he should have been considered unsuitable to be detained, and in breach of its duties under the Equality Act 2010 and articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Chapter 55 of UKBA’s policy guidance Enforcement Instructions provides that people suffering from serious mental illness, which cannot be satisfactorily managed within detention, should only be detained in very exceptional circumstances. The Court found that UKBA was aware that D had previously been detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 and had a history of paranoid schizophrenia. He was not provided with any medication or a psychiatrist during his first four months of detention at Brook House IRC. Even after he was transferred to other IRCs, and did begin receiving this treatment, the Court decided that the only conclusion that UKBA could have made, had it considered its policy, was that D’s condition could not be satisfactorily managed in detention.

The Court also decided that throughout D’s detention he was disadvantaged due to his mental state, and that UKBA had failed to have any regard to its duties to D under s149 of the Equality Act 2010. Further, that the absence or proper psychiatric treatment during D’s detention intruded on his human dignity and constituted inhuman treatment, in breach of his rights under article 3 of the ECHR, and that the conditions of D’s detention and the lack of proper care meant that his right to private life was interfered with and breached his rights under article 8 ECHR.

The Court decided that D was entitled to damages in respect of all of these breaches.

D was represented by Sue Willman with help from Sasha Rozansky, Charlie Dobson and Marianne Morris. Counsel was Leonie Hirst.

Date added: 23/08/12

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Deighton Pierce Glynn team up with the Children's Society to investigate migrant care leavers' rights

Deighton Pierce Glynn has been awarded funding by the Strategic Legal Fund for Refugee Children and Young People to undertake research in partnership with The Children's Society into the treatment of migrant care leavers in a London Borough. The work will be led by Zubier Yazdani from Deighton Peirce Glynn and Ilona Pinter from The Children’s Society.

The project is for five months to investigate whether a London Borough complies with its statutory duties towards migrant care leavers under the Children Act 1989, as amended, with a focus on determining whether there are any discriminatory practices when compared to those provided to non-migrant care leavers. If there is evidence of systemic discriminatory practices, then Deighton Pierce Glynn will seek to develop a test case to challenge this. For further information about the work of Deighton Pierce Glynn and The Children´s Society see www.deightonpierceglynn.co.uk and www.childrenssociety.org.uk.

For more information on this project please contact Zubier Yazdani on zyazdani@dpglaw.co.uk or 0207 407 0007.

Date added: 02.08.2012

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The Fact of Age' report published

The Children's Commissioner for England, Dr Maggie Atkinson, has published a report which reviews the law and social work good practice relating to age assessments since the Supreme Court's decision in R(A) v LB Croydon [2009] UKSC 8. 

The report concludes that: “a holistic, thorough, multi-agency approach to age assessment is likely to result in better outcomes for children. Whether they are children deemed adults and losing both statutory status as looked after and therefore children’s services’ vital support, or adults deemed children misplaced in schools and other settings, they are currently having their identities questioned. If children are wrongly judged over 18, placed inappropriately in adult settings unsupported by the right professionals, their rights to protection under the United Nations Convention on the rights of the Child (UNCRC) are being overridden or denied.

The report’s authors are Zubier Yazdani of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors and Laura Brownlees, an independent research and policy consultant. The report can be downloaded here.

Date added: 27.07.2012

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Manchester Mental Health Trust agrees to reconsider cuts decision

Following a legal challenge brought by service-users represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn, Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust has agreed to consider afresh its decision to go ahead with proposals to change community mental health services which would have resulted in staff cuts of over 20%.

As part of the legal settlement, the Trust has agreed to carry out a new engagement process including writing to all service-users individually, holding open meetings and contacting 65 voluntary sector and other agencies to offer briefings and presentations on the proposals.  The Trust will also compile a new equality impact assessment and a report based on the feedback from the new engagement process, both of which will be considered by the Board at a meeting in September.  A fresh decision will then be made on the proposals.

Regular updates on the campaign against the cuts are available via the website of Manchester Users Network: click here. For more information about the case and a copy of the advice letter sent to the client: click here. The Claimants were represented by Louise Whitfield of Deighton Pierce Glynn and Kate Markus of Doughty Street Chambers.

Date added: 18.07.2012

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UKBA unlawfully detained torture victim for over 2 years

The High Court has found that C, a former asylum-seeker with serious mental health needs as a result of torture, was unlawfully detained for almost 27 months by UKBA.

C was detained in April 2008. In August 2008 the detention centre notified UKBA that C may have been a victim of torture, under Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001. Although C had  independent medical evidence of torture and that he was suffering from mental illness, UKBA took no action.

Even after his health worsened, and new medical evidence was produced, they refused to release him.

We issued judicial review proceedings on behalf of C in February 2011. UKBA opposed his release but he was granted bail by a tribunal in April 2011. The High Court heard C’s case over three days and handed down its judgment on 22 June 2012. The court decided that UKBA should have acted on the medical report, which provided compelling and objective evidence of torture and mental illness. The court also noted that the medical evidence had stated that C’s further detention was likely to make his mental illness worse, and this was subsequently proved to be the case. UKBA had failed to properly consider the very serious matters of torture and mental illness and that there were not “very exceptional circumstances” to justify C’s continued detention. C was unlawfully detained from January 2009 to March 2011, and was entitled to compensation.

C was represented by Sue Willman with help from Sasha Rozansky, Charlie Dobson and Marianne Morris. Counsel was Nick Armstrong. Click here to see a copy of the judgment.

Date added: 03.07.2012

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Metering of energy consumption

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published an updated costs-benefit analysis in response to a complaint by Deighton Pierce Glynn about the UK's failure to comply with the metering of energy consumption duties in the EU's Energy Services Directive.

The particular issue we have raised is in relation to the UK’s failure to require the installation of individual meters in district heating systems. As a result, tens of thousands of low income social housing occupiers are required to pay a flat rate charge for the heating and hot water supplied by these systems, in contrast to most households in the UK who pay charges for energy (i.e. gas and electricity) based on their actual consumption. The absence of meters and of consumption-based charging results in much higher energy consumption and much higher energy costs – and the failure to pay those costs can often result in eviction.

DECC’s new cost benefit analysis, which is available here, suggests that installing individual meters will be cost effective in some situations but not others. However, we have queried some of the data that DECC has relied on and we are pressing for consultation with social housing tenants as soon as possible. Nonetheless, it now appears that metering is inevitable following agreement between the European Council and European Parliament on 14 June 2012 on the draft Energy Efficiency Directive, which removes almost all of the exemptions in the current Energy Services Directive upon which the UK has sought to rely to avoid the individual metering and consumption-based charging up to this point.

Date added: 28.06.2012

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Legal Aid Point of Principle

On 31 May 2012 the Legal Services Commission, who administer the legal aid scheme, certified a new Point of Principle following an appeal by Deighton Pierce Glynn.

The Point of Principle should put a stop to a growing trend whereby LSC costs assessors have been refusing costs claims on the basis that suppliers were wrong to have accepted controlled work applications or were wrong to have granted a legal representation certificate. The Point of Principle provides that: “Where a supplier exercises devolved powers to provide legal advice, assistance or representation, it is only open to the LSC assessor and/or the ICA to reject the claim on the basis of section 5 of the Funding Code Criteria where the supplier’s decision was manifestly unreasonable."

The Point of Principle and reasons are found here. As with all Points of Principle, it needs to be read alongside clause 6.87 of the civil contract specification: “Any Point of Principle certified by the Costs Appeal Committee, whether or not made under this Contract, is binding on all Assessments carried out by the Commission and any appeals in relation to such Assessments.”

Date added: 25.06.2012

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UKBA detained mentally ill man for five years

Deighton Pierce Glynn last week secured the release of KM who had been kept in immigration detention for over five years.  At a hearing on 8 June 2012, when the conditions of KM's release were finalised, Mr Justice Haddon Cave said that KM had been detained for ‘a remarkable period of time’.

KM was released from detention on 11 June 2012 and Mr Justice Haddon Cave ordered that he be subject to an electronic tag, a curfew between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and thrice-weekly reporting requirements. Further details of the hearing of 8 June have now been reported on Lawtel and a link to the pdf of that document is here.

KM has permission to proceed with his claim for damages against the Secretary of State for the Home Department and a 2-3 day trial is due to be listed for later this year. The trial will bring in to focus the government’s policy on detention of those with mental illnesses.

KM was represented by Joanna Thomson with help from Fiona Couzens. Counsel was Tim Buley. For more details about this case please contact Joanna Thomson at jthomson@dpglaw.co.uk

Date added: 20.06.2012

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Complaint to European Court re UK's approach to detention

The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal against the High Court's decision that it was lawful to detain an Iranian man for almost 5 years.

Although permission was granted to appeal on the approach to compensation, (which set a daily rate of only £75 per day) NAB decided not to pursue this. Since the High Court had found he was only unlawfully detained for 2.5 months, he would have had little to gain.

On 25th May, NAB sent his application to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that his detention for a period of almost 55 months violated his right to liberty under Article 5(1) of the Convention. Both the excessive length of NAB’s detention and its indefinite nature appear inconsistent with recent ECtHR case-law, such as Mathloom v Greece. Most EU states have signed up to the EU Returns Directive which sets a maximum period of 18 months for immigration detention.

NAB is represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors Sue Willman and Sasha Rozansky; counsel is Hugh Southey QC.

Date added: 15.06.2012

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Somali father unlawfully detained

The High Court has found that M, a Somali man who came to the UK aged 13 in 1996 was unlawfully detained for 10 months by UKBA.

M had been granted a Rule 39 indication from the European Court of Human Rights to prevent his removal, pending Sufi and Elmi. That case decided in June 2011 that removal to Somalia will breach the Convention except in limited circumstances. It was common ground that M had a series of relatively minor drug-related offences and a history of absconding. The judge heard at the trial that  UKBA had agreed to review his deportation order back in 2009 and that his partner S, was a Dutch national working in the UK with 4 children including M’s 7 year old twin sons. The judge adjourned the trial after a day for UKBA to process the decision on M’s outstanding request for revocation of his deportation order and for submissions on the effect of Rule 39.

UKBA then disclosed correspondence with the European Court of Human Rights which claimed that the ECtHR had agreed to lift Rule 39 measures in 174 cases in which interim measures had been granted and that the 200 Somali applications pending against the UK would be struck out on the Government agreeing to reconsider their cases in light of Sufi and Elmi and the most recent Country Guidance from the Upper Tribunal. At the time, none of the applicants had been informed of this.

UKBA then decided on the day of the resumed hearing that M was in a durable relationship with S, an EU national who was exercising EU Treaty rights (working). They reinstated his indefinite leave to remain and released him. The judge found that UKBA were not obliged to release M after the decision in Sufi and Elmi was published in June 2011 but were entitled to wait until it became final on 28 November 2011 when the Grand Chamber refused the UK application to have the case referred to it. He declined to decide whether M ought to have been released at that stage because it was academic, given his finding that M’s detention had become unlawful by mid-July 2011 for other reasons.

Applying OM (Nigeria)  v SSHD, the judge indicated that a failure to carry out detention reviews, although only a policy breach can give rise to more than nominal damages where a proper review would have resulted in release. He also found that the best interests of the children should have been considered under s55 Borders Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, and that it was not sufficient for there simply to have been reference to the existence of children in the context of the past failure of his family to stop M offending. Detention was unlawful because UKBA could and should have made the decision on M’s family relationship with his EU national wife much earlier than they did. UKBA’s complete failure to apply the family policy and delay in referring the case the Office of the Children’s Champion made the detention unlawful.

Although only a policy breach, it entitled M to more than nominal damages, because the referral could have led to an earlier decision on his leave to remain.

M was represented by Sue Willman and Sasha Rozansky with help from Charlie Dobson and Marianne Morris. Counsel was Alison Pickup. Click here to see a copy of the judgment.

Date added: 12.06.2012

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High Court: local authorities can finance accommodation of care leavers in education

Mr Sabiri was a former unaccompanied asylum-seeker minor who had been accommodated by the local authority under s.20 of the Children Act. After he turned 18, the local authority continued to support him as a former relevant child under s.23C of the Children Act, but refused to help him continue with his education. When Mr Sabiri turned 21, the local authority terminated his support on the basis that, as a failed asylum-seeker, he was not entitled to access education and was therefore ineligible for continued support under the Children Act.

Mr Sabiri challenged this decision and a preliminary issue arose as to whether, if Mr Sabiri were eligible for continued support under s.23C(7) or s.23CA of the Children Act, the provisions covered the costs of accommodation.

The Court held that the ordinary meaning of the words in s.24B(2), which sets out the type of assistance to be provided, was clear and covered a financial contribution, including a 100% contribution, to the costs of accommodation and accommodation-related expenses. A broad construction was also favoured by the purpose of the legislation, which sought to place the local authority in the role of a parent.

The case was conducted by Anne-Marie Jolly of Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors and Stephen Knafler QC and Irena Sabic of Garden Court Chambers. For a copy of the full judgment click here.

Date added: 18.05.2012

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Skills Funding Agency concedes further education funding challenge

In response to pre-action correspondence from Deighton Pierce Glynn, the Skills Funding Agency has accepted that adult failed asylum-seekers in receipt of local authority support should be eligible for central government funding for further education.

The Skills Funding Agency’s 2011/12 eligibility rules included adult failed asylum-seekers in receipt of s.4 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 support, but did not include those in receipt of local authority support under s.23C or s23CA of the Children Act or s.21 National Assistance Act 1948. The latter groups were more vulnerable by definition, being made up of young adult care leavers and vulnerable adults respectively.

The Skills Funding Agency has now published the Funding Rules 2012/13, which are effective from 1 August 2012 for the coming academic year. A copy of the Rules can be accessed here. The new provision is at Annex 1, paragraph 3(e). The term ‘asylum seekers’ in this provision should be read to cover failed asylum-seekers, in accordance with the concession in the Skills Funding Agency’s letter, a copy of which can be accessed here.

Date added: 18.05.2012

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Human rights law firms announce merger

Top civil liberties and human rights firms, Deighton Guedalla and Pierce Glynn, have merged today.

Deighton Pierce Glynn – as the new firm will be called - will retain the ethos of both firms and use the law to enforce the rights of the disadvantaged, hold the state to account for its actions, challenge discrimination and fight human rights and environmental abuses.

Jane Deighton, a founding partner of Deighton Guedalla who becomes a director of the new firm, explained: "We are merging because we admire each other's work. The new firm will provide an inspired and broader service to our clients." Deighton Guedalla specialises in challenging discrimination and abuses of power by the police and public authorities. Jane is well known for her work acting for Duwayne Brooks, the friend of Stephen Lawrence who was with him when he was murdered.

Polly Glynn, a founding partner of Pierce Glynn who also becomes a director of the new firm welcomed the collaboration: “Although practicing in different areas, our high quality lawyers have a strong shared set of values which is at the heart of all the work we do.” Pierce Glynn has a national reputation for innovative public law and social welfare litigation, from challenging public service cuts for NGOs, to acting for torture and trafficking survivors.

Deighton Pierce Glynn will work for clients across England and Wales. It has offices in the City, Central London and Bristol.

Date added: 01.05.2012

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Permission to appeal to Supreme Court in SL v Westminster

On the 14 March 2012 Westminster City Council was granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court following a successful appeal to the Court of Appeal by our client SL in August 2011. The Court of Appeal decided that Mr L was entitled to residential accommodation under s.21 of the National Assistance Act 1948.

The background to the case is that following a period as street homeless and a suicide attempt, Mr L was admitted to hospital for several months as a voluntary psychiatric patient. Westminster Social Services assessed that on discharge he would need various services including weekly meetings with his social worker, the support of a “befriender” and counselling services from gay support groups but that this did not amount to “care and attention” and so there was no duty to accommodate him under s21 NAA. He applied for judicial review which was refused in the High Court.

The Court of Appeal allowed his appeal finding that the assessed needs did amount to care and attention. The Court emphasised that support does not need to be particularly intense to constitute care and attention and nor is it limited to acts done by the local authority. The Court also ruled that local authorities must accommodate under section 21 unless it would be “reasonably practicable and efficacious” to supply the care services without giving housing. The Court found that given Mr L’s mental health condition it would be “absurd to provide a programme of assistance and support through a care coordinator without also providing the obviously necessary basis of stable accommodation”. The Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and the mental health charity, Mind, intervened in the proceedings supporting the appeal because they were so concerned about these issues.

The decision in the Court of Appeal was a significant and helpful decision which is assisting many vulnerable people, particularly those with mental health problems, to access accommodation and support. Joanna Thomson represents Mr L in these proceedings. She says “It is disappointing that Westminster City Council has chosen to take this case to the Supreme Court. The decision from the Court of Appeal favoured a wider approach to the definition of care and attention and made clear that adequate accommodation is a necessary pre-requisite if a care package is to be delivered in a meaningful way.”

To read the Court of Appeal judgment click here.

Date added: 23.04.2012

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Dale Farm travellers lodge planning appeal

Homeless travellers evicted from Dale Farm in Basildon at the end of last year have lodged a planning appeal at the High Court against Basildon Council and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The appeal relates to Basildon Council’s rejection of an application for planning permission for twelve traveller pitches at an alternative site at Church Road, Laindon, a decision upheld by Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles. In the court papers the travellers explain that Basildon Council have deliberately and unlawfully ignored planning policies requiring them to provide additional traveller pitches. That failure has forced the travellers to occupy land unlawfully. To try to address this problem the Homes and Communities Agency has offered land to the travellers at Church Road, Laindon. However, Basildon Council has blocked this by refusing planning permission – whilst simultaneously taking further enforcement proceedings to remove the travellers from the access road they were forced to move their caravans onto after their eviction from Dale Farm.

Gareth Mitchell from Pierce Glynn represents the travellers in the High Court proceedings. He said: “There are children and elderly people living in atrocious conditions following their eviction from Dale Farm at the end of last year. They have come under repeated criticism for occupying land unlawfully, however the reason they have had to do this is because Basildon Council has refused to comply with its legal obligations to increase the number of pitches which the travellers can lawfully occupy. In light of Basildon’s default, the Homes and Communities Agency have stepped in and offered land that they own so that there is somewhere for the most vulnerable travellers to move on to. However Basildon has blocked this and the Secretary of State has upheld this decision whilst simultaneously accepting that there are no alternative sites for them to move to. The travellers have been put in an impossible position. The High Court has been asked to quash the Secretary of State’s decision.”

Date added: 12.4.2012

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Village green protection for King's Stairs Garden

As reported by the BBC, Pierce Glynn has assisted a local resident in making a successful Village Green application thus preventing Kings Stair's Garden from being turned into a 'super sewer' development site.

King’s Stairs Gardens, a much valued green space in a deprived area of inner London, had initially been selected as one of Thames Water’s preferred ‘shaft sites’ for constructing London’s new ‘super sewer’. This would have involved the park being closed to local people for seven years, noise dust and the destruction of trees and habitats in the park, and the construction of a permanent ventilation building in the middle of the park.

Following a threat of judicial review, Thames Water agreed to consult on the use of an alternative site, but refused to remove King’s Stairs Garden from its shortlist of sites. As a result, one of the solicitors in our environmental law team, Gareth Mitchell, has assisted a local resident in securing registration of the green space as a Village Green under s.15 of the Commons Act 2006. Village Green status will prevent Thames Water from redeveloping the park and permanently protect the Garden for use by local people.

For the full BBC report click here.

Date added: 11.3.2012

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Reprieve for Kent Safe Schools

The decision to terminate Project Salus’ grant has been withdrawn by Kent County Council. Pierce Glynn issued judicial review proceedings against Kent on 10 February 2012 alleging breaches of the public sector equality duty and a failure to consult service-users (see 10.2.2012 news item below). However we are pleased to report the parties have now agreed to bring the judicial review to an end, following Kent’s decision to withdraw its grant termination decision. Sally Williamson, one of the Project Salus directors said: “While it is unfortunate that we had to go through this process we are really pleased that they have made this decision and we are really looking forward to continuing to work closely with Kent County Council in the future.”

For more details click here.

Date added: 27.2.2012

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Joanna Thomson appears in documentary on unlawful immigration detention

The documentary 'How Long Is Indefinite?' looks at the UK immigration detention system whereby many people are incarcerated without time limit for years, unable to be deported or released. The film follows the experiences of three people in detention: Aissata, an asylum seeker who went on hunger strike for 28 days in protest against her treatment in detention; Salah, a doctor from Sudan detained and separated from his son after working for 10 years in the UK; and Fouad, an Arab-Iranian activist caught between the British government who want to deport him and the Iranian authorities that refuse to acknowledge his existence. The film aims to show the impact on people of being detained indefinitely, focusing on the growing number of detainees who are incarcerated ‘for the purposes of removal’ even when the Home Office cannot remove them.

The film was directed and produced by Alexis L Wood. Joanna Thomson, partner at Pierce Glynn, represented Fouad in his unlawful detention case and provides commentary in the film about the legal framework of detention. For more information about the film you can visit www.howlongisindefinite.wordpress.com or email howlongisindefinite@gmail.com.

Date added: 23.2.2012

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Save Kent Safe Schools

Pierce Glynn is instructed by a community interest company, Project Salus, to judicially review Kent County Council's decision to cut its grant.

Kent Safe Schools provides a range of important services to children and young people in Kent, for example support services for children with mental health needs, drugs education services, and services to prevent bullying. These services were provided by Kent County Council until June 2011, at which point the KSS services were transferred to Project Salus, a community interest company staffed by former Kent County Council employees who were encouraged to leave their jobs and become part of Project Salus on the back of Kent County Council’s decision to support Project Salus with a 3-year grant. However, in December 2011, only 6 months into the 3-year grant, Kent County Council announced that the grant would be terminated.

Judicial review proceedings have now been issued challenging this decision so as to prevent the Kent Safe Schools services being lost. Project Salus’ solicitor, Gareth Mitchell, said: “These are highly-regarded and critically important front-line services whose loss will impact on some of the most vulnerable children in Kent. The Project Salus directors and staff took Kent’s commitment to support innovative ways of delivering public services at face value and had developed a highly-efficient model of service provision that would have delivered these services for a substantially reduced cost. However, only 6 months into this new venture their funding has been cut without any apparent appreciation of the effects on the children who benefit from the KSS services and on their parents and schools.

Date added: 10.2.2012

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UN to scrutinise detention by UKBA

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants has called for submissions on immigration detention leading to a report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2012.

Pierce Glynn's work with detainees shows that UKBA continues to violate the human rights of detainees including children, pregnant women, torture and trafficking survivors and people with serious mental health needs or disabilities

We have added harrowing case studies to submissions by Detention Action and the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA). Click here for a copy of Detention Action's submissions and here for a copy of ILPA's submissions.

Jo Thomson
, lead solicitor in our Detention Team commented: “This shocking evidence shows once again the urgent need for radical reform of the UK detention system”.

Date added: 01.02.2012


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Newham advice cuts Equality Act challenge

Pierce Glynn has issued judicial review proceedings on behalf of a Newham resident against Newham Council’s decision to scrap funding for independent advice services. Newham Council has a long history of supporting Newham’s voluntary sector in helping residents resolve housing, debt and benefit issues, most recently via a consortium of eight charities. However, on 17 November 2011 Newham’s Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, approved a plan to cease Newham’s funding of independent advice services. In its place Newham residents are to have access to online information leaflets and, from April 2013, access to advice on how to be more resilient delivered by council officers.

Gareth Mitchell from Pierce Glynn said: “Newham don’t seem to understand how important independent advice is to local people. The decision was taken without proper consultation and in breach of the Equality Act. The charities who were previously providing these services report that many very vulnerable people are no longer getting the help they need, including women who have experienced domestic violence, the elderly, and people from BME communities with high rates of social exclusion. Moreover, Newham’s approach ignores all the research about how good independent advice prevents problems from spiralling out of control and costing taxpayers far more to resolve later down the road”.

Date added: 26.01.2012

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Independence Panel publishes first report

The Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector has published its first report warning of the risks unless urgent action is taken to protect the sector’s independence and highlighting that support to vulnerable groups is particularly under threat. Louise Whitfield Pierce Glynn is a member of the Panel, established by the Baring Foundation in June 2011 to ensure that independence is seen as a top priority by the voluntary sector and to make recommendations to ensure that independence is not lost. The report is the first of five annual assessments and focuses on the three key aspects of independence identified by the Panel: independence of purpose, of voice and of action. Louise was asked to join the Panel because of her expertise in working with voluntary sector organisations and their service-users in successful legal challenges. Pierce Glynn specialises in working with NGOs and the voluntary sector; click here for more information on our work in this area of law. A copy of the report and the Panel’s press release is available here.

Date added: 18.01.2012

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Environmental Justice Parternship


The Environmental Justice Partnership is an exciting and innovative collaboration between UWE Bristol, Bristol Green Capital Partnership, the Environmental Law Foundation, Pierce Glynn and the ADR Group, Bristol. The service will offer a focal point to gather and address all environmental issues affecting Bristol and the South West to serve the interests of individuals as well as social and business communities. For more details please see the Partnership's new blog.

Date added: 12.12.2011

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People First Lambeth: two-day trial in the High Court

Gina Barrett, a service-user and director of the voluntary organisation run by and for people with learning disabilities, People First Lambeth, instructed Louise Whitfield of Pierce Glynn in March this year, to bring a judicial review claim over Lambeth Council’s decision to cut all the grants and contracts it had previously provided to People First for many years. The case was heard in a two-day trial on 22 and 23 November in the High Court before Mr Justice Ouseley who reserved judgment. Kate Markus of Doughty Street Chambers represented Ms Barrett at the hearing.

Ms Barrett explained her concern over the cuts: “I was completely devastated when I found out the Council had decided to stop funding all the services. There is nowhere else for us to go and the Council does not understand what it has done to us.” The case arises from the Council’s failure to consult properly with service-users and its failure to meet its equality duties. Judgment is expected some time in December, and further updates will be posted then. Follow this link to see the service-users talk about what it means to them to lose their services.

Date added: 26.11.2011

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Keeping Epping Forest Unenclosed: Public Inquiry

Epping Forest Horse Riders Association (EFRA) has instructed Pierce Glynn to oppose plans by the City of London and Essex County Council at a 4 day public Inquiry this week. The riders object to proposals to install cattle grids and miles of fencing around Epping forest which has been open common land since the Epping Forest Act of 1878.

Sue Willman has instructed barrister Ned Westaway. He will be arguing on EFRA’s behalf that the proposals are not “expedient” because of the cost and the reduced access to the forest, especially for young, old and disabled riders.

We will be asking the inspector to recommend alternative solutions such as invisible electronic fencing which would allow cattle to graze without the risk of them straying onto local roads and keep the forest unenclosed in the spirit of the Act.

Date added: 21.11.2011

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Chambers 2012 - top ranked

The Chambers legal directory is the leading source for information about the best lawyers in the UK. In this year’s directory Pierce Glynn has been ranked in Band 1 for judicial review work, Band 1 for housing law, and Band 2 for human rights and civil liberties. In addition, seven of the firm’s lawyers are identified as leaders in their fields. Overall Pierce Glynn is said to be a “niche public law firm [that] provides first-class advice” and is “unflinchingly committed to the clients it represents

Date added: 26.10.2011

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Louise Whitfield in BBC cuts debate

Pierce Glynn solicitor Louise Whitfield took part in a debate on BBC Radio4's legal series Unreliable Evidence alongside former Justice Secretary Lord Falconer, human rights lawyer, Hugh Southey , and former appeal court Judge, Sir Stephen Sedley .

The panel discussed how human rights and equalities law can be used to stop government or local authorities from cutting back on such things as disability benefits, libraries, advice centres, national parks and school buildings.

The programme was broadcast on the evening of Wednesday 19 October 2011. For more information about the programme and to hear the podcast: click here.

Date added: 20.10.2011

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Clause 24(1)(b) LASPO Bill briefing note

For a copy of our briefing note about clause 24(1)(b) of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill please click here. For a copy of our letter to Robert Wright, head of Civil and Family Justice at the MOJ please click here. We would very much welcome feedback from other practitioners about the issues highlighted in the briefing note. Please direct these to gmitchell@pierceglynn.co.uk.

UPDATE: The MOJ has now clarified their position, which explains that regulations will be enacted to ensure that suppliers will continue to be entitled to benefit from legal aid only costs, including in partial costs order cases. In order words from a supplier’s perspective the current position will not change.
For a copy of the MOJ’s letter click here.

Date added: 01.11.2011 updated 09.11.2011

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Gloucestershire Race Equality Council lives to fight another day!

Gloucestershire Race Equality Council (GLOSREC), who faced eviction from their offices and inevitable closure, has been allowed to remain there after the Council was threatened with litigation.

One of GLOSREC’s service users instructed partner Adam Hundt, who heads our South West office, to challenge the decision to bring to an end the current arrangement, in place since the 1960s, whereby GLOSREC occupied offices at a peppercorn rent and provided assistance to people facing discrimination and victims of hate crime. Despite numerous requests for details of the building so
that GLOSREC could try and raise money to buy the building, the Council refused to negotiate until litigation was threatened, and then backed down at the last minute.

For further details see local press coverage of the story here.

Date added: 19.10.2011

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Dale farm travellers refused permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has refused permission to appeal the High Court decision of Thursday 12 October of Mr Justice Ouseley that Basildon council had acted lawfully in deciding to remove the 86 families from the site at Dale Farm. The travellers had appealed directly to Justice Sullivan at the Court of Appeal to stay the eviction and to decide if they have an arguable case based on new legal points. Lord Justice Sullivan decided yesterday, on the 17 October, that the travellers could not proceed with the appeal against the decision of the High Court judge and no stay of eviction was granted.

The appeal was based on the argument that Mr Justice Ouseley had applied the law incorrectly when he rejected the arguments raised by the travellers at the High Court hearing. In particular it was argued that Mr Justice Ouseley should have found that Basildon council had failed to properly consider the change of circumstances since their initial decision to evict by direct action taken in May 2011. These circumstances included an offer by the HCA of brownfield land in Basildon which could be made available to the travellers, the personal circumstances of the residents, and the duties the council have to provide travellers sites.

Pierce Glynn was instructed by one of the residents to launch the original judicial review on 27th September 2011.

The original judicial review was conducted by Polly Glynn with assistance from Chessie Aeron-Thomas. Richard Harwood and Ellen Wiles from 39 Essex Street Chambers are the barristers that were instructed by Pierce Glynn in the judicial review hearing. They were also instructed, but not by Pierce Glynn, to make the appeal application.

Date added: 18.10.2011

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Judgment awaited in Dale Farm judicial review

Judgment is due at 2pm on 12th October in a judicial review of the decision to evict the Dale Farm travellers because of lack of planning permission. Pierce Glynn were urgently instructed by one of the residents to launch this judicial review on 27th September 2011. The case was heard on 29th September. Our client argued that the decision to evict was unlawful, because it was made without considering that the site could lawfully be used as a scrapyard, without considering whether an Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed direct action works was required, and without considering recent government planning guidance on planning or a decision on another local Traveller site made by the Secretary of State.

It was also argued that the council had failed to take account of the on-going negotiations between the council and the Travellers. These negotiations had resulted in the Homes and Communities Agency offering two alternative sites in the area for Travellers on brownfield sites, if Basildon asked for them. Solicitor, Polly Glynn commented, “We are disappointed that Basildon DC has refused to consider this very sensible compromise, instead insisting on proceeding with the eviction”.

The case was conducted by Polly Glynn with assistance from Chessie Aeron-Thomas. Richard Harwood and Ellen Wiles from 39 Essex Street Chambers are the barristers instructed in this case.

Date added: 11.10.2011

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High Court victory for disabled Gloucester man

A 33 year old man has been given permission to apply for judicial review of Gloucestershire County Council’s refusal to give him more personal care, sparking a debate in Gloucester about the Council’s funding of services for the disabled.  

Colin Bennett is being forced to leave his home despite suffering from a degenerative condition called Friedreich’s Ataxia, which has left him almost completely paralysed. He has to spend long periods in soiled clothes and severe pain because of the Council’s refusal to give him more than 9 hours of help per day. This leaves him unable to get to the toilet or administer pain relief, so he ends up biting his hand to try and cope with the pain until his carers, or his elderly mother, arrive. 

His solicitor, Adam Hundt, said “Colin is an intelligent man who is facing a lingering and painful death at a young age. He has coped incredibly well with his illness, but it is degenerative and has deteriorated badly over the last 12 months or so. Instead of increasing the amount of care he gets the Council has kept it at the same level, leaving him in distressing and disturbing conditions that nobody should have to endure.” 

His Honour Judge Nicholas Cooke QC gave Colin permission to proceed with his judicial review at a hearing in the Cardiff Administrative Court on Friday 30th September 2011. There will now be a further hearing later this year. His case was argued by Stephen Cragg of Doughty Street Chambers.

The hearing was written up in the local press (see here and here).

Date added: 05.10.2011

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Do trees have rights… felling highlights urgent need for environmental justice

Pierce Glynn client, Mark Snow (‘Snoz') lost his battle to prevent the felling of an ancient beech tree in the Yorkshire village of Irton when it was felled, today. His solicitor Sue Willman commented, ‘The villagers had no access to legal aid and no ‘standing’ or effective right to be represented in the County Court proceedings which decided the fate of the tree. This case highlights the urgent need for government reforms to properly implement the Aarhus Convention, which gives the public the right to participate in environmental decision-making.’

The background to the dispute is that a local developer sued North Yorkshire County Council, arguing it had to fell the tree because it was causing a nuisance on the highway. Faced with a range of expert evidence and escalating court fees the Council eventually backed down and withdrew its defence. So in August 2011, the Scarborough County Court ordered the felling. This was despite the fact that it was protected by a Tree Preservation Order granted earlier by Scarborough Council. The people of Irton who benefit from the amenity value of the tree were not represented in the proceedings.

When Snoz occupied the tree to try to save it, North Yorkshire County Council applied for a High Court injunction ordering him to leave and preventing any unnamed protesters from taking action which might stop the tree felling. The High Court granted the order, but also ordered a suspension on the felling of the tree until Friday 30th September while the council produced evidence that the tree was causing a nuisance. Unfortunately, by then it was too late for Snoz to re-open the County Court decision, and the situation was aggravated by the threat of heavy legal costs and limited legal aid for environmental disputes. It now appears that the tree may have been a bat roost, so requiring a licence from Natural England before it could be felled, because  bats have recently been seen and recorded in the vicinity of the tree; North Yorkshire County Council claims it has a survey showing the tree was not a bat roost, but to date this has not been produced.

Mark Snow was represented by Sue Willman with assistance from Charlie Dobson. She instructed counsel,
Dan Kolinsky of Landmark Chambers. The case was referred to Pierce Glynn by the Environmental Law Foundation.

Date added: 04.10.2011

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Legal 500 Directory 2011

Pierce Glynn's lawyers have again been recognised by the Legal 500 Directory 2011. As well as receiving high praise for their work in each practice area, all of Pierce Glynn's lawyers have been singled out individually for acclaim.

In the area of administrative and public law Pierce Glynn is described as ‘One of the best claimant firms around'. Within social housing it is ranked as a tier 1 firm and described as ‘always 100% on top of social housing legal issues'. Within civil liberties and human rights, Pierce Glynn receives praise as ‘extremely assiduous, organised and capable' and ‘100% on top of complex legal issues'. In the area of healthcare it is described as a ‘leader in the UK in the area of improving access to healthcare'.

Date added: 23.9.2011

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Letter about squatting law sent to the Guardian newspaper

A number of Pierce Glynn's lawyers have signed an open letter sent to the Guardian newspaper and published on Sunday 25 September. The letter accuses the government of misrepresenting the law around squatting to enable them to push through reforms and clarifies the legal position in relation to homeowners.

For more details see the Guardian's article about the letter here and the published letter here.

Dated added: 29.09.2011

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Government U-turn on Further Education fees

In response to pre-action correspondence from Pierce Glynn, the Skills Minister, John Hayes, has announced a significant U-turn on fee remissions for people from low income households who want to enrol on further education courses.

The U-turn relates to a decision by the Skills Funding Agency in May 2011 to end fee remissions for most income-based benefit recipients seeking to study FE courses at level 3 and above (i.e. vocational training courses equivalent to A-level standard and above). The decision had meant that many low income people who were trying to retrain to enter the workforce were being prevented from enrolling on FE courses starting in September 2011. The problem was particularly acute for disabled people given that fee remission entitlement was being limited to people in receipt of two income-based benefits that people with more serious disabilities do not qualify for.

After being instructed by a person with learning disabilities who had been told that he would need to pay fees over £1300 to enrol on a level 3 course in September, we wrote to the Skills Funding Agency on 1 August 2011 explaining why the changes breached the Equality Act 2010 and were unlawful. We told the SFA that action needed to be taken within 7 days to ensure that our client and others in his position were able to enrol on FE courses in the forthcoming year otherwise judicial review court proceedings would be commenced. In response, on 9 August 2011, the Skills Minister announced that FE colleges would once again be able to provide fully subsidised courses for anyone in receipt of an income-based benefit – a decision which is likely to benefit tens of thousands of low income people seeking vocational training to help them get back into work. For a copy of the Skills Minister’s announcement click here. For a copy of the revised fee remission rules issued by the SFA on 12 August 2011 click here (see paragraphs 102 & 103).

This case was conducted by partner, Gareth Mitchell, who said: “This change of heart on FE funding makes a really big difference, not least to the many learning disabled people who are especially reliant on vocational training to help them enter employment. At present, the concession only applies to the 2011/12 academic year with an announcement expected within the next few months as to whether it will be continued pending the introduction of FE loans in 2013. It will be important for current and prospective FE students to look out for that announcement and to seek urgent legal advice if the government attempts once again to reduce the availability of fee remissions for those on income-based benefits.”

Dated added: 26.8.2011

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Integrating Human Rights and the Environment

An article co-authored by Pierce Glynn partner, Sue Willman, on environmental law and its interaction with international human rights law has just been published in the KHU Global Law Review. For a copy of the article click here. Sue is a former law fellow at the Centre for International Environment Law. The article was co-authored with CEIL’s former president, Daniel Magraw.

Date added: 24.08.2011

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Court of Appeal success for mentally ill people in need of accommodation

On 10 August 2011 the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal brought by our client SL deciding that he was entitled to residential accommodation under s.21 of the National Assistance Act 1948.

Following a period as street homeless and a suicide attempt, Mr L was admitted to hospital for several months as a voluntary psychiatric patient. Westminster Social Services assessed that on discharge he would need various services including weekly meetings with his social worker, the support of a “befriender” and counselling  services from gay support groups but that this did not amount to “care and attention” and so there was no duty to accommodate him under s21 NAA. He applied for judicial review which was refused in the High Court.

The Court of Appeal allowed his appeal finding that the assessed needs did amount to care and attention. The Court emphasised that support does not need to be particularly intense to constitute care and attention and nor is it limited to acts done by the local authority.  The Court also ruled that local authorities must accommodate under section 21 unless it would be “reasonably practicable and efficacious” to supply the care services without giving housing.  The Court found that given Mr L’s mental health condition it would be “absurd to provide a programme of assistance and support through a care coordinator without also providing the obviously necessary basis of stable accommodation”. The Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and the mental health charity, Mind, intervened in the proceedings supporting the appeal because they were so concerned about these issues. 

This is a very significant and helpful decision which will assist many vulnerable people, particularly those with mental health problems, to access accommodation and support. 

The case was conducted by Joanna Thomson of Pierce Glynn, Stephen Knafler QC of Garden Court Chambers and Jonathan Auburn of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square. Adrian Berry and Kate Markus acted for the interveners. For a copy of the full judgment click here. For our press release click here.

Date added: 10.08.2011

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Bank improves access to information for visually-impaired people

After a lengthy battle based on the duties under the Equality Act 2010, Pierce Glynn has convinced a visually-impaired client’s bank to provide all his banking information on multi-media discs, so that he does not have to rely on third parties to open and read his confidential correspondence about his finances. The bank has also agreed to accept instructions – for example to request a new PIN – over the telephone, rather than insisting our client write in which he is unable to do because of his impairment.

In response to the bank finally giving way, our client said: “That is brilliant news! This now allows me complete choice and control over my own financial arrangements. Marry this decision with your achievement of ensuring accessible appointments and information from Dudley group of hospitals, and I now have genuine privacy over what is probably the most important two areas of people’s lives namely finance and health. I have other barriers to overcome but they should, in retrospect, be a lot easier to achieve. It has given me a lot more confidence that we fought these battles and won. I would like to say a big thank you for all your hard work and it has resulted in a massive difference in my life. Thank you again".

The case was conducted by Louise Whitfield.

Date added: 16.08.2011


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Chambers Legal Directory 2012

Seven of Pierce Glynn’s lawyers have been recognised as leaders in their field by the Chambers Legal Directory 2012; they are:

Adam Hundt - Administrative & Public Law  (London & UK-wide) and Civil Liberties & Human Rights (London & UK-wide); Gareth Mitchell - Administrative & Public Law (London & UK-wide), Civil Liberties & Human Rights (London & UK-wide); and Social Housing (London & UK-wide); Louise Whitfield - Administrative & Public Law (London & UK-wide) and Civil Liberties & Human Rights (London & UK-wide); Polly Glynn - Administrative & Public Law (London & UK-wide) and Social Housing (London & UK-wide); Stephen Pierce - Social Housing (London & UK-wide); Sue Willman - Administrative & Public Law (London & UK-wide), Civil Liberties & Human Rights (London & UK-wide), and Social Housing (London & UK-wide) Zubier Yazdani - Civil Liberties & Human Rights (London & UK-wide).

Date added 29.07.2011

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Legal aid reform bill success for victims of domestic violence

Southall Black Sisters, represented by Louise Whitfield, have successfully forced a climb down by the Ministry of Justice in respect of the legal aid proposals which would have removed legal aid from immigration cases where applicants had been victims of domestic violence and were seeking leave to remain in the UK on the basis of the so-called Domestic Violence Rule.

SBS had responded in detail to the original government proposal which would see the most vulnerable unrepresented and unable to leave violent relationships because of their uncertain immigration status.  Despite vigorous opposition to the plan by SBS and others, the government confirmed on 21 June 2011 that it intended to go ahead.  Pierce Glynn sent a detailed letter before claim to the Ministry of Justice on 4 July requesting a response by 18 July.  On 19 July, the government confirmed its intention to amend the bill to put these cases back into the scope of legal aid.  Pragna Patel, SBS’ director said “We are all thrilled with this.  I bet this was the result of the legal action we threatened to bring about.”

For more details see the Law Society's Gazette's article on the important policy u-turn.

Date added 29.07.2011

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Further reprieve for Swindon third sector organisations

Earlier this year Adam Hundt, who heads our South West office, was instructed by several service-users to challenge Swindon Borough Council's and Swindon PCT's refusal to renew existing funding arrangements for several third-sector organisations in Swindon and to repackage services into new contracts that would be put out to tender.

After we highlighted that the Council and PCT were acting unlawfully by proposing to make these changes without adequate notice or consultation, and without an appropriate assessment of the impacts of their propoals, the Council and PCT agreed to carry out a consultation and to extend the current funding arrangements for 6 months while they did so.

As a result of that consultation exercise, the Council and the PCT have now announced that they will extend funding again, for a further 6 months, until March 2012. This decision will enable Mind, Swindon Carers' Centre and other third sector organisations to continue their invaluable work with their mentally and physically disabled service users.

For more information about this case see the article in the Third Sector magazine

Date added: 14.7.2011

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DECC to conduct heating charge review

In response to a request from Pierce Glynn, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced that it will publish a consultation document later this year reviewing the need for individual metering in district heating systems.

District heating systems are found most commonly in the social-rented sector. The current lack of individual metering means that households pay flat rate charges; rather than charges based on their actual consumption. This means there is little incentive for individual households to limit their heating and hot water consumption, leading to disproportionately high energy usage and carbon emissions. It also results in much higher than average heating bills, which is problematic for many low income families who can be evicted by their landlords if they fail to pay these charges.

DECC’s review will focus on the UK’s transposition of Article 13 of the EU’s Energy Services Directive . The review will also need to take account of the UK’s climate change targets and its commitment to reduce fuel poverty. For further information about this case please contact Gareth Mitchell.

Date added: 6.7.2011


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Detention of children and nursing mother

Judge Anthony Thornton QC has allowed an appeal brought by a mother and 3 children, whose claims for damages for unlawful detention had been struck out.

JE and her children, one of whom was 2 months old at the time, were detained in an immigration removal centre for 3 months following a ‘dawn raid’. Whilst in detention the youngest child, who was a 2 month old baby, suffered repeated health problems and was denied milk for almost 24 hours. The Home Office applied successfully to strike out the case claiming that it was an abuse of process. However, on 8 June 2011, the High Court has overturned that decision. For a copy of the full judgment, click here.

The claim will now proceed to determine whether or not it was lawful to detain the family for 3 months. JE and her children are represented by Adam Hundt of Pierce Glynn, and by
Hugh Southey of Tooks Chambers.

Date added: 29.6.2011

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Working With Refugee Children

Pierce Glynn associate Zubier Yazdani has co-authored a chapter on age dispute challenges within the Immigration Law Practitioner's Association's (ILPA's) new book on ‘Working with Refugee Children’.

In his foreward, Ian MacDonald QC describes the book as: "[an] invaluable discussion about protecting the best interests of children and practical advice about some of the most common challenges faced by practitioners in their representation of young people."

Date added: 7.6.2011

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Access to healthcare for migrants

Almost 2 years after the Court of Appeal declared that the Department of Health’s guidance on withholding hospital treatment from destitute refused asylum seekers was unlawful, the government has issued its response to the subsequent consultation. In its response the government has agreed to make new Regulations which will mean that refused asylum seekers who are supported by the Home Office (under either section 4 or 95 of the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999) will not be charged for treatment.

The decision has been welcomed by partner Adam Hundt, who has worked on this issue for the several years: “This is a very welcome concession, which will remove some of the uncertainty facing this vulnerable group of people, and prevent much of the suffering that people caught by the unlawful guidance had to endure."

Date added: 8.4.2011


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Lambeth Taxicard scheme success

Lambeth Council have agreed to reinstate the full benefits of the Taxicard scheme to their residents and to carry out a consultation and equality impact assessment of the effect the proposed changes would have on people with severe disabilities.

The Taxicard scheme provides subsidised door-to-door transport for people who have serious mobility impairment and difficulty using public transport. Lambeth Council had reduced the benefits of the Taxicard scheme from 4 January 2011, so that users of the scheme were no longer able to double-swipe their Taxicard for longer journeys, would have to pay more money for each journey, and could not go on as many journeys each year.

Following the threat of judicial review by our client, Youcef Bey-Zekkoub, Lambeth Council agreed to reinstate the full benefits of the Taxicard scheme from 1 April 2011. The council will be conducting a consultation and equality impact assessment in respect of the proposed changes to the Taxicard scheme. Mr Bey-Zekkoub said “My freedom had been greatly reduced, as I was no longer able to afford to go out as much as I used to. With the consultation there now appears to be a chance that people like me will be able to tell the council how vital the benefits of the Taxicard scheme are, and hopefully we will be able to convince them of the importance of keeping these benefits, in particular the double-swiping, which makes a huge difference to people with severe disabilities”. The Claimant was represented by Sasha Rozansky and Louise Whitfield.

Date added: 8.4.2011


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Home Office disability discrimination

In an important test case the High Court has ruled that the Home Office unlawfully detained an amputee and breached the disability discrimination legislation.

BE is an Iranian man who has lived in the UK for the last 30 years. He suffers from a degenerative condition that resulted in the amputation of his leg above the knee when he was young, leaving a deformed and painful stump. He lived in the UK legally, but had his leave to remain revoked after a criminal conviction. After serving his sentence he was detained under the Immigration Act pending deportation, in progressively unsuitable conditions. After 2 years of detention he was moved to accommodation that was so unsuitable that he could not access basic sanitation facilities without the risk of injury. BE issued proceedings challenging the legality of his detention and claiming a breach of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

In an important judgment the High Court found that BE’s detention had become unlawful after 26 months, and that although he was not entitled to compensation under the DDA, the Home Office had failed to have due regard to his disability-related needs by failing to ensure that he was detained in suitable accommodation.

BE was represented by Adam Hundt of Pierce Glynn, and by Nick Armstrong of Matrix Chambers. For the High Court judgment click here.

Date added: 29.3.2011


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Interpreters at GP appointments

NHS Haringey have agreed to carry out an equality impact assessment in relation to the interpreting services it provides to patients at GP surgeries following intervention by Pierce Glynn on behalf of a number of clients.

The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture had referred several clients to us who were experiencing difficulties in accessing interpreters at their GP appointments. These clients were torture survivors who spoke limited English and were unable to speak to their doctor about their health problems or understand the advice their doctor was giving them. Although NHS Haringey confirmed that a telephone interpreting service should be provided whenever this is needed, and that face-to-face interpreters may be provided in exceptional circumstances, in our clients’ experiences this service was not working properly, so they were denied access to proper care from their GPs.

Following our representations to NHS Haringey, they confirmed that an equality impact assessment would be carried out in relation to the interpreting services it provides to patients at GP surgeries; this should look at the impact on race equality of the service provided and result in changes to reduce or eliminate any adverse impact on BME patients. Access to such services has also significantly improved for our clients following the threat of legal action on their behalf. The Claimants were represented by Sasha Rozansky and Louise Whitfield.

Date added: 29.3.2011


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King's Stairs Gardens

Thames Water have just announced that an alternative site to King’s Stairs Gardens in Southwark has been purchased and that they will now consult on the use of this alternative site for constructing the Thames Tunnel.

The Thames Tunnel project involves the construction of a ‘super sewer’ running from west to east London designed to prevent overflows of sewage polluting the Thames. Thames Water’s proposal is that the tunnel be constructed in stages, with large ‘shaft sites’ at intervals along the tunnel route at which boring machines will be inserted and excavated material will be extracted. In September 2010, Thames Water announced that King’s Stairs Gardens, a much valued green space in inner-city London, had been selected as one of its preferred ‘shaft sites’. This would have involved the park being closed to local people for 7 years, the destruction of trees and habitats in the park, and a large permanent ventilation building in the middle of the park.

Thames Water's announcement on 23 February 2011 that they have purchased an alternative site for the construction works (a brownfield site known as Chambers Wharf) follows a vigorous campaign by local residents and a threat of judicial review proceedings. Pierce Glynn partner, Gareth Mitchell, has been advising local residents in this case. For Thames Water’s announcement click here and here . For more information about the Thames Tunnel project click here and for more information about the local campaign click here.

Date added: 01.3.2011


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Report on HIV & detention

The Independent on Sunday has published details of a new report by the medical charity, Medical Justice, about HIV treatment failures in immigration detention centres.

In the article, Diane Abbott MP, the shadow public health minister, warns that poor treatment resulted in a "serious public health hazard"; "I've long been concerned at the medical facility for detainees. I think it's shameful they're given such poor treatment, but the situation with HIV is particularly worrying as it presents a very serious public health hazard," she said. The report itself notes that: “The UK is the 5th richest country in the world and envisages itself as a key partner in the international effort to prevent and reduce HIV/AIDS ... despite this rhetoric, the treatment of people detained for immigration purposes has been so detrimental that it may have left them requiring complex clinical care for their HIV infection.”

Medical Justice has been given permission to intervene in the on-going test case proceedings in the Court of Appeal about the use of immigration detention for those with serious medical conditions such as HIV. Pierce Glynn acts for the three HIV+ appellants in this case, which is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal in May or June 2011.

Date added: 22.3.11


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Funding reprieve for Swindon third sector organisations

Swindon Borough Council and Swindon PCT have agreed to extend funding for several third sector organisations in the face of threatened litigation. The funding decisions affect organisations that help people with mental or physical health problems and their carers, such as Mind, Swindon Carers Centre and others.

A number of service users instructed partner Adam Hundt, who heads our South West office, to challenge the refusal to renew existing funding arrangements, and to repackage services into new contracts that would be put out to tender, without adequate consultation, impact assessments or notice. After we challenged the legality of the process and threatened court proceedings the Council and PCT agreed to carry out a consultation on the proposals, assess their impact and extend funding for a further 6 months. For the Swindon Advertiser report on the issue click here

Date added: 24.2.2011


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New Access to Healthcare Blog launched

Adam Hundt has co-authored a new blog hosted by Migrant Rights Network, challenging common misconceptions surrounding the issue.

Adam is well known for his expertise in this area and his commitment to this issue, and the blog is one example of his ongoing work with the third sector to raise awareness of the problems encountered by many of our clients. His co-authors are Wayne Farah, of Newham Primary Care Trust, and Fizza Qureshi of Doctors of the World UK.

The blog can be accessed here

Date added: 11.2.2011

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Court of Appeal grants permission in Section 21 test case

On 4 February 2011 the Court of Appeal granted permission to our client Mr L to appeal a decision that he is not entitled to residential accommodation under s.21 of the National Assistance Act 1948.

Following a period as street homeless and a suicide attempt, Mr L was admitted to hospital for several months as a voluntary psychiatric patient. Westminster Social Services assessed that on discharge he would need various services including weekly support from social services. The council refused to accommodate him under s21 NAA and he applied for judicial review. At first instance Mr Justice Burnett considered that weekly meetings with the social worker fell short of care and attention since although Mr L needed to be kept an eye on, this did not amount to being ‘looked after’. He further held that even if Mr L did require care and attention, as the services were provided outside of his home this was care and attention which was available otherwise than by the provision of accommodation. He considered that Mr L would not be homeless because accommodation would be provided by NASS pursuant to s.4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. For the High Court judgment click here.

The appeal raises a number of important issues of general application and affects UK citizens, as well as migrants, who need residential accommodation: in particular those with a learning disability or a mental illness, and more widely anyone whose care needs can be met outside of the accommodation they live in. The case is conducted by Joanna Thomson of Pierce Glynn, and Stephen Knafler QC of Garden Court Chambers.

Date added: 9.2.2011


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New age assessment guidance

The Court of Appeal has handed down a judgment today which has far reaching implications for children whose ages are in dispute.

The case relates to the assessment of vulnerable children where there is a dispute about the child’s age. The Court held that authorities must allow young people an opportunity to respond to any adverse impressions formed during the assessment process and before a final decision is taken. The Court also decided that young people should be given an opportunity to have an appropriate adult present at assessment interviews.

In addition, the Court clarified the role of the Administrative Court when dealing with application for permission to proceed with judicial review in age assessment cases, and in particular the relevant test for granting permission. Local authorities and other statutory bodies will need to pay careful attention to this judgment and revise their procedures accordingly.

Zubier Yazdani, head of the Children's Rights department at Pierce Glynn, was instructed by the child in this case, identified in the court proceedings as 'FZ'. Shu Shin Luh and Jan Luba QC were instructed as counsel. For a detailed summary of the decision click here. For a copy of the judgment click here.

Date added: 01.2.2011


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London Councils judicial review

Mr Justice Calvert Smith has allowed a judicial review challenge of London Councils' decision to cut £10 million of funding from voluntary sector organisations in London.

The Judge held that London Councils’ decision making process was flawed and that they had failed to meet their statutory equality duties. He quashed all the funding cut decisions for the 200 plus projects and he said that London Councils must re-run the process, fully in accordance with their equality duties.

The Claimants’ solicitor, Louise Whitfield of Pierce Glynn, a specialist in claims raising equality issues and cuts to the voluntary sector, said:

“This case establishes that even in the current economic climate, it remains of paramount importance that public sector funding cut decisions are properly assessed for their gender, disability and race equality impacts. If they are not, public sector funding cut decisions will be unlawful.

London Councils simply did not consider the full effect of their £10 million cuts on the hundreds of voluntary sector groups and tens of thousands of members of the public who would be affected. They will now be required to do so.”

For a copy of the judgment click here.

The precise terms of the Order following the judgment were confirmed on the afternoon of 1 February 2011. The Order confirmed that the decisions taken by London Councils were unlawful because it had "reached those decisions without due regard to the statutory equality needs in the performance of its functions"; in essence, they had failed to meet their equality duties. All the decisions were quashed including the consequential decisions to stop funding 213 projects run by 177 different organizations. The judge also ordered London Councils to "undertake a lawful process of reconsideration in accordance with the public sector equality duties", and that no funding was to be terminated until "three months after the conclusion of the lawful consideration process".

For a copy of the judgment confirming the remedies order click here.

Also see: Patrick Butler in the Guardian here and Kiran Randhawa in the Evening Standard here.

Listen to the 9.2.11 podcast on Radio 4's Today programme: here

Date added: 28.1.2011
[Updated on 9.2.2011]


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Upper Tribunal test case decision

A three judge panel of the Upper Tribunal has allowed our client’s appeal in a test case concerning the procedures adopted by the First-Tier Tribunal. A three judge panel was convened because of the wider importance of the case.

Our client was a single mother with young children threatened with eviction because of a gap in her housing benefit payments. A tribunal judge decided she had acted sufficiently quickly in raising her concerns about the missing housing benefit; however, six months later, a different tribunal judge attempted to reverse this decision and strike out her appeal. After a comprehensive review of the relevant law, the Upper Tribunal decided that the second tribunal judge was not permitted to do this and that our client should receive the missing housing benefit payments which, in turn, will prevent her eviction.

This case was conducted by Gareth Mitchell, and
Tim Buley of Landmark Chambers. Our client was able to secure legal representation for her appeal under the legal aid scheme – funding which the government is now proposing to withdraw notwithstanding the complexity of cases like this, and their overwhelming importance to families at risk of eviction. For a copy of the decision, click here.


Date added: 20.01.11

 

 

 
   
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