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Letter of the Law
Wednesday, 19th June 2019
An early morning round up of news for legal professionals across the UK





Home Office considers security legislation

The Home Office is considering new laws that would force large venues to increase security measures in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing. Campaigner Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett was killed in the Manchester attack, said: “It cannot be right that venues are held legally responsible for how many toilets they have, but not for basic security measures that could prevent a terror attack.” Security Minister Ben Wallace said the Government is “considering whether and how further legislation could support, or indeed compel, effective and proportionate protective security.” Andrea Bradbury, a retired counter terrorism police inspector who was herself injured in the Manchester attack, said: "It will come as a shock to many that this legislation doesn't already exist."

The Independent, Page: 22 Daily Mirror, Page: 15 Daily Star, Page: 10


Crisis calls for repeal of Vagrancy Act

Homelessness charity Crisis has called for the 1824 Vagrancy Act, which criminalises people for rough sleeping and begging in England and Wales, to be repealed. A report by the charity, backed by MPs and police representatives, warns that the Act pushes rough sleepers away from help, with chief executive Jon Sparkes saying that while “there are real solutions to resolving people’s homelessness – arrest and prosecution are not among them.” “The government has pledged to review the Vagrancy Act as part of its rough sleeping strategy but it must go further,” he added, “The act may have been fit for purpose 200 years ago, but it now represents everything that's wrong with how homeless and vulnerable people are treated. It must be scrapped.”

The Guardian, Page: 5


FA wants prison sentences for referee assaults

The Football Association has called on the Government to give referees an enhanced “public service” status, meaning those who assault officials would be far more likely to face prison. The Crown Prosecution Service’s legal guidance currently includes a specific section for the sentencing of “emergency workers and public servants” that emphasises a “strong public interest” in such assault prosecutions, with custody deemed an appropriate starting point for sentencing for an offence against someone “providing a service to the public.” While this currently applies to positions such as police officers, teachers, hospital staff and firefighters, the FA has suggested that this is extended to match officials across all sports.

The Daily Telegraph, Sport, Page: 11





ICO website falls foul of GDPR

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s privacy regulator, has admitted that its own website does not conform to GDPR, saying its use of cookies, small tracking files used to record information about visits to a website, was not up to standards set by the privacy laws. Adam Rose, a lawyer at Mishcon de Reya, uncovered the flaw after sending in a complaint to the organisation about cookies, with the ICO telling him it is in the “process of updating” its procedures to comply. Rafi Azim-Khan, a partner at Pillsbury Law, says the matter “shows that even the regulator is not immune from the complexities of getting website notices right”.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 10





Legal aid cuts hit discrimination victims

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says victims of discrimination are being denied the chance to challenge unlawful behaviour because legal aid cuts mean they cannot get representation in court. Analysis by the EHRC shows that no discrimination at work cases were given legal aid funding for representation in employment tribunals between 2013 and 2018, while only one in 200 cases taken on by discrimination specialists were awarded funding for representation in court. The issue, the body claims, has left a "David vs Goliath" scenario where people who had been discriminated against for reasons such as their race, gender or disability are being left to represent themselves in court. EHRC chair David Isaac has called for rule changes so that legal aid ensures "those who have been wronged, but cannot afford their own legal representation, can access justice".

The Independent, Page: 19 The Times, Page: 4 The Guardian, Page: 23


Being a great lawyer is the minimum requirement

The FT’s General Counsel supplement looks at the role of being a “top lawyer in a big company,” saying it is “never going to be simple.” Elsewhere, the supplement also looks at issues including the appeal of in-house legal departments compared to traditional law firms; efforts to boost diversity in the sector; and lawyers’ role in pioneering change on climate risk.

Financial Times, FT General Counsel





Identity fraud linked to cards rises

Figures from Cifas show that identify fraud related to plastic cards rose by two-fifths in 2018. Cifas said there were 82,608 incidents of attempted or successful ID card fraud last year, while identity fraud cases involving money mules – those who allow their accounts to be accessed to move around illegal funds – rose 26%. A separate report, from Barclays, shows that the number of money mules under 16 increased 137% last year, with children as young as 11 being used by criminal gangs. Analysis shows that older people are also increasingly finding themselves involved in such activity, with the Cifas study revealing an “alarming” 34% rise in over-60s being used as money mules.

City AM Financial Times


Forensic technology could trace alcohol sales to street drinkers

A new scheme in Bradford could see shopkeepers who sell “super strength” alcohol to street drinkers identified using forensic technology. Under the scheme, introduced by West Yorkshire Police and funded by local business taxes through Bradford Business Improvement District, cans and bottles of alcohol in the city centre will be marked with SmartWater, which glows under ultraviolet light and can be traced to an individual retailer. Repeat sales to problem drinkers could see businesses fined up to £20,000.

The Daily Telegraph





Bank Mellat wins damages claim

The Government has made an out-of-court deal to settle a £1.3bn damages claim made by Bank Mellat over a UK trading ban. The Iranian bank argued that the sanctions had tarnished its reputation in the UK and overseas, causing it “significant” loss and prompting others to impose sanctions on it. The government declined to comment on suggestions yesterday that it had spent £35m defending itself against Bank Mellat's claim. Sarosh Zaiwalla of Zaiwalla & Co, who represented Bank Mellat, said: “This case speaks volumes for the independence of the British judiciary, that a foreign party can sue the UK Government and get the Supreme Court to say that the Government have acted unlawfully and irrationally to list Bank Mellat under the Iran nuclear sanctions, and for our client to obtain damages for their loss.”

Financial Times, Page: 3 The Guardian The Times, Page: 42


Ex-BHS owner fights tax evasion charges

Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has appeared at City of London Magistrates' Court charged with tax evasion. Mr Chappell is charged with three counts of cheating public revenue out of £650,000 and two counts of money laundering connected to his bankrupt finance company Swiss Rock. The charges involve tax evasion offences including failing to register his company for taxes from the correct date, providing false information to the HMRC, failing to pay corporation tax, not declaring profits and failing to submit VAT returns.

The Times, Page: 42 Financial Times Daily Mail, Page: 63 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3 I, Page: 39 Daily Mirror, Page: 11 The Guardian, Page: 33 Yorkshire Post, Page: 2


Man sues brewery over women-only ale

Drinker Thomas Bower has won a discrimination case against brewery Brewdog after he was stopped from buying its women-only beer. The firm had offered discounts on a “pink” craft ale to anyone identifying as female at its bars, with the 20% price difference designed to highlight the gender pay gap, but Dr Bower complained that he “felt forced to identify as a female” to buy one. Brewdog said his treatment did not amount to discrimination, prompting the drinker to sue the brewery in a small claims court, where he was awarded £1,000 after a judge said he had been unfairly treated because of his gender. Dr Bower said he did not want to profit from the case and donated the money to charity.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 9 Daily Mirror, Page: 17 The Times, Page: 25 The Independent, Page: 22 The Sun, Page: 23 Daily Mail, Page: 5 City AM, Page; 9


Couple urged to call truce after ‘disproportionate’ fee outlay

A High Court judge has urged businessman Sir Andrew Cook and his estranged wife Baroness Angelika Hirsch-Stronstorff to agree an out-of-court settlement after being told how they had run up £1m in lawyers' bills while fighting over less than £2m. Mr Justice Holman at the Family Division of the High Court in London said the couple had spent “very, very disproportionate” amounts on legal costs following the breakdown of a three-year marriage.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 10 Daily Mail, Page: 20 The Sun, Page: 7


MoJ forged documents

Judge Michael Ord has said the Ministry of Justice forged some documents and hid others in a case brought by a bisexual officer at Woodhill Prison. The judge, at an employment tribunal in Cambridge, ruled that Ben Plaistow suffered discrimination, harassment and unfair dismissal.

The Times, Page: 4


Teen jailed for encouraging terrorism

Michal Szewczuk, a teenager who posted a picture of Prince Harry on a far-right forum and called him a "race traitor" because of his marriage to Meghan Markle, has been jailed for encouraging terrorism. He pleaded guilty to two charges of encouraging terrorism and five of possession of terrorist material, and was jailed for four years and three months.

Daily Mail, Page: 28 The Times, Page: 17 The Independent, Page: 18 The Guardian, Page: 17 Daily Mirror, Page: 7 Daily Star, Page: 20


Farage attacker’s £350 milkshake

Paul Crowther, who threw a milkshake over Nigel Farage, has been ordered to pay the Brexit Party leader £350 in compensation and was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 150 hours of unpaid work.

The Times, Page: 19 Daily Mirror, Page: 4 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 6 I, Page: 8 Daily Express, Page: 19 Daily Star, Page: 15 The Scotsman, Page: 20 Yorkshire Post, Page: 4


Drug user given Gove let off

Judge Owen Davies, QC, has allowed a cocaine user to walk free from court with a 12-month conditional discharge, after suggesting during legal argument with the defence that the defendant " should suffer no more for dabbling in cocaine than should a former Lord Chancellor." This comes after Michael Gove revealed he had taken cocaine on several occasions in his 30s.

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 6 The Sun, Page: 6





Police panel chair in LGBT row

Bob Fousert, of the Cheshire police and crime panel, has been told to resign after he accused Julie Cooke, Cheshire's deputy chief constable, of making an "overt political statement" by wearing a rainbow LGBT lanyard. Ms Cooke is the national lead on LGBT issues for the National Police Chiefs Council but Mr Fousert said residents could take exception to her "political" stance. David Keane, Cheshire’s commissioner, defended DCC Cooke and called on Mr Fousert to resign, calling his views "outdated and inappropriate".

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 10





Mining matters in focus

Jonathan Watts in the Guardian looks at the human rights situation at one of the biggest mines in Tanzania, noting that Acacia Mining has sought to improve conditions since a 2015 lawsuit brought by people represented by Leigh Day, which was settled out of court with no recognition of liability.

The Guardian, Page: 30





Pound falls amid rising no-deal threat

The pound is at its lowest in almost six months on heightened fears of a no-deal exit, points out Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at "The calculus is simple – failure to take Britain out of the EU this year risks a General Election and wipe out at the polls at the hands of the Brexit Party, potentially handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Number 10," he says. "The EU says it won’t renegotiate (it may have to), MPs won’t accept the existing deal, and Parliament has limited scope to stop this train. Sterling is increasingly reflecting the no-deal risk." The pound has stumbled quite badly against the dollar over the past three months, currently at $1.2531, down 0.02% on the day, and is now getting close to a year low. Professor Costas Milas, of the University of Liverpool's management school, thinks there is a good chance that the pound could rebound if Rory Stewart goes through to the next round of the Tory leadership race, due to his firm stance against a no-deal Brexit.

The Daily Telegraph Financial Times BBC News Daily Mail





Debtors to get 60 day ‘breathing space’

The Treasury is expected to confirm today that a 60-day ‘breathing space’ is to be introduced for people with problem debts, freezing fees, interest, charges and collections activity, and requiring bailiffs and creditors to allow debtors to reschedule payments. Those who suffer from a mental illness will have a longer period of protection for the duration of their treatment. City minister John Glen said the new scheme would give “everyone access to the advice, time and support they need to both get their finances under control and get away from the perpetual stress and worry debt can cause.” The 60-day period will apply to council tax and benefit repayments as well as other debts.

The Times, Page: 2 Daily Mail, Page: 26 The Sun, Page: 4


Emmerdale is TV’s divorce capital

Research by Tombola has identified Emmerdale as the divorce capital of the soap world, with 61% of marriages on the ITV show ending in divorce. Couples on Neighbours are the least likely to separate.

Daily Mirror, Page: 20


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