Should the Metropolitan Police now apologise to Lord Bramall?
What will happen to the main witness, “Nick”, if the police come to regard his evidence as unbelievable?
(This post assumes that most readers will be broadly familiar with the story so far. Allegations have been made by a man known only as “Nick” that he was sexually abused by a “paedophile ring” made up of politicians and senior military men when he was a teenage boy. Nick also claims that he was a witness to two other boys being murdered by members of this ring. Most of these men are now dead. The only ones still living are Lord Bramall, a former Field Marshal and head of the British Army, and Harvey Proctor, a former Conservative MP. It was announced recently that Bramall (who is now in his 90s) would not be prosecuted. Proctor, who is in his 70s, remains under investigation.)Continue reading The Met should apologise to Bramall, but what will happen to his accuser?
Two days before the publication of the Henriques Report into the CPS and Leicestershire Police inquiries into allegations against Greville Janner, I took part in a BBC Big Questions debate on whether – in the light of the Janner case – a corpse should be put on trial. As it turned out everyone on the panel seemed to accept, some a bit more reluctantly than others, that perhaps that was going a bit far, so that particular debate never really got off the ground.
It is a pretty safe bet that whenever Peter Bone MP opines on the criminal justice system he is wrong. He has voted to lower the abortion limit to 12 weeks, to retain the criminal offence of blasphemy and to reintroduce the death penalty (although not for blasphemy). One of his typical interventions last year was to sponsor a bill which would have forced judges to pass lengthy prison sentences even when they knew that it would be unjust to do so.
There has been widespread concern expressed at the 8 year prison sentence passed on Gayle Newland, the 25 year old Chester University student who was recently convicted of assaulting her sexual partner by penetration.
Just weeks later, female to male (but pre-op) transsexual, Kyran Lee, appeared before the Lincoln Crown Court and received a suspended sentence for assault by penetration. The judge’s relative leniency spared the Ministry of Justice the dilemma of deciding if he should be sent to a male or female prison.
There were many differences between the two cases, not least the fact that Newland had been convicted after a trial, whilst Lee pleaded guilty. Lee also faced only a single count.
Nevertheless, the different treatment afforded to the two defendants was striking, and it perhaps serves to emphasise the confusion that now surrounds the law relating to transsexual people and the criminal law.
From shortly after Newland was dragged to the cells, screaming “I’m scared!” press comment has been almost universally critical of HHJ Dutton’s sentence (even though he was faithfully following the Sentencing Guidelines). An entirely unscientific online poll by the Daily Telegraph found that 72% of respondents thought the sentence was too severe, and a similar poll for the Chester Chronicle produced nearly identical results.
As these things go, the allegations were not particularly serious. They involved unwanted “French” kissing, bottom and breast grabbing and the allegation that Mr Fox had put his hand up various skirts. The worst was perhaps an allegation that he had engaged in sexual activity with a 15 year old girl.
One of the more unusual aspects of the case is that Mr Fox chose to be tried in the Magistrates Court rather than in the Crown Court. This meant that the verdict would not be decided by a jury, but by a bench of magistrates or a (professional and legally qualified) District Judge. In fact, as things turned out he was tried by the Chief District Judge, Howard Riddle and a pair of lay magistrates. This is the Magistrates Court equivalent of a seven judge Court of Appeal. It is very unusual.
Oscar Pistorius has had his conviction and 5 year prison sentence for culpable homicide overturned by the South African Court of Appeal. It has been replaced by a finding that he was guilty of murder. Instead of re-sentencing him itself, the Court of Appeal has sent the case back to the trial judge, Thokozile Masipa. Continue reading A few thoughts on Oscar Pistorius
On Monday the Northern Ireland High Court yesterday ruled that the Province’s exceptionally strict abortion laws breached human rights law.
On Tuesday an attempt to tighten the liberal abortion laws in England and Wales was dismissed by the Administrative Court. The case arose out of a 2012 Telegraph investigation which had revealed that two doctors were apparently willing to arrange for an 8 week old foetus to be aborted simply because it was female. One of them, Dr S, was recorded saying “I don’t ask questions, if you want a termination, you want a termination.”
When John Anderson, a successful prosecution barrister and the son of a still ambitious circuit judge, apparently falls asleep at the wheel and kills two people, everyone advises him to plead guilty at the first opportunity. Continue reading Death By Dangerous by Olly Jarvis
Readers – especially those with an interest in the history of prisons – might be interested to read this account of a visit to York in 1888 by my Great Aunt, Mabel Scott.
She kept a diary between 1887 and – though eventually rather fitfully – well into the Great War. After her death it was given to her brother Norman, a Norfolk clergyman, and on his death in 1955 it was found by his nephew, my own father Martin Scott who died in 2002.
I realise that reading other people’s family history can be about as exciting as clearing out their garden sheds in the rain, but bear with me. The extract below is fascinating.
If you actually are interested in knowing more about Mabel and her family – then my father wrote a short introduction to the diaries which I have reproduced below.
For the moment all you need to know is that in the autumn of 1888 Mabel – then a seventeen year old girl – and her family decided to stay in York for a fortnight. Her descriptions of the nineteenth century city are interesting enough if you know York (as I do), but they come alive with her visit to York Prison. Continue reading A visit to York Prison in November 1888