Odd but logical

A paraplegic man is facing the prospect of being hanged by prison officials in Pakistan from his wheelchair as he is unable to mount the scaffold.

Well, sorta, he’s not going to be hung from his wheelchair, but hung while in it.

Abdul Basit, 43, was convicted of murder in 2009 but developed tuberculosis one year later, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.
A “Black Warrant” was issued for his execution on July 29 but appeals from Basit’s legal team led to a stay of execution.
They now await a final hearing on August 25 which will decide whether to go ahead with the procedure.
It means that prison officials are grappling with the conundrum of how much rope is required to hang a man who cannot support his own body weight.
Basit’s lawyers at Justice Project Pakistan have issued an urgent mercy appeal to Pakistan’s president, Mamnoon Hussain, claiming that hanging a wheelchair-bound person is in breach of its own prison regulations.
“Given that the condemned prisoner is unable to use his lower body to support his own weight and unable to stand, it is not possible to accurately measure the length of rope required for his hanging,” they wrote.
“Consequently, no provision can be safely made for the accurate measurement of the rope that would hang him and to proceed with an inaccurately-measured length of rope would place him at risk of an appalling death.”

So, how would anyone do it? Doesn’t sound beyond the wit of man really, weight the wheelchair without him in it, weigh it with him in it and subtract. And make sure to get it right: the aim is to break the neck in a long drop hanging, not either rip the head off nor strangle him.

But putting aside the logistics of this, see what this tells us about conditions in Pakistani prisons……they allow TB to advance to the point of paralysis?

It ain’t over for Assange yet

Julian Assange is expected to be cleared of three sexual assault claims next week after spending so long in hiding in Britain that the allegations have expired, it has emerged.

That could well be true.

But he still skipped bail in England, didn’t he? He’s still a fugitive from justice.

One of our resident legal eagles might be able to tell us what a likely punishment for that is, whatever the state of the Swedish allegations?

What Owen Jones forgets about refugees

Quite remarkably forgets in fact:

Even among progressive-minded people, there are reservations about those who have fled horrifying circumstances in Syria, Eritrea, Darfur, Afghanistan and other countries terrorised by war or dictatorship. Why don’t they simply seek refuge in countries neighbouring their own? What compels them to travel thousands of miles, across multiple borders, in order to make a new life on British soil? François Hollande’s France is hardly a war-torn dystopia, so why not stay there?

As a refugee seeking asylum you have a right that it will be granted.

However, that right is only exercisable in the first safe country you come to.

What you don’t have is a right to go jurisdiction shopping for where you’d like to claim asylum.

Someone who gets off a plane at Heathrow, having come directly from a war torn area, or where they have a likelihood of persecution (so, yes, being gay from certain countries, religious, racila, persecution, even being an enemy of the current government) has that absolute right to claim asylum in the UK. Someone turning up at Dover having crossed Italy and France does not: not unless they are claiming security from the French government.

Now, maybe it shouldn’t be this way but this is the way that the international law works on it. That international law largely built by the do-gooding lefties of course.

Strange that Jones didn’t mention that really.

Rising court costs

The cost of divorce is to rise after ministers announced that the basic legal fees couples must pay will go up by a third to help cut the national deficit.
Shailesh Vara, the courts minister, said raising the £410 court fee to £550 was essential “to fix the economy and bring the nation into surplus”. Lawyers said that while the extra cost might seem small compared with others associated with divorce, they would add to the burden already caused by the abolition of legal aid in most divorce cases.

Not entirely sure about the “surplus” bit, as the civil court system isn’t supposed to make a profit.

However, it is supposed to cover its costs from its fees. Which, by and large, it does. A useful thing to remember when people start whining that companies should pay tax because they get to use the courts…..

Baccy companies to sue

Tobacco companies are preparing to launch what could be one of the biggest ever legal claims against the British Government for losses as a result of the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

They are expected to begin lodging papers at the High Court as early as Friday, seeking a multi-billion compensation payout for being stripped of the right to use instantly recognisable brands.

Lawyers will argue that forcing them to use entirely unbranded packaging would amount to deprivation of a highly valuable intellectual property.

And here’s the interesting thing. They’re not using any of the ISDS routines written into trade law. Just an old fashioned approach to the old fashioned courts.

Perhaps we should have a competition with bonus points for the spotting of outraged articles that manage to miss this? Doulble points of course for people wo argue that this is a reason not to have ISDS in trade deals. When, of course, it means the opposite. If this is a right that investors here get through our own courts, not the ISDS, then that the ISDS extends such rights to people in places where the courts aren’t trustworthy is a good, not bad, idea.

Note that I’m not saying that either the claim, the idea of such a claim, nor this case, are good or bad ideas: only on the sturcture here.


The idea was simple; these standards would first be enshrined in regional treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and then be given legal effect in every country. In the UK this was achieved when Labour enacted the Human Rights Act (HRA) in 1998.

The incoming Tory government now intends to strip our people of these universal rights by repealing the HRA.

No, the Tory government won’t strip anyone of any rights by repealing the Human Rights Act.

Did those rights exist in Britain pre-1998?


Would they still exist post repeal?


So Keir Starmer is blowing fucking smoke, isn’t he? Because they are rights that we gain by treaty, not domestic law. So, whether we have those rights or not depends on the treaty, not domestic law.

The key question is where are those rights justiciable? In the domestic courts or not? And how? According to continental style Roman Law? Or English style Common Law?

As long as we remain members of the Council of Europe (no, not the EU, the Council of Europe) then those rights still exist whatever the status of the Human Rights At.

Err, yes, and?

Oxford University is facing legal action after a former student alleged it had failed to properly investigate her rape case, it was reported last night.

Elizabeth Ramey, 29, will argue the university was unlawful and discriminatory in its policy not to investigate allegations of rape – unless in exceptional circumstances, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Her application for judicial review, to be heard tomorrow, describes the university’s guidelines as ‘perverse’ and warns it could put female students at greater risk of assault, the newspaper said.

Miss Ramey – who has waived her right to anonymity to talk about her case – was studying for an MA in African Studies when she claims she was raped by a fellow student in June 2011.

But her college reportedly told her they could not take action unless the incident had been reported to police.

Miss Ramey – who now lives in Washington DC – subsequently gave a statement to Thames Valley Police and the alleged rapist was suspended from the university for three months.

Yet three months later, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to pursue the case due to lack of evidence.

Rozzers investigate, no prosecutable case found, and this is the fault of the university?

Where does she think she is, America?

Miss Ramey – whose case is being funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission

And they can fuck right off.


Ronnie Lee Gardner’s brother, Randy, says no. “There’s no humane way to execute anyone,” Randy Gardner told NBC news on Monday. “I had the opportunity to see my brother after four bullets hit his chest, and I could have put my hand in anyone of the holes. It didn’t look very humane to me.”

“He was tied down with a hood over his head. Terrorists around the world and Isis, when they execute people, that’s what they do.”

Last year, Ed Pilkington spoke with Deborah Denno, a Fordham University professor who specialises in execution methods:

Denno has studied the history of the firing squad in the US, and found that in most of the cases in which it was used it was relatively quick and effective. In 1938, a “human experimentation” was carried out on a 42-year-old inmate who was executed by firing squad, with his heart monitored using electrocardiograph tracing. The results showed that his heart was electrically “silent” within a matter of 20 seconds.

The only known case of a botched execution by firing squad, in 1951 in Utah, appears to have been an act of vengeance on the part of five trained marksmen pulling the trigger. They targeted the wrong side of the prisoner’s chest, apparently intentionally, and he bled to death.

Yes, heart
stopping is a pretty good indication of looming death. But it’s not what we actually define as death these days. Cessation of brain activity is what we do define as death these days. Which means that aiming for the skull is a great deal faster than aiming for the heart.

Ludicrously therefore, the Chinese and Soviet execution methods, a bullet to the brain, are thus “more humane”.

And as to hanging, yes, I know, snapped neck, heart stops. And I’ve been told that something or other (told around here that is) means near instant unconsciousness at the same time. But I’m not entirely certain myself. No one ever has actually run an MRI of a brain as it expires from a hanging after all. And those experiments with the heads of those guillotined seem to indicate that there’s consciousness there for a while.

Since these various execution methods were designed we’ve changed our definition of death somewhat. So shouldn’t we be changing our methods to meet our new definition? That is, execution should be a method of ceasing brain function, not a method of ceasing breath or heart?

A cattle bolt perhaps?

There oughtta be a law about it

Labour’s plan to make televised debates between party leaders compulsory in the run-up to a general election have been roundly mocked as critics asked if the Prime Minister would be jailed for failing to take part.

Ed Miliband has announced that if elected Labour would pass legislation creating a commission to put live television jousts at the heart of every future general election campaign.

Alex Salmond, the former SNP leader, said he supported having TV debates but added: “Could you actually pass a law which says that somebody has to turn up at a TV debate?

“What do you do when David Cameron doesn’t turn up? Shall we stick him in the clink, do we put him in Wandsworth [prison] or somewhere?”

Standard prodnose reaction to everything, isn’t it. And that, I’m afraid, is why I so despise Miliboy.

The English way is not to have a law about such things. It is to have some expectations, socially enforced, and open to reasoned argument. Law is about only those things that must be done. Which is why we’re so generally a law abiding nation. That’s always been the deal. Laws are only for things that must be done so we do obey them. The moment you open the floodgates and have laws about (say, whether you can smoke with a pint) trivia then that trivialises all the other laws.

We learnt this some centuries ago. When defacing Westminster Bridge carried the death sentence we found that juries would not convict for defacing Westminster Bridge.

The law is important so should only be for important things.

Seems fair enough to me

A judge has ordered a father to take his children to Roman Catholic mass as part of a divorce settlement, even though he is not Catholic.

Although it does depend. If he married a Catholic in a Catholic Church then he promised, as part of that legal contract, to raise the children as Catholics.

Don’t see why people shouldn’t be held to contracts freely entered into…..

Well, of course

Women who say they were sexually abused by paedophile DJ Jimmy Savile will receive compensation but less than they had hoped after a judge ordered that lawyers must be paid first.

The Court of Appeal today sanctioned a compensation scheme set up for victims of the television star.

However, three appeal judges said many legal bills would have to be paid out of Savile’s estate – which is thought to be worth around £3 million.

Who didn’t think that the lawyers were going to get paid first?

And who is willing to bet that there will be anything left at all after the lawyers have had their share?

Entirely true

But there are calls for those who oversaw the firms, which flourished in the financial crisis as cash-strapped borrowers turned to them for instant funds, to be held to account.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of StepChange Debt Charity, which gives free debt advice, said that as it was the rules that were flawed “it’s very difficult to prosecute people for behaving within the law…. They made hay while the sun shone and will depart with their ill-gotten gains”.

I’m not
sure if he’s just noting the fact or arguing that it should be possible to prosecute those who have not broken the law.

What are the Tories going to suggest here?

The impact would be wide-ranging. The UK armed forces would cease to be subject to human rights legislation overseas, and Labour’s 1998 Human Rights Act would be scrapped to be replaced by a “British bill of rights and responsibilities”, the policy document states.

“Responsibilities”? A slightly dangerous idea don’t you think? A bill of rights is a list of things the bastards may not do to us, the citizenry. Start adding responsibilities and we’ll end up with a list of things that we the citizenry must do for the bastards.

And that ain’t right at all.


After all that:

Abu Qatada timeline

September 1993: Claims asylum on his arrival in Britain on a forged passport and a year later is allowed to stay
April 1999: Convicted in his absence on terror charges in Jordan and sentenced to life imprisonment
October 2002: Detained at Belmarsh high-security prison following a law allowing authorities to hold foreign terrorism suspects without charge or trial
March 2005: Law Lords ban detention without charge, ordering release. He is initially issued with a control order, but subsequently detained again
April 2008: Court of Appeal rules deporting Abu Qatada will breach his human rights, because evidence to be used against him in Jordan may have been obtained through torture
February 2009: Law Lords back deportation, saying the Court of Appeal got it wrong
January 2012: European Court of Human Rights overturns that decision, saying he cannot be deported while “there remains real risk that evidence obtained by torture will be used against him”
April 2013: UK government signs a treaty with Jordan, complete with guarantees on fair trials, to ensure Abu Qatada can be deported – which he is later that year
September 2014: Civilian court in Jordan clears Abu Qatada of terror charges

Depends what the judges say about comfort letters, doesn’t it?

Hundreds of IRA terrorism suspects will learn they no longer have immunity from prosecution as the Government announces that hundreds of controversial “comfort letters” are to be rescinded.

Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, will tell MPs the letters, issued to individuals suspected of terrorist offences committed before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, are worthless.

Suspects are to be told that the letters, which informed them they were unlikely to face prosecution unless new evidence against them came to light, have been annulled and are “not worth the paper they are written on”.

New letters are now likely to be issued telling terrorist suspects that police will be prepared to mount a prosecution should officers believe there is already enough evidence against them to do so.

That’s all terribly well and good. but it’s not actually ministers who decide whether such letters are binding or not, is it? It’s judges:

Their existence became known after the prosecution of a suspected Hyde Park bomber collapsed amid widespread anger in February when it emerged he had been sent one of the letters.

John Downey, 62, from Donegal, was arrested last year as he passed through Gatwick airport and charged with the murder of four British soldiers in the 1982 bombing.

The case against him was thrown out by a senior judge when it became known he had received a comfort letter. The letter had in fact been sent to him by mistake, as the Metropolitan Police still had a warrant for his arrest over the Hyde Park outrage, which killed four soldiers of the Blues and Royals, who were on ceremonial duties at the time.


So what’s the likelihood that those minsters have actually bothered to get a legal opinion on this? Me, given the current shambles, I’d put it at about zero percent.


Simply because they’re such damn fools that they don’t understand that they are constrained by the law.


I have no idea at all whether the government can in fact say “Ha Ha, just fooling about those letters Paddy!” nor what the courts will say about their having done so. But I’m near certain that they won’t have bothered to check.

Anti-racism has been such a success, hasn’t it?

It emerged that there had been three previous reports into the problem which had been suppressed or ignored by officials, either because they did not like or did not believe the findings.

Tuesday’s report concluded that by far the majority of perpetrators were Asian men, and said council officials had been unwilling to address the issue for fear of being labelled racist.

What was being overlooked? Riding a bike without a helmet or something, something where turbans and such like could vaguely interact with race and or religion?

More than 1,400 children were sexually abused during a period of over 16 years by gangs of paedophiles after police and council bosses turned a blind eye for fear of being labelled racist, a damning report has concluded.

Senior officials were responsible for “blatant” failures that saw victims, some as young as 11, being treated with contempt and categorised as being “out of control” or simply ignored when they asked for help.

In some cases, parents who tried to rescue their children from abusers were themselves arrested. Police officers even dismissed the rape of children by saying that sex had been consensual.

Downing Street on Tuesday night described the failure to halt the abuse in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, as “appalling”.

Following the publication of the report, the leader of Rotherham council, Roger Stone, resigned, but no other council employees will face disciplinary proceedings after it was claimed that there was not enough evidence to take action.

Err, no, the mass rape of children.

Haven’t we built a delightful world for ourselves?

Why we need to bring back hanging

A family were left horrified after council officials turned up at their father’s funeral to tell them they couldn’t bury him in a metal coffin because they are banned.

Stella Birdsall, 48, ordered a £3,000, vacuum-sealed, navy blue metal casket with steel handles for her father Colin, 72, but his funeral in Knottingley, West Yorkshire was halted last Thursday.

She said the service at St Botolph’s Church ‘went beautifully’ but then the official ‘ambushed’ the funeral cortege beside the open grave.

Miss Birdsall, a control room operator, said he told the family that the interment could not go ahead because it breached Wakefield Council’s policy barring the use of metal caskets – and that she had two options, either to postpone the burial or to change the casket.

‘Everybody was in a state of shock,’ she said. ‘I was dumbfounded.’

‘A council official was on the phone in front of the coffin and no one knew what was going on.

‘After about 10 minutes, we were told the council wouldn’t allow us to bury my dad because his casket was metal.

‘We were all in total shock. We were given two options, whether to postpone the burial or to swap dad’s coffin and continue.

‘We chose the latter because all the guests were already there, but we never had a choice in the coffin.’

You will be taken hence to the prison in which you were last confined and from there to a place of execution where you will be hanged by the neck until you are dead and thereafter your body buried within the precincts of the prison and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul.

It’s the only language these council jobsworths will understand.

Assange is truly barking

His argument is that since the UK is changing its relationship with the EAW then therefore he can leave the embassy and be OK.

Erm, no:

In the first indication that the stand-off which has cost the British taxpayer £7 million may be drawing to a close, Mr Assange said he would “soon” leave the Ecuadorian embassy in west London.

During a halting and sometimes contradictory press conference in the embassy, Mr Assange thanked the British Government for making recent changes to extradition laws.

He suggested Parliament had changed the law because of the “abuses of my rights”.

However, Mr Assange and his legal advisers appeared to have made an embarrassing error by misunderstanding a basic aspect of the new legislation.

The Home Office quickly undermined his key claim by confirming the changes would not apply in the case of Mr Assange, who has been a wanted man in Sweden since 2010, because they are not retrospective.

It’s not just that either. He jumped bail, an offence in itself. And the law is the law at the time you do something, not whatever it might be changed to afterwards. They’ve really not understood this at all.