Skip to main content

Posts

Charging decisions: cyclist mown down by driver

As a specialist motoring solicitor I spend a lot of time talking to the Crown Prosecution Service about charging decision - usually trying to get them to reduce or drop the charge against my client. But, in this case, I think they got the charge badly wrong. Earlier today Justine Henshaw-Bryan was imprisoned for three-years (she won’t serve anywhere near that long) after she chased cyclist Damien Doughty in her car before deliberately running him over as he attempted to escape her by getting out of the road.
You can view the footage here but be warned it isn’t nice:
Ms Henshaw-Bryan pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and was banned from driving for four and a half years. But the big question for me is why she was charged with that offence at all. Her driving was certainly dangerous and she did cause serious injury, Mr Doughty spent three days in intensive care, but her actions were also very deliberate.
The maximum sentence for causing serious i…
Recent posts

The limits of sexual freedoms: polygamy

There is a trial ongoing in the Canadian province of British Columbia that raises some interesting questions about sexual freedoms in our liberal 21st century society. It’s the trial of Messrs Blackmore and Oler who between them have 28 wives; Mr Blackmore has the lions share having amassed 24 of the wives and having sired an impressive 145 children – I bet he can’t remember all their names.
Both men have been members of the Bountiful community, which is a religious sect that has been on the Mounties list of people to prosecute for a quarter of a century now. Both men have previously been tried on charges of bringing young teenage girls across the border to marry sect leader Warren Jeffs. Blackmore and one of his wives were convicted while Oler was acquitted.
While the previous trial involved child brides there is no suggestion in the current trial that the women to whom Blackmore and Oler are married are anything other than consenting adults. The Canadian state has previous tried to pr…

UKIP’s integration agenda

I don’t normally spend my time blogging about political party manifestoes mainly because a. we don’t have elections that often; and b. because they are usually pretty vague and unexciting. But UKIP have today published their integration agenda as part of their 2017 General Election manifesto. To say it is extreme and ill-thought out is understatement even for a party whose policies usually lack both subtlety and common sense. In fact, it’s so extreme that I didn’t believe it was real until I saw it being reported by several reliable news organisations with quotes from party leaders. First, they plan to ban “face coverings in public places”. An interesting idea and one I’ve never understood because it will require exemptions for bee-keepers, police on riot/terrorist duties, people who live in really cold places like the north, motorcyclists, the list goes on and on. It’s also really difficult to ban “face coverings” – what does it mean? If it rains and I put my hood up it dips over my fa…

No-win, no-fee and business rates

Very quick blog for the benefit of David Gauke, MP who happens to be chief secretary to the Treasury.
He is introducing business rate changes that will see rates rise for just over half a million businesses from April. He is facing a barrage of criticism from various directions. I instinctively feel that business is quite heavily taxed at the moment and increasing the tax burden on small businesses at such an uncertain time is a terrible idea. But, I also recognise that I don’t really know much beyond what happens in my own business so I won’t try to argue whether the rate changes are a good or bad thing What I do want to discuss is his comments about steps being taken to clamp down on people bringing challenges to the rates they are asked to pay in the hope of reducing the cost to their business.
Mr Gauke seems to place the blame for too many challenges at the door of the surveyors and lawyers (aren’t we always to blame… well until you need us) encouraging businesses to proceed on a no-…

Has Paul Nuttall of UKIP broken election law?

Over the past few days, UKIP leader and Swindon by-election candidate, Paul Nuttall has faced criticism for giving his home address, on the Home Address form that is part of the nomination pack for prospective political candidate, as one where he does not live. Mr Nuttall answers these criticisms by saying that he gave the address because he has rented the house and intends to move into it for the duration of the election campaign.


Journalists, most notably Michael Crick, have been forthright in their claims that Mr Nuttall broke the law and could face prison for making a false declaration. So, what is the truth?
Prospective candidates must register their nomination with the returning officer by providing certain information. The required information is set out in paragraph 6 of schedule 1 to the Representation of the People Act 1983. All of the required information can be easily provided by downloading and completing a nomination pack from the Electoral Commission website. For our purp…

The court that likes to say, “no”

Friday last saw the publication of judgment by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division (CACD) in the case of R v Ordu. In 2007, Mr Ordu entered the UK via Germany using a false passport. He was prosecuted under the now defunct Identity Cards Act 2006 for possessing false identity documents with intent.


Section 31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 was in force at the time (and indeed is still in force, although it has been amended); it creates a defence for refugees fleeing persecution. It was supposed to bring the law into compliance with the UK’s treaty obligations arising from the Refugee Convention. Section 31 was badly drafted because it barred people who had stopped over in another safe country on their way to the UK from relying on the defence; however, the Convention specifically required the UK (and other signatories) to extend the defence to such people. Despite this glaring conflict the law at the time of Mr Ordu’s case appeared to be settled and the section 31 defence was…

A day in the youth court

Today I took a break from my usual diet of drink driving to covered a stint as youth court duty solicitor for someone who couldn’t make it. I haven’t been a youth court duty for quite a long time but it wasn’t too bad.
I arrived bright and early at 9.30am ready to collect my papers for the day and get to work. But, there were no papers and nobody in need of representation. I found a room, did some work until lunch time then sat back with a couple of episodes of the X Files for an hour and a half (thank you Amazon Prime).
Just as the second episode ended (it was the one with the secretary whose boss was murdered and who is now protecting her from terrorists and his former business partner from beyond the grave) I got a call telling me that there was, at last, somebody for me to see.
Dashing up to the CPS room, I collected the papers and then ran to the cells to see my new client. It’s ages since I’ve been to this court building (and even longer since I’ve been to the cells) so I spent a f…