Posts Tagged ‘High Court’

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Old BaileyHigh Court judges have given the UK government six months to revise parts of its Investigatory Powers Act. The government has been given a deadline of 1 November this year to make the changes to its Snooper’s Charter.Rules governing the British surveillance system must be changed quickly because they are incompatible with European laws, said the judges.

The court decision came out of legal action by human rights group Liberty. It started its legal challenge to the Act saying clauses that allow personal data to be gathered and scrutinised violated citizens’ basic rights to privacy.

The court did not agree that the Investigatory Powers Act called for a general and indiscriminate retention of data on individuals, as Liberty claimed. However in late 2017, government ministers accepted that its Act did not align with European law which only allows data to be gathered and accessed for the purposes of tackling serious crime. By contrast, the UK law would see the data gathered and held for more mundane purposes and without significant oversight.

One proposed change to tackle the problems was to create an Office for Communications Data Authorisations that would oversee requests to data from police and other organisations.

The government said it planned to revise the law by April 2019 but Friday’s ruling means it now has only six months to complete the task.

Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, said the powers to grab data in the Act put sensitive information at huge risk.

Javier Ruiz, policy director at the Open Rights Group which campaigns on digital issues, said:

We are disappointed the court decided to narrowly focus on access to records but did not challenge the general and indiscriminate retention of communications data.

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Old BaileyA businessman fighting for the right to be forgotten has won a UK High Court action against Google.The unnamed businessman who won his case was convicted 10 years ago of conspiring to intercept communications. He spent six months in jail. He as ked Google to delete online details of his conviction from Google Search but his request was turned down.

The judge, Mr Justice Mark Warby, ruled in his favour on Friday.

But he rejected a separate but similar claim made by another businessman who had committed a more serious crime. The other businessman, who lost his case, was convicted more than 10 years ago of conspiring to account falsely. He spent four years in jail.

Google said it would accept the rulings.

We work hard to comply with the right to be forgotten, but we take great care not to remove search results that are in the public interest, it said in a statement:

We are pleased that the Court recognised our efforts in this area, and we will respect the judgements they have made in this case.’

Explaining the decisions made on Friday, the judge said one of the men had continued to mislead the public while the other had shown remorse.

But how is Google the right organisation to arbitrate on matters of justice where it is required to examine the level of remorse shown by those requesting censorship?

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Old BaileyOxford City Council refused a sex entertainment licence for The Lodge for no particularly good reason except that the council had changed its mind after being petitioned by morality campaigners.

Then licensee, Alistair Thompson, asked for a Judicial Review of the council decision but was recently turned down by the High Court, more or less confirming that the council can change its mind if it wants to.

It seems that Thompson is set to appeal the ruling, and that if so, then The Lodge should be able to continue operating until that appeal is heard.

Now lawyers at Blake Lapthorn have made some pertinent comments about the council licence rejection:

Despite the fact that Mr Thompson had been granted a licence, and that the premises were in exactly the same place as the year before, with no one having complained about his operation of the premises, he had been deprived of the licence to operate. He argued he had spent tens of thousands of pounds on a business and provided considerable local employment into the bargain, on the back of his licence which was granted to him but which had now been taken away from him through no obvious fault of his own.

The argument that a premises licence is an item of property that attracts property rights under international and domestic human rights law does not seem to have been argued fully before the High Court. However in his evidence before the Sub Committee Mr Thompson pointed out that he had invested tens of thousands of pounds in good faith on the strength of his being granted a licence only to see the rules change and him having to surrender that licence despite the fact that the premises had been operating perfectly happily and no one ever having complained about the running of the venue.

We cannot imagine that the public at large would consider it could be right to permit a business to operate under licence so that they invest in their business only to change the rules and require them to have to get another licence every year. Guidance issued by the Secretary of State accepts that it is improper for Council’s to grant licences, then adopt a Cumulative Impact Policy and then seek to curtail the hours of operation etc of premises under those licences by means of a premises licence review. The analogy with the present case is clear.

It must be right that a person who is granted a licence to carry on an activity at premises must be allowed to continue with that activity until such time as there is sufficient complaint about the use of those premises for that activity. That did not happen in Salisbury and it did not happen in Oxford, yet Mr Thompson is now deprived of his licence.

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Old BaileyOxford’s only lap-dancing club has lost a High Court Judicial Review of the council decision to refuse to renew its sexual entertainment licence.

The Lodge Gentlemen’s Club in Oxpens Road was refused a licence by the city council in October, which claimed it was inappropriate for the area.

Its owner now plans to take the matter to the Court of Appeal. Alistair Thompson said:

We are shocked and very disappointed with the judgment. It has huge implications, not just on our business, but for the night time industry as a whole. Our legal team advise us we have a very strong case to take forward an appeal.

The club had challenged the reasons the council gave for refusing the licence and also argued irrelevant and inaccurate factors were taken into account when considering the area’s character.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, sitting in the administrative court of the High Court, dismissed both grounds made for the appeal along with a third factor of apparent bias by a member of Oxford City Council’s licensing registration sub-committee.

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Old BaileyThe radio presenter Jon Gaunt who called a councillor a Nazi live on air has won the right to appeal a High Court decision which branded his interview offensive and abusive.

Gaunt launched the appeal after an earlier judicial review failed to overturn a decision made by Ofcom that he had breached the broadcasting code.

The broadcast regulator upheld complaints against Gaunt after he called Redbridge councillor Michael Stark a Nazi and an ignorant pig during an interview on his TalkSport radio show in November, 2008. Gaunt, who was in care as a child, was angry as he felt that the chance of finding a foster home would be lost under the new policy.

Gaunt then sought a judicial review claiming the broadcast regulator unlawfully interfered with his freedom of expression. However, Sir Anthony May and Justice Blair dismissed his judicial review proceedings at London’s High Court in July last year saying that: the essential point is that the offensive and abusive nature of the broadcast was gratuitous, having no factual content or justification.

Lord Justice Thomas, granting permission to appeal, said Gaunt should be entitled to argue whether the High Court had followed the correct principles.

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Old BaileyPaul Chambers is to appeal to the high court over conviction for his joke Twitter message about Robin Hood airport

Ben Emmerson QC, a senior human rights lawyer, will lead a three-strong legal team for Paul Chambers whose conviction in the so-called Twitter joke trial has become an international cause celebre.

Dismissed as a foolish prank by almost everyone involved, including police officers and airport security staff, the 140-character threat has landed Chambers, 27, with a criminal conviction and fines and costs totalling over £3,000.

He was originally convicted of menace by Doncaster magistrates this summer. The tweet read: Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!. It was found in a routine web search by the airport and, although rated non credible, passed to South Yorkshire police.

Chambers appealed to Doncaster crown court last month. But Judge Jacqueline Davies, sitting with two magistrates, described the message as clearly menacing and ruled that Chambers, whom she described as an unimpressive witness, must have known that it might be taken seriously.  Davies said in her judgment: Anyone in this country in the present climate of terrorist threats, especially at airports, could not be unaware of the possible consequences. The message is menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed.

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Old BaileyThe radio host, Jon Gaunt, who called a councillor a Nazi live on air has lost a legal bid to challenge Ofcom’s decision to uphold complaints against him.

Ofcom received 53 complaints over Gaunt’s interview with Redbridge councillor Michael Stark, which took place in November 2008. The pair had been debating the council’s decision to ban smokers from fostering children when Gaunt called Stark a Nazi, a health Nazi and an ignorant pig.

Gaunt apologised on-air following the exchange, but Talksport sacked the presenter after its own investigation.

The TV censor Ofcom noted the apology, but in June 2009 upheld the complaint under the rules regarding offensive material.

Gaunt’s lawyers argued that Ofcom infringed Gaunt’s right to free speech under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and won the right to take the case to judicial review.

But at London’s High Court, Sir Anthony May and Mr Justice Blair dismissed the proceedings. May said Ofcom was justified in its conclusion: The broadcast was undoubtedly highly offensive to Mr Stark and was well capable of offending the broadcast audience. The essential point is that the offensive and abusive nature of the broadcast was gratuitous, having no factual content or justification.

Gaunt was refused permission to appeal although he can renew his application directly to the Court of Appeal. \

Human rights group Liberty, which intervened in the case because of its wider importance to free speech, said Gaunt and his legal team intended to challenge the ruling.