The Children Act, by Ian McEwan

September 6, 2014

Fiona Maye is sixty – and a judge in the Family Division of the High Court. Her husband’s about to leave her for a younger woman, she fears, as a case comes before her that will test both her values, and her judgement. A seventeen year old is refusing desperately needed treatment that would save […]

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Humphreys v HMRC: Supreme Court hearing

March 14, 2012

Today was the first day of the Supreme Court’s hearing in the case of Humphreys v HMRC, about sex discrimination in the child tax credit system. Mr Humphreys is complaining about the fact that HMRC refused him child tax credit in 2004-5. His children were staying with him 3 days a week – and 4 […]

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Children’s Rights Alliance v Justice Secretary: campaign groups and human rights

January 17, 2012

It’s not unusual nowadays for campaign groups of all kinds to take judicial review proceedings against public authorities: it’s now well established that their knowledge of and involvement in matters of public interest means they can have a sufficient interest entitling them to challenge public law decisions within the area of their expertise. The key […]

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A cautionary lesson: the Vicky Haigh and Liz Watson judgments

September 6, 2011

Sir Nicholas Wall has published his judgments in these cases involving Vicky Haigh, the woman John Hemming named in Parliament as a potential “secret prisoner” back in April after she spoke at a public meeting about the court case involving her child, and Elizabeth Watson, the woman who wrote e-mails and articles on the web […]

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John Hemming’s extraordinary defence

September 1, 2011

John Hemming MP wrote an extraordinary article in the Huffington Post last week, defending his actions in the Vicky Haigh case. First I want to address one of the legal points he raises in the piece. This one’s on American constitutional law. He says: In the USA it would be clearly unconstitutional to apply to jail […]

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John Hemming MP, Vicky Haigh, and her supporters

August 25, 2011

In April I wrote about John Hemming’s use of Parliamentary privilege to name a woman involved in a family law dispute with a local authority. I concluded: since this appears to be a family case involving a local authority, it’s reasonable to suspect it’s a child care case in which section 1(1) of the Children Act […]

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John Hemming, sub judice and the public interest: “no abuse of parliamentary procedure”?

April 27, 2011

Yesterday afternoon there was speculation that John Hemming MP was planning to “break a superinjunction” in the House under cover of Parliamentary privilege. Then, not long after 5 o’clock, John Hemming made a point of order in the Commons [update: hyperlink removed – see comment 12 below], naming a woman, and a local authority, who […]

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Noli me tangere: why you can’t arrest the Pope

April 16, 2010

I’m pleased that Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are raising the question of the Pope’s potential legal liability for his apparent role in allowing the abuse of children by priests to continue by failing culpably to take action against them. The key evidence against the Pope is the 1985 letter he wrote declining to defrock […]

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Balls on human rights

April 9, 2010

I was interested in a debate yesterday kicked off by Jessica Asato, writing at Left Foot Forward about the way Conservative opposition led to the government’s dropping provisions in the Children, Schools and Families Bill about personal, social and health education – sex and relationships education being its most controversial aspect. The plan had been […]

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The Christian Institute and the case of the "sacked" foster carer

February 13, 2009

Both the Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported earlier this week about an evangelical Christian who’s been taken off the fostering register by her local authority after a sixteen-year-old girl, brought up as a Muslim, converted to Christianity and was baptised while in her care. The foster mother is now apparently considering legal action, presumably […]

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