Mormon Tax, Posthumous Procreation and Stephen Lawrence Spying – the Human Rights Roundup

UK Human Rights Blog

stephen-lawrence-new-murd-007Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular spring harvest of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here .  You can find previous roundups here .  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Celia Rooney.

In the human rights news this week, Theresa May calls for a public inquiry into undercover police officers after the publication of the independent review into spying on the family of Stephen Lawrence.  Elsewhere, Mormons take on the taxman,  the High Court considers how to interpret the law on storing embryos and gametes after death and a House of Lords Committee publishes a major report into the operation of the Mental Capacity Act.

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Evidence to Parliament on Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

UK Human Rights Blog

westminsterI will be giving evidence tomorrow at around 3pm to the Public Bill Committee scrutinising the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

I will be giving evidence along with Nicola Mackintosh, Nick Armstrong and Michael Fordham QC, on the potential impact of the Bill on Judicial Review. The session should be available to view online live here. The full programme, which should be very interesting, is listed here.

For more on the Bill, see this recent post by JUSTICE’s Angela Patrick and this one by David Hart QC.

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Police have “Osman” duty to investigate in date rape cases

UK Human Rights Blog

Met-police-Scotland-Yard-007DSD and NVB v The Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 436 (QB) – read judgment

The police have a duty to conduct investigations into particularly severe violent acts perpetrated by private parties in a timely and efficient manner. There had been systemic failings by the police in investigating a large number of rapes and sexual assaults perpetrated by the so called “black cab rapist” amounting to a breach of the of the victims’ rights under Article 3 of the ECHR.

The claimants were among the victims of the so called “black cab rapist” (W), who over a six year period between 2002 and 2008 had committed more than 100 drug and alcohol assisted rapes and sexual assaults on women whom he had been carrying in his cab. Both DSD and NVB complained to the police, who commenced investigations, but failed to bring W to justice until 2009. Under the…

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Strasbourg on Mormons and their temples

UK Human Rights Blog

2787465_d39c5a43THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS v. THE UNITED KINGDOM, ECtHR, 4 March 2014 read judgment

An apparently dry dispute about business rates on one of the Mormons’ temples in Preston (see pic) has reached Strasbourg and raises interesting issues about indirect discrimination on religious grounds. The underlying question was whether the temple was a place of “public religious worship” and therefore exempt from rates. 

 There are over 12 million Mormons in the world, with 180,000 in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Their organisation is important for this application. Local congregations are called wards, and are presided over by a local bishop. Each ward meets in a local chapel. Five to 15 wards constitutes a “stake”. In each stake one of the larger chapels is designated as a stake centre, where meetings from members of all the wards in the stake can take place.

Preston is one…

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Home Office/Security Industry Authority: ‘Revised timetable for business licensing’


On Thursday 27 February, at a meeting of the Security Industry Authority’s (SIA) Strategic Consultative Group, Home Office officials updated representatives of the private security industry on the timetable for introducing business licensing.

The group was told that the Home Office remains committed to introducing business licensing.

The necessary arrangements to allow the SIA to start accepting business licence applications in April 2014 are not yet in place, and therefore the ‘Open for Business’ date has been postponed.

The Home Office will announce a revised business licensing timetable as soon as possible.

The private security industry will be given at least three months’ notice of the ‘Open for Business’ date.

SIA CEO Bill Butler SIA CEO Bill Butler

Revised dates will allow at least six months between the ‘Open for Business’ date and the legal requirement date (when it will become a legal requirement for businesses to hold a licence).

The legal requirement date…

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Cap on housing benefit is lawful, says Court of Appeal

UK Human Rights Blog

Money purse - WalletSG and others, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 21 February 2014  [2014] EWCA Civ 156 – read judgment

The Court of Appeal has rejected on all grounds a claim that the cap on housing benefit amounted to unlawful discrimination against women.

The appellants were single mothers who claimed that the regulations capping housing benefit discriminated against women generally, and particularly those who were victims of domestic violence. The Divisional Court had dismissed their application for an annulment of the Benefit Cap (Housing Benefit) Regulations 2012 on the basis that the regulations were in breach of Article 14 of the ECHR read with Article 8, and the same Article read with the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions under Article 1 Protocol 1. The court below had also rejected their submission that the regulations infringed the UN Convention on the Rights of…

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Top police chief is a landlady on Benefits Street

Yvonne Mosquito, the West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, owns a property on TV’s ‘Benefits Street’
A top police chief owns a house in Birmingham’s controversial Benefits Street, the Mail can reveal.

Yvonne Mosquito, the West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, bought the property in James Turner Street for £30,000 almost 12 years ago.

It is understood the people living in the property have not appeared on the explosive Channel 4 documentary, which has attracted a record number of complaints to TV watchdog Ofcom.

The show is also being looked at by Ms Mosquito’s own West Midlands force after featuring scenes of possible criminal activity including shoplifting, theft and cannabis plants apparently being grown in one house.

Ms Mosquito earns £65,000 per year as deputy to West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones.

She is also a Labour councillor for Nechells, for which she receives the basic councillor allowance of £16,267.

Away from her civic and police roles, Ms Mosquito also has a property portfolio.

According to the Land Registry she and husband Winston bought the James Turner Street house in Winson Green in March 2002 for £30,000.

It is understood a number of tenants have lived there since, while Ms Mosquito lives elsewhere in Birmingham.

On her register of interests on the Police and Crime Commissioner website under the term ‘Property’ she lists ‘land’ at Winson Green, Highgate and Sutton Coldfield.

She does not mention James Turner Street, but did list the house in a Birmingham City Council statutory register of members interests in 2003 and 2007.

The show’s first episode was broadcast last Monday and featured prolific shoplifter Danny Smith who boasted of committing 200 offences and having 80 convictions.

It also showed scenes of apparent cannabis plant cultivation in one property.

Viewers also watched a local called Fungi apparently duping unsuspecting members of the public out of cash by flogging free magazines as supposed copies of the Big Issue.

James Turner Street couple Mark Thomas, 23 and Becky Howe, also 23, also talked on camera about being caught cheating their benefits in the first show.

In episode two on Monday, a gang of Romanian manual workers called in police after claiming their passports had been seized and they had not been paid their wages of £10 per day.

Rubbish was also piled up in the street by some residents, with the narrator claiming council rubbish collectors had not visited the road for two weeks – claims the city council later denied.

Last night, a spokesman for the Police and Crime Commissioner office said: ‘‘Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Yvonne Mosquito is currently on leave and is not available to comment.

‘‘It is a statutory requirement that Police and Crime Commissioners and Deputy Police and Crime Commissioners publish a declaration of interests, including any property held.’’

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that James Turner Street residents are to take part in a live Question Time-style TV debate about the show. It will be hosted by Channel 4 on February 10 at 10pm and will be chaired by broadcaster Richard Bacon.

The announcement came after 100 residents living in James Turner Street and neighbouring streets in Winson Green attended a meeting at the Oasis Academy school to discuss how they had been depicted by the programme.

Channel 4 has said the debate panellists would represent views across the political spectrum “and crucially those who claim benefits”.

Head of Factual for Channel 4, Ralph Lee said: “[The series] does not and never has set out to reflect the experiences of every person who receives benefits. Yet it has triggered a national debate about state welfare at a time in which further welfare reforms are being proposed.”

The show has sparked intense interest in the residents of James Turner Street after it first aired on January 6. Residents claimed they had been misled by programme makers Love Production, claiming they told them the series would focus on community spirit, not benefits.

Critics have argued the show is not representative of people living on benefits.

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