Blawg Review #248 by Scotslawstudent is up…
Welcome everyone to Blawg Review #248, this week hosted at scotslawstudent.com. Today is the 251st anniversary of celebrated Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birth, which took place on this day in 1759. Burns was a prolific poet who wrote his best work in Scots, which is not the same as English, and he also recorded traditional Scottish music and spread it to a much wider audience than ever before. He’s why you probably sang Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve no matter where you live.
Frances Gibb, writing in the Times this morning reports...” A new law to give greater protection to householders is unnecessary and could be a licence to kill, a leading criminal barrister has warned.Paul Mendelle, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, says that a change to allow “disproportionate” force would encourage vigilantism. “The law should always encourage people to be reasonable, not unreasonable; to be proportionate, not disproportionate,” he said, adding that the present law worked perfectly well and was well understood by juries….If, as the Conservatives propose, the law is changed to allow “disproportionate force”, householders who kill burglars could be acquitted.”
Leading lawyers have long maintained that the existing law on self defence’ is more than adequate and that change is not necessary. I agree. Interestingly, the Munir Hussain case did not turn on the application of self defence laws strictly. Carl Gardner has written a detailed analysis of the decision which is worth a read: The truth about Munir Hussain
Frances Gibb also followed her main story up with a comment in the Times that the judges don’t need more laws but do need more discretion, pointing out .. “David Thomas, the sentencing expert, told The Times that in the case of the Hussain brothers a prison sentence of 30 months was “as far from the guideline as [the judge] could properly go”. He added that in the Inglis case: “No one could doubt that the mother was properly convicted of murder.” He said the judge, Judge Brian Barker QC, was required to impose a life sentence. With regard to how long Mrs Inglis should serve, the judge went as far below the recommended level as he could. Judges are increasingly restricted over the sentences that they can impose, and the trend is towards greater straitjacketing: the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 will require them to follow guidelines, not just take them into account, unless contrary to the interest of justice.
The comments in both Times articles are interesting. The general public is on the side of the Chris Grayling school of thought and not the side of lawyers who practise daily before the courts. Some of the comments are fairly extreme..
The ‘People’ speak….
“Former permanent secretary at the Northern Ireland Office. Member of the Butler inquiry. The occasional anecdotes, nervous cough and oddly frantic panting of Sir John soon raised concerns that the inquiry chairman was more an old-fashioned English eccentric than an interrogator filled with iconoclastic zeal. Those fears were not eased when Sir John asked one perplexed witness: “Was there anything, any juice in the lemon to be squeezed out of trying to peer behind the curtain into the mind of the regime of Saddam?”