Law | The Guardian

Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

Brexit: UK backing away from threat to leave with no deal, say EU diplomats

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 07:16:16 GMT

UK officials recognise that failure to agree post-Brexit trade deal with EU27 would cause havoc, according to EU sources

European diplomats based in the UK say the British government is stepping back from its threat to leave the EU without a trade deal if negotiations break down.

Related: Sir Tim Barrow to hand-deliver article 50 letter to Donald Tusk

Related: Brexit: everything you need to know about how the UK will leave the EU

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Tesco and Serious Fraud Office near to deal over accounting scandal

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 17:46:01 GMT

Settlement could see supermarket pay in excess of £100m and agree to conditions to avoid prosecution for overstating profits

The Serious Fraud Office and Tesco are within days of announcing a settlement that could mean Britain’s biggest supermarket chain will pay a multimillion-pound fine over an accounting scandal.

Under the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), Tesco would pay a penalty that could be well over £100m and agree to other conditions in return for avoiding formal prosecution for overstating its profits.

Related: Two Tesco shareholders oppose £3.7bn takeover of wholesaler Booker

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Deliveroo riders plan legal action over employment rights

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 16:37:56 GMT

The 20 couriers who plan to bring action say they are employees of the food delivery firm and not self-employed contractors

A group of Deliveroo couriers is planning legal action against the food delivery firm to claim better employment rights including the minimum wage, sick pay and holiday.

The 20 delivery riders say they are employees and not, as the company argues, self-employed contractors. In the latest challenge to employment conditions in the gig economy, they are seeking compensation for not receiving holiday pay and for being paid wages below the legal minimum for employees.

Related: Gig economy companies trying to have their cake and eat it, say workers

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Cricketer spared jail may face claims he perverted course of justice

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 17:42:54 GMT

CPS considering review amid allegations Mustafa Bashir falsely claimed he was due Leicestershire club contract

A violent and controlling cricketer who walked free from court after he beat his wife with a cricket bat and made her drink bleach, could face an investigation over claims that he perverted the course of justice.

Mustafa Bashir, 34, was spared prison despite forcing his wife to drink bleach, throttling her in public, and hitting her with his bat. He admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was given an 18-month prison term.

Related: Attorney general urged to review release of man who beat wife with cricket bat

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Woman who was raped backs judge over alcohol warning

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:11:46 GMT

Megan Clark says judge’s comment that rapists ‘gravitated towards girls who were drinking’ did not equate to victim-blaming

A rape survivor has waived her right to anonymity to defend a judge who was widely criticised for claiming women were putting themselves at risk of sexual attacks if they were drunk.

Megan Clark, 19, was raped beside a canal in Manchester by a man she met in a Burger King after a night drinking in the city.

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Will robolawyers price humans out of the game?

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 14:45:01 GMT

Interview: DoNotPay chatbot creator Joshua Browder, 20, says lawyers are charging too much for simple copy-and-paste jobs

Joshua Browder first made headlines last year with the success of his chatbot DoNotPay, designed to challenge parking fines as the “world’s first robot lawyer”.

Inspired by a brush with London traffic cops after he passed his driving test, Browder thought only a handful of his friends and others would use it. Three years since DoNotPay’s launch, it’s been used to challenge $5m worth of tickets in London and New York, and help more than 250,000 people. “I can’t believe it,” he says.

Related: Millions of UK workers at risk of being replaced by robots, study says

Related: Is studying law boring? And other student FAQs

Related: Chatbot that overturned 160,000 parking fines now helping refugees claim asylum

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Attorney general urged to review release of man who beat wife with cricket bat

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 17:59:53 GMT

Campaigners question judge’s sentence after Mustafa Bashir spared prison despite forcing wife to drink bleach and beating her

The attorney general has been urged to examine the sentencing remarks of a judge who freed a man guilty of domestic abuse because he did not believe the victim was vulnerable.

Mustafa Bashir, 34, was spared prison despite forcing his wife to drink bleach, throttling her in public, and striking her with his cricket bat.

Related: Legal aid shakeup hands lifeline to domestic violence victims

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, it does not follow class, race, age or any social lines

Related: Silence and powerlessness go hand in hand – women’s voices must be heard | Rebecca Solnit

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Tesco has settled with the SFO – but it faces more headaches ahead | Nils Pratley

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 17:48:11 GMT

The supermarket giant can move on after the accounting scandal, although restless shareholders could spell trouble

For Tesco, a £235m bill to settle investigations by the Serious Fraud Office and Financial Conduct Authority counts as a tidy piece of business. The sum will wipe out almost 20% of operating profits last year, but the company’s negotiating power was approximately zero after it had confessed to a £326m overstatement of profits in 2014. Assuming the deferred prosecution agreement between the SFO and Tesco Stores Ltd is approved by a judge next month, an ugly chapter for the company will close.

Tesco may even be delighted that the FCA has designed a redress scheme for disgruntled investors who bought Tesco shares and bonds in the few weeks before the overstatement was corrected. An orderly process to award compensation, even one that could cost Tesco £85m, sounds less messy than several rounds of legal argy-bargy.

Related: Tesco to pay £129m fine over accounting scandal

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Tesco to pay £129m fine over accounting scandal

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 08:55:19 GMT

Supermarket reaches deferred prosecution agreement with Serious Fraud Office and will pay investors £85m in compensation

Tesco is to pay out £235m to settle investigations by the Serious Fraud Office and Financial Conduct Authority into the 2014 accounting scandal that rocked Britain’s biggest retailer.

It will pay a fine of £129m as part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the SFO, although this deal requires court approval. The DPA relates to Tesco subsidiary Tesco Stores Ltd.

Related: Contact the Guardian securely

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Prisons watchdog condemns lack of action on rising female suicides

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 23:02:12 GMT

Nigel Newcomen says reforms proposed 10 years ago to prevent vulnerable women killing themselves were not implemented

The prisons and probation ombudsman has hit out at a “lack of concerted and sustained action” following a rise in the number of suicides among female prisoners.

Nigel Newcomen said lessons identified in a new review of cases had been highlighted previously by his office and other inquiries but had not been implemented.

Related: New crisis in prisons as suicides hit record levels

Related: Murders and suicides in prisons in England and Wales hit 25-year high

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Access to justice was once a worker’s basic right. Now it’s a costly luxury | Aditya Chakrabortty

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 05:00:19 GMT

Fees have put employment tribunals out of reach for many. The supreme court must restore the balance

Laws that cost too much to enforce are phoney laws. A civil right that people can’t afford to use is no right at all. And a society that turns justice into a luxury good is one no longer ruled by law, but by money and power. This week the highest court in the land will decide whether Britain will become such a society. There are plenty of signs that we have already gone too far.

Listen to the country’s top judge, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who admits that “our justice system has become unaffordable to most”. Look at our legal-aid system, slashed so heavily by David Cameron and Theresa May that the poor must act as their own trial lawyers, ready to be skittled by barristers in the pay of their moneyed opponents.

On her worst days, Almanza would stand at the platform’s very edge. Then 'a light would come on' and she’d step back

Related: My learning disability doesn’t mean I should be paid less. I’m furious | Ismail Kaji

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Russian authorities 'imprisoning Crimean Tatars in psychiatric hospitals'

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 05:30:20 GMT

Since annexation many ethnic Tatar activists have been detained in outdated mental institutions, rights activists say

Lawyers and human rights activists say Russian authorities in Crimea are increasingly imprisoning human rights activists in psychiatric hospitals and submitting them to psychological abuse.

Since the annexation of the region three years ago many ethnic Tatar activists who oppose the occupation have been arrested and subjected to abuse and imprisonment in outdated mental institutions, said Robert van Voren, a Dutch human rights activist and political scientist.

Related: Ukraine's Eurovision singer urges voters to show Crimea solidarity

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Spanish court to investigate Syrian 'state terrorism' by Assad regime

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 16:02:36 GMT

Judge rules that Spain has jurisdiction to prosecute in case of truck driver who was allegedly tortured and murdered in Damascus

A Spanish court is to investigate allegations that nine members of the Syrian regime committed “state terrorism” by kidnapping, torturing and murdering a truck driver who disappeared in Damascus four years ago.

The landmark case – the first criminal complaint accepted against President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces by a European court – has been brought on behalf of the victim’s sister, a Spanish citizen who lives in Madrid.

Related: ‘They were torturing to kill’: inside Syria’s death machine | Garance le Caisne

Related: Syrian army photographer describes torture and murder in Assad’s prisons

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Snooping by police to be monitored by independent authority

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 06:00:21 GMT

MPs yet to be informed about government plans for a ‘communications data independent authorising body’

A new independent surveillance procedure to prevent police officers granting themselves permission to access personal emails and records of web-browsing history is being established by the government.

The Home Office project, about which MPs have yet to be informed, follows a highly critical judgment handed down by the European court of justice (ECJ) last year, which demanded stricter legal safeguards for the handling of communications data by law enforcement agencies. Information about the new body only surfaced in an online tender document.

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The Guardian view on Marine A: prevent war crimes, don’t excuse them | Editorial

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 18:07:54 GMT

Alexander Blackman’s mental state contributed to him shooting dead an injured Taliban fighter – but we must still uphold international law

When justice is done, we should be glad. But the champagne-swigging jubilation that greeted the reduction of “Marine A” Alexander Blackman’s murder conviction to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, went far beyond the acknowledgment that this was an appropriate outcome. To many of his supporters he is a “hero soldier” persecuted for shooting dead an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan. The judgment, however, was no exoneration: he killed a defenceless man, tried to make sure it was not witnessed, and attempted to cover up what he did. The judges considered mitigating factors, including his combat stress disorder. Nonetheless, they concluded that his crime was a severe one, that he held substantial responsibility for it, and that his dismissal from service was justified.

Drum-beating coverage of “our brave boys” veils the fact that British troops, like any others, are capable of terrible violations of the laws of war and the dictates of basic decency. Perhaps the catastrophe of Iraq, and the consciousness of the toll it took overwhelmingly on Iraqi civilians but also on coalition forces, has sensitised the public to the immense pressures facing soldiers and the often limited support they receive. More often than not, such abuses occur when there is an absence or failure of leadership. Another marine – briefly Blackman’s commanding officer – described the leadership and oversight in place as shockingly bad, and insisted he was not a single rotten apple. The answer is not to give soldiers a free pass to abuse and kill by attacking attempts to hold them to account, but to ask who else is responsible and how such behaviour can be prevented in future.

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Ethnic minorities 'get tougher sentences due to distrust in courts'

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 23:01:12 GMT

Thinktank says fear of discrimination means many BAME defendants are reluctant to plead guilty to reduce penalties

Black and minority-ethnic defendants may be given more severe sentences at magistrate and crown courts because they distrust the criminal justice system and are reluctant to plead guilty, according to a legal thinktank.

While judges reduce punishments by up to a third if offenders plead guilty at the earliest opportunity, a report by the Centre for Justice Innovation (CJI) suggests that a belief that courts treat black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people unfairly prevents them from taking advantage of such reductions and reinforces unequal outcomes.

Related: Ethnic minorities more likely to be jailed for some crimes, report finds

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Marine A could become terror target after release, police say

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 17:50:57 GMT

Alexander Blackman advised to change identity when freed from prison following downgrade of murder conviction to manslaughter

A former Royal Marine who shot dead a wounded Taliban detainee may become a terrorist target when he is freed from prison next month, police have said.

Alexander Blackman and his wife Claire have been advised by police to take a series of precautions including changing their identities and moving house.

Related: Alexander Blackman’s case shows the ‘stiff upper lip’ view of soldiers is a myth | Gaby Hinsliff

Champagne being drunk on the steps of the high court. pic.twitter.com/42z7SsdAO5

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Rape fantasy Elle isn’t a five-star masterpiece – it’s sick | Bidisha

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 11:10:54 GMT

Paul Verhoeven’s new film is basking in critical adoration, but by suggesting that women long to be raped it’s a slap in the face for survivors

Rape apologists: do you like the cinema? Have you always suspected women secretly want to be stalked, brutalised and raped? And that the biggest woman-haters on the planet are not men, but women themselves? Then brace yourselves for a celluloid treat.

The film Elle opened in the UK two weeks ago and has received rapturous praise, trailing five-star reviews and an Oscar nomination for its star, Isabelle Huppert, who is “utterly arresting” (Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian), “exhilarating … bottomlessly impressive” (Robbie Collin in the Telegraph) and has an “astonishing, almost terrifying talent” (AO Scott in the New York Times).

Related: Elle review – startlingly strange rape-revenge black comedy

Related: I’m so glad to spoil this film for you | Victoria Coren Mitchell

Related: Paul Verhoeven: cinema's mischievous satirist is more vital than ever

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Privatising prisons won't stop reoffending. Charities will | Grace Wyld

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 07:11:22 GMT

The justice secretary is locking out charities that put rehabilitation at the heart of prisons and probation. Her pay-by-results contracts are stifling good work

Last Monday, the prison and courts bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons. Under the proposed reforms, prisons will have a statutory duty to rehabilitate offenders. You might be surprised this isn’t already the case; it is a reform long overdue.

But the justice secretary Liz Truss will struggle to realise this ambition to put rehabilitation at the heart of prisons without better involving the voluntary sector.

Related: Liz Truss must turn to the voluntary sector if she wants to reform prisons

I’m not sure if this is the Titanic or the iceberg, but it is one of the two

Related: Charities better than private companies at reducing reoffending, report finds

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Home Office contractor 'restrains disabled Yarls Wood woman by chain'

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 18:36:33 GMT

Wheelchair user Lovelyn Edobor says Capita firm escorts, acting to deport her, ‘dragged her like a criminal’ at Heathrow

A disabled victim of trafficking has complained that she was forced into a waist restraint belt and dragged along “like a goat” when the Home Office tried to remove her from the UK on Saturday.

Lovelyn Edobor, from Nigeria, had been held at Yarls Wood immigration removal centre, Bedfordshire, for several months before the Home Office attempted to forcibly remove her from the UK. The 49-year-old suffers from advanced osteoarthritis in both knees and chronic generalised arthritis, and uses a wheelchair.

Related: Fresh fears over UK links to Bahrain’s ‘torture prisons’

Related: High court rules more than 10,000 asylum seekers treated unfairly

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