Blog Plug

While investigating the competition company of other criminalegal blogs, I came across PC Bloggs’ site and while catching up on her posts, read this very interesting post about the murder of Joanna Yeates, or rather about the police response to similar cases.

Police work is often misunderstood and sometimes vilified and it’s enlightening to read about what it involves in practice. And it seems pretty low on doughnuts


Let’s talk about sex… some more

You might have thought that I would have made an effort for St Valentine’s Day but I’m afraid today’s post is definitely not about love. Rather, it touches on sex and unpleasant circumstances, much like our previous discussion, though in a more pointed way…

Julian Assange’s extradition case has been all over the news recently and there seems to be a lot of confusion about what the debate should really be about…
Is it about rape and anonymity of rape victims?
Is it about the CIA and international conspiracies?
Is it about the Swedish legal system and political meddling?
Is it about the European Arrest Warrant and extradition laws?

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The murder of a Ugandan activist, the trial of a teenage girl in London and leaflets outside a mosque in Derby… On the face of it, these three stories don’t seem to have much in common.

But when you look more closely at the circumstances of each of them, it’s a different story altogether…

In Uganda, a man was beaten to death with a hammer in front of his doorstep. What would be a gruesome murder anyway takes a different dimension when you know that the victim, David Kato, was an activist campaigning for gay rights in Uganda, and who had become famous after he sued a paper for outing him.

In London, a teenage girl was sentenced for the manslaughter of a 62 year-old man, along with her boyfriend. The incident happened in central London on a Friday night after the two had been drinking and the girl shouted at the man that he was a ‘fucking faggot’ before they attacked him. They were both convicted of manslaughter, and she was sentenced to an extra year in prison because the court decided the attack was homophobic.

In Derby, men were in court last week over leaflets they distributed outside their local mosque. An innocent enough activity, except for the fact that the leaflets were entitled “The death penalty?”  and called for the execution of homosexuals. They were charged with inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation and will be tried next week by Derby’s Magistrates’ Court.

The link is hopefully (and sadly) obvious by now, and the interesting question in relation to the criminal law is this: how does the criminal law deal with intolerant and homophobic people?

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Let’s talk about sex…

Although it’s been eclipsed a little by undercover work of a different nature over the last couple of days, there has been a lot of talk in the news recently about undercover officers who infiltrate certain potentially criminal groups.

The focus has been particularly placed on Mark Kennedy, who was under cover for seven years as an environmental activist, complete with long hair, goatee and earrings. So far, so not very James Bond…

One similarity though might be that Mr Kennedy, during his seven years undercover, slept with some of the female activists he met, without revealing his true identity. This has led to angry reactions from activists, and to women protesting outside Scotland Yard, “to express solidarity with all the women who have been exploited by men they thought they could trust.”
There has also been calls to clarify what the Metropolitan Police’s policy was regarding these actions. It’s not clear yet what the policy is or indeed if there is any but it seems that although there is no explicit instruction to have or not have sex, it is seen as a fairly inevitable and sometimes necessary by product of the mission carried out.

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Charge !!

On the 11th January, Edward Woollard was convicted of violent disorder and sentenced to 32 months in prison for throwing a fire extinguisher from the top of a building during the student protests. The reactions to the decision were many and passionate, generally in relation to the judges’ admission that by sentencing Mr Woollard he was hoping to “send[…] out a very clear message to anyone minded to behave in this way that an offence of this seriousness will not be tolerated.

It is not the subject of this blog, or at least not of this particular blog post, to discuss the length of the sentence, which is by and large within the range of the offence for which Mr Woollard was sentenced, or whether it was appropriate.

Another question which was raised, and which is more closely related to the subject of this post, is whether or not Mr Woollard should have been judged for attempted murder rather than violent disorder, as was called for before his arrest by a senior police officer.

From a legal perspective, the issue that I want to discuss in this post is in relation to what offence he was accused of and why…

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