Reading reports from the BBC, Sky News or the Guardian, one could be forgiven for thinking that the judges had ruled that the police should have allowed the vigil for Sarah Everard to go ahead. They did not.
The judges decided only that, in arriving at their decision, assorted officers at varying levels of seniority messed up in different ways over several days. The court very deliberately stopped short of saying whether a correct analysis would have resulted in a different decision. That would, I think, have required the court to hear expert evidence from doctors, epidemiologists and mathematical modellers before applying its own jurisprudential expertise.
Far better, the court decided, that such matters be left to Scotland Yard on a Thursday afternoon before the Saturday evening vigil.
The Daily Mail is at it again. In 2016, they famously labelled three Court of Appeal judges as “Enemies of the People” for ruling that an important decision had to be referred to Parliament. Today, they accuse three (different) Appeal judges of unleashing “a dark day for truth and free expression” by undermining “the right to rigorously test in court the evidence in any given case” – a right which “has, over the centuries, become one of the cornerstones of a civilised society.”
I don’t want to start a panic, but I do wonder whether Covid is making people less able to think properly. I’m not talking about those poor individuals who have actually had the disease. I’m talking about (almost) everyone.
This weekend, the professional football community in the UK will boycott social media. The “gesture”, initiated by the anti-racism charity, Kick It Out, and others, is a call to “those with power [within social media] … to do more and to act faster … to make their platforms a hostile environment for trolls”. At the time of writing, British rugby and British cricket has announced that they will join the boycott.
I wish them all luck. Something is needed to deliver major change.
A good place to start might be improved clarity around the nature of social media and the responsibility its providers take for the words and images that appear on their forums. At the moment, much of the thinking is confused and confusing. Read more
On a day when I am learning it may be OK to eat red meat after all, I’m also having to re-think my attitude to the BBC. Read more
From working as an independent expert witness, I know only too well that it is not unusual to find one’s client acting as though nothing the opposing party says can ever be believed. As a mediator, I have seen this attitude taken by both sides simultaneously. Sometimes in a dispute, both sides are inveterate liars. But quite often I would see two parties who were both incapable of seeing that their opponent’s point of view was not built (entirely) on falsehood. It seems that is where we are now with Brexit. Read more
A couple of matters caught my attention this morning, from the world of journalism and coffee shops. Read more
Much has been written about the Government’s appeal to the Supreme Court in the Brexit case. Political commentators tell us that the appeal is very likely to fail. Many lawyers think otherwise. Read more
The Conservative Party has published plans to change Britain’s human rights law. They have been criticised by many lawyers. But, whilst the politicians may have got the law wrong, many lawyers seem to have got the politics wrong. It is an unattractive position for an intelligent society to find itself in and leads to meaningless arguments between those who should know better. Read more
In an episode of The West Wing from 2002, the (fictional) US President. Jed Bartlet, prepares for a presidential debate by considering how he should answer a question designed to challenge his opposition to capital punishment: “If your youngest daughter, Zoe, was raped and murdered, would you not want to see the man responsible put to death?” Read more