law pages of Bournemouth and Poole College.
The Appeal Court has ruled, in the case of Professor Sir Roy Meadow, that expert witnesses can be disciplined by their regulatory body. The three Appeal Court judges also cleared Sir Roy of serious professional misconduct.
The General Medical Council (GMC) had struck off Sir Roy, a paediatrician, after he had given evidence against Sally Clark during her trial for the murder of her sons. His evidence was that there was a “one in 73 million” chance of two children dying from cot deaths. This was found to be so flawed that the GMC found him guilty of serious professional misconduct and he was struck off the medical register.
The High Court ruled that expert witnesses could not be punished by their regulatory bodies for “honest mistakes”, but the Appeal Court has overturned this judgment.
Chief executive of the GMC, Finlay Scott, said: “We did not accept that the GMC should be prevented from using its statutory powers when we judge it to be necessary, and the Court of Appeal has confirmed that we were correct.”
[Sentencing – an offender with no previous convictions can be dangerous, likewise an offender with previous convictions might not be dangerous – statutory presumption to be read accordingly]
Five conjoined appeals concerning effect of Sec 229 Criminal Justice Act 2003, dangerousness.
Held: Strictly speaking, although punitive in its effect, a sentence of imprisonment for public protection did not represent punishment for past offending; it was concerned with future risk and public protection.
R v Lang  CA (on dangerousness) needed amplifying. It was not a prerequisite that the offender should have previous convictions to be dangerous. A man of good character might properly qualify for this sentence. The sentencer was entitled to conclude that the offender with previous convictions, even for specified offences, did not necessarily satisfy the requirements of dangerousness.
Just as the absence of previous convictions did not preclude a finding of dangerousness, the existence of previous convictions for specified offences did not compel such a finding. There was a presumption that it did so, which might be rebutted.
An upbeat statement from the DCA promises to deliver the Supreme Court at Middlesex Guildhall in time for the start of the legal year in October 2009.
The Supreme Court will replace the work of the House of Lords Appellate Committee. http://www.dca.gov.uk/pubs/statements/2006/st061017.htm
Brazilian cleaner Roselane Driza was sentenced to 33-months prison, and recommended for deportation, for blackmailing an immigration judge and stealing videos from judge Khan.
The two judges involved in the case are being investigated by the Department of Constitutional affairs for employing her while she should not have been in the country.
Driza’s defence team have revealed that they have new information about the judges that they will use when they seek leave to appeal.
The effectiveness of the House of Lords as a reviewing and amending chamber was vividly illustrated by the government U turn over the independent prisons inspectorate.
Plans to create a “super-inspectorate” by merging the five watchdogs involved in the criminal justice system, have been abandoned following a vote in the Lords vote to retain the independent chief inspector of prisons by a majority of 113 made up of a cross-party alliance, led by former chief prisons inspector Lord Ramsbotham.
The Home Secretary and other government ministers said they had listened to the Lords’ concerns. Juliet Lyon of the Prison Reform Trust said “Rather than ploughing on with something that was ill-conceived and fundamentally flawed, it is good to know that government is prepared to listen.”
Changes to the £2 billion-a-year legal aid scheme proposed in the Carter Review have run into mounting opposition from solicitors. The Lord Chancellor appears to be rethinking the introduction of fixed fees instead of hourly rates in family and civil legal aid cases.
In any event the proposed market-based reforms may not now come in before 2008.
News report here.
Her Majesty the Queen has approved the appointment of six Queen’s Counsel honoris causa. These are the first honorary QC appointments since the new interim scheme in England & Wales was established. A small selection panel made recommendations to the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Lord Falconer.
As in previous years, the honorary rank recognises lawyers who have made a major contribution to the law of England & Wales outside practice in the courts. The award is not a “working” rank and cannot be used by the holders in practice as an advocate.
The recipients are professors of law, parliamentary counsel and supporters of legal causes.
The award is not part of the QC selection scheme for working lawyers, nor is it connected to the practice of newly appointed Law Officers (Attorney General and his deputy the Solicitor General) are awarded the rank as a courtesy title on taking up their Ministerial post if they are not already QCs in their own right.
The number of inmates in UK prisons reached 79,754 on Wednesday. There are fewer than 250 spaces left. The record population has been caused by high conviction rates, longer sentences and more short jail terms.
The Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said earlier this year that one of the reasons for the number of prisoner was because more short sentences are being given for relatively minor offences compounded by judges no longer having discretion over some sentences.
There is also a large cohort of people waiting deportation, and foreign criminals serving their sentences who could be deported.