JusticeWatch: Right to rent ruling

‘Right to rent’ ruling
The government’s controversial ‘Right to Rent’ scheme was causing racial discrimination and violating human rights laws, the High Court has found – according to a report in the Independent this morning.

The law, which requires private landlords to check the immigration status of potential tenants, was found to violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

Judge Martin Spencer ‘found the policy had effectively outsourced immigration enforcement to landlords and caused them to discriminate against both black and ethnic minority British people, and foreign UK residents’

‘In my judgement, the evidence, when taken together, strongly showed not only that landlords are discriminating against potential tenants on grounds of nationality and ethnicity but also that they are doing so because of the scheme,’ Judge Spencer said. ‘It is my view that the scheme introduced by the government does not merely provide the occasion or opportunity for private landlords to discriminate but causes them to do so where otherwise they would not.’

Legal aid for inquests
Labour has pledged to provide automatic legal aid funding for the bereaved at inquests,reported the Guardian. ‘Announcing a fresh spending commitment to be delivered by a future Labour government, the shadow lord chancellor, Richard Burgon, said it was outrageous that families were reduced to “shaking a collection tin” through online crowdfunding.’

Thepromise was made at a meeting organised by INQUEST.

‘The government’s recent review for legal aid inquests has let bereaved families down. As justice secretary, I would not be able to look myself in the mirror, bereaved families in the eye or our justice system with pride if we do not provide proper legal support to those who have been the victims of deaths in custody with legal aid representation.’
Richard Burgon

Deborah Coles, INQUEST’s director, said the government’s decision to deny legal aid was a ‘betrayal’ of those who had invested so much time in the review. ‘We felt that the government’s response was patronising and dishonest,’ she said.

Extremely worrying case
Sir Henry Brooke,the former Court of Appeal judge and legal aid champion, was behind an attempt from beyond the grave’ to prove that a man was wrongly jailed for sexually, according to an article the I co-wrote with the new legal editor of the Times Jonathan Ames.

‘Shortly before he died in January last year SirHenryBrookesubmitted a 25-page application on behalf of the man, who is now 67,’ we reported. ‘The man, who cannot legally be identified, was sentenced in 2014 to 15 years in prison after being convicted on the basis of allegations of rape and sexual assault made by a 16-year-old girl with a history of mental instability.’

Sir Henry described the case as extremely worrying and added: ‘In an earlier age it is likely that after a more rigorous police inquiry this prosecution would never have been brought, because there was no independent corroboration of any kind.’

Harassment hotline
Barristers who are being harassed by judges or colleagues will be able to call a confidential hotline without the details being disclosed to regulators, reported The Times’ Brief. The initiative has been launched ‘amid a spate of revelations about sexist behaviour by barristers and bullying by judges’. ‘Two QCs, Anna Vigars and Philip Mott, along with Rachael Goodall and Charlotte Feest – who will deal with callers – have been granted a waiver by the Bar Standards Board from the standard requirement to report any serious misconduct by a barrister.’

Legal aid’s 70th birthday bash
The Legal Action Group has announced details of this year’s conference which features a keynote speech by Baroness Hale of Richmond, president of the Supreme Conference.

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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