Judge Resigns over Outrageous Racist Comments

‘ With a name like Patel, she won’t be working anywhere important’
Such outrageous racial slur about an Indian-origin female victim have forced the deputy district judge, Richard Hollingworth to resign.

Richard Hollingworth was hearing a case of harassment at Preston magistrates court when he asked lawyers to fetch the harassment victim so he could finish sentencing that afternoon.

The prosecutor Rachel Parker said that it was a very short notice and she was unsure if the victim, Deepa Patel could attend the court due to work commitments. The judge asked where she worked and Parker said she did not know. The district judge then allegedly replied:
‘It won’t be a problem. She won’t be working anywhere important where she can’t get the time off. She’ll only be working in a shop or an off-licence.’

Miss Parker was baffled at such an outrageous remark and asked the judge to clarify his comment. Hollingworth added,
‘With a name like Patel, and her ethnic background, she won’t be working anywhere important where she can’t get the time off. So that’s what we’ll do.’

The victim Deepa Patel was shocked at disgusting remarks being passed on, especially by a deputy district judge.

Following the judge’s remarks, Ms Parker withdrew as a prosecutor saying she is professionally embarrassed and cannot prosecute this case any further.

An official complaint was lodged against Hollingworth by the Crown Prosecution Service and the judge resigned subsequently.

Though Hollingworth has resigned as deputy district judge, he remains an immigration judge for the Asylum and Immigration Chamber – but is not hearing any cases while he is investigated over his alleged comments.

Immigration and Asylum: Net migration to UK increases by 43%

Latest figures reveal that the net migration to UK has increased by 43% over the past year surging it to 260,000 – an increase of 78,000 on the previous year.

The figure is calculated by taking away the number of people leaving the country from the number coming in. The report comes as a blow to Prime Minister David Cameroon and the anti-immigration U.K. Independence party, who want to curb the number of people coming to Britain.

The ruling Conservative Party set a target of reducing net annual immigration to 100,000 by the end end of their five-year term in 2015 which seems unlikely to be met. However, Home Secretary Theresa May defended the government saying that people are coming from across Europe mainly because UK’s economy is doing better than that of many European countries.

The statistics reveal that majority of people entering Britain are highly skilled and helping the economy of the country. The recent study showed that 60% of migrants from southern and western Europe arrived here with a university degree.

In the current political situation, Immigration, economy and NHS are ranked as the most important issues for the upcoming general election in 2015.

Crackdown on Computer Hackers: Four Arrested in UK

Fifteen suspects have been arrested in an international operation launched against computer hackers throughout the region. Four people were arrested in Britain whereas 11 others in Estonia, France, Romania, Latvia, Italy and Norway.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) led the raids in different parts of the UK to arrest the cyber criminals involved in computer hijacking and data stealing by use of malware tools.

According to the police sources, the hackers gain control of computers, meaning they can access banking details and breach users’ privacy.

Computer hackers are thought to be involved in several financial offences which include bank frauds, embezzlement, identity theft, forgery and credit card frauds.

This international crackdown was co-ordinated through Europol, and the law enforcement agencies of the UK responded effectively.

Earlier this year, almost 100 people were arrested as a result of co-ordinated crackdown against trojan producing Blackshades malware.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has warned that hundreds of private webcams can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.

The National Crime Agency advise PC users to avoid clicking on unknown links, or files sent from unidentified or suspicious sources, and to keep security software up to date in order to avoid any attempt of hacking.

Legal Highs Can Kill: Government Vows to Ban Sale of Psychoactive Substances

In the last four years, death from legal highs have more than doubled – from 26 in 2009 to over 60 in 2013. Several warnings have been issued about the danger of taking psychoactive substances also known as legal highs but to no avail.

Government is now looking to introduce a ban on the marketing, sale and distribution of all the potentially lethal substances. The republic of Ireland banned all psychoactive substances four years ago and serve as a good model to be followed.

So far, 400 councils under banner of the Local Government Association (LGA) have urged the government to overhaul the law.

Reports suggest that the effect of some of these legal highs are more dangerous than the drugs already banned. Drugs minister Norman Baker remarked that it was time to tackle this threat and protect the young generation.

Psychoactive substances or the so called legal highs fall into three main categories: stimulants, sedatives and hallucinogens. Once this proposed law comes into effect, all psychoactive drugs will be banned with the exception of alcohol and caffeine.

Divorce Case: Legal Costs of £1 Million over Total Assets of £2.9 Million

The High Court judge was left baffled when it was revealed that the couple spent nearly a third of everything they had built up over 18 years funding litigation and legal costs.

A businessman and his wife, whose identity are kept anonymous ran up legal bills of more than £900,000 while fighting over assets worth less than £2.9 million.

Forensic accountants were paid more than £150,000 to value and determine the man’s business interests.

The couple had married in the 1990s living together for almost 20 years and separated in 2011 with assets amounting to nearly £2.9 million.

The judge remarked that the dispute was easily settleable and termed the exaggerated amount of legal costs as “madness”.

He has also raised concerns about the “appalling state of affairs” in a written ruling on the case following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in Manchester.

The judge added: “The result has been to make a case that was surely so easily settleable almost impossible to compromise.”

The seven day trial ended up in a settlement according to which the wife will receive £1,123,500 (38.9 per cent of the assets); the lawyers and experts will receive £920,000 (31.9 per cent); and the husband £841,500 (29.2 per cent).

The judge was lost for words and remarked that such madness should not be allowed to happen again.

Drinking During Pregnancy Could Become a Criminal Offence

In a landmark case, the Court of Appeal is expected to pave the way for criminalisation of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The case will decide if a child born with serious disabilities caused by her mother’s drinking during pregnancy, should receive compensation.

Lawyers pursuing compensation claim on behalf of child, now seven, argued that she was entitled to payments from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. The little girl was born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which can cause retarded growth, facial abnormalities and intellectual impairment.

According to the statistics, the FAS has been diagnosed 252 times in England in 2012 to 2013 and the number of cases have tripled over a period of 16 years. The Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is responsible for a number of behavioural impairments, which are hard to diagnose.

Earlier on, during the hearing of a similar case, the Upper Tribunal of the Administrative Appeals gave a ruling that child was born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder as a “direct result” of her mother’s drinking.

The Department of Health advises that alcohol is to be avoided in pregnancy, while the independent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advises women to avoid alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy because of the risk of a miscarriage.

Employment Appeal Tribunal: Overtime Should be Included in Holiday Pay

In a landmark case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that overtime should be included in holiday pay.

This means that people working voluntary overtime could now have their holiday pay recalculated to take into account overtime. Currently, only basic pay counts when calculating holiday pay.

The details of the ruling are yet to be released which would determine whether or not the claims can be backdated.

Critics are of the view that the judgment could open the floodgates for claims against employers and small firms could be wiped out completely if it is backdated.

The coalition and business groups had argued strongly that overtime should not be included in holiday pay calculations.

According to the government’s statistics, it has been estimated that at least five million workers could benefit from this ruling. It could impact about 400,000 firms in the UK. However, the ruling is likely to be appealed against which means that a final decision may be years away.

The government officials responded to the changes saying they will review the ruling in detail and are concerned about the potential impact on employers.

Tough Laws Do Not Stop Illegal Drug Use

Decades long political debate around the introduction of harsher penalties to tackle the illegal use of drugs faced a blow after Home Office released the findings of the UK’s first ever evidence based study.

The report suggests that there is no apparent link between punitive drug law enforcement and the prevalence of drug use in the UK. In other words, the harsher anti drug laws do not work at all when it comes to curbing the level of drug addiction.

Surprisingly, the findings show that treating possession of drugs as a health – rather than criminal – matter reduces drug deaths and HIV infection rates without increasing addiction levels.

It has stirred a serious debate about the effectiveness of drug laws in the UK and proposals are being drafted for a complete overhaul of the country’s 43-year-old drug laws.

Amidst the on-going political crisis, Liberal Democrat Minister Norman Baker has bashed the Conservatives, accusing them of suppressing the reports for months.

In lieu of this report, Open Counsel is of the view that a new approach must be adopted to curb the ills of drugs, without labelling and stigmatising the addict. We believe that drug addict are often themselves victims and laws must be revised to rehabilitate rather than further alienate addicts. The first step would be commencing an open debate about this issue on all forums beginning with the House of Commons.

Moreover, the domain of law and punishment should be kept as limited as possible. Illegal drug usage is one such issue where awareness, education and involvement of the society can play an effective role compared to introducing strict punishments.

Restrictions on Judicial Reviews: House of Lords slams down the proposal

House of Lords have voted down government’s plans to limit the ability of individuals and organisations to challenge public decisions in the courts.

Government’s reforms were comprehensively defeated by the Lords. An amendment rejecting the changes to judicial review was supported by 247 votes to 181 – a majority of 66.

Earlier on, lawyers and civil society voiced their concerns against Justice Secretary’s plan to restrict the rights of Judicial reviews, urging the peers to reject government’s proposals.

The Law society, the Bar Council and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) in England and Wales also opposed the changes.

The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, tried to justify the restrictions saying that the process of judicial reviews have been exploited to frustrate government initiatives times and again using delaying tactics.

Responding to the government’s defeat, Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary said: “If these plans had gone through it would have been a recipe for bad decision making allowing governments and ministers to get away with pushing through actions that were potentially unlawful.”

Lord Woolf, a former lord chief justice, said that government cannot dictate judges what they have to do.

Unequal Pay for Women: ASDA Faces Mass Legal Action

Supermarket giant and U.K’s second largest retailer, ASDA could face legal action from thousands of mainly female employees who claim they have been underpaid despite doing comparable work.

The movement for legal action started earlier this year when more than 400 female employees at Asda launched a campaign against the supermarket around equal pay.

Since then, more than 19,000 employees have contacted law firms and enquired about equal pay. Consequently, 1500 employment tribunal claims have been lodged on behalf of individuals – around 80% of whom are current staff and the rest former workers.

Asda has 175,000 staff working across the stores in the country and if it loses the legal row, claimants may be entitled to six years’ worth of back pay to compensate for the difference in earnings.

The cases are aimed at determining if the mainly female-staffed retail jobs are of equal value to higher-paid jobs in Asda’s male-dominated distribution centres.

Asda denied it engages in discriminatory practices and insisted it treats all employees equally.
Talking to the news sources, an ASDA spokesman said, “We do not discriminate and are very proud of our record in this area which, if it comes to it, we will robustly defend.”

It is important to mention that the vast majority of claimants are still employed by Asda, they quite like the job but want to be paid equally going forward.