Your daily dose of politics and the law. NI intrigued? Covered. UK focused? Sure. US-centric? You got it.
1. Irish publisher to challenge jury’s libel award at European Court (via The Guardian)
~ Ireland’s Independent Newspapers’ group is seeking to challenge the defamation laws in the South at the European Court of Human Rights. The group argues that €1.25 million defamation award found against it was disproportionate, and consequently has a ‘serious chilling effect’ on freedom of expression
In papers filed at the Strasbourg court, Independent Newspapers argues that the size of the awarded damages actually contravenes Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The group also submits that Irish defamation law fails to provide ‘adequate and effective safeguards against disproportionate awards in defamation actions.’
The Leech case pre-dated Ireland’s 2009 Defamation Act, which allowed judges to give more directions to juries on the assessment of damages.
(For fun: proving that Irish cases are tongue twisters and rather unique: arguing a breach of copyright, The Irish Times has commenced High Court proceedings against Times Newspapers Ltd of London, over the proposed use by the UK company of the title The Times Ireland, for a planned new digital daily news publication. Basically, it’s The Irish Times v The Times, ft The Times Ireland. Got that? Yes, I didn’t quite think so.)
2. EU purdah changes unacceptable say MPs (via BBC News)
~ With all the excitement over Labour’s leadership election contest, you may have forgotten that the government will have a far bigger showdown in the future, over the EU referendum. Today, MPs argued that any relaxation of so-called ‘purdah rules’ in the lead-up to the referendum on EU membership would be ‘completely unacceptable’.The Public Administration Committee stated it was unconvinced by ministers’ arguments that any such relaxation on purdah rules was necessary to enable them to continue the work of government.
More than 20 Conservative MPs rebelled over the issue in a vote last month.
David Cameron has said a referendum will be held before the end of 2017 on the UK’s future place in Europe, following renegotiation of the existing terms of UK membership. As part of a bill paving the way for the referendum, ministers are seeking to ‘disapply’ aspects of a law which, since 2000, has stipulated what announcements the government can make in the 28 days leading up to a referendum. The gist of the argument is that leaving the restrictions in place would prevent ministers from commenting on the outcomes of European Council meetings or legal judgements by European institutions – harming government conduct.
Yet, Conservative eurosceptics retort that this could allow the machinery of government to be utilised to press the case for the UK to remain within the European Union, thereby compromising the referendum.
3. Jeremy Corbyn: it’s going extremely well (via BBC News)
~ What a day it has been for maverick MP and aspiring Labour leader Corbyn, at the expense of his party.
Jeremy Corbyn said today that his leadership campaign is going ‘extremely well’, but that talk of him winning the contest is ‘a bit premature’. Corbyn was speaking to journalists in a speech in London, following the splash made by The Times this morning. The splash noted that the left-winger topped a YouGov poll, which had surveyed 1,000 members of the public eligible to vote in the leadership election occurring in September.
He also dismissed claims that he would split the party if chosen as leader, after former Prime Minister Tony Blair commented that if elected, he would take the country backwards. Corbyn coolly retorted that he did ‘not know what he [meant] by taking the country backwards.’
‘Surely we should be talking about the situation facing Britain today, the situation facing many of the poorest people in this country today, and maybe think if our policies are relevant…
“A lot of people are supporting us, particularly young people supporting us who want a very different Labour Party to the one they’ve had in the past.’
Thus Labour’s woes look set to continue. It’s a long time until September; surely things can only get better (circa 1997)? Don’t count on it.
You can read my thoughts on the YouGov poll here.
4. SNP stages takeover of Labour House of Commons benches (via BBC News)
~ Not content with stealing 48 seats from Labour at the General Election, today the SNP stole Labour’s benches in the Commons. Labour’s latest Scottish battle is apparently a move from the SNP to be the ‘real opposition’ to the Conservative government.
The SNP said those voters who did not back the Tories at the General Election deserved better than Labour’s refusal to oppose the Budget. This follows on from a war of words in which the SNP stated that Labour would pay heavily for not opposing planned welfare cuts in greater numbers.
The takeover came during a debate on Tuesday evening on the Finance Bill, when the SNP occupied the frontbench normally reserved for the official opposition. Its party members also spilled onto the second and third rows.
Raising a point of order in the House of Commons chamber, SNP MP and Leader in the Commons, Angus MacNeil joked that, if the furniture could not be rearranged, the parties could maybe change the seating so the ‘actual opposition sits in the right place’.
On a related note – not content with lambasting Corbyn and his supporters, Tony Blair also found time to dismiss the SNP today. He compared the nationalism of the SNP to the ‘politics of the first caveman’ – somehow I think the SNP will not be unduly upset by such comments after their bold action in Parliament today. Perhaps Mr Blair should be mindful of recent polling suggesting that the SNP will make further gains at (Scottish) Labour’s expense at the 2016 Holyrood elections?
5. Donald Trump heading to the border (via POLITICO)
~ Oh, Lord save us all. Trump is planning a trip to the Mexico-USA border. Yes, you read that correctly. The man who had dominated US headlines following his anti-immigration remarks, aimed particularity at Mexico, will tour the Texas-Mexico border on Thursday in a move to bolster his tough immigration credentials.
Remember that as he is actually leading the Republican field in several national polls, meaning the GOP may have to endure him stealing the show during the live televised debates.
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