PolLaw Express: 28th July edition

Your daily dose of politics and the law. NI intrigued? Covered. UK focused? Sure. US-centric? You got it.

PolLaw Express blog photo

Welcome to the daily news round-up via my e-newspaper. Here are the top stories from today:

(A brief apology for not posting a news round-up for both the 24th and for the 27th; I was spending time with friends and family.)


1. Trump thinks immigrants are rapists. What about married American men? (via The Guardian)
~ Special counsel for the Trump Organisation, Michael Cohen, has made remarks which even has his boss Trump, a 2016 hopeful, recoiling.

Michael Cohen made the comments as he responded to a reporter’s questions regarding a decades-old rape accusation against the aspiring GOP Presidential hopeful Trump – he seemingly made the claim that marital rape is legal.

After a reporter from the Daily Beast asked Cohen about Ivana Trump’s claim in a divorce deposition that Trump raped her in 1989, Cohen stated the following:

You’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody. And, of course, understand by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse. It’s true, you cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.

Well, no, actually. As The Guardian article explains, the law is clear – just not in the way that Cohen thinks. Marital rape has been illegal in every state since 1993, and was made illegal in New York – where Trump and this then-wife lived during the alleged incident – in 1984.

Following on from his controversial comments in relation to immigration, specifically Mexicans as being rapists, this is not going to aid Trump in his PR campaign. It will also further infuriate and exasperate in equal measure the Republican Party, who are concerned Trump may cost them votes from the core Latino electorate.

For those interested, martial rape was rendered illegal in the UK in 1991 when the House of Lords (as the highest appellate court was then called) overturned the matrimonial exception to rape in R v R [1991] 3 WLR 767.


2. Cameron clean-up plan won’t stop dirty money, says critics (via BBC News)
~ Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to crack down on the use of ‘dirty money’ to buy UK property have been criticised by tax and property experts.

The Land Registry in England and Wales will from later this year have to publish the names of all property owners, according to the Prime Minister’s announcements.

Cameron insisted the measures could make a real difference, saying that:

‘We need to stop corrupt officials or organised criminals using anonymous shell companies to invest their ill-gotten gains in London property.’

According to Transparency International, £122bn of property in England and Wales is owned by offshore companies.

Until now, there has only been an obligation to publish details of the legal owners of a property – who can be trustees.

But experts say the change will do little to help catch criminals. One expert, offshore tax expert Mark Davies claims that ‘there is a ridiculous presumption that criminals follow the rules.’


3. Campaign calls for children’s ‘right to be forgotten’ (via BBC News)
~ A campaign to promote the idea that children should be able to delete their online past has been launched.

iRights‘ includes proposals such as the right for young people to be able to easily edit or delete content they have created and published online. The iRights framework is intended to inspire businesses to work with the government on better protecting and empowering young people in terms of their online activity.

Baroness Shields, the UK’s Minister for Internet Safety and Security, is backing the move.

A report by the Children’s Commissioner for England examining the rights will be published by the end of the year.

As well as supporting children’s “right to be forgotten”, iRights says young people have a right to digital literacy and should be well-informed about how their data might be used.


4. Stormont crisis: Theresa Villiers and Martin McGuinness in US talks (via BBC News)
~ Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State and Deputy First Minister are undertaking separate visits to the US in order to brief the US government about the Stormont crisis.

Speaking in advance of their trips, they proposed very different solutions.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he would be asking US officials to help convince the UK government to take a new approach to welfare funding.

Yet Secretary of State Theresa Villiers will say those blocking welfare reform are putting more strain on the budget.

Mr McGuinness travelled to Washington on Monday while Ms Villiers will begin a three-day visit to the US on Tuesday.

These visits are following on from the ongoing issue over welfare reform and the Northern Ireland Assembly’s failure to implement reforms demanded by the UK Treasury.

The Stormont House Agreement had originally been signed by Northern Ireland’s five main political parties in December 2014, and was a wide-ranging deal that addressed some of Stormont’s current financial difficulties, after a reduction in its block grant from Westminster. The current problems faced by Stormont are a result of McGuinness’ Sinn Féin party withdrawing its support for the bill this March because of a row over the implementation of welfare reforms.


5. EU ‘good’ at problem solving says UK commissioner (via BBC News)
~The European Union is ‘very effective’ at solving problems, Britain’s top official in Brussels has said, amid reports that it is becoming more receptive to UK demands over its membership.

Lord Hill has said the EU values the UK’s contribution and wanted it to stay in, but admitted that the government had still to table its specific demands.

Ministers have also refused to be drawn on when a referendum will be held.

This comes following Chancellor George Osborne’s meetings with French counterparts this Monday, which marked a new phase in the process of renegotiating the UK’s membership. These renegotiations, as commenced by David Cameron this May following his General Election win, are the precursor to a referendum which will take place by the end of 2017.

The chancellor mainly spoke of a ‘win-win’ agreement to ensure the UK and other non-Eurozone countries were treated fairly in the event of deeper economic and political integration in the single currency area.

Lord Hill commented that:

‘The point about the way the EU works is that if the politics dictates one to go in a certain way, in this case trying to make sure Britain remains part of the EU, then it is a system that is very effective at coming up with practical solutions to problems and trying to make things work.

‘I think that is what will happen in the case of Britain’s membership of the EU.’


To read these headlines and more besides, why not visit PolLaw Express?

I will be away on holiday (ahoj, Prague!) from this Friday 31st July to Saturday 8th August. PolLaw Express daily news round-ups will therefore not be posted during these dates, and will resume on Monday 10th August.

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