PolLaw Express: 10th August 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:

(As previously mentioned, I was away on holiday in the utterly charming city of Prague; I had promised to return to the daily news round-up posts, and so here I am. Let’s get to it.)

  1. Judge upholds anonymity of 14 year old convicted of stabbing teacher (via The Guardian)
    ~ A judge refused to allow the media to name a 14-year-old boy who admitted stabbing his teacher, stating that the teenager’s welfare had to come before public interest in his crime.The Sun newspaper had made an informal application to the judge at Bradford crown court to lift an anonymity order protecting the boy, and other children from Dixon Kings academy who witnessed the attack on science teacher Vincent Uzomah which occurred in June.Under S 39 of the Children and Young Person’s Act, reporting restrictions had granted anonymity to the boy in question. The act contains a provision which permits a judge to dispense with anonymity in relation to a child or young person after conviction.

    In refusing the application, judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC, said the application posed a ‘very legitimate question’ which would ‘strike a chord with some’.  Whilst freedom of the press was a ‘major feature of our society which must be protected’, the judge ultimately rejected the application. He argued that the welfare of the boy ‘must come first and the public interest must give way’.  He went on to cite Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees respect for private life.

2. NHS vulnerable to health card fraud, government admits (via BBC News)
~ What an awkward story to emerge, considering the EU in/out referendum which will begin to gather momentum over the coming months.

The Department of Health has been forced to admit that the the NHS is potentially vulnerable to fraud due to loopholes in the issuing of European Health Insurance cards. This news comes following an investigation undertaken by the Daily Mail, discovered how people who had never worked in the UK were able to obtain a free EHIC card. Health services abroad were then able to claim back the costs of their treatment from the UK authorities.

A Hungarian reporter working undercover for the Daily Mail revealed how she was able to obtain an NHS number, and subsequently an EHIC card. Ani Horvath claims that she was then able to access a range of medical treatment in Hungary, with the Hungarian authorities able to recoup costs from Britain.

The government has stated it will be looking urgently at tightening the system.

The EHIC is designed to cover the cost of state-provided healthcare for British travellers in certain European countries. It covers emergency treatment and certain pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care – providing the reason for a patient’s visit is not specifically to give birth.

Around five million EHIC cards were issued by the NHS in the last 12 months. It is not clear how many of these were to non-UK nationals.

3. Labour contest should be paused – MP Barry Sheerman (via BBC News)
~ Oh dear, Labour. Even though I have been away on holiday, the party doesn’t stop for this political party.

Senior Labour MP Barry Sheerman has called for its leadership contest to be ‘paused’ over fears it has been infiltrated by supporters of other parties – suggesting subtle sabotage at the leadership election due to be held in September.

Sheerman said those registering to take part in the election for Ed Miliband’s replacement included members of the Socialist Workers Party, the Green Party, the Conservatives and UKIP.

This comes as Labour rejected claims of ‘hard left’ and Conservative supporters only signing up so that they may back left winger Jeremy Corbyn. The -growing – popularity of Mr Corbyn’s campaign has recently sparked warnings from the other candidates, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, over fears about the party moving to the left.

An exclusion list is being drawn up of those who have stood against Labour in the past or had helped others to oppose the party. In addition, under new rules introduced by previous leader Ed Miliband, people can sign up as registered supporters for £3 and take part in the vote. They are asked to confirm they ‘support the aims and values of the Labour Party’.

Mr Sheerman’s comments follow similar sentiments from two backbench MPs, Graham Stringer and John Mann, who have also recently called for the leadership contest to be halted.

Whisper it, but apparently The Times will splash tomorrow on another poll suggesting Corbyn will emerge victorious in September.

(You can read my past comments on the ongoing woes of the Labour Party here; stay tuned for a post this week on the latest The Thick of It-worthy chaos.)

4. Choose anyone but Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader, says Alastair Campbell (via The Guardian)
~ Keeping to the Labour theme, we have an Labour big gun coming forward once more (remember that time he vowed to ‘topple’ the next Labour leader if they were not performing satisfactorily?) in an attempt to cajole the masses.

The former Communications Director for Number 10 has stated his belief via his blog that Labour could be finished in modern politics if Jeremy Corbyn goes on to win the leadership. He has urged the party to choose ‘anyone but Corbyn’ – despite having previously said he would not intervene in the contest. This change of heart comes from his belief that the party would be heading for a “car crash, and more” under Corbyn’s leadership, should be emerge the victor in September.

To quote from the blog post:

And whilst I accept that I cannot survey the post electoral scene and say with any certainty  that a Labour Party led by Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall will win the next election, I think I can say with absolute certainty that a Corbyn-Tom Watson led Labour Party will not. For that reason alone, I agree with Alan Johnson that what he called the madness of flirting with the idea of Corbyn as leader has to stop. That means no first preferences, no second preferences, no any preferences. It frankly means ABC, Anyone But Corbyn.

Nor should anyone imagine that once he is there, it will be easy to replace him, no matter how low we fall in the polls. On the contrary, if he fails to win, many of those who helped him get close to it will feel they can just keep on playing the politics of opposition against whoever beats him, and use their new found influence in the party to take that person out.  If Corbyn wins, no matter how inclusive and emollient he might try to be, then stand by for his supporters and backers bringing back the politics Kinnock and others fought so hard to beat. I doubt that the deselection processes will spare those MPs who nominated him to get him on the ballot paper and now say they regret it. In short, stand by for chaos, in the PLP and in the party in the country. To those of his supporters who will say this is alarmism, I say just look back and see how this story has unfolded before.

(I suppose that the ‘ABC – Anyone But Corbyn’ mantra is coming to become the latest buzzword for many in the Labour Party – goodbye to ‘aspiration‘.)

This intervention from Campbell in the latest in a series of aired views from within the Labour elite.

Senior Labour figures dating from the Blair and Brown era have been evidently growing concerned about the prospect of a Corbyn victory. Politicians including Alan Johnson have voiced their concerns about the electability of a leader from the leftest of left of the party.

Such warnings do not appear to have dampened the momentum behind Corbyn’s campaign, however. Corbyn is now 1/5 with bookmaker William Hill to receive the most first-preference votes and he is 11/8 favourite to win overall, having now overtaken the previous frontrunner Burnham.

5. Saying no to EU laws: how Cameron’s plan would work (via BBC News)
~ David Cameron is seeking an easier means to reject new EU legislation, and this article offers a handy guide to how Member States v EU legislation proposals actually works.

National parliaments can currently voice opposition to new EU rules, but lack the power to strike them down on their own. Cameron however has said a key part of his EU renegotiation strategy – in the lead up to the UK referendum on its EU membership – will involve reforms to give national parliaments the necessary powers to actually ‘block’ unwanted EU laws.

The European Commission has said in the past that it recognises the need to give national parliaments a greater role in the legislative process – although proposals to change the bloc’s treaties have so far not been proposed.

6. Illegal immigration: Minister pledges crackdown on ‘rogue employers’ (via BBC News)
~ Immigration minister James Brokenshire has warned that businesses employing illegal workers will be hit with ‘the full force of government machinery’.

He has stated that ‘rogue employers’ who employ illegal migrants were denying UK citizens the opportunity of employment, driving down wages and thus gaining an ‘unfair advantage’.

According to The Times, immigration officers are now prepared to carry out raids on cleaning firms, building sites and care homes in a bid to crackdown on illegal immigrant employment.

Brokenshire went on to say:

‘Experience tells us that employers who are prepared to cheat employment rules are also likely to breach health and safety rules and pay insufficient tax.

‘That’s why our new approach will be to use the full force of government machinery to hit them from all angles and take away the unfair advantage enjoyed by those who employ illegal migrants.’

This follows on from comments made by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond that the EU will not be able to preserve its living standards if it is forced to absorb millions of migrants from Africa in the ongoing migrant crisis. Hammond has called for EU laws to be overhauled and reformed in an effort to ensure that people coming from Africa to Europe can be deported back to their home country.

Spotted whilst on holiday, via Legal Cheek: move over, Humans of New York. We have now been graced with the creation of ‘Humans of Law’, apparently. (I must confess that, sarcastic cynicism aside, I have enjoyed reading many an open and engaging statement; I was pleasantly surprised at how many lawyers spoke of the real need to tackle the problem of elitism in the legal profession.)

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


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