Category: News

Crime team takes action against further cuts

1MCB’s crime team will not be accepting work under representation orders granted on or after 1st April 2018.

Like so many others across the profession (including our professional clients, the Criminal Bar Association, the Bar Council and colleagues at other chambers) we are appalled by the ever deeper cuts to legal aid and to the justice system. Over recent years our members’ working conditions have become intolerably poor and – more importantly – the criminal justice system as a whole is in serious decline. We cannot accept any further damage.

We will attend and support days of action. Our members are overwhelmingly supportive of a ‘no returns’ policy and encourage colleagues to voice their commitment to unified action if the Ministry of Justice continues with its plans to implement these cuts.

 

29th March 2018

 

Refugee Legal Support Athens wins Lexis Nexis Pro Bono Award

1MCB congratulations Refugee Legal Support Athens on winning the Lexis Nexis Pro Bono Award 2018.

RLS was set up in April 2017 to show solidarity with refugees and those working with them.  The organisation runs a pro bono legal clinic at the Khora Community Centre, a humanitarian cooperative in Athens.  1MCB barrister Ariane Adam sits on the organisation’s executive committee.

Murder acquittal for John Benson QC & Salma Lalani

Following his extradition from the USA in November 2016, and after a three-week trial at the Central Criminal Court, John Benson QC and Salma Lalani secured their client’s acquittal on a count of murder. The charge related to the violent death by stabbing of a young man in Edmonton on New Year’s Day in 2008. Two other men who had been extradited from Jamaica were convicted of murder in 2013. The prosecution relied heavily on CCTV footage of the attack on the victim which followed an altercation on a night bus. The alleged joint enterprise involved four men, one of whom has never been apprehended.

John Benson said that it was a difficult case requiring painstaking analysis of events recorded over several minutes on CCTV, culminating in the final fatal outcome, in order to distinguish the participation of the defendant from others who were involved and who had already been convicted.

Christina Warner recognised by Amnesty International UK

Christina Warner has been recognised as part of Amnesty International UK’s Suffragette Spirit campaign for her voluntary work with women and those of the LGBT community fleeing domestic abuse. On 8th March 2018, International Women’s Day 2018, Amnesty International UK launched its Suffragette Spirit Map of Britain and credited Christina for her work in raising awareness of the need for access to justice in the family courts.

Iain Edwards trains prosecutors and judges on sexual and gender-based violence

On 8 February, Iain Edwards  provided training to a group of senior prosecutors and judges from seven Francophone African countries at the TMC Asser Institute in The Hague, Netherlands. The training was held in conjunction with the Antonio Cassese Initiative as part of an advanced course on strengthening domestic capacity to prosecute international and transnational crimes in Africa.

Iain spoke about practical challenges and strategies for the investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence in international criminal law. The training focussed on the experiences of and lessons learned by the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, as well as the International Criminal Court.

Intentional homelessness: council’s ‘arbitrary and capricious’ affordability decision

Nick Bano represented the successful appellant in G v Lambeth, a challenge to a local authority’s decision that the applicant was ‘intentionally homeless’.

The applicant, a self-employed painter and decorator with three children, had been evicted from a privately rented home for rent arrears. There was a dispute as to whether the family home had been affordable. G told the local authority that his family had spent £150 per month on a car and £120 per month on public transport and that – when added to the other costs of living – he had been unable to pay the rent. In assessing the family’s finances local authority discounted the cost of the car and reduced the other travel costs to £100 “for argument sake”, noting that the children travelled for free and the applicant’s wife was not in employment. That meant (on the local authority’s calculation) that the family’s expenses were £15 per month less than their income, and the property had therefore been affordable.

G appealed to the County Court. Recorder Cohen allowed the appeal, criticising in particular the decision to reduce the Appellant’s wife’s travel costs which, he said, ‘had no rational basis’ because a parent who is not in paid employment may have higher travel costs than someone who spends the day at work. Reaching the figure of £100, the judge ruled, was arbitrary.

The appeal succeeded (‘rather unusually’, the judge noted) on all six grounds. The other challenges were:

  • Failure to take into account the code of guidance (specifically paragraph 11.17, relating to ‘temporary aberrations’);
  • Failure to make adequate inquiries into the extent of the Appellant’s substance abuse problem;
  • Failure to make adequate inquiries into the family’s travel costs before reaching a decision;
  • Failure to make adequate inquiries into the necessity of repaying debts (the council had discounted £150 claimed towards paying off loans and fines); and
  • Failure to follow the Regulation 8 ‘minded to’ procedure (the judge ruled that the initial decision contained errors that were deficiencies that par excellence required the Regulation 8 procedure to be followed).

Ariane Adam speaks on ‘Journey to Asylum’ panel at the House of Lords

Ariane Adam, together with Nicola Braganza of Garden Court Chambers, participated in a seminar on ‘Journey to Asylum’ hosted by Lord Roger Roberts on 16 January 2018, which highlighted the work of the Athens Refugee Legal Support Project. Ariane and Nicola were members of a panel including representatives from Children on the Move in Europe and the Refugee Council. The seminar participants discussed the challenges faced by refugees in Europe, particularly those faced by unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

Catherine Picardo secures acquittal in 7-day rape trial

Catherine Picardo has secured an acquittal for her client after a seven-day trial at Basildon Crown Court in January 2018.

Catherine was representing one of two young co-defendants who were alleged to have taken part in a group attack in a bedsit.  Although a number of men were arrested only two men (both in their 20s) were prosecuted – both were acquitted.

Christina Warner appointed as ICC counsel

Christina Warner has been admitted as associate counsel at the International Criminal Court as of December 2017. Christina is now permitted to appear before the ICC representing victims of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Christina undertook a six-month secondment at the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC in 2016 assisting with the situations in Mali and Uganda.

1MCB barristers ranked in Chambers & Partners 2018

1MCB is delighted to announce that the following members have been ranked in Chambers and Partners UK 2018:

Iain Edwards was ranked as a leading junior in International Crime: a “dedicated” and “very accomplished strategist” who attracts praise for his deep knowledge of international criminal law. He has spent a considerable amount of time representing individuals accused of genocide and crimes against humanity before the ICTR, and continues to be instructed by Rwandans facing similar charges. He has also appeared before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague.”

 Strengths: “Very level-headed and composed, he has a great deal of experience which he brings to bear when formulating his strategic decisions. “He works very hard and is a careful and precise advocate. He has a nice, charming style and is able to make his points succinctly.”

 

David Stephenson was ranked as a leading junior in employment: “An expert in all manner of discrimination claims with impressive knowledge of the wider aspects of employment law, including equal pay and maternity rights. He has a strong focus on claimant work.”

Strengths: “Absolutely brilliant. Client-friendly, passionate about his work and highly knowledgeable. He really does fight the client’s corner.” “A real advocate of equality and employment rights and a very personable barrister who is well liked by clients.”

 

Jodie Anderson & Nick Bano speaking at RebLaw 2017

Jodie Anderson and Nick Bano have been invited to speak at RebLaw 2017, a conference which aims to bring together lawyers, activists and students determined to use the law for the benefit of marginalised communities and individuals.

Jodie will be speaking about her work for the charity Refugees at Home, as part of a session about making refugees welcome in the UK.  Refugees at Home pairs those with spare rooms with asylum seekers and refugees in need of accommodation.

Nick will be speaking on the ‘Housing rights after Grenfell’ panel alongside Focus E15 Campaign and Black Activists Rising Against Cuts.

The conference will take place at the University of Law’s Moorgate campus on 11th November 2017.  Tickets, which cost £10, can be booked here and you can read about the conference in Legal Voice.

 

Tanya Murshed wins Bar Pro Bono Award 2017

1MCB Chambers congratulates Tanya Murshed, who was today named as the winner of the Bar Pro Bono Award 2017, in recognition of her outstanding commitment to pro bono work.

Tanya is the founder of Evolve, a barrister led not-for-profit organisation which aims to improve access to justice, build capacity within the legal profession and promote efficiency, integrity and fairness within the criminal justice system of Uganda through the provision of pro bono assistance.  Tanya’s work in Uganda began in 2013, when she became Director of the Centre for Capital Studies’ (CCPS) Mitigation Project.  Through this work, she became acutely aware of the various problems in the criminal justice system affecting access to justice, fair trial and just outcomes such as the infrequent nature of court sessions, mismanagement of court files, unclear judgments and the difficulty in accessing precedents.  Believing that a more comprehensive approach to the various problems was required to make a sustainable impact on the system, she founded Evolve.

A key focus of Evolve’s work has been the plight of the beneficiaries of the landmark Supreme Court case of Attorney General v Susan Kigula and 416 others, which held that the automatic death sentence was unconstitutional.  Since then, 266 people have been resentenced: of these, 243 have avoided sentences of death.  A prisoner who wrote a letter in support of Tanya’s nomination wrote, “It is my humble prayer on behalf of all the inmates Ms Tanya Murshed has helped that she be recognised for her selfless efforts in helping hundreds of us survive the gallows… We owe her our lives!”.

The Bar Council has written about Tanya’s award here.