Category: News

Ariane Adam leading Reprieve’s death penalty work in Malawi

Ariane Adam has returned to chambers having worked at the legal action charity Reprieve between September 2016 and June 2017. Ariane led Reprieve’s work in Malawi assisting prisoners benefiting from the decision in Kafantayeni & Others v The Attorney General of Malawi (Constitutional Case No. 12 of 2005), by which the mandatory death sentence was ruled unconstitutional. She worked with the Malawi Human Rights Commission, the Legal Aid Bureau and other local partners to secure new sentences for 51 prisoners; 24 of these individuals received custodial sentences that led to their immediate release.

Ariane further identified and advised Reprieve on opportunities to support regional efforts to abolish the death penalty in Malawi and Uganda. She represented the organisation in high level advocacy meetings with governments, intergovernmental bodies and other actors. She also facilitated the provision of training to regional actors and NGOs on minimum standards on the application of the death penalty, mental health as mitigation, and engagement with human rights instruments.

Ariane will continue to assist Reprieve in developing training materials for advocates and human rights defenders in South and East African countries, whilst continuing to accept instructions in the areas of immigration and asylum, housing, community care, employment and discrimination, and international human rights.

Justice for Grenfell

Members of the 1MCB housing team have been helping with the response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.  Nick Bano has written about Grenfell for The Justice Gap.

There is still a need for volunteers – please register here if you are a lawyer with expertise in housing, employment, immigration, welfare benefits, criminal law, personal injury, inquests, fire regulations, building controls, health & safety, or public law.

Michael Chambers defends victim of Grindr vigilantes

Michael Chambers represented a defendant who had been targeted by the vigilante group ‘Dark Justice’.  The defendant – a gay man – had been drawn into conversations with members of the group on the dating app Grindr.  The group engaged him in explicit conversations, posing as a 14-year-old, and arranged to meet him.  The group then used threatening and intimidating language and filmed his confession.  The police were called and arrested the defendant.

Following a one-week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court the Defendant, a 32-year-old man with no previous convictions, wept in the dock when he heard the unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdict.

Patricia Rona Gabrielle Sheldrick Farnon (28 February 1964 – 23 May 2017)

Chambers is very sad to announce the recent death of Patricia Farnon. Pat joined 1MCB Chambers in 2013 and prior to that had been a member of Tooks Chambers, and before that a tenant at 1 Pump Court.

After being called to the Bar in 1986, Pat practised mainly in crime for the first seven years of her career.  Thereafter, she specialised in family law, predominantly care proceedings, representing parents, grandparents, guardians, older children, interveners and local authorities.  Throughout her career Pat dealt with many long-running and complex cases, often involving thorny family backgrounds, serious allegations or international aspects.  Pat was deeply committed to the publicly funded Bar, and to providing a first-class service to every client, whether lay or professional, regardless of their background or means.  She was especially well-known at the family Bar for her empathy and compassion, and was frequently asked to represent clients with mental health issues, personality disorders or learning disabilities who required particularly sensitive representation.

Away from work, Pat was also great company, and much loved by us for her frankness, keen wit, sense of humour and generosity.

We have lost a great friend and colleague and offer our many condolences to her family at this difficult time.

Retrial of Jovica Stanisic & Franko Simatovic – Iain Edwards instructed

On Tuesday, 13 June 2017 the retrial in the case of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović will open before the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands. Iain Edwards is instructed as counsel defending Mr Stanišić, who was the head of the Serbian state security service within the Ministry of Internal Affairs between 1991 and 1998 and is charged with persecution, murder, deportation and forcible transfer as crimes against humanity, and murder as a war crime. Mr Stanišić is being retried after he was acquitted on all counts before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The case is temporally and geographically broad in scope, alleging crimes committed against Croat, Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat and other non-Serb civilian populations within large areas of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Balkan wars between 1991 and 1995.

David Parvin successfully defends in historic child sex abuse case

R v K, Blackfriars Crown Court, May 2017

David Parvin successfully defended a client charged with serious allegations of historic child sex abuse dating back to the 1980s. The Crown’s case, which was prosecuted by queen’s counsel, relied on evidence of the initial complaint made during the complainant’s ABE interview. However, through careful cross-examination of the complainant and other prosecution witnesses, David was able to highlight significant inconsistencies that ultimately undermined the reliability of the evidence. The jury returned unanimous not guilty verdicts.

Gwawr Thomas engaged in strategic litigation in Uganda

Gwawr Thomas returns to chambers following her secondment to Onyango & Co. Advocates in Kampala, Uganda.   Gwawr was attached to the firm’s public interest litigation department, which enjoys a formidable caseload of human rights and constitutional law matters and a particular reputation for its high profile work with Uganda’s LGBTI community.

Gwawr worked on a number of important constitutional petitions and public interest cases, including

  • a claim seeking redress for the human rights violations suffered by the indigenous Batwa people, who were forcibly displaced from their ancestral forest lands in order to create the Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga national parks and the Echuya forest reserve;
  • a petition challenging the constitutionality of the Anti Pornography Act 2014, the enactment of which led to widespread public undressing of women deemed to be inappropriately dressed;
  • a claim arising from Uganda’s failure to execute the international arrest warrant outstanding against Omar Al-Bashir, when he was on Ugandan soil to attend the 2016 presidential inauguration;
  • a class action brought on behalf of 98 women who were abducted from IDP camps and forced to become ‘wives’ to LRA commanders during the conflict in northern Uganda;
  • a petition challenging the compatibility of provisions of the Public Order Management Act 2013 – giving the police wide powers to disperse public meetings – with the right to freedom of speech;
  • a challenge to provisions within the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act 2014 which permit disclosure of HIV test results to third parties.

Together with colleagues at the firm, Gwawr was also tasked with conducting an independent investigation into the break in at Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF)’s premises, during which a security guard was killed. HRAPF had challenged the legality of Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Act 2014 before the East African Court of Justice.

Iain Edwards to speak at conference on Syrian justice

Iain Edwards will speak at a Hague Project Peace and Justice conference on 22nd May.  Iain will draw on his experiences as defence counsel in international criminal tribunals to address the conference on a new Syrian justice project called the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism, and about proposals for a reformed model of international criminal procedure that better combines common law and Romano-Germanic systems of criminal justice.

Ariane Adam volunteering for Athens Legal Support Project

Ariane Adam is in Athens this week (22-26 May) volunteering for the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association Legal Support Project for refugees. The project is a four-month pilot from April to July 2017 to provide legal advice and support to refugees and Greek lawyers. In the current crisis Greek lawyers are incredibly overstretched and the majority of refugees do not receive advice or representation before receiving the initial decision on their claim. If their claim is refused there is an exceedingly long delay in processing appeals. Ariane will be assisting in preparing the first stages of the asylum claim, training and building capacity for Greek lawyers, and developing remote support services.

1MCB barristers raise over £1,200 for Evolve

A team of 1MCB barristers (James Murray-Smith, Michael Chambers, Anna Watterson, David Parvin, Bernadette Smith, Nick Bano and Michael Sprack) and family members took part in a 60-mile sponsored bike ride in Hertfordshire on 7th May 2017.

The team was raising money for Evolve Foundation for International Legal Assistance. Evolve is a barrister-led international organisation that improves access to justice, builds capacity within the legal profession through education and training, and promotes fairness, efficiency and integrity within the criminal justice system of Uganda. So far it has assisted almost 500 individuals facing or convicted of a capital offence in sentencing hearings or appeals against conviction as well as pioneering  the first pilot scheme of pre-sentence and social inquiry reports in Uganda.

Donations are still very welcome – please visit our JustGiving page.

Catherine Picardo to train members of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists

Catherine Picardo has been invited to train members of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists. The course aims to develop therapists’ understanding of the legal issues that face clients so that they can be supported during the legal process, and to consider how lawyers and the therapeutic and counselling communities can best work together at times of great anxiety for clients.

The training will be delivered in London and Cambridge.

Specially convened Court of Appeal considers criminal liability for offences committed by victims of trafficking

A specially convened Court of Appeal recently gave judgment in R v Joseph & Others [2017] EWCA Crim 36, which concerns the criminal liability of victims of trafficking who commit offences in the course of their exploitation. The Court was called upon to determined the interplay between the pre-existing law and the Modern Slavery Act 2015, the effect of the UK’s international obligations on the common law defence of duress and the relationship between the Crown Prosecution Service and the Competent Authority.

Although the Modern Slavery Act 2015 now clearly sets out the circumstances in which a criminal defence may arise, the appellants in this case did not fall within the scope of the Act because they had variously not raised the issue prior to their conviction or had been prosecuted prior to the enactment of the 2015 Act. However, they argued that in light of that Act, they should be placed in the same position as those who could avail themselves of the defence contained therein. The Appellants therefore proposed that the common law defence of duress be expanded so as to make it sufficiently broad to encompass the means of trafficking set out in the Palermo Protocol and the UN Convention.

The Court rejected this approach, holding that there was no evidence of injustice sufficient to justify amending the parameters of the defence of duress in human trafficking cases.

The Court went on to confirm that when deciding whether a prosecution should proceed notwithstanding the direct causality of human trafficking/exploitation, the gravity of the offence committed was relevant but fact-sensitive in each case. Furthermore, it was reaffirmed that in the case of trafficked children who could demonstrate a direct link with their exploitation and offence, it was not necessary to demonstrate compulsion as it would be in the case of an adult.

Finally, the Court noted the lack of guidance on co-operation between the Competent Authorities and the CPS on dealing with claims after conviction and observed that the development of such guidance was desirable as the Court will always bear the findings of the Competent Authorities very much in mind.

Jessica Russell-Mitra acted for the second appellant.