Archive for November 9th, 2009

Government to consult on £500,000 penalties for serious breaches of data protection principles

Ministry of Justice: The government has today launched a consultation seeking views on implementing a maximum penalty of half a million pounds for serious breaches of the data protection principles.

The consultation, ‘Civil Monetary Penalties: Setting the maximum penalty’, asks whether new fines of up to £500,000 will provide the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) with a proportionate sanction to impose on those seriously contravening the data protection principles.


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Wife says noisy sex conviction breaches rights

Independent: A couple’s nightly sex sessions were making their neighbours’ lives’ hell, a court heard today.

Caroline and Steve Cartwright’s love making was described as “murder” and “unnatural” and drowned out their neighbours’ televisions.

But it was not just the neighbours who were up in arms about the noise coming from their terraced house in Hall Road, Concord, Washington, Tyne and Wear – even the local postman and a woman who walked past the house taking her child to school complained.

A judge and two magistrates at Newcastle Crown Court even listened to a 10-minute recording of the Cartwrights romps, which were recorded over a five-day period last August.

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Policy ‘makes marriage miserable’

BBC: The first year of a young couple’s marriage has been made miserable by a “rigid and inflexible” immigration policy, the High Court has heard.

Amber Aguilar, 18, of north London, had to choose between career ambitions in the UK or life in Chile with her Chilean husband – she chose the latter.

The High Court must now rule whether the government has violated their human rights by refusing her husband a visa.

Government lawyers say the policy is designed to combat forced marriages.

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Legislation to access public’s texts and emails put on hold

Guardian: Legislation for a £2bn Home Office surveillance project to track details of everybody’s email, mobile phone, text and internet use has been put on hold after a consultation raised concerns over its technical feasibility, costs and privacy safeguards.

The Home Office confirmed that the legislation for the project known in Whitehall as the “interception modernisation programme” will not be included in next week’s Queen’s Speech and is unlikely before a general election. The fresh delay follows concerns raised by internet service providers and mobile phone operators over the project’s feasibility and anxieties over who would foot the bill.

Half of the 221 respondents to the Home Office consultation held over the summer voiced concerns about proposed privacy safeguards and the potential for abuse.

The further delays in the IMP project will frustrate security and intelligence chiefs who argue it is necessary to maintain the surveillance level necessary to investigate terrorism and serious crimes. Critics say it amounts to a major extension of surveillance powers.

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Foreign media count cost of UK libel laws

Guardian: Britain’s reputation for “libel tourism” is driving American and foreign publishers to consider abandoning the sale of newspaper and magazines in Britain and may lead to them blocking access to websites, MPs have been warned.

Publishers, human rights groups and campaigners have expressed “substantial and increasing concern” because comments that would be protected under the freedom of speech in the US constitution are actionable in London courts once published here, no matter how small the readership.

A memorandum submitted to a Commons select committee, ahead of a meeting with US publishers, states: “Leading US newspapers are actively considering abandoning the supply of the 200-odd copies they make available for sale in London – mainly to Americans who want full details of their local news and sport. They do not make profits out of these minimal and casual sales and they can no longer risk losing millions of dollars in a libel action which they would never face under US law. Does the UK really want to be seen as the only country in Europe – indeed in the world – where important US papers cannot be obtained in print form?”

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Prosecutors should explain sentences to victims, says attorney general

Law Society Gazette: The attorney general has said prosecutors should explain sentences to victims and has issued revised guidelines on plea and sentencing.

Speaking to a conference of Crown Prosecution Service Crown advocates – qualified CPS lawyers in the Crown court – as their superintending minister, Lady Scotland (pictured) said victims and families should fully understand what a sentence means in practice and prosecutors have a key role in explaining this.

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LSB consumer panel to examine referral fees

Law Society Gazette: The Legal Services Board’s new consumer panel will examine referral fees as the very first item on its agenda when it meets for the first time later this month, the Gazette has learned.

The news comes after the Law Society’s council last week voted overwhelmingly in favour of lobbying the government and LSB to ban referral fees for all providers of legal services, in a reversal of its previous policy position.

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