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Archive for November 16th, 2009

BBC: BNP paves way to admit non-whites

BNP paves way to admit non-whites

BBC: British National Party leaders have voted “overwhelmingly” to ballot members on changing its constitution to allow non-white members to join.

Leader Nick Griffin said he welcomed the change, which the party had been “moving towards” for years.

If the new membership rules are approved, the BNP would be brought in line with the recent Equality Bill.

The party’s “closed for business” talks in Hindley Green, Wigan, came on the first day of its annual conference.

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Family justice could be threatened by access plans

Telegraph: Proposals to be contained in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday pave the way for documents from expert witnesses in sensitive family matters such as child protection or adoption cases to be made public.

The Magistrates’ Association fears experts will not be as frank or open in their evidence if they think reports will made public, meaning courts will not have the full facts when making life-changing decisions.

The body, which represents more than 28,000 magistrates in England and Wales, warns a child’s human rights could even be breached under the right to a fair trial.

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, has already moved to open up the once secretive family courts and has made hearings more transparent and accessible.

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Parliamentary inquiry misled on phone hacks

Independent: A parliamentary inquiry into phone hacking by tabloid journalists may have been seriously misled, it emerged yesterday when lawyers acting for a Scotland Yard detective denied that he had ever claimed that messages to 6,000 people had been intercepted.

The chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, Baroness Buscombe, said that she had been written to by Metropolitan Police lawyers acting for Detective inspector Mark Maberly, who, according to evidence given to the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, had said that 6,000 people were victims of a culture of phone hacking at the News of the World, Britain’s biggest-selling Sunday tabloid. Baroness Buscombe was told that DI Maberly had “been wrongly quoted”. The police lawyers told her that the “reliable evidence” given to the committee was from Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who had said that

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Institutions short-change inmates and society

Independent: Britain’s prison system is being “brought to its knees”, according to penal reform experts responding to a damning new report obtained by The Independent on Sunday. The soaring prison population, consistently high re-offending rates and increasing numbers of people on short sentences highlighted in the Prison Reform Trust’s dossier have produced a system that is “not fit for purpose”, they say.

The alarming findings come at a time when the number of offences recorded by police has fallen, as has the number of people found guilty in the courts. The report’s evidence will heap pressure on the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, already under fire for his stewardship of the penal system.

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Government has failed to hand over interrogation guidelines, say MPs

Guardian: The group of senior MPs and peers responsible for scrutinising the activities of the intelligence agencies has sharply criticised the government for failing to hand over the guidelines provided to MI5 and MI6 officers for interrogating terror suspects.

Seven months ago, Gordon Brown promised to give the cross-party intelligence and security committee (ISC) the existing guidelines – which, ministers said, must remain secret – and new guidelines which are being drawn up and will be published in some form.

Brown gave his promise in March after the committee took the unprecedented step of reopening its investigation into the treatment of Binyam Mohamed, the British resident released from Guantánamo Bay. Mohamed says he was tortured before and after being interrogated by an MI5 officer in Pakistan.

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Bar regulator to consider historic changes to barristers’ working practices

BSB:

The Bar Standards Board, which regulates 14,000 barristers in England and Wales, will next week consider a raft of changes to the rules governing how barristers work.

The move is part of the Board’s response to the fulfilment of the Regulatory Objectives set by the Legal Services Act 2007 and the drive to liberalise the market for the provision of legal services that it has triggered.

The Board will meet next Thursday, 19 November, to consider recommendations from specialist working groups, which have examined:

  • whether or not barristers should be permitted to participate in new business arrangements, such as barrister-only partnerships (companies   and LLPs), Legal Disciplinary Practices and so-called ‘Alternative Business Structures’;
  • whether or not the BSB should consult on becoming a regulator of legal entities itself;
  • a series of other possible changes to the ways in which self-employed barristers may work in the future.

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BNP leader to stand against minister

Independent: Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, is to challenge Margaret Hodge, the Culture minister, for the Barking constituency at the next General Election.

He claimed the BNP would stand in more than 200 seats, and that he had chosen to stand in Barking, east London, in a bid to overturn Labour’s 9,000 majority. Shortly before addressing the BNP’s annual conference in Wigan yesterday, he said: “The thrust of that campaign will be the housing and education problems in the borough, and the way that the Labour Party has let that borough down in a catastrophic way.”

He added: “For the first time, we are really serious challengers in a number of seats. We’re looking at half a dozen really seriously with big amounts of resources. And on top of that we will be fighting, I’m sure, our largest number ever – so I guess in excess of 200. I’m confident we’ve got a serious chance.” Ms Hodge said that she was “more than ready to expose and expel the BNP from the borough”, adding: “I always knew I would have a BNP candidate and it has turned out to be him.”

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