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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 18th February

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 18th February

Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:

Criminal Justice

Reported by Paige Waters

Murder Case to Make Legal History

Sally Challen was convicted in 2011 for the murder of her husband. Challen was sentenced to 22 years which have been reduced to 18 on appeal.

Challen is going to appeal her conviction, with her lawyers arguing that she was driven to kill having been subject to decades of coercive control by her husband. This is the first time this defence will be used in a murder trial.

It is said to make legal history.

The outcome of this case could potentially have significant consequences for other women who killed their partners after allegedly being subjected to similar forms of control.

Challens two sons have supported Challens defence, stating that she was a victim of psychological abuse and this should have been taken into account during her trial.

They stated: “the jury heard out mother being painted as a person ‘consumed by jealousy’, who having suspected out father of cheating on her, counted his Viagra pills and took his life because she found herself eaten up with jealously at his friendships with other women.”

“Our mothers actions were not led by emotions of jealousy nor rage, but stemmed from the lifelong campaign of fear and psychological abuse waged by our father through his coercive controlling behaviour.”

The appeal will be a key test of a new domestic abuse law that recognises coercive control as a crime. This came into force in 2015.

Find out more on the Guardian.

Citizenship

Reported by Sarah Mullane 

Shamima Begum to lose UK citizenship       

Following a myriad of recent reports, it appears that Shamima Begum, one of three girls to who left the UK to join the Islamic State, is poised to lose her British citizenship.

According to Tasnime Akunjee, the Begum family lawyer, the Home Office has written to the family to notify them of their intent to revoke her British citizenship, and subsequently bar her entry into the United Kingdom. The news echoes on from the assertions of Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who had stated that he would do everything in his power to stop the teenager from returning to Britain.

Begum was one of three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green who fled the UK bound for Syria to join the Islamic State in 2015. Now aged nineteen, Shamima reportedly wishes to return to the UK so that she is able to protect her new-born son, whom she gave birth to on the weekend. According to the teenager, she had previously given birth to two children in Syria, both of which had died. Having been found in a refugee camp in Syria, Begum has reached out to the UK public for sympathy and has asked to be allowed to return to the UK, stating that she is no longer the “same silly [.] schoolgirl who ran away”, but also asserting that she did not regret initially traveling to Syria.

Begum now has 28 days from the date or order to appeal against the Home Secretary’s interpretation of his powers to revoke her citizenship, or otherwise seek asylum or citizenship elsewhere. According to the Guardian Newspaper, it is alleged that the Home Secretary believes Begum may now apply for Bangladeshi citizenship, due to her parents’ Bangladeshi heritage.

The Home Office is yet to make an official report.

Find out more here. 

Employment

Reported by Radhika Morally 

Honda Confirms Closure of Swindon Car Plant

The Japanese car company Honda has recently confirmed rumours that its Swindon car plant, operating since 1989, will close in 2021, resulting in a loss of around 3500 jobs.

Such a decision arrives in the wake of rival Nissan’s announcement that it will no longer build its X-Trail sport-utility vehicle in Sunderland, UK, but in Japan.

About 150,000 Honda Civics are built annually at the Swindon plant, which is its only EU car factory. The prospect of losing such a large number of high-quality manufacturing jobs is bound to have a repercussive effect on the town’s economy, which has been described as being ‘relatively insulated from unemployment in recent years’

Honda has insisted that the decision is not Brexit related, but driven by ‘unprecedented changes in the global automotive industry’ combined with the need to launch electric vehicles. However, it must be noted that the announcement has arrived just weeks ahead of a possible no-deal departure from the European Union.

Also of significance is the fact that the EU and Japan have recently agreed to a trade deal with lowers tariffs on both parties’ car exports to zero. Simon Jack, Business Editor for the BBC, has said that this results in a ‘dwindling rationale’ to base manufacturing inside the EU.

Regardless, the decision is a devastating blow for both Swindon and the UK. In a joint statement by the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, it is highlighted that the scale of the operation means that the impact will extend beyond Honda staff to the ‘wide and diverse network’ that is the company’s supply chain.

For more information, see the BBC, the Guardian and Sky News

Criminal Justice

Reported by Emma Ducroix

Short prison sentences may be ended soon

According to the Justice Secretary of the UK, David Gauke, short jail terms are not working. Moreover, he added thanks to a speech, that Britain jailed more people than any other European countries, which is considerate as anormal.

As an alternative, David Gauke hopes that a “robust community order regime,” accumulate with technology, will constitute the best solution for him.

People with short terms in prison had high reoffending rates. Indeed, “In the last five years, just over a quarter of a million custodial sentences have been given to offenders of six months or less. But nearly two-thirds of those offenders go on to commit a further crime within a year of being released. Gauke then declared during his speech: “Why would we spend taxpayers’ money doing what we know doesn’t work, and indeed, makes us less safe?”

It is important to notice that the Justice Secretary is deeply in a break with the “prison works” of past Conservative governments.

The fact to be jailed many times did not make the task easier for sentenced to find work at their release. The accumulation of short sentences do not allow a person to keep a job, a housing, a stable family life. This is the case of female shoplifters, as Gauke cited.

He even goes forward saying that children of these sentenced women may take the example of their mother. Then it obviously increases the risk for these children to fall into offending.

A more punitive approach will be linked to community orders more strict by tagging. A treatment may be required for secondary causes as alcohol, drugs or mental health issues. After some tests with offenders, more than the half have proven that they are less likely to reoffend.

According to Gauke, there is a strong case to abolish sentences of six months or less, with some closely defined exceptions, and put in their place a robust community order regime.

He seems convinced that prisons are not working because of the heavy financial and social cost.

He’s a believer that decisions more intensive and restrictives with some creativity outside of prison are the future. According to him, prison after conviction shouldn’t be the only punishment for serious offenses.

He implies that the most effective punishment is more likely linked with curfew, driving and alcohol bans for instance, he thinks that they “might play a bigger role.”

He also wants to have a look of released persons in order to inflict more lasting and punitive community interventions.

Nonetheless, a Conservative MP Philip Davies qualified Gauke’s ideas as “frankly idiotic.”

And said: “In virtually every case, the offender has been given community sentence after community sentence, and they are only sent to prison because they have failed to stop their offending. So to give them community sentences instead is bonkers.”

We will therefore be able to enjoy the debate on the abolition of short prison sentences or not in the coming weeks, at the convenience of our politicians.

Read more here.

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