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News Round-Up Week Ending 29.8.14

Geir Madland

By Geir Madland on 28/08/14

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News Round-Up Week Ending 29.8.14

Boris Wacked

The former global counter-terrorism director of MI6 has criticised government plans for new laws to tackle British extremists. In an interview in the Guardian, Richard Barrett also warned against Boris Johnson's ‘draconian’ suggestion that any Britons travelling to Iraq or Syria should be presumed guilty of involvement in terrorism (‘wackos’ according to Boris) unless they prove their innocence, as going against a ‘fundamental tenet of British justice’. 

Too Drunk to Cry Rape

Retired judge Mary Jane Mowat has told the Oxford Mail that rape conviction statistics will not improve until women ‘stop getting so drunk’, and that ‘it is an inevitable fact of it being one person’s word against another, and the burden of proof being that you have to be sure before you convict’.
In response, Katie Russell of Rape Crisis England & Wales told The Independent the remarks could be ‘very harmful’ and that ‘the legal responsibility is with the defendant in a rape case to evidence how they sought and received consent’. 

Crisis? What Crisis?

‘I'm absolutely clear - there is not a crisis in our prisons,’ declared Chris Grayling, whilst admitting problems of violence, suicides and staff shortages, after inspectors criticised the Isis Young Offenders Institution in London.

The Justice Secretary said the government was meeting the challenges of a rising prison population, claiming violence is ‘at a lower level today than it was five years ago’. 

Assaults by prisoners in England and Wales rose by nearly a thousand over the past year (14,083 in 2012-13 to 15,033 in 2013-14, Ministry of Justice official figures).

Ministry at a Loss

The Information Commissioner's Office has fined the Ministry of Justice £180,000 for ‘serious failings’ in handling confidential information. The ICO said the penalty related to the loss last year of an unencrypted hard drive concerning nearly 3,000 prisoners at Erlestoke, Wiltshire, and including details of organised crime, health, drugs, victims and visitors.
After the loss of a disk containing information on 16,000 prisoners in 2011, the MoJ issued new encryptable back-up hard drives to the Prison Service but neglected to tell them the option had to be switched on manually.

Fly HMRC

A global HM Revenue and Customs initiative has brought five of the UK's top tax fugitives back to the UK: John Sabin and Malcolm McGowan, convicted cigarette smugglers who fled to Spain; Michael Fearon, another cigarette smuggler who took off to Ireland; Magdalena Ferkova, returned from the Czech Republic for tax and benefit fraud; and Michael Voudouri, back from North Cyprus to answer for a multimillion-pound money laundering scam.

HMRC trumpeted the ‘excellent news for all honest taxpayers’ and released photos of five more people on its hit list: Ahmed Salim Khezri, Norbert Dombo, Mohammed Kasim Farook (aka Mohammed Kasim), Paul Edwards and Murugasan Natarajan (aka Murucasan Natarajan and Raj Natarajan).