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News Round-Up Week Ending 12.12.14

(Posted on 12/12/14)


Rape Accuser Shouldn’t Have Been Charged.


On Tuesday, Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, defended the decision to prosecute Eleanor de Freitas, a woman with bipolar disorder who allegedly made a false accusation of rape, and subsequently killed herself.

It has since transpired that the specialist sex crime officers who investigated the case, believed Ms de Freitas should never have been charged with perverting the course of justice. They were overruled by Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt after he met with Crown Prosecution Service lawyers.

De Freitas’s father said no CPS lawyer had ever met or interviewed his daughter, which might explain why their view of whether she should have been charged differed from that of the rape investigators.

“We are disappointed that even in light of the subsequent tragedy, the DPP is digging her heels in and standing by this prosecution. We are disappointed that she does not acknowledge there are lessons to be learnt from what happened to Eleanor,” David de Freitas said. “The failure to take on lessons has disastrous implications for trust in the Crown Prosecution Service if they are concerned about encouraging rape victims to come forward. I spoke out in the first place because I was concerned that other vulnerable women and their families should not go through what we have been through.” 

Law Students Win Appeal 

Dwaine George, a former Cheetham Hill gang member sentenced to life in 2002 for the Manchester shooting of teenager Daniel Dale, has been cleared of murder by the Court of Appeal.

Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen's Bench Division, said Mr George’s conviction was “no longer safe” and paid tribute to students of Cardiff University Law School’s Innocence Project who took up his case. 

“We worked on it for almost four years,” said Julie Price, the project’s director, “then it was with the CCRC for a further three.” Doubt was cast on forensic evidence concerning gun residue.

Mr George converted to Islam and graduated with a first class honours degree in social sciences while in prison.

IPP Unlawful

The Lord Chief Justice has freed a convicted paedophile, deeming his open-ended imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence “unlawful”.

Considered a serious risk to children, Jeffrey Charles Goodwyn was convicted in 2012 of the 2004 indecent assault of a seven-year-old child, with a previous conviction for rape of a nine-year-old. The controversial IPP sentences can only be passed for offences after April 2005.

“This applicant remains a very dangerous man,” said Lord Thomas. “Because of his failure to engage with the relevant assistance available to him in prison, he has not begun to address his offending. Unhappily, despite the danger to the public which this applicant clearly represents, we are in no doubt that... the IPP was unlawful.”

 â€œSex offenders on licence are subject to a strict set of conditions, including exclusion zones, non-contact orders and sex offender treatment programmes, as well as being subject to the sex offenders' register. If they fail to comply, they can be recalled to prison,” the Ministry of Justice said in a statement. “We have some of the toughest measures in the world to manage sex offenders in the community, and these work to prevent reoffending and protect the public.”

Racist Judge Quits

Justice Richard Hollingworth, a senior immigration judge, has resigned after shocking the court with a racist jibe. After being told the case of a Mr Singh harassing a Miss Patel could not be brought forward as she was not in court, the judge opined:

“She can’t be doing anything important. With a name like Patel she can only be working in a corner shop or off licence.”

GCHQ Snooping Legal

An Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled that GCHQ’s mass surveillance of the internet does not violate human rights, but it did express concern about the adequacy of legal safeguards.

“We have left open for further argument the question as to whether prior hereto there has been such a breach,” the judgment read.

“We will now appeal to Strasbourg, who might not be as inclined to put their trust in the UK government given what we know so far,” said Amnesty UK’s Rachel Logan. “The government has managed to bluff their way out of this, retreating into closed hearings, and constantly playing the ‘national security’ card. The tribunal has accepted that approach. We have had to painstakingly drag out every detail we could from an aggressively resistant government.”

“We are delighted that a third independent body has today confirmed that GCHQ does not seek to carry out mass surveillance,” a government security source said.

MI6 Erased from Torture Report 

The damning US report on the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11 contained references to UK intelligence agencies but these were deleted at the UK’s request, a spokesman for the Prime Minister has revealed, despite earlier denials of any British involvement.

“Any redactions sought there would have been on national security grounds in the way we might have done with any other report,” the spokesman explained, suggesting the report had indeed been cleaned up, and increasing pressure on the Government for a transparent inquiry into the activities of MI5 and MI6.

“Downing Street’s U-turn on its previous denial that redactions had taken place tell us what we already know – that there was complicity, and that it wasn’t reflected in the Senate report,” said former shadow home secretary David Davis MP. “We know from the behaviour of the previous government with respect to the Binyam Mohamed case, that the term national security includes national embarrassment.”

Former foreign secretary David Miliband’s role in the whole business was called into question by Diane Abbott MP, but brother Ed came to his defence:

“He’s talked about these things in the past. I know how seriously he took these things in government. I know he answered questions about this in the House of Commons while he was in government. He is never someone who would ever countenance the British state getting involved in this sort of activity.”

Honeymoon Murder Case Thrown Out

Shrien Dewani has been cleared of any involvement in the death of his wife Anni in South Africa.

Judge Jeanette Traverso said the prosecution case fell “far below the threshold” of what could lead to a conviction, describing those already convicted of the murder as “intelligent men” who would not have carried out a contract killing for Mr Dewani for “a few thousand rand”.

“Today we feel as a family that the justice system has failed us and we are deeply disappointed,” said Anni's sister Ami Denborg. “We came here looking for answers and we came here looking for the truth and all we got was more questions.

Mr Dewani has returned to his Bristol home, since vandalised with white paint.