Former Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: This ruling means that a British man who marries, say, a Brazilian girl who can't speak English will not be able to bring her into this country.
The Tories gave the impression that the English speaking test would apply to all immigrants.
However, a little-noticed Commons written reply last week said: The new language requirement will not apply to dependants of refugees and people granted humanitarian protection in the UK.
The Government granted the exemption after being warned that forcing refugees' dependants to learn English breaks Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which gives everyone the right to a family life .
Lawyers say a refugee could argue that as they cannot return to their country, they can gain their right to family life only by having it allowed in the UK – whether or not they speak English. Britons whose foreign
spouses cannot speak English could get their human right by emigrating.
So how many other human rights can be denied on the grounds that you can always emigrate?
Once again, the Metropolitan police have been forced to apologise and accept liability for the actions of one of their officers. It's
an embarrassing climbdown for the force, which could have very positive implications for press freedom in the UK, especially for journalists whose work is to cover political protest and dissent.
In December 2008, political journalists Marc Vallée and Jason Parkinson were deliberately obstructed from their work documenting protests outside the Greek embassy in London, which had erupted following the shooting of a teenage
demonstrator by police in Athens. An armed officer from the Met's diplomatic protection group violently prevented the pair from filming or using still cameras to record events taking place around them, and a short while later two territorial
support group officers forcibly removed Vallée and Parkinson from the scene altogether.
The Met agreed that the actions of that armed officer had been unlawful and in clear breach of article 10 of the European convention on human rights, which deals with freedom of expression. As the article states, all citizens have the freedom
to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority . In an apology of unprecedented frankness, the police not only admitted liability, but went on to comment too on the wider implications
of their actions. They stated:
The MPS [Metropolitan police service] confirms its recognition that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and that journalists have a right to report freely. The MPS recognise that on 8 December 2008 they failed
to respect press freedom in respect of Mr Vallée and Mr Parkinson.
Cherie Blair has suffered the humiliation of a secret dressing down from a top judge after sparing a Muslim criminal from jail because he
was religious , it has emerged.
The revelation has given rise to accusations of a cover-up by the Office for Judicial Complaints - because it originally issued a statement claiming Blair had been cleared of wrongdoing while sitting as a judge.
The secret tribunal claimed last week that an investigation found her decision to give a lenient punishment to Shamso Miah did not amount to misconduct.
However, it has emerged that a complaint by the National Secular Society that religious belief should not earn a convict a lighter sentence had actually been partially substantiated and Blair will receive informal advice .
A letter emerged saying that Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke and the Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge had expressed some concern about the impact [of the comments] on the public perception of the judiciary and the sentencing process.
All judges must, of course, be very mindful of how they express themselves when dealing with sensitive issues of equality and diversity - including religion, race and sex - so as not to create the impression that some individuals can expect
more leniency than others.
It added: They have agreed, however, that Recorder Booth should receive informal advice from a senior judge about the comments she made in this particular case, but that is not a formal disciplinary sanction.
A cash-strapped council has come up with an ingenious way of raking in revenue from law-abiding people
Dog owners are facing £1,000 fines if they take their pets to the park on long leads.
The ban on leads longer than 2m applies to dozens of parks and open spaces. Common retractable leads are generally 5-8m in length.
Bosses at Tameside council claim they have brought in the measure to reduce dog fouling. The council says owners are more likely to clean up after their pets if they are on a short lead.
asked: I would love to see the council's research that suggests the distance between dog-on-lead and dog-owner is representative of the likelihood of said dog-owner cleaning up dog mess. I would predict that no such research
exists (not even a council would be stupid enough to commission something like that) - but even if it did, I would think that the personality of the dog owner is a far stronger (if not the strongest) indicator of whether dog mess is cleared-up.
Overall, it takes a sane person all of 10 seconds to realise this idea is completely barking mad (if you'll excuse the pun). Rather than targeting the people that leave dog mess, it hits law-abiding dog walkers in the pocket. Fining someone for
the length of their dog lead is absurd; fining someone £1000 is outrageous.
Fourteen police forces have unlawfully stopped and searched thousands of people on the streets under controversial counter terror powers, the Home Office disclosed.
The blunder occurred when police detained people without having permission to do so from a Home Office minister. On other occasions police continued to stop and search people for longer than they had been given authorisation under the law.
The serious errors were uncovered during an internal Home Office review of the authorisation process for stop and searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Under the power police can stop and search members of the public in a
designated area without having a reasonable suspicion that they are involved in crime.
Baroness Neville-Jones, the Security Minister, said: I am very concerned by these historical administrative errors. To maintain public confidence in our counter-terrorism powers, it is absolutely crucial all those responsible for exercising
them do so properly. I take these matters extremely seriously and have instructed the department to conduct an urgent review of current procedures to ensure that errors can be prevented in future.
She added: The Government is already committed to undertaking a review of counter-terrorism legislation which will include the use of stop-and-search powers in section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. We shall make our findings known as soon as
Cherie Blair has been cleared of wrongdoing as a judge after she chose to spare a Muslim criminal from jail. An investigation by a secret
tribunal found her decision to give a lenient punishment to a religious person did not amount to misconduct.
The decision in favour of Blair followed a landmark Appeal Court judgment in April in a case concerning Christian rights which ruled that no religious belief should have special protection in law. The former Prime Minister's wife was sitting as a
part-time judge at Inner London Crown Court in January when she sentenced Shamso Miah.
Miah pleaded guilty to assault after an argument in a bank queue ended when he broke another customer's jaw. Blair gave him a suspended six-month jail sentence and community service, saying: You are a religious man and you know this is not
acceptable behaviour. The suggestion that religious belief could earn a lighter sentence brought a complaint over Blair's conduct from the National Secular Society.
The Office for Judicial Complaints said no disciplinary action is necessary .
But the National Secular Society that brought the case complained about the secrecy surrounding the investigation. Terry Sanderson, president of the NSS, said: We hope this episode will serve as a reminder to the judiciary to treat everyone
before them equally, regardless of their belief or lack of it, and never to act in a way that might give the perception that this might not be the case.
Government faces fines for
overfilling bins with
Labour's old rubbish
Powers which allow council bin police to fine households who leave rubbish out on the wrong day are set to be scrapped.
Under current rules, so-called bin police can levy a standard £110 penalty fine for a household waste offence - such as putting rubbish out on the wrong day or not closing a bin lid.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles is understood to be looking at scrapping these powers. One source close to Pickles said: This is something we are looking at. That is the direction of travel. We are looking at things bit by bit.
Pickles said that instead, families should be rewarded for the amount they recycled, along similar lines to a scheme operating in Windsor and Maidenhead where thousands of householders get vouchers to spend in local shops or leisure facilities in
return for recycling their waste.
Under the scheme, households place recycled material into special recycling bins, which are then weighed by refuse lorries using a microchip built into the bin.
Cllr Liam Maxwell, lead member at the council for policy and performance, said: Paying the public to recycle works – it increases recycling rates, reduces our environmental impact, reduces council tax and helps local businesses. The results of
our trial with 6,000 local homes far exceeded our expectations. Our policy is to put residents first: we believe that incentives not penalties are the best way of encouraging every resident to recycle more, and more frequently. This reduces the
amount of waste sent to landfill and brings economic benefits for our local businesses in these difficult times.
Unfortunately, leaving the refuse weighing technology in place leaves an opportunity for a future Labour govenment to restore its stasi nastiness.
A beach warden – who would only identify himself as Beach 8 – challenged a photographer as she took snaps on the promenade at
He demanded to see a licence and told her she shouldn't be taking pictures without one. After years of taking photos on the beaches unchallenged, snapper Hattie Miles ploughed on regardless.
Stuart Terry, coastal works manager at Poole council, claimed that the beach was council land and it was standard industry practice to seek permission before taking pictures.
Amateur Photographer magazine - who have been among the most vocal opponents of the stopping and searching of photographers taking pictures of landmarks - have investigated further and found that the council's regulations are in place to prevent
large-scale film crews, rather than individual people.
British coppers to get new uniforms
to reflect policing in the 21st Century
Police have been accused of entrapment after sending amateur actors into pubs to order drinks while swaying and announcing to bar staff in a slurred voice I'm hammered .
Two actors visited ten pubs in Bexley, southeast London, and managed to get served in every one of them despite reeking of alcohol, slurring their words, fumbling their change and shoving other customers on their way to the bar.
They later repeated the performance at a conference for local publicans and bar managers who insisted, unanimously, that they would be refused service and asked to leave. They were stunned when a senior police officer revealed: You've already
Under current legislation, bar staff caught serving alcohol to intoxicated drinkers are liable for an £80 fixed penalty notice or a fine of up to £1,000.
Although the bar staff served the hired actors they can not be prosecuted because they were not actually drunk.
Bexley Police are planning to step up their undercover initiative lest anyone gets to enjoy a drink during the World Cup.
We have been dismayed to learn of another bird-feeding incident that has led to an elderly woman being slapped
with an £80 on-the-spot fine.
A woman was fined £80 for littering after wardens caught her throwing bread crumbs – to the birds. Heartless rubbish spies spotted the frail woman sprinkling bread over her garden railings onto the pavement for starlings.
Voluntary group St Peter's Neighbourhood Monitoring started the campaign to catch litter louts last year.
Spies record residents who litter then post the footage onto Youtube. Neighbours are then encouraged to name and shame those dropping litter.
Footage of people who litter is passed to the local authority who are then able to use it as evidence to issue fines.
There are any number of authoritarian crimes here - from Neighbourhood Monitoring groups dishing out justice; to spying on residents and illegal covert camera recording - but once again the real tragedy is the victim: a law-abiding elderly woman
who has been fined most of her weekly pension for feeding the birds.
Tesco has been noted in the news for demanding ID from a 33 year old man and then refusing to sell him alcohol when he hasn't got any
Imposing their own unnecessary rules above and beyond the law ( Think 25 ) - driven in part by absurdly harsh laws that punish shops for misselling goods, and also by a total lack of common sense on the part of stupid, literalist, jobsworth
staff. Rules is rules. You can't be too careful. Typical demonstration of the ridiculous culture we've allowed ourselves to fall into.
But wait, there's more: his fiancée (aged 29) was there, and gave her ID. The shop still wouldn't sell it to them because she might be buying it for a minor (i.e. the chappie, aged 33).
The conviction of two boys for attempted rape is not only a travesty of justice – it also exposes society's screwed-up attitude towards
The conviction at the Old Bailey in London of a 10-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy for attempted rape is bad enough. That the children were convicted despite the fact that the eight-year-old defendant admitted in court that she had made up the
story of her ordeal is even worse. But what was worst of all was the very public exploitation of these three children for the purposes of working out adult fantasies.
This sordid spectacle had nothing to do with justice. As the trial judge Justice Saunders acknowledged, the case would have collapsed if the defendant had been an adult, because the evidence provided by the young girl was so inconsistent.
David Cameron's coalition government promised Britons a new era of freedom and civil liberties today, only hours after the
country's most prominent antiwar campaigner was arrested outside Parliament.
Brian Haw, who has kept up an anti-war vigil for eight years, was forcibly detained and handcuffed at 8am as police with sniffer dogs moved in to search the ragtag collection of tents on Parliament Square. A supporter, Barbara Tucker, was also
They were arrested under 'police can make it up as they go along' Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The two were being held at a Central London police station.
This morning's swoop was reportedly ordered by the Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to remove what he called the mess and chaos ahead of today's state opening of Parliament.
But it sat uneasily with the more libertarian and reformist elements of the Queen's Speech, which included widespread political and parliamentary reform and a new Freedom Bill which will enshrine the right of individuals to protest peacefully without fear of being criminalised
A photographer who prompted a debate over the abuse of police powers last year when he was apprehended
for taking photographs of a London church was subjected today to an almost identical stop and search under anti-terrorist powers while trying to photograph the capital's skyline.
Grant Smith, a renowned architectural photographer, was taking photographs at One Aldermanbury Square, near London Wall, when he was stopped by officers from City of London police.
He said they prevented him from using his camera to film the stop and search, and held his arms behind his back as they searched through his possessions.
It is the second time in six months that Smith has been stopped by City police under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allows officers to stop and search anyone without need for suspicion in designated areas.
In a repetition of the earlier stop and search, Smith said he was first approached by a security guard asserting he could not photograph a building. When he asserted his lawful right to continue taking images, police were called.
He said two uniformed officers detained him, one by grabbing his arms behind his back, and refused requests to record the stop and search on his camera. He added that they even refused to let him use a pen and paper to note down their details.
He was told he was being held under section 44 because of his obstructive and non-compliant attitude , and said police left him feeling humiliated after manhandling him in front of office workers.
When the search was over, he asked the officers if he could continue taking photographs. There was an interesting display of petulance, he said. They just turned their back on me and walked away.
More than 5,000 security guards in London's financial district have been instructed by police to report people taking photographs,
recording footage or even making sketches near buildings, the Guardian has learned.
City of London police's previously unseen advice singles out people who may appear to be legitimate tourists to supposedly prevent reconnaissance by al-Qaida.
The document, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, helps explain a number of recent cases in which photographers have been stopped and searched by police using section 44 of the Terrorism Act, after first being approached by security
The police advice to security guards states: In this period of heightened alert, we must report possible reconnaissance to the police and develop a culture of challenging suspicious behaviour.
One category of suspicious behaviour is described as: People using recording equipment, including camera phones, or seen making notes or sketches for no apparent reason . One line in the document, marked in bold, states: The person you
think is a legitimate tourist may be somebody else!
The advice is part of Project Griffin, a police initiative to ensure private security personnel function as their eyes and ears to combat crime and terrorism. Most police forces and several ports across the UK have co-opted the scheme.
A man who made a joke bomb threat on Twitter after his local airport was closed by heavy snow was ludicrously found guilty of sending a
menacing electronic message.
Paul Chambers, who used the social networking website to express frustration at the potential disruption of romantic travel plans, becomes the first person in Britain convicted of posting an offensive tweet.
Chambers told his 600 Twitter followers: Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your s*** together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!
District Judge Jonathan Bennett at Doncaster Magistrates' Court fined him £385 and told him the message was of a menacing nature in the context of the times in which we live . In addition to the fine, Chambers must pay a £15
victims' surcharge and £600 in costs.
Chambers, who lost his job as a company finance supervisor after his arrest and prosecution, said that it never crossed his mind that anyone would take the message seriously.
Chambers said the message, sent in the early hours, was his way of venting frustration at the possible postponement of a trip to which he had been looking forward. Its wording, he said, was innocuous hyperbole .
An off-duty airport manager spotted the message and alerted security staff, who contacted police. Chambers was arrested under the Terrorism Act, and questioned by detectives for almost seven hours. His mobile phone, laptop and home computers were
confiscated. The court was told that police printed 460 tweets posted by Chambers over eight days in January.
He was found guilty of sending a public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing nature, contrary to the Communications Act 2003.
A grandmother has been dragged to court for carefully leaving a cardboard box next to a council recycling bin.
Lynne had taken the box which held her new washing machine to the recycling point at a Somerfield supermarket near her home in Wickford, Essex, in October.
It was too big to fit in the slot and the bin was nearly full. Lynne was filmed wedging it between two bins to stop it blowing away. Days later she got a card from Basildon Council asking her to call about an incident .
An environmental officer later turned up at the fancy dress shop she runs and handed her a £300 fine. She threw it in a bin and ordered him out. On March 22 she received a letter charging her with depositing controlled waste and
summoning her before magistrates.
Many would have been bullied by the nasty council into paying up. Luckily, Lynne did not...so she was ordered before a court. However on the advice of a lawyer she requested trial by jury. What do you think happened...?
She has now received a letter, without apology or explanation, saying the council was dropping the case.
Sharjah police are going door-to-door looking for couples living out of wedlock.
Police say they will initially target more densely populated residential areas before spreading the net to include the whole emirate.
Police are knocking on doors and demanding to see evidence that couples under the same roof are married.
Brig Musa al Naqbi, the head of Sharjah Police CID, said: We managed to find one couple, an Arab man and an Asian woman, illegally staying together. The couple also had two children. One was two years old and the other one was four. This
campaign is continuing throughout Sharjah because women and men having children outside wedlock is not allowed in the UAE, as well as being against Islam.
Couples found to be breaking the law will be referred to public prosecutors, and lawyers say they could technically face lashes under the emirate's strict Sharia.
Salah Mabrouk, a Dubai based lawyer who regularly handles cases in Sharjah's courts, said: In Sharia law the punishment for a fornicator is different to one of an adulterer, a fornicator is lashed 100 lashes while an adulterer is stoned to
death. However, Mabrouk said it was more likely that offenders would face a prison term of less than a year, followed by deportation if they were expatriates.
Under federal law, cohabiting couples face two possible sets of charges depending on their circumstances, according to Jouslin Khairallah, another Dubai-based lawyer whose case load often takes her to Sharjah. If you have a flat with a man
living in one room and a woman living in another, they would immediately face an unlawful residency charge, she said. However, if it could be proved that the couple were sharing a room, they could be charged under crimes of honour legislation that carries a heavier sentence of up to three years in jail.
The Burnley v Blackburn derby provided another example of police using violence against fans who posed no threat
One of the troubling developments in the past few years, is the number of times police have been captured on film lashing out at innocent demonstrators and football fans, neither of whom can rely on ready sympathy from the public, but who
nevertheless have rights in a democracy.
The Criminal Records Bureau has paid out compensation of £290,124 to people wrongly labelled criminals during background checks by the
The CRB issued 3,855,881 certificates in 2008/2009. In the same year there were 2,522 disputes handled, and upheld.
These claims were brought by the registered body or by the applicant because they believed the information either related to someone else or was in some other way incorrect.
Hat tip to The Sun for making the Freedom of Information request, which also found there have been 15,000 other bungles in the last six years. Most of the mistakes involved either mixing up records checks or incorrect information from the police.
A director of a hearing aid company who kept a few adult pornographic images on a work computer in a file
named Dirty won a High Court battle against being struck off.
Hearing aid dispenser Jason Saunders, part-owner of Eastbourne Specsavers Hearcare Ltd, was disciplined after storing images on a computer kept in a room used for hearing aid tests.
They were discovered in April 2007 after a locum hearing aid dispenser used the computer in his absence. The court heard Saunders, of Compton Street, Eastbourne, East Sussex, thought he had deleted them, but thumbnail versions remained stored on
the computer and were revealed when a USB memory stick was inserted by the locum. He later resigned from his business.
Saunders challenged a decision of the Hearing Aid Council's disciplinary committee in February last year to strike him off the register for serious misconduct and to make a £30,000 costs order against him.
But Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, sitting at the High Court in London, allowed his appeal and ruled the disciplinary committee's findings were flawed. The judge said there was no challenge to the finding that he was in breach of his code of conduct
and had behaved unprofessionally and wholly inappropriately. But the images were not illegal and striking off was excessive.
She substituted a period of six months suspension from practice and quashed the costs order, which had already been reduced to £11,270.
The judge said Saunders' conduct was confined as to time and place and he had done all he reasonably believed possible to eradicate the pictures from the computer. The judge said: The committee made no reference to the fact that the
images were not illegal and had been deleted for at least a year prior to their discovery . There was also no sound evidential basis for a finding that Saunders was guilty of a sustained course of conduct and repeated downloading and