Haldane Fringe at Labour Party Conference

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On 24 September 2018 at 6pm the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers will host speakers Richard Burgon MP, Shami Chakrabarti, Mark George QC, Chris Peace, and Neil Findlay MSP for a discussion on Orgreave, the miners’ strike and political policing.

Join us at the Hilton Liverpool (Grace Suite), 3 Thomas Steers Way, Liverpool, L1 8LW. No need to book in advance.

Haldane Society Statement on AGFS Cuts

The Haldane Society has for years been at the forefront of calls to protect the justice system from government cuts, and for meaningful investment to restore and expand services that were available before the start of conservative austerity politics.  We have consistently supported the Criminal Bar Association's action demanding a real terms increase in funding for the AGFS, and improvements in funding throughout the justice system.

The Criminal Bar Association is now consulting (including through a Heads of Chambers meeting being convened today) on ending the strike in the criminal courts.  The Haldane Society is strongly opposed to this course of action for the following reasons:

  • The government's proposals are for a small immediate increase in funding in the AGFS for some practitioners.  However, this does little other than replace funding that was cut in the post-1 April 2018 scheme, and is a drop in the ocean.
  • The government then propose a 1% increase in funding next year.  RPI is currently at 2.2%: as such, a 1% increase is a real terms cut of approximately 1.2%.
  • After the first year, the government does not envisage any further increases, or index linking to the AGFS. This means year on year real terms cuts will continue.  No other sector of the economy would tolerate this.
  • The government proposes to continue cuts in other areas of the justice system.  They also propose no new funding for the justice system as a whole.
  • Finally, the government expects criminal advocates to work under the reduced fees of the post-1 April 2018 scheme until November.

The reality is that the proposals to be put to CBA members amount to accepting cuts, and giving up on a strike which has seen unprecedented unity.  We have the advantage now.  There is no conceivable reason why we should throw that advantage away.

The Haldane Society backs those chambers who will continue and escalate the present action, implementing no returns immediately, and calling for:

  • An immediate real terms increase in fees, not just restoration of fees already cut.
  • Index linking of future fees.
  • Restoration of funding for solicitors in the LGFS.
  • Investment throughout the justice system, particularly in court infrastructure.
  • Meaningful improvements in work-life balance, in particular the abolition of warned lists and the abandoment of court closures and longer sitting hours.

We look forward to the continuation of the current no returns policy, rather than its suspension, and to the calling of whole strike days.  Only such a policy can deliver victory, rather than defeat dressed up as success.

Haldane and COPS joint public meeting 23 June 2018

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The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance will be hosting a joint public meeting at The Pearce Institute, 840-860 Govan Road, Glasgow, GS51 3UU from 11:00 am on Saturday 23 June.  The meeting will hear from activists and victims of police spying in Scotland, in particular:

  • Neil Findlay, Labour MSP, at the forefront of raising these issues in the Scottish Parliament;
  • Tilly Gifford, social justice activist bringing a judicial review against the UK and Scottish governments for their failure to act.
  • Andrea, woman activist from Police Spies Out Of Our Lives.
  • Eveline Lubbers, Undercover Research Group.

All enquiries about the event should be addressed to copsscotland@gmail.com.

Click here for tickets.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry...

In March 2015, Theresa May, then Home Secretary, announced her intention to set up an Inquiry into undercover policing. This announcement followed revelations that police officers, as early as 1968, had spied on political campaigners and had used the names of dead children to create their identities they had deceived women into forming long-term intimate relationships and had fathered children. They had befriended grieving families, including the parents of Stephen Lawrence, and had acted as agents provocateurs.

…but no public inquiry in Scotland!

The undercover police operations under scrutiny by the Inquiry are limited to those conducted in England and Wales. However, much evidence has come to light demonstrating that the Metropolitan Police’s SDS had in fact operated in Scotland, and possibly without the permission of the Scottish authorities.

During the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005, the Metropolitan Police sent undercover police officers into Scotland to spy on activists, amongst these officers was known undercover officer Mark Kennedy, who had between 2003 and 2010 infiltrated numerous campaign groups and had formed intimate relationships with women. Undercover officer Carlo Neri targeted a woman known publicly as ‘Andrea’, and had been welcomed into her Scottish family.

However it is not just the UK government that has declined the need for a public inquiry in Scotland. Sadly, the SNP have followed suit, and following the release of the HMICS report, they have also rejected the need for Scotland to hold its own inquiry.

Legal challenge and building a campaign.

On 14 September 2017, Lord Brailsford of Edinburgh’s Court of Session agreed to grant permission for a full judicial review hearing to take place. The case brought by Tilly Gifford, a social justice activist, is important. The full hearing is due to be heard on the 19-20th July 2018. Have the UK Government acted unlawfully in refusing to extend the terms of reference of the Inquiry to Scotland? Have the Scottish Government in refusing to set up its own inquiry acted unlawfully? We think so.

Whether we win this case or not – we must build a campaign to force the UK government and the Scottish government to concede to a proper inquiry. Truth and justice are demanded by trade unionists, environmentalists, women activists, blacklisted workers, and social justice campaigners!

Haldane Condemns the Turkish invasion of Afrin, Northern Syria

We call on the leaders of the U.K., and all other world powers to condemn Turkey's unprovoked attack on the people of Afrin in Syria.

Afrin, whose population is predominantly Kurdish, but is also made up of Arabs, Yezidis, Armenian and Assyrian Christians, among many others,  has until now been one of the most stable and secure regions in Syria. With very little international aid, Afrin has taken in so many Syrian refugees in the last five years that its population has doubled to 400,000. While it's defenders, the YPG or People’s Protection Units, are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces allied with the US military in its war with the Islamic State, Afrin itself is surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan first threatened, and is now making good on his threats to attack the region, simply on ideological grounds, without even the pretext of the YPG having attacked or threatened them in any way. This is an act of unilateral violence, and as such, a violation of Nuremberg principles (that waging a war of aggression is the “supreme war crime”), and, if recent statements by Erdogan are to be believed, the ultimate intention of the Turkish invasion is to carry out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the regions Kurdish population. It is unusual that a military incursion is begun with an open declaration of an intention to commit war crimes; but in this instance that appears to be the case.

This makes the UK government response all the more extraordinary. Spokespersons for Theresa May, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, have effectively supported the invasion, declaring that “Turkey has a right to want to keep its borders secure.” By this logic any country on earth would have the right to invade any of its neighbours at any time.

Until now, the region has been the place of a world-historical democratic experiment. Local assemblies and councils, women's councils, and assemblies have been created, along with women's police and military units; the YPG also has a long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS. It has made repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as “Rojava,” which includes Afrin. Rather, it is this very democratic ideology that the Turkish government objects to, claiming it is inspired by the “terrorist” PKK. In other words, rather than welcoming a feminist, ecological, democratic experiment, international powers are siding with a power who is unleashing an unprovoked military assault on the region for just that reason.

Turkey has now begun an overwhelming air assault and ground invasion of Afrin, which has already resulted in significant civilian casualties. Some of these were ironically, refugees who had fled other regions of Syria for Afrin's relative stability and safety.

This attack is a blatant act of aggression against a peaceful and democratically-governed region and population. The Kurdish people have endured the loss of thousands of young men and women who joined the YPG, and YPJ women’s force, to rid the world of ISIS. The U.K. and the international community (U.S., Russia, E.U. members, etc)  have a moral obligation to stand behind the Kurdish people, Yezidi people, and others threatened with ethnic cleansing. We call on U.K. officials to demand Turkey pull back it's invading forces immediately and to cease threats against its neighbours.

Solidarity with Ahed Tamimi

The Haldane Society joins colleagues and comrades across the world in condemning Israel’s arrest of Ahed Tamimi and demanding her immediate release.

On 16th December 2017, Ahed and her cousin Nour crossed Ahed’s yard in the village of Nabi Saleh in Palestine’s occupied West Bank, approaching the Israeli soldiers who were standing at the gate. Ahed’s mother Nariman filmed as she slapped and kicked one of the soldiers several times, telling them to leave.

The footage went viral globally, and pro-occupation Israelis saw the ensuing praise for Ahed’s bravery as a national humiliation.

On 19th December Ahed was arrested and detained, and is now facing charges for actions dating back to 2016 that could carry up to 10 years in prison. She is to be tried in Ofer military court, where civilian rights to a fair trial do not apply and which has a conviction rate of over 99%.

Nour and Nariman, who have been released on bail, are also being prosecuted.

The court has decided Ahed is “too dangerous” to get bail. Every day Ahed spends in illegal detention and under interrogation in Ofer Prison – where Unicef has observed systemic mistreatment of minors – puts her in danger of physical and psychological abuse.

Ahed’s family has a long history of persecution by, and resistance against, the occupation. In Ahed’s words, she continues to fight because “every day I see settlers swimming, sitting and playing on my land while I’m afraid one of us will be killed.”

Indeed, on 3rd January 2018, her 17-year-old cousin Musab Firas al-Tamimi was shot dead in a protest, making him the first Palestinian child to be killed by Israeli forces in 2018. When Ahed slapped the soldier, she had just heard the news that the IDF had shot her cousin and neighbour Muhammad in the face, leaving him in a critical condition.

We affirm Ahed’s internationally recognised right to resist the occupation, and condemn Israel’s attempts to suppress resistance through violence against minors.

We call for Ahed to be released urgently so she can return to her family and friends in Nabi Saleh, and we demand that all charges against the three Tamimi women be dropped.

Tell the Scottish Justice Minister: don't allow the Legal Aid Board to be swayed by politics

On 14 September 2017 the Court of Session in Edinburgh agreed that permission should be granted for a judicial review in the case of Tilly Gifford v 1) UK Government and 2) Scottish Government.

The full hearing, potentially due later this year, is to determine whether the UK Government acted unlawfully in refusing to extend the terms of reference of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) north of the border, and as you are no doubt aware it simultaneously challenges the decision of the Scottish Government to refuse to set up an undercover public inquiry of its own.

Scandalously the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) have refused legal aid again. Initially they refused legal aid, during the pre-permission stage because they claimed the case ‘did not have merits.’ The Court of Session then granted permission to proceed to a full Judicial Review (therefore accepting the merits of the case), now SLAB have moved the goal posts – they now claim that legal aid cannot be granted because the case must have a ‘good probability’ of success – this is a misapplication of the test, and raises the prospect that SLAB have been placed under political pressure to refuse legal aid.

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers believe not only should this Inquiry be extended to Scotland, but that this seeming politically motivated decision needs to be challenged.

Please use this e-mail form to make your complaint; fill in your name and email address, then copy the subject line and body of the email below into the relevant boxes.  You can tailor the email as you like.

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Name

Please copy the text below into the subject box:

Legal Aid, Judicial Review, and the need for a Scottish Public Inquiry

Please copy the text below into the message box, and click submit:

Dear Mr. Matheson,

On the 14th September 2017 the Court of Session in Edinburgh agreed that permission should be granted for a judicial review in the case of Tilly Gifford v 1) UK Government and 2) Scottish Government.

The full hearing, potentially due later this year, is to determine whether the UK Government acted unlawfully in refusing to extend the terms of reference of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) north of the border. As you are no doubt aware, the hearing will also consider the legality of the Scottish Government’s decision to refuse to set up an undercover public inquiry of its own.

Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI)

You will be aware that in March 2015, Theresa May, the then-Home Secretary, announced her intention to set up a public inquiry into undercover policing. That announcement followed major concerns that officers – as early as 1968 – had spied on political campaigners and had stolen the identities of dead children to create false identities. The officers of the ‘National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) and the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Special Demonstration Squad’ (SDS), had deceived women into forming long-term intimate relationships and had fathered children, they had befriended grieving families seeking justice – including the parents of Stephen Lawrence - spied on trade unionists and acted as agents provocateur.

It is now widely acknowledged that during the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005, the Metropolitan Police sent numerous undercover officers into Scotland to spy on activists. Amongst them was Mark Kennedy who had between 2003 and 2010 infiltrated numerous campaign groups and had formed intimate relationships with women. These relationships were furthered with a considerable number of visits to Scotland. Undercover officer Carlo ‘Neri’ targeted a woman known publicly as ‘Andrea’, and had been welcomed into her Scottish family.

The Metropolitan Police have conceded that ‘relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity… these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’.

As you are aware, Tilly Gifford, a social justice campaigner based in Scotland, is bringing the Judicial Review. She was also targeted. In 2009 officers had attempted to recruit her as an informant. In return for cash Ms Gifford was asked to spy on her friends, betray her beliefs and the communities in Scotland she had been campaigning and supporting. She was threatened with prison if she did not co-operate. Ms Gifford recorded these exchanges and they later appeared in ‘the Guardian’ newspaper. The identities of those undercover officers have never been established, and it remains unclear who or why a decision was made to target Ms Gifford.

As is the case for many activists who may have been spied upon in Scotland, the answers to these questions fall outside the remit of the UCPI because it is limited to England and Wales.

Legal Aid, the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) and Independence.

SLAB initially rejected a claim for legal aid claiming the case had ‘no merits.’ After the decision of the Court of Session to accept that the case should proceed to a full Judicial Review hearing, SLAB claimed that the case must show a ‘good probability’ of success. As I am sure you are aware this is the wrong applied test. The case requires a ‘probability’ of success.

This decision appears to be running counter to access to justice. This case raises important administrative, constitutional and human rights issues. It is essential – as understood by the European Court of Human Rights – that in matters of state surveillance, which is a breach of human rights – that the state is held to account. The decision of SLAB is preventing this from taking place.

In light of the above, I call on you to:

  1. Conduct an investigation into the decision of the SLAB to refuse to grant Legal Aid;
  2. Prioritise the issues raised in this letter within the Scottish Government; and
  3. To submit a motion recommending that the Justice Committee / Parliament formally recognise the importance and sensitivity of the concerns raised in this letter in respect of possible undercover policing operations in Scotland, and crucially, the need for the SLAB to grant legal aid in order for the courts to adequately investigate and address these issues.

Without legal aid Ms Gifford will be unable to access justice, and she along with many others who were subjected to this treatment, and the wider public, will be unable to know the truth about undercover political policing that has taken place in Scotland.

Yours sincerely,

Film screening on the forgotten migrant crisis *UPDATED VENUE*

This is Europe?' Voices from the forgotten migration crisis in Greece.

Speakers: 

  • Theodoris Zeis, Greek Asylum and Immigration Lawyer   
  • Christina Orsini, Director of Inadmissible, Founder of Threadable
 

Date:     Wednesday, 24 January 2018
Time:     6.30pm
Venue:   Karamel, 4 Coburg Road, N22 6UJ London, United Kingdom
Tickets:  £5 - tickets available on the door

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers present a seminar discussion and documentary film screening on the daily life and experiences of refugees in Greece.

Whilst the refugee crisis is no longer front-page news, many refugees and migrants continue to arrive in Greece seeking protection and assistance.

During this evening, we will hear from Theodoris Zeis, a Greek Lawyer who will share his experience working at a grassroots level with refugees in mainland Greece.

Following his talk, there will be a film screening of 'Inadmissable', a documentary film discovering the daily life of refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, exploring the legal and human consequences of the migration agreement between Turkey and Greece.

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Fundamental Freedoms in Danger in Egypt

Haldane Condemns Attack on Our Egyptian Comrades

Mahienour el Massry is an award-winning Egyptian human rights lawyer. Matoesem Medhat is a member of the Egyptian Bread and Freedom Party.  They are both currently languishing in prison cells due to persecution from the military dictatorship.  The Haldane Society has sent the following letter to the Egyptian Ambassador.


Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2018

Protest at the Egyptian Embassy

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In 2018 – the eighth year of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer- the focus of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer will be on Egypt. Many human rights organisations, among them Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, IDHAE, ELDH and the International Commission of Jurists confirm that the Egyptian authorities have moved beyond scaremongering and are now rapidly taking concrete steps to shut down the last critical voices in the country’s human rights community.

Today in Egypt, human rights activists, lawyers, political activists and independent journalists, all have to live with their phone calls being tapped, endless smear campaigns and hate speech from state-affiliated media as well as continuous harassment and intimidation from the authorities. Egypt is going through the most serious human rights crisis in its history.

After the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi the human rights situation has deteriorated dramatically. The government has restricted severely freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association. The authorities have taken harsh actions against dissidents, ten thousands have been arbitrarily arrested, and many of them tortured in custody. Security forces that killed demonstrators have not been held accountable. After harsh unfair trials, hundreds of people have received prison or even death sentences. Victims of this persecution include not only alleged members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood but also any other opponents to the present government, in particular alleged members of socialist organisations and human rights activists.

 

As a result, the international focus of the 2018 Day of the Endangered Lawyer demonstration will be Egypt.

The demonstration in London will take place on 24 January 2018 at 12 pm at the Egyptian Embassy at 26 South Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4DW.

We welcome all comrades to join us there.

 

Haldane Winter Party 2017

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Join us on 15 December 2017

The Haldane Winter Party 2017 will be on 15 December 2017, at Garden Court Chambers.  Advance tickets are £10 (full price) or £8 (student/unwaged/low waged).  Tickets on the door will be £15/£10; we will accept cash or PayPal.

Entertainment, drink and vegetarian food will be provided throughout the night, within your ticket price.

Get your tickets now

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