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Sarah Walker

By Sarah Walker

Bedroom Tax demonstration

Protesting against an ill-thought through policy

On Tuesday disabled families lost a court challenge to changes to social housing benefit. The High Court ruled that the policy, commonly known as “the bedroom tax”, charging a subsidy to those on social housing benefit living in a property which is deemed to have a “spare bedroom” (14% less housing benefit per spare room), did not unlawfully discriminate against disabled people. Whether or not an appeal to the Court of Appeal will be successful remains to be seen. Whatever the legality of the decision to impose the “bedroom tax” (or ‘”spare room subsidy”), the policy, introduced on 1 April 2013, is still a bad one.

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grayling_2196719bby Sarah Walker

The UK government and their sympathetic media would have you believe that current legal aid provisions allow unpopular members of our society to greedily grab what they can get, much like an unsupervised child at a pick ‘n’ mix. The truth is that this government is systematically dismantling a safeguard of access to justice that is essential if we are to ensure that the rights of vulnerable members of society are protected.

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JLumleyby Sarah Walker

Last week several stories featuring public comments about rape of women, and the subsequent criticism of those comments, made the news. While articles printed the comments considered below, and offered some critique, I felt that they failed to critique them from the point of view of a young woman who goes on nights out or, indeed, challenge the wider assumptions that still underlie society’s approach to rape in 2013. 

What comments?

Joanna Lumley, national treasure and spokeswoman on many issues, advised her audienceDon’t look like trash, don’t get drunk, don’t be sick down your front, don’t break your heels and stagger about in the wrong clothes at midnight. This is bad.” Insightful, I’m sure you’ll agree. She continued, “I promise it is better to look after yourself properly  …  don’t be sick in the gutter at midnight in a silly dress with no money to get a taxi home because somebody will take advantage of you – either rape you, or they’ll knock you on the head or they’ll rob you.”

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by Sarah Walker

Earlier this week Michael Pinto-Duschinsky’s article “Prisoner votes: Strasbourg should give way to national independence” was published on one of my favourite online haunts – the Guardian website. Sometimes, or often in my case, one gets annoyed when reading/listening to/watching something that you consider to be wrong. So instead of just getting annoyed and shouting at the laptop/radio/TV I thought I’d write a reply… and this is it, in case the title hasn’t given me away.

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by Stuart Withers and Sarah Walker

Friday night saw the final instalment in a series of the highest profile extradition cases in the past decade. After the High Court refused to grant permission for judicial review (official summary of judgment here) Abu Hamza, one of the most hated and reviled people in the UK, together with Babar Ahmad, Talha Ahsan and the less notorious Al Fawaz and Abdel Bary, were boarded onto planes at RAF Mildenhall bound for the US.  According to the Home Office’s Twitter account they ‘ensured plans were in place so these men could be handed over within hours of the court’s decision.’ Their planes left the UK around midnight.

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by Sarah Walker

Theresa May has found herself, yet again, on the receiving end of criticism from human rights lawyers following her recent announcement that she wants MPs to vote on what constitutes the Article 8 right to family life. In particular, she wants them to make clear in a Commons Motion that Article 8 is not an absolute right to family life and, further still, that where there is a choice between that right and deportation, in the context of foreign prisoners, judges ought to give priority to deportation. Furthermore, if they don’t, she has threatened to introduce primary legislation to the same effect.

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by Sarah Walker

The United Kingdom Government has recently reiterated that it wants to introduce gay marriage by 2015. This has led to fierce public debate, of interest not least because the same debate is raging across the pond in the United States of America, playing some role in the 2012 presidential election.

Moving away from the debate based upon personal opinion and religious doctrine I want to focus in on a jurisprudential problem at the heart of this debate, but not yet discussed in mainstream media. The essence of it is this: should the law follow society or should society follow the law?

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