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07 October 2014

Legal Review - Police Spy Powers, Revenge pornography and more

Police spy powers: watchdog Sir Paul Kennedy launches major new inquiry

The Government's Interception of Communications Commissioner orders chief constables to provide full details of how police have use controversial spying powers to obtain journalists' telephone records

Police forces across the country have been ordered to disclose full details about their use of controversial anti-terror laws to spy on journalists.

Sir Paul Kennedy, the Government’s Interception of Communications Commissioner, said he was launching a “full inquiry” into how police obtained telephone records to trace reporters’ confidential sources.

It was revealed at the weekend how officers used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa) to order telecommunications companies to hand over call logs belonging to The Mail on Sunday newspaper, side-stepping a judge’s agreement to protect a confidential source.

Sir Paul pledged that the results of his investigation would be made public – leading to the prospect of the full picture being revealed for the first time after years of cover-ups by the police.

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Carol Harlow: Judging Parliament: the Jobseekers case

In July this year, Mrs Justice Lang sitting in the High Court gave leave for judicial review and, in rolled up proceedings, issued a declaration that the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013 (the 2013 Act) was incompatible with Article 6(1) of the ECHR (Reilly (No 2) and Hewstone v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2014] EWHC 2182). Article 6(1) as interpreted in the Strasbourg jurisprudence constrains states from legislating in such a manner as to affect the judicial determination of a dispute involving the State or private parties unless the state can show ‘compelling grounds of public interest’ for the legislation and the claimants argued that the 2013 Act amounted to an unjustified intervention in their ongoing litigation with the Government, with the object of determining the litigation in its favour by retrospectively validating its unlawful acts. The aim of this short comment is to consider the judgment in the framework of the Westminster system of parliamentary governance and question whether the principle it embodies is a good fit with this constitutional model.

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Shamed church trustee admits to defrauding fellow parishioners out of millions

Patrick Coppeard encouraged friends and neighbours to hand over hundreds of thousands of pounds, while he posed as a trustworthy investor

A former church trustee and magistrate has admitted to conning his fellow parishioners out of millions of pounds in an elaborate scam which went on unhindered for years, eventually ending when he gave himself up.

Patrick Coppeard, 49, used to work at investment bank Merrill Lynch, but now faces a “substantial” prison sentence for the seven figure swindle.

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'Revenge pornography' could lead to 14 years in jail, say new guidelines

Crown Prosecution Service publishes new guidelines setting out how offenders can be taken to court for posting intimate pictures to get back at a former partner.

Posting “revenge pornography” online could lead to a jail term of up to 14 years after prosecutors issued tough new guidelines in a bid to secure more convictions.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) signalled a significant change of tactics to address growing outrage about what it described as a “nasty and invasive crime”.

There has been mounting pressure for a new law to combat “revenge porn”, which involves publishing intimate photographs or video, some of which may include graphic sexual activity, as retaliation against a former partner.

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