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News Round-Up Week Ending 16.1.15

(Posted on 16/01/15)

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News Round-Up Week Ending 16.1.15

Argyll Murder Case to CCRC.

A man convicted of his ex-girlfriend’s murder in 2012 is to have his case reviewed.

David Gilroy’s case has been submitted to the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC). 

“The family remain supportive of David in his work to bring to the attention of the justice system the significant flaws in the case brought against him,” his family said in a statement. “He has now spent nearly three years in prison wrongly convicted of a crime which he did not commit. 

“The family is concerned at the time which it is taking to get recognition of what they believe to be a serious miscarriage of justice involving faults by all parts of the justice system. David Gilroy’s family and friends hope that 2015 will see significant steps taken towards quashing his conviction and ending this protracted period of appalling injustice in all their lives.”

Suzanne Pilley’s body has never been found.

‘Groomed’ Teacher Escapes Jail

A teacher who had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female pupil has avoided jail. Stuart Kerner, vice principal at Bexleyheath Academy and a religious studies teacher, was instead given a suspended 18-month sentence.

“Her friends described her, accurately in my view, as stalking you,” Judge Joanna Greenberg told Kerner. “If grooming is the right word to use, it was she who groomed you [and] you gave in to temptation.”

“Despite the alleged pressure that he was under from the girl in question, it’s still a fact that Stuart Kerner grossly abused his position of trust,” Jon Brown responded for the NSPCC. “This was an abusive relationship and young people involved in situations like this can be damaged in many ways. Teachers have a duty of care to their pupils and Kerner should have taken steps to distance himself from the girl.”

“I think it unhelpful to attribute the word ‘grooming’ to a child,” said Donald Findlater of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. “Children develop crushes. Their insights into consequences are often not as developed as those of adults.”

"After a number of complaints, we carefully considered whether Stuart Kerner's sentence could be referred to the Court of Appeal for being too low - as part of the unduly lenient sentence scheme,” a spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office said on Thursday. "Mr Kerner's crimes are not included in this scheme, meaning the law officers are unable to refer this.”

Assisted Suicide Splits Scots

The Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill is being tried for a second time, having been previously championed unsuccessfully by the late independent MSP Margo MacDonald.

Two-thirds of Scots are apparently in favour of a law change but the medical profession is split.

“We need to be very clear what actually this assistance encompasses,” said Professor Alison Britton of the Law Society of Scotland. “We need to be also clear at what point is there a demarcation where assistance is being given and that actually crosses over to being complicit in homicide.”

“The line between assisting someone and taking the act out of that person’s hands is a fine one,” said Prosecutor Stephen McGowan for the Crown Office. “The key part of this is, there is no definition of what assistance actually is and what it is to assist someone in suicide.”

 “Any confusion is likely to lead to a police investigation, which I think most people would seek to avoid,” Detective Chief Superintendent Gary Flannigan, of Police Scotland, added.

Liberal Irony Lost on PM

The Prime Minister wants UK intelligence agencies to be able legally to decrypt suspected terrorists’ communications in order to prevent similar attacks to those in Paris, where he joined a rally at the weekend.

“In extremis, it has been possible to read someone’s letter, to listen to someone’s call, to mobile communications … The question remains: are we going to allow a means of communications where it simply is not possible to do that?” David Cameron asked on Monday. “My answer to that question is: no, we must not. The first duty of any government is to keep our country and our people safe.”

But his deputy was unconvinced. 

“The irony appears to be lost on some politicians who say in one breath that they will defend freedom of expression and then in the next advocate a huge encroachment on the freedom of all British citizens,” Nick Clegg said in a speech to the Journalists’ Charity at the Irish embassy on Monday night.

“The Paris stuff means that the council [EU governments] wants faster solutions,” said Claude Moraes, Labour MEP chair of the European Parliament civil liberties committee. “It has to be legislation that tackles terrorism but upholds freedom. They want to move quickly. And speed is not the enemy. But we have to exercise the greatest care. We don’t want legislation that collapses. It has to be watertight.”