Recommendations for changes to sex trials in NI announced

Sir John Gillen has presented his report on the handling of sexual assault and rape trials in Northern Ireland. This report was commissioned after a high profile rape trial saw two men acquitted of rape and two others acquitted of other offences connected to the same incident. The Review group heard from more than 200 organisations and individuals and considered the way these offences were handled across the globe.

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Northern Ireland – the challenge of no Assembly

On the 2 April 2018 the High Court in Belfast heard a judicial review on behalf of a survivor in his seventies, identified as JR 80, who is seeking to compel the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley to act on and implement the recommendations of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA).

In 2017 the HIA published a report recommending redress ranging from £7,500 to £100,000 for those who were resident in a care facility and who suffered neglect and abuse, or experienced a harsh regime or witnessed other residents being abused between 1922 and 1995. The proposed redress also provided for a specific award of £20,000 if the person was transported to Australia or any other country as part of the scheme to populate those territories.

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Child Migrant Redress

The first report published by IICSA in March 2018 related to child migration and it included a recommendation that HM Government establish a redress scheme for surviving former child migrants providing an equal award to every applicant on the basis they were all exposed to the risk of sexual abuse. This concept of being at risk of abuse even if abuse did not occur echoes the harm’s way payments included in the Lambeth Council Scheme and proposed in the Northern Ireland Redress Scheme.

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Developments in the political arena in Northern Ireland and implications for Redress and the HIAI recommendations

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, made a number of announcements on the 6 September 2018 concerning the political impasse in Northern Ireland.  While the cut to the pay of the MLAs made the headlines it was the discussion about the role of the Civil Service and decision making powers that may be of significantly greater relevance. Continue reading

Media reporting and abuse investigation

The decision to award Sir Cliff Richard a significant sum for a breach of his right to privacy comes at a moment when issues of false allegations and the way sexual assault cases are to be investigated and prosecuted is to the fore in any event.  Continue reading

‘Up-skirting’ to be made a criminal offence

In September 2017 we reported on the issue of ‘up-skirting’ – the practice of taking a picture up the skirt or dress of a woman or girl in public, sometimes as part of a programme of harassment by the person taking the picture,  often occurring without the victim ever being aware. The photos are then often circulated to others invading the privacy of, distressing and humiliating whomever is in the picture.  At the time it was noted that this was an example of where the law had not caught up with the misuse of technology.  However, today the government has indicated that it will support a private members bill – the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill 2018 – to make the practice a criminal offence in England and Wales.  The Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 15 June 2018 and it is understood to have cross party support.   Continue reading

Impact of the Arc21 Judical Review on the Redress preparations

It is not immediately apparent how a judgement in a judicial review over a planning consent could have any impact on the Redress preparations being made in Stormont following the recommendations of Sir Anthony Hart in the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry.  However there could be significant consequences creating even greater confusion in the situation as it stands.

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