Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bringing the Law into Disrepute

The men who spent 18 years in prison for the murder of newspaper boy Carl Bridgewater, but were later cleared of, have been told that they will have to pay back 25% of their compensation money to cover the cost of their "board and lodging" while in prison. Surely to God if they spent years in prison having been innocent of the crime, the least we, as a society, can do is leave them in peace and keep their compensation. It is judgements like this that bring our whole legal system into disprepute.

26 comments:

Childprotector said...

This looks potty, but there is logic in it somewhere. The original compensation award would have taken account of lost earnings as well as deprivation of liberty etc., and it would have looked a lot better if the living costs foregone in the outside world had been factored into that award instead of being clawed back later.

Marquee Mark said...

The worrying thing is that the Government must have spent far, far more on taking this all the way through the appeals procedure to the House of Lords than the cash amount actually involved. So they must have needed to have set a precedent for the basis of future awards.

So question - just how many more people do they propose to bang up in jail illegally, that will require there to be a precedent on this point??

Raedwald said...

Courts and juries have done and will continue to convict innocent persons.

There can be no real compensation for being wrongfully deprived of liberty and confined in prison for any part of our brief span on earth.

There is some comfort in the fact that these men were not hanged. As they surely would have been had the 'Daily Wail' faction in our Conservative movement held sway.

That our judiciary are still capable of admitting fault, when our executive seem to have rejected totally the notion of doing so, allows me some small degree of hope.

Anoneumouse said...

No Iain, it brings the law makers into disrepute. The Law Lords interpret the law they don't make it.

drink Bolls, piss green.
.

jailhouselawyer said...

This does bring the law into disrepute. I remember the media outcry when this offence was committed, and the rough time that those convicted initially received in prison. But, they won the prisoners over to their side long before the courts recognised that there had been a miscarriage of justice. It was the same with the Birmingham 6, and Guildford 4. Say what you like about prisoners, but they are the harshest of judges.

This is not compensation culture gone mad. In the USA, they awarded a man $7M for 2 years false imprisonment. Over here, initially, they offered the B6 £160,000! It went up to £2,250,000. Still not a patch on what the Americans believe freedom is worth.

They did not willingly check into this "hotel", so to charge them for bed and breakfast etc is ridiculous. I don't recall Jeffery Archer having to pay for his out of his Prison Diaries royalties.

I just hope that the case goes to the European Court of Human Rights. Those senile old farts in the House of Lords ought to get out more into the real world. It would be nice to hear if some of them choked after dunking their biscuits into their cocoa!

Scott said...

The media reporting here seems to misrepresent the decision, and your analysis seems based on the misreporting. The judges are not charging the Hickeys board and lodgings for their time in prison. The compensation scheme is to compensate for what has actually been lost. The argument is that if at liberty the loss of earnings (which is compensated as one element of any compensation claim) would overcompensate the Hickeys, who would have had essential spending on food and accommodation on the outside. The compensation for loss of earnings is pecuniary and only one aspect of the compensation - and the only aspect targeted by the deduction. The non-pecuniary aspect (compensation for loss of liberty, for damage to reputation, for injury and suffering) is dealt with under a different head of compensation which is not challenged by the judgment.

I happen to think the majority is incorrect and would agree with Lord Rodger in the minority - but hte argument is more nuanced than the various organs of the media suggest.

I have identified key aspects of the judgment in my LJ at http://loveandgarbage.livejournal.com/110817.html

ian said...

It's not often I agree with you, Iain, not even on the correct way of spelling Ian, but on this occasion you're absolutely right.

ChildProtector: Would the original compensation award have accounted for the Hickey's probability of buying a house in the past, and its subsequent growth in value? Bollocks would it. No-one in their right mind would pay anything for overcrowded prison cell accommodation and slops.

jailhouselawyer said...

I would challenge the Home Secretary's guidance to the assessor. Such guidance is not law, therefore should have been ignored.

tbfkatic said...

Yup, this is total madness. And if I was imprisoned for 20 years, I would want a heck of a lot more than what they got!

uk-events said...

Not sure what offends me more, the fact they want this money or the cretins trying to justify this bollocks.

Personally I'd tell them what they could do with their 25%

no longer anonymous said...

"There is some comfort in the fact that these men were not hanged. As they surely would have been had the 'Daily Wail' faction in our Conservative movement held sway."

Yes, it's just Daily Mail readers who support the death penalty. Let's forget the majorities that consistently voice their support in opinion polls.

Childprotector said...

I can understand everyone's bewilderment and perhaps disgust, but the problem is the clumsiness of the process, not the reasoning that in addition to assessing a price for wrongful imprisonment, the court and the Independent Assessor had to look at a net figure for everything else the three of them lost. It should all have been announced in a single net figure, not as a compensation award followed by a claw-back.

Have a look at the Times piece

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article1517215.ece

for an explanation of the sequence.

ian said...

So, are those people who are actually guilty liable to pay for their board and lodgings too, or is it only those people in prison wrongly who have to pay for the privilege?

Childprotector said...

No - those who are guilty don't get compensation

Curly said...

Whatever the legal rights and wrongs in the mechanism, surely the layman reading about this can only come to one conclusion - it really makes the Law look like a complete Ass!

(p.s. don't like this silly Google lark Iain.)

Jamie said...

If it's reasonable to remove the money they would have spent on board and lodging, presumably the Government should also deduct money they would have wasted on cigarettes and alcohol for instance. After all, by keeping them in prison, the Government have saved this money for them.

Benedict White said...

Iain, This issue has had lay lawyers like myself in a rage for years.

We knew it was coming, we felt it disgusting that the deduction was even asked for.

That said it is sold on the basis that criminals get more compensation than victims, (obviously skipping over the fact that they are innocent) and we need to rebalence the criminal justice system in favour of victims.

What is lost in the soundbites is the fact that the state will pay compensation for the wrongs of others to victims of crime where they have no realistic civil redress are paid by a state that did not commit the original wrong. When someone is found innocent of a crime after years in prison it is clearly the fault of the state. There is a huge difference.

What is also not appreaciated is that the amount that can be claimed by the victim of the injustice is only what can be proved. So if you were 16, Alan Sugar, a poor Jew working on a market stall you would get bugger all. Whereas if you were said now Sir Alan, you may have made a fair few bob more.

It brings shame on us all to penny pinch in this way.

james higham said...

...leave them in peace and keep their compensation...

You mean leave them in peace and we keep their compensation? The grammar is unclear.

Voyager said...

The worrying thing is that the Government must have spent far, far more on taking this all the way through the appeals procedure to the House of Lords than the cash amount actually involved

Quoi ?

The Loser pays the Costs is a principle of English Law

It is part of the vindictive streak of the British Legal System when in fact the Judge and the Lawyers should be subjected to an Inquiry of the type Dame Janet Smith held on the Shipman business.....perhaps annual appraisals of barristers with fitness-to-practise certificates....tests on Judges to see how far narcolepsy affects awareness.

I wonder if this was a technique used on POWs and simply transferred to the courts, and do these people in Belmarsh pay for their sojourn ?

Do the sexual harassment payouts in the Police and Army deduct their salaries from any settlements ?

Voyager said...

"There is some comfort in the fact that these men were not hanged. As they surely would have been had the 'Daily Wail' faction in our Conservative movement held sway."


Required Unanimous Verdict not Majority - the threshold has been lowered for conviction

Madasafish said...

I don't think this case brings the law into more disepute than already exists.

Seems perfectly logical by normal legal means.

Like giving a man 7 years for amassing a £11M fortune through drugs and fining him £1M.. whilst he has paid no tax on his illegally got £11M.

I'm surprised the sum did not have tax deducted...

Ralph said...

You have to wonder about the mentality of someone who thought this was a good idea, and the minister who OKayed it.

Voyager said...

You have to wonder about the mentality of someone who thought this was a good idea, and the minister who OKayed it.

I was only obeying order M'lud.....

Quite so....commendable

machiavelli said...

Well I hope in that case they were able to choose their own food and accomodation... Somehow I doubt it.

Do they get a discount for doubling-up?

Ron Knee's Rants and Raves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Knee's Rants and Raves said...

Sorry for the removal of the post, there. Spelling mistake. "Now it goes loose" (as Helmut Kohl once said)

Quote
" Childprotector said...
This looks potty, but there is logic in it somewhere. The original compensation award would have taken account of lost earnings as well as deprivation of liberty etc., and it would have looked a lot better if the living costs foregone in the outside world had been factored into that award instead of being clawed back later."
Unquote

WHAT you fail to take into consideration is that said illegal "detainee" could have and I emphasise the word COULD HAVE possibly far exceeded the official calculation of his expected income, Which is, by the way out of the question as he/she/it did NOT ask to be detained at her maj's pleasure. If one books a hotel room, one expects to pay the fee, but in this case when some other fucker books the room for you without your prior consent, it is surely up to the other sod to stump up the ante!
OR am I wrong here, could I book my neighbour into a hotel room without his knowledge and expect his credit card to pick up the bill?

Tithead.

Sorry for the length and bad language in this comment but I have a train to catch and I have to find a way to fill out the waiting time.....