Welcome to another Lawyer Portal weekly news summary. This week’s post will cover the legal news stories from 11th September 2017 to 18th September 2017. This week the attorney general, Jeremy Wright QC, has begun an initiative looking into the effects of social media on criminal cases; research recently published has revealed that 26% of secondary schools are breaking the law by not offering Religious Education lessons and a driver wins a legal battle against a private parking company, after deciding to sue him for not paying an £85 fine.
Jeremy Wright QC has called for an inquiry into how increasing social media use is potentially threatening the right to fair trial and “whether the criminal justice system has the tools it needs to manage that risk”.
As acknowledged by the attorney general to the Guardian, this raises controversies around freedom of speech. Wright has therefore reiterated that this is only a movement to obtain information rather than a compiling of evidence to change the law.
The Wrightson case of 2014, in which two teenagers were convicted of murdering a woman in Hartlepool, is what instigated the inquiry, due to multiple social media comments leading to the desertion of the case by the crown court. An official report will be produced after the closing of the inquiry on the 8th of December.
Just over a quarter of schools in England are currently breaking the law by not offering RE lessons to students, according to unpublished data obtained from Freedom of Information law. The National Association of Teachers of Religious Education uncovered this statistic to warn of the potential risk of not introducing students to RE. This revolves around the misconception of religion and religious individuals, leading to a lack of comprehension of worldwide issues. The subject can therefore teach children about the value behind understanding different cultures and faiths.
In response, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told the BBC that these ideas are already brought into education through alternative sources, including assemblies or citizenship lessons.
A spokesman from the Department of Education has stated, “Religious education remains compulsory for all state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, at all key stages and we expect all schools to fulfil their statutory duties”.
A barrister has won a case against ParkingEye, a private parking company, after being fined £85 for napping in a near-empty motorway services car park at night. Nicholas Bowen, a senior QC, refused to pay the fine for exceeding the free two-hour limit and was therefore sued by the company. Upon choosing not to challenge a court award, ParkingEye paid Bowen £1555 in costs.
The case has led to other individuals facing similar charges by the company coming forward to talk about their mistreatment by the company. ParkingEye is just one of many “rogue private parking companies” who are currently under speculation from MP Sir Greg Knight’s parking (code of practise) bill 2017-19, which seeks to introduce regulations to make the motorists’ appeals processes fairer.
Words: Isabella Ford
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