Justice Beat: parliamentary privilege, student suicides, and a system failing children with special educational needs


Justice Beat

The CrowdJustice Team

posted on 26 Oct 2018

This week, the Justice Beat focuses on parliamentary privilege, inquests into student suicides, and a system failing children with special educational needs.

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Naming and shaming in Parliament

1. Businessman Sir Philip Green finds himself at the centre of a row about whether politicians should use parliamentary privilege to identify individuals when the press are prevented from revealing of their identity, the BBC reports. The Daily Telegraph previously reported that a leading businessman had secured an injunction to prevent the newspaper from revealing allegations of sexual and racial harassment, but Labour Peer Lord Hain used parliamentary privilege to name Sir Philip Green as the person accused, circumventing the court-ordered injunction.

2. Lord Hain is defending his action as “the right thing to do”. Sir Philip Green “categorically and wholly” denies the allegations. The debate raises an interesting question about whether and when Parliament ought to intervene once legal proceedings are on foot.

Student suicide

3. The family of 20-year-old Natasha Abrahart, a Bristol University student who took her own life after telling her university and health services she was suicidal, are seeking an inquest into the circumstances surrounding Natasha’s death, Huffington Post reports. Natasha is the 10th of 11 students to take their own life at Bristol since 2016. Her family are hoping that the inquest will lead to improved mental health services for students. They are raising funds on CrowdJustice to cover the costs of a full inquest.

Special needs provision “on the verge of crisis”

4. Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are being let down by councils around the country, which are too often failing to meet their legal obligations, The Guardian reports. Cuts to local authority budgets have resulted in a system, supposed to support young people with SEND, verging on crisis. Meanwhile, the cost to families – both emotionally and financially – fighting to secure the correct provision for their children, is huge.

5. The Government is also being warned that Britain is breaching UN human rights laws due to the high rate of school exclusions among children with autism and special educational needs, according to The Times. Preventing a high number of students with SEND from accessing education conflicts with the UK’s commitment to inclusive education under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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This week on CrowdJustice, the family of Katie Allan, who took her own life in prison following bullying, are raising funds to seek reform of the prison system, Middlesbrough FC fans are crowdfunding to challenge police powers under which they were detained and Hackney residents are fundraising to challenge council restrictions on business hours expected to impact Hackney’s night time economy.

Image credit: Financial Times / Flickr

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