May 11th - This week the Justice Beat focuses on criminal justice, shady social media and Dr who.
1. Hot on the heels of the Secret Barrister’s best-selling book exposing some of the dark realities of the criminal justice system, BuzzFeed has published an exposé of an apparent MOJ attempt to obfuscate or conceal some of its findings around the impact of legal aid cuts on defendants in the criminal courts. The MOJ’s report, which it insisted twice on the record did not exist, was leaked to BuzzFeed this week.
2. At the same time, criminal barristers are ratcheting pressure on the UK government over new legal aid fees, writes the FT. The Criminal Bar Association has invited its members to refuse to accept returns (whereby barristers step in at short notice to cover others’ diaries clashes) in legally aided defence cases. This is in addition to existing action, and aims to demonstrate “the extent to which the system depends on the goodwill of those who work in it,” says the CBA.
Shady social media
3. Beware of online manipulation: Google and Facebook are now the enforcers in “foreign” attempts to influence the Irish abortion referendum via digital advertising – and likewise to circumvent campaign finance rules. Following reports by journalists and campaigners that groups outside Ireland, including US pro-life organisations, are pumping cash into the 25 May referendum, the tech giants are attempting to ban all foreign adverts. However, writes the New Statesman, it remains to be seen whether Google and Facebook’s measures are remotely workable, and how they will be monitored and enforced.
4. Would you know the difference between one of hip-hop’s biggest producers and a gynaecologist from from Pennsylvania? After a three-year long trademark battle, the US Patent office has dismissed a claim by Dr Dre (hip-hop artist) against Dr Drai (gynaecologist and part time pop science author). In its ruling, writes Fortune, “the trademark officials said Dre (real name Andre Young) had failed to demonstrate how people would confuse the two when buying Drai’s products, which include books such as 20 Things You May Not Know About A Vagina”.
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This week on CrowdJustice, legal action is launched against the immigration exemption in the Data Protection Bill, the charity Unlock challenge minor childhood crimes showing on DBS checks, a family seeks a full inquest into their high-functioning autistic daughter’s death in care, and wildlife campaigner Mark Avery launches action against Natural England.