April 6th – this week the Justice Beat focuses on ethical decisions, and literary legal lore.
1. Criminal lawyers across England and Wales this week began a mass walk-out in protest at sustained financial cuts to the justice system, including substantial reductions to legal aid funding, reports BuzzFeed. An overwhelming 90% of the Criminal Bar Association voted in favour of the action, which has resulted in trials going ahead without any defence representation. (Separately, a CrowdJustice campaign to send a copy of the Secret Barrister's book highlighting the crisis in the criminal legal justice system to all MPs is worth checking out).
2. Can employees effectively take a stand against their corporate overlords? The New York Times today reports that thousands of Google employees are protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The idealism is in contrast to the US Defense Secretary's "central goal" – to "increase the lethality of the US military."
Literary legal lore
3. Who owns 221b Baker Street? According to Quartz, the ownership of the fabled home of Sherlock Holmes is a dark mystery – “held via a web of secretive offshore corporations which hide its owner’s identity.” Quartz dives into the case of the mysterious yacht, the adventurous Italian, and the “great cesspool”, in exploring Britain’s “permissive attitude to shady money”, and investigating claims that the building's ownership is linked to the Kazakh ruling elite.
4. Two CrowdJustice cases meanwhile highlight that land that has played the role of muse for many a great writer may be under threat. The landscape in Northern Ireland that inspired CS Lewis’ Narnia “has now become the inspiration for a developer to build apartment blocks”. Certainly, the Lion, the Witch and the Block of Flats just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
5. Meanwhile two planned quarry sites are the subject not of a new novel, but of a case that seeks to protect Thomas Hardy’s ‘Vale of the Dairies’. Campaigners argue that the proposed minerals extraction will permanently destroy ancient historical and environmental landscape and compromise the local rural economy and communities.
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This week on CrowdJustice former Catalan minister Clara Ponsati is fighting against extradition to Spain, parents in Hackney are challenging cuts to funding for children with special educational needs, a campaign group wants to stop the sale of Hornsey Town Hall to a private company, and NHS whistleblower Edwin Jesudason is taking his case to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.