Must read posts on the Twitter Joke Trial appeal

Your brief guide to the High Court case.

The appeal of Paul Chambers at the High Court against his conviction under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 takes place on 8 February 2012. As I am acting as Paul's solicitor (I happen to be a qualified lawyer as well as a journalist), I cannot really write too much about the case at the moment. However, the summary and links below should provide all the information and commentary one could want on the case.

In brief: the appeal is entirely on points of law and will centre on the correct interpretation of section 127(1) of the Communications Act 2003. Paul's legal team, headed by Ben Emmerson QC (widely considered as the leading human rights lawyer of his generation) and Sarah Przybylska will argue that the threshold for criminal liability under section 127 should be far higher than a case such as Paul's jokey and exasperated tweet. This will be the first time that the High Court has considered the "menacing" communication offence under section 127 and, as Ben Emmerson is leading the appeal, it promises to be a master class in the current state of freedom of expression law.

The hearing starts at 10.30 and is before Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Irwin. Lord Justice Gross recently held that anti-war protesters in Luton in 2009 did not have the benefit of Article 10 rights in respect of "breaches of peace"

Factual background

Background to the appeal at New Statesman

My recent post on the appeal at The Lawyer

The "Case Stated" by Doncaster Crown Court at Jack of Kent

Commentary

Blog by Graham Linehan

Charlie Brooker at the Guardian

Nick Cohen at the Observer

Irish blogger "CripesonFriday"

Me at New Statesman

The Pod Delusion special podcast on the fund-raising event

 

David Allen Green is legal correspondent of the New Statesman and solicitor for Paul Chambers.

David Allen Green is legal correspondent of the New Statesman and author of the Jack of Kent blog.

His legal journalism has included popularising the Simon Singh libel case and discrediting the Julian Assange myths about his extradition case.  His uncovering of the Nightjack email hack by the Times was described as "masterly analysis" by Lord Justice Leveson.

David is also a solicitor and was successful in the "Twitterjoketrial" appeal at the High Court.

(Nothing on this blog constitutes legal advice.)

Photo: Getty
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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.