Jewish Girl Given The Right To Be Baptised

 A 10-year old Jewish girl was given the right to be baptised. The girl is from a Jewish family, however after the separation of her parents, the father converted to Christianity and started taking her and her little brother to the church. Her mother was against the baptism, as she claimes the girl has been “brainwashed” into wanting to change her faith by the father.

The 10-year old girl said she made her own decision, however the mother thought her daughter it too young and immature to take such decisions. That`s why she took this to the court and applied for for a prohibited steps order to prevent the father from baptising or confirming either of their children into Christianity.

After talking to the family and taking all the facts into consideration judge John Platt concluded that the father was not “brainwashing” his daughter and it will be best if she make her own decision on whether to be baptised or not. When the decision has been made, the girl was not present at the court, however the judge wrote a letter to here, where he explained his decision. The letter was published alongside the ruling.

He wrote, “I have decided that the best thing for you is that you are allowed to start your baptism classes as soon as they can be arranged and that you are baptised as a Christian as soon as your Minister feels you are ready.

“Being baptised does not mean that you give up your Jewish heritage. That will always be part of you and I hope that you will continue to learn more about that heritage and about you (sic) mother’s faith. Even after you are baptised you are still free to change your mind about your faith later when you are older. Finally, and this is the most important thing, both your mother and father will carry on loving you just as much whatever happens about your baptism.”

Family Court Improvements Proposed

Top Judge prepared a number of recommendations concerning the increase of efficiency of family courts.

Mr Justice Ryder, who is supported by the Lord Chief Justice, proposed some changes, which could possibly help to improve outcomes and increase the case procession speed. Currently cases such as divorce, custody or abuse are often dealt with too slowly, as too much time is taken until the final decision is made. The idea proposed is that there can be placed a cap of 26 weeks for dealing with the case and its conclusion.

Another change featured in the recommendations is a single family court to be dealing with the cases. currently many cases are being sent from one court to another and often being handled by a variety of judges and magistrates , who might not have enough contact with each other.

It should improve the communications, as a single building would house all family courts (wherever possible), and judges and magistrates will be able to easily communicate with each other, as well as with the case holders. This will lead to a faster outcome and smooth case handling. In addition,  establishment of family court support centres is also proposed. This will serve to provide legal and administrative help to people, in terms of linking between courts for example.

Another important part of the changes suggested features a great attention to the children involved in family law cases. The proposal suggest measures to help children better understand what is happening and why certain decisions are being made by the court. Also, the changes proposed focus on children`s view and opinions, as often they are the ones affected by the decisions the most.

The report includes a portion of criticism over the appearance of expert witnesses in cases, where this is not so necessary, “Experts are misused and over-used,”he says. Limiting their usage is one of the points, which will respectively lead  to more training and guidance for the judges.

Mr Justice Ryder explained his recommendations, by saying: “The judicial modernisation programme is a plan which is designed to ensure that there is a robust framework in place to give effect to both the judiciary’s proposals and legislative change”.

The changes are expected to be applied in two phases. The first phase will take place by the end of 2013 and it will put in place structures and “leadership and management principles”. During the second phase in 2013-2014 judges will be trained and prepared for the Children and Family Bill, which will probably deal with the idea for 26 week cap for all family law cases.

OFT Investigating Competition Law Breaching in the Hotel Industry

Some big players in the hotel bookings online might be pronounced guilty of breaching competition law. This has been found by the Office of Fair Trading. According to their report the popular websites for hotel bookings and holiday planning and Expedia might have individually been related with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) in a way, which might be breaching the regulations.

It turned out that there is a possibility these websites and IHG, operating chains as Holiday Inn and Intercontinental to have entered into agreement, where and Expedia set uniform prices within the market, which is not fair to the competition. The investigation was launches, as a small travel agency complained they were not allowed to discount some of their hotel room prices. The travel agency decided to share some of their commission with the prospective visitors, but they were not allowed to do so, as ” they claimed that various hotels would not allow them to discount the rooms offered on their site”.

When asked for comment, IHG has denied the accusations, claiming there were no such agreements and their policy is complain with the competition legislation. The case is still under investigation, as a response from both companies is being awaited.

The statement made by IHG, claiming they were “consistent with the long-standing approach of the global hotel industry” made OFT suggest that this situation might be more complicated than it looks.

During the intial investigation, some large companies had been checked and the questionable practices have been claimed as “endemic” to the hotel industry, which could mean a widespread breach of competitive regulations

OFT chief executive Clive Maxwell- OFT chief executive stated: “We want people to benefit fully from being able to shop around online and get a better deal from discounters that are prepared to share their commission with customers.”

Offenders Pretend to be Police-officers

Three men aged between 27 and 35 were arrested in Russell Square, London, as they pretended to be police-officers and attempted to con tourists visiting London for the Olympics. They were tricking people to believe they were plain-clothed policemen and tried to ask money from them.

According to the police, this crime is not directly related to the Olympics, however, due to the increased number of visitors at that time, many fraudsters started thinking on schemes onto how to trick people.

People, who do not speak English and people from countries with great respect to authorities are thought to be most probable victims of the scam.

As London tourists have always been an attraction to criminals, Detective Superintendent Steve Osborn of Westminster borough warns that authority police-officers would never take money from you, they will not ask to see your bank cards and they would never ask you to disclose your PIN. There are real police-officers out there on the streets, who are observing the area and arresting anyone involved in crime. Mr. Osborn is proud of his officers, as they made several arrests yesterday.

Up to now the London police have already arrested three “touters” – people selling tickets for the Olympic games, on price, much higher than their real price



Cab Drivers’ Olympic Lane Strike Banned

As cab drivers are not allowed to use the dedicated “Olympic traffic lanes” in London, they planned to protest, however police had taken timely actions and the strike has been prevented on the Olympic Route Network.

The protest was planned for today. The United Cabbies Group (UCG) intended to hold a procession at Hyde park at around 17.00h, just a few hours before the Olympics opening ceremony. However, the police have managed to deal with this situation adequately, by banning such actions on any part of the Olympic Route Network between 16.00pm and 03.00am. Those who would like to take part of any kind of protests have also been forbidden from any acts of defiance to the north of the River Thames between the times specified. Such demonstrations can be harmful and may cause “serious disruption to the life of the community” says the police.

Bob Crow – general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union does not agree with the cab drivers` prevention from the Olympic lanes, as they are a key part of London`s transport. He says: “It remains extraordinary that the licensed taxi drivers who are a key part of London’s transport system are still banned from the VIP lanes on the eve of the Olympics.”

In favour of his statement he added: “The iconic London black cab was a central part of the imagery that secured London the Games and, even at this late stage, Mayor Boris Johnson should step in and allow them to use the Olympics lanes to help keep the city moving.”

Although the taxi drivers` protests were banned from the Olympic Route Network, they are determined to show their dissatisfaction for not being able to use the dedicated Olympic Lanes, so they have already set up two separate protests. First they caused a traffic jam around the Houses of Parliament and later they all gathered on Tower Bridge to express their displeasure by the situation


UK Border Controls to be Relaxed

Relaxation of border controls is required by the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz asked the home secretary Theresa May to make sure entering the country will be relaxed, being careful to keep safety risks as low as possible.

Many people entering the UK for the Olympic games are finding it difficult and too time consuming, with some people waiting more than three-hour queues at the airports. The Home Affairs Select Committee published a report today, recommending that “risk-based” pilot scheme that was cancelled last November be reinstated immediately.

According to that scheme the pilot enable the border control staff with the opportunity to decide which foreign travelers might pass through without being necessary to follow the completed and time-consuming checks. Example of such passengers are school children groups. Keith Vaz says: . “We don’t believe they should be given the same kind of priority as someone who is profiled as being a cause for concern.”

A number of other recommendations have been included in today`s report, such as addition of boards showing the approximate waiting time, and do the necessary steps in order to make accurate predictions of how long travellers will be made to wait.

The Minister of Immigration has already taken important steps to allow the border controls work smoother and faster during the Olympics, Keith Vaz praised him for doing so – “I am very pleased to see that the Minister for Immigration has kept his promise to the Committee that during the Olympics every kiosk at airports in the South East would be manned. However he is concerned about the recent delays and hopes more effective measures to be provided. He also said that it would be unacceptable to allow the ponderous procedures return after the end of the Olympic Games.
“However, as the Olympics finish international students will begin to arrive. We must ensure that the situation does not revert back to that witnessed prior to the Olympics.”


Ofcom ready for Legal Actions

Telephone regulator Ofcom, which made its rules for the 4G spectrum auction public, is now ready for any legal actions.

The widely discussed 4Gspectrum will be beneficial in terms of better and faster mobile internet service in the UK. The auction itself is expected to raise significant amount of money – over a billion pounds. Some networks, which will take part in the auction have threatened to sue Ofcom, which means that probably not all parties will be satisfied.

Ed Richards, CEO of Ofcom said: “”It’s a racing certainty there will be objections. ”We are fully prepared for litigation and we are fully prepared to defend the decisions we have taken today.”

On Monday, many lawyers of the networks involved in the auction , spent hours over 1,000 pages pages outlining the complicated process by which the auction will be carried out. After this document has been read and understood, although claimed to be “impenetrable”, by analysts, operators and their lawyers spent the next day working on their positions

Bidding for the  4G spectrum is scheduled to start in 2013, after all applications are submitted this year. Ofcom has warned the mobile operators that any legal action taken or anything disrupting the flawless process could cause delay for the roll-out of 4G services, which will hurt the UK, as it will stay behind many other countries.

It also took the opportunity to lament the lack of clout which UK regulators can wield to force changes in the face of objections from large companies.

Ed Richards said that the UK`s system was”too legalistic and too open to gaming”. He thinks that the authorities, involved in this should be able to have the power and the tools to make “timely decisions”, however in his view there is a risk that the UK might be going the wrong direction on this issue.

 “Everything we do now is subject to huge shadow of threat of litigation. [That can mean] multiple courts over multiple years. It’s not just a case of one court and you get an answer. It can be appealed and appealed.”

 Ed Richards

UK Gambling Regulations – Reduced and Simplified

According to a Commons culture committee’s report, the current gambling legislation has failed to keep up with the changes in culture and society, it is not adequate enough and some changes are required. The casinos and betting shops have very tight rights now, and MPs say that they should be allowed more slot machines, as well as the Gambling Commission should charge them less.

The last piece of legislation related to gambling is the 2005 Gambling act, which is now considered to be too “puritanical”. This Act was released, because the government was thinking of a way to facilitate the spread of casinos, however back in 2005 it faced strong public opposition and some changes were made, so no “Las Vegas” was materialised in Britain.

MPs called for more power to be given to local councils, when it comes to casinos. Currently, this is under the control of the Gambling commission, which was created by the 2005 Act. However they are considered too bureaucratic and expensive, which may put off entrepreneurs from investing in the gambling business.

John Whittingdale, the Conversative MP who heads the Commons culture committee, said that we need to be aware of the problems gambling can create, but there is a great need of new regulations, which should be simplified, a she believes that the the ‘reluctantly permissive’ tone of gambling legislation over the last 50 years now looks outdated.

Opponents have said that a relaxation of the law may pose a risk to some vulnerable people. Jake Brindell, a former gambling addict who runs a website to provide help other with gambling addictions, said it would bring in more money, but so-called problem gamblers would “suffer”.

“The more opportunities people have got to gamble, the more people are going to gamble,” concluded Jake.


Tax Avoidance Schemes – New Measures

New measures are being taken by the government against tax avoidance schemes. During the last few years more and more wealthy people were thinking of different ways to avoid the rulesand hide taxes.

Tax reduction firms, which exploit measures in order to lower taxes “artificially and aggressively” might be forced to reveal details about their clients, declared the Treasury minister David Gauke.

This was provoked after famous Jimmy Carr`s case, where he was involved in a complex scheme to reduce tax, an action described by David Cameron as “morally wrong” . The government is aware such schemes exist and is now seeking measures to reduce the occurrence of such activity. These schemes are not actually illegal, however they are considered to “go against the spirit of the law”

Tax Reduction companies, which refuse or fail to provide the government with the details of their clients- those who are engaged with tax reduction. In addition, these companies will be required to explain and show how these tax reduction schemes actually work.

The Treasury minister explained that the definition of tax avoidance are ambiguous. There needs to be taken action against such operations and everything should be legally proclaimed. The new laws will clarify what is “right” and “wrong” with tax avoidance practices.

In a speech, Gauke stated:
“We are building on the work we have already done to make life difficult for those who artificially and aggressively reduce their tax bill. These schemes damage our ability to fund public services and provide support to those who need it. They harm businesses by distorting competition. They damage public confidence. And they undermine the actions of the vast majority of taxpayers, who pay more in tax as a consequence of others enjoying a free ride.”


Life-Sentenced Murderer to Appeal his Verdict in European Human Rights Court

Jeremy Bamber, the convicted murderer, who was given the right to appeal against his life sentence by claiming this sentence is a human-rights infringement.

Jeremy Bamber was jailed for life in 1986 for killing his adoptive parents, his sister and her two children. He never plead guilty and refused to make any confessions.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg will make a decision on whether the UK law, according to which he is going to be detained for the rest of his life amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Along with two other cases for murdering, Jeremy`s case will be heard on 28 November. In January the European human rights judgesmade a ruling that it was not “grossly disproportionate” for the most notorious and dangerous British criminals to be jailed for life. However this will be tested by the grand chamber of the ECHR.

In 2008 Douglas Vinter killed her wife after already having spent 9 years in jail for murdering a colleague. Bamber was granted the appeal followig Douglas`s successful appeal.

Simon McKay-Bamber`s solicitor, said: “It is part of his long battle to challenge the home-secretary of the day going beyond what the trial judge said would be the appropriate sentence he should receive.He’s encouraged by it, but he’s realistic and acknowledges that it’s just another stepping point.”The final analysis will depend on what the Grand Chamber says in the end.”

The government has to stand firm. A spokesman from the Ministry of Justice said: “The European court upheld the view of our domestic courts that the imposition of whole-life tariffs for the most exceptionally serious cases is justified. It goes without saying that the government will be fighting the case vigorously in the grand chamber and defending the principle of the whole-life tariff.”