David Cameron: Intelligence Agencies Work within Law

According to PM David Cameron intelligence agencies operate within the law.

There are allegations that certain agencies have gathered and shared phone records and internet data.

It is still not confirmed or denied if GCHQ had been given access to a US spy programme called Prism but America’s National Security Agency and the FBI are expected to get access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Skype, Microsoft and some other of the world’s top internet companies. They all said they would not give the US government access to their servers.

Mr. Cameron stated that UK’s intelligence agencies kept people safe as at the same time operated within the law. The Legal Stop also keeps their clients safe and helps them find a wide variety of business documents, corporate documents, employment documents and HR documents.

In the words of Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind due to the British law such agencies need to get ministerial authority so that they get the opportunity to look at the content of the emails of British citizens.

An increase of 137% was registered for the intelligent reports GCHQ did in the 12 months to May 2012.

However, the minister with responsibility for GCHQ announced that UK citizens had nothing to worry about.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander told Today: “These agencies do vital work for us week in and week out. But it’s also vital that the public have confidence that they are operating in a framework of legality.”

Conservative MP Dominic Raab shared his opinion that the happening changes influenced seriously the view of the people so public confidence would erode.

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects the content of people’s phone conversations.

Government officials may scoop up information on duration and timing of certain calls.

Mr. Obama announced surveillance programmes would protect the US from terrorist attacks


Google’s Eric Schmidt ‘perplexed’ over UK tax debate

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt stated that he was bewildered by the affirmation that according to the corporate documents, they did not pay proper amount of taxes.

Between 2006 and 2011 Google paid £10m in UK corporate taxes on revenues.

According to Mr. Schmidt the government had to change its tax systems, otherwise companies would never start paying more taxes.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Start the Week, he said: “What we are doing is legal.

If the British system changes the tax laws then we will comply. If the taxes go up we will pay more, if they go down we will pay less. That is a political decision for the democracy that is the United Kingdom.”

On the other hand, Margaret Hodge, the head of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, called for a new committee, which had to oversee the tax arrangements of major firms.

In her opinion, the committee had to hear evidence from companies in secret, so that they could not hide the affairs behind confidentiality rules.

European Union leaders gathered last week and took the decision to monitor the situation using information exchange.

The chairman of Google called for a debate on tax reforms claiming taxes had to be paid not only on revenues but on company’s profits.

“Our hope is to move the debate forward, with everyone engaged constructively in developing a clearer, simpler system – one in which companies that abide by the law know that the politicians who devised the rules are willing to defend and commend them.”


HMRC to Miss Tax Credit Fraud Target, says PAC

In 2010 the government challenged HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to cut fraud and error by £8bn by 2015. The predictions of the Public Accounts Committee point out that the sum will be reduced by £3bn. Can you imagine how many legal documents you can buy with this amount of money?

A new point in the tax credit system proposes that parents returning to work should get financial support.

There will be a complex system taking into account age, income, hours worked, number and age of children, childcare costs and disabilities, which will allow low-income families, apply for tax credits. HMRC has to be aware of the changes in family circumstances.

It turns out that the claimant cannot totally understand the system and HMRC has many problems with its administration.

The results from the latest figures show that one in five awards featured an error or fraud; £1.7bn of these overpayments was written off because claimants did not intend to pay it; in 2010-11- £2.3bn was lost to fraud and error; the 2015 target will be missed by £5bn.

The committee advised HMRC to improve the information it gives to claimants in letters and through its helpline, and also check more carefully the information received back.

This increased the number of checks made by HMRC and respectively the number of appeals after payments were reduced or cancelled.

Many experienced financial hardship due to delays of six to eight months.

A spokesman for HMRC said that extra checks had saved £390m and helped the accurate usage of information.

“We are also getting tougher with claimants about the proof they need to support their claims; for example on childcare costs and on school leavers,” he said.


Defamation Bill Threatened Again

After an amendment was tabled according to which two key sections of the defamation bill have to be removed, the reform of UK defamation law is again threatened.

Three years after the libel reform campaigners started working the defamation bill is about to become a law.

Sir Edward Garnier, a Tory MP and libel lawyer pleaded that two aspects of the bill have to be removed. If the bill stands as it is now, individuals or public authority would not have the chance to sue for libel over criticism, which means that journalists and bloggers would criticize local authorities with no fear. Is it as bad as it sounds by the way? The Legal Stop will not criticise any authority, as all we want to do is to provide you with the required legal documents. For that reason we launched the “request a document” service.

In 1993 after Derbyshire Council unsuccessfully attempted to sue the Times newspaper “the Derbyshire Principle”was established.

Due to another clause companies would have to prove what the financial damages of the company after this written criticism were, otherwise they would not have the right to bring libel claims against journalists and bloggers.

If the suggestion of Sir Edward is accepted both of these clauses will be removed from the bill.

People who have worked on the bill are against the amendment proposed by Sir Edward.

One of the men involved in the genesis of the bill, Lib Dem peer Lord Lester, shared his view that Derbyshire Principle clause has to be preserved by all means.

According to freedom of speech groups Sense and Science and English PEN financial loss has to be proved before companies are being allowed to sue for libel.

Last month when Lord Puttnam tabled an amendment to add a recommendation on press ethics to the bill, the government would have almost thrown out the entire bill.

This amendment, however, was removed.


Who has the right to vote the England-only laws?

Due to a recent report the majority of MPs representing English constituencies should back Legislation that affects England only.

The McKay Commission was launched in order to take a decision if Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish MPs have the right to vote on English-only matters.

The words of the government about the report mentioned were that it needed to be seriously considered.

As Scottish and Welsh MPs supported the English government in 2004, it was allowed to push through the introduction of university top-up fees.

However, the current situation was announced to be “unsustainable” so serious changes had to be made.

The proposal of the McKay Commission was that the MPs of different districts had to take decisions only about their regions, which proposal is not only for England but also for Wales.

MPs would be given specific Parliamentary time to debate either to endorse or reject the plans for England.

The commission gave the idea that the proportion of English MPs who have supported a Bill would be published together with the final results.

“If a government was seen to have failed to attract the support of a majority of MPs from England [or England and Wales] for business affecting those interests, it would be likely to sustain severe political damage,” it says.

The opinion of the commission chairman Sir William McKay was that Westminster law-making had to focus on England and Wales as soon as possible.

He added that according to surveys people in England were not satisfied of the existing arrangements and supported change.

“There is a feeling that England is at a disadvantage, and that it’s not right that MPs representing the devolved nations should be able to vote on matters affecting England.”

In a statement the cabinet Office spokesman said they would first have to think carefully before announcing the final decision.

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Football Authorities Threatened With Changes to The Law

Football authorities were given 12 months to make some changes in the way the game runs, otherwise they will face changes to the law.

It was proved after a report that football authorities took almost no action to implement the changes that the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee recommended in July 2011.

Even the sports minister described football in the UK as “the worst governed sport in this country”.

The idea of this report is to propose ways which will help English clubs become more responsible with their finance and also give fans more opportunities to give their opinions on the running of the clubs.

It turned out that the three main football authorities- the Football Association, Premier League and Football League- disappointed the committee.

The expected reforms had to do much about the balance between the FA and the Premier League because Premier League is now the dominant one.

Due to this report if authorities did not make the steps needed the legislation would be introduced to enforce Financial Fair Play rules. These are made in a way that they limit the amount that clubs can spend in comparison to the amount that they earn.

The three football authorities made a statement saying they had done just enough:

“Significant headway has already been made on many of these proposed reforms, not least on sustainability and transparency….the remaining reform proposals are the subject of consultation within the game and we are confident that the necessary progress will be made.”

Despite this statement Hugh Robertson said they could do more:

“We have been clear that we want the football authorities to carry out the reforms they promised by the start of the 2013-14 season – most notably around improved governance and diverse representation at the FA, the development of a licensing system and greater financial transparency”.

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Disproportionate Force Against Burglars To be Legalised

Homeowners might be able to use “Disproportunatte force” if they need to defend their homes from burglars. This is the clause that is expected to be added to the crime and courts bill, which is currently under review by the House of Lords. This information has been hiven by Justice secretary Chris Grayling, who announced recently his intentions to change the laws concerning self-defence from intruders.

And on Sunday, Grayling said: “The public should be in no doubt that the law is on their side. That is why I am toughening up the current law for those who defend themselves and their loved ones. Householders who act instinctively and honestly in self-defence are victims of crime and should be treated that way.”

Currently home owners, who are victims of intruders are required to force which they genuinely feel to be “reasonable in the circumstances”, which means the new changes may seem unreasonable. This, according to legal experts will lead to difficulties related to the implementation of the proposed changes in the real world.

“It’s a vote-catcher,” said the chair of the Criminal Bar Association, Michael Turner QC. “There’s no concept elsewhere in British law of allowing anyone to use disproportionate force for pretty obvious reasons.
“It’s no surprise that a non-lawyer would come up with such a crazy
idea. Are we really saying that the police should not even investigate
cases [in which an intruder is harmed]? I can’t believe this will make
it into statute.”

Apparently, there is little evidence the changes offered to give
better protection for the victims of this kind of criminal offence.
Recent researches show that there are very few house owners, who
fought against burglars and got charged – only 11 cases for more than
15 years, with only 7 of them inclusive of domestic burglaries.

Currently, we cannot offer you a How-To-Fight-Intruders Guide book,
however we have a large variety of free and paid legal documents,
which hopefully will help you sort out a certain aspect of your life.



Prisoners may be Banned Voting

Today the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, said that there is a possibility that parliament changes the rules over voting rights in a way that prisoners may be refused legal aid to sue the government.

As there is a six-month deadline set by theStrasbourgcourt, Grayling also mentioned that MPs will get the opportunity to choose among three options concerning the voting rights of prisoners. Both

House of Commons and the House of Lords will have to make up their minds over the three options. The proposed options are:

  • a ban for prisoners sentenced to more than six months
  • a ban for prisoners sentenced to four years or more
  • a ban for all convicted prisoners

According to the European Court of Human Rights, prisoners in the UK cannot be banned voting because this will contradict to article three of the European Convention on Human Rights referring to the  the right to free and fair elections.A few weeks ago, The Legal Stop informed you about the situation:

Voting Rights For The UK Prisoners

Grayling told parliament that: ‘As lord chancellor, as well as secretary of state for justice, I take the obligation on me to uphold the rule of law seriously.’

However, he also mentioned that the parliament is the only institution that may change the current law and until this happened there was no way so that things change.

To questions on his plans against ‘ambulance-chasing compensation claims’ the justice secretary answered “I have asked the question about the use of legal aid for purposes I don’t believe our legal aid system is designed to be there for, and I hope to be bringing forward further thoughts in that area before very long.”

Grayling’s thoughts about theStrasbourgcourt are identical to those of the Labour’s former justice secretary Jack Straw. They both agree that theUKis one of the countries that need special reforms in their systems because the decisions of theStrasbourgcourt have gone far beyond the aims of its creators.


No Sympathy for Burglars Wounded in Farm House Robbery Attempt

On September 2nd, in Leicestershire, near Melton Mowbray, two men attempted to rob a farm cottage. Instead, they got shot by the owner of the property. According to a judge, the burglars should have expected to be shot for entering a property of a gun owner. It is stated in the law that people in good faith and using reasonable force can defend themselves with any means they feel are necessary to protect themselves, their families or property from intruders.

Judge Michael Pert QC ironically stated to the burglars Daniel Mansell, 33, and Joshua O’Gorman, 27, that it is only normal to be shot once you have entered someone else’s private property in order to rob it. After all, the two burglars should have expected such an outcome given the fact that the owner of the property they entered was in the possession of a gun. The two men are now sentenced to four-year prison.

Despite the fact that both burglars pleaded guilty on an early hearing, the judge refused to accept the plea that the shooting by the owner must be treated as a mitigating factor. The plea was made on the account that the shooting caused not only injuries to the burglars, but also ‘trauma’ from what happened that day. The owner of the cottage farm, Andy Ferrie, 35, has a legal right for the gun he possesses. It was reported that he shot O’Gorman in the face and Mansell in the right hand after one of the burglars reached for a drawer that was full of kitchen knives.

The judge showed little sympathy to the two burglars. He stated that as long as someone is robbing someone else’s house or property, to be shot is not mitigation itself. After all, if you choose to burglar a house in the country, which owner is more that likely to legally own a shotgun, then it is only normal to expect that he will probably shoot at you. There is that chance with robbing farm cottages. That is why, burglars cannot expect to come to court and plead for a lighter sentence just because the owner shot at them. Mr. Ferrie was reported to have been arrested for suspicion of grievous bodily harm and because of that he was held in custody for about two days along with his wife, Tracey, 43. The couple was then released and no criminal charges were made against them. According to the judge, the experience that Mr. Perry had could have been as upsetting as the ones claimed by the burglars themselves.

The chief prosecutor for the East Midlands, Judith Walker announced that she was satisfied to see that householders can act in a reasonable self-defense when faced with intruders in frightening circumstances. She also added that the law clearly states that as long as anyone ‘acts in good faith, using reasonable force, doing what they honestly feel is necessary to protect themselves, their families or their property, will not be prosecuted for such action’.

If your business needs any legal documents, there is no need to shoot anyone, as The Legal Stop has everything you need – highest quality legal documents.

New Squatting Law

Squatters to face fines and jail sentencing according to changes in the law. From Saturday, in England and Wales squatting in a residential building will be considered a criminal offence. From now on the police will be able to act immediately to squatting reports.

These changes are considered a great improvement of the system, as currently property owners are the ones responsible for the eviction of squatters. They need to take court action against the squatters and to prove they live in the property before being allowed to take any action against the squatters. According to the new law the maximum penalty for squatting will be six-month prison along with a £5,000 fine.

On the other hand the changes have been criticised by some organisations including the Law Society and the Criminal Bar Association. The new changes will affect mainly those living in abandoned and unoccupied properties however, there is little need for such sanctions in these areas.

There were claims that police failing to enforce laws currently in place was behind many of the current problems, with questions over whether the new offences would make any difference. The Metropolitan Police agreed that the current legislation on the matter was generally sufficient.

Homeless charities and campaign groups also raised their voice by saying that the new legislation would lead to criminalisation of vulnerable people. By forcing them to live rough and fine them, the government might make the squatting problem worse than it is.

“It will do nothing to address the underlying reasons why vulnerable people squat in the first place – their homelessness and a lack of affordable housing,” said Leslie Morphy, chief executive of national homeless charity Crisis. “Ultimately the government needs to tackle why homeless people squat in the first place by helping, not punishing, them.”

However Housing Minister Grant Shapps claimed that the government was “tipping the scales of justice back in favour of the homeowner” with the move.


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