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Legal Matters Scotland
Wednesday, 13th October 2021

A free early morning round up of news for legal professionals across Scotland.
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Lawyers say new borders bill breaches law
Priti Patel's borders bill breaches international and domestic law in at least 10 different ways, a report from immigration lawyers has concluded. Four barristers led by the human rights QC Raza Husain say the home secretary's nationality and borders bill would be likely to face legal challenges if it became law. Giving a legal opinion commissioned by Freedom From Torture, they said: "This bill represents the biggest legal assault on international refugee law ever seen in the UK. The principle at the heart of the bill is the penalisation, both criminally and administratively, of those who arrive by irregular means in the UK to claim asylum." The report went on: "The basis for the attack on irregular arrival is that refugees should use safe legal routes. But there are no such routes". Plans to send those claiming asylum to offshore centres would also breach the ECHR and the refugee convention, the report said.
The Guardian  

Tories’ demand for whole life jail terms is ‘cruel and inhuman’
The Scottish Tories have called on Scotland’s other parties to back whole term sentences to ensure “life means life”, but Hannah Graham, a senior lecturer in criminology at Stirling University, said it is not necessary to introduce new laws for whole life sentences in Scotland as “there are already existing provisions in Scottish law and criminal justice that would enable the judiciary to sentence someone to prison beyond the end of their natural life”. She added: “To campaign for more deaths in custody is not respectful of any capacity for hope and rehabilitation, and sails very close to the wind in term of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”
The Times  


Scottish Government won't reveal location of tower blocks with poor cladding
The Scottish Government has failed to reveal the locations of tower blocks which could have combustible cladding. In August it emerged that inspections had begun on 25 high rises in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow with a view to removing any dangerous cladding found. Housing campaigners requested the locations of the high rises, under Freedom Of Information. But Gail Clapton, of the Scottish Government’s Cladding Remediation Unit, said the data was exempted as it had been supplied to them in confidence. She added: “We recognise that there is public interest in release because of understandable concerns over home safety. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining the privacy of individuals who provided personal information.”
Daily Record  


AAB announces partnership with The Law Society of Scotland
Anderson Anderson and Brown (AAB) has announced a new strategic partnership with The Law Society of Scotland. AAB provides audit and accounting, tax, payroll and HR, outsourcing and advisory solutions globally from offices in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and it will provide “resources and support specifically designed for the legal sector”. Paul Mosson, executive director of member services at The Law Society of Scotland, said: “The new strategic partnership builds on the strong relationship we already have with AAB. We’re delighted to have them on board as our new partner and look forward to working together on providing services which will benefit our membership".
Accountancy Today  


Legal challenge to ‘government by WhatsApp’
The government is facing a High Court challenge over its use of WhatsApp and instant messaging. Official guidelines have emerged which say ministers must ensure instant messages on an internal system are deleted. Transparency campaigners say this is "unlawful" and have secured a judicial review of the rules. Ministers are banned from using WhatsApp and private email for discussing government business. But Cori Crider, director of campaigning law group Foxglove, said the rules were clearly not being followed and were incoherent. The group has argued that using messaging systems that allow texts to be deleted violated the Public Records Act of 1958, which requires legal checks to be made on messages in case they need to be kept for the public interest.
BBC News   Daily Mail   The Guardian  


Jobseeker claim figures down
New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions have revealed that the number of benefit claimants seeking work in the north and north east has fallen - with a year-on-year 41% drop in the Highland Council area in August in the "alternative claimant count", which covers all those registered as "searching for work". The fall was noticeably larger than the Scotland-wide figure of 29%. In Aberdeenshire, a fall of 29% was recorded, while claimant numbers fell 22% in Aberdeen.
The Press and Journal  

ScotRail workers offered 4.7% pay deal to stop strikes
Workers at ScotRail have been offered a 4.7% pay deal in a bid to halt a series of strikes that threaten to disrupt the COP26 climate conference. The Scotsman reports that staff have been offered an initial 2.5% increase backdated to April 2021, with a further 2.2% increase promised in April 2022, along with a £300 bonus payment for ensuring that the UN conference is fully supported. The RMT said the offer "has been received" and is being discussed by union reps, with a statement to be issued "in due course".
The Scotsman  

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Minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland had 'minimal impact' on crime
The introduction of minimum unit pricing of alcohol (MUP) in Scotland had a minimal impact on drink-related crime, a new study suggests. Research from Manchester Metropolitan University analysed Police Scotland data to understand how MUP, introduced in May 2018, affected various crimes. It found no significant statistical changes in alcohol-related crime, disorder and public nuisance offences. The data covered the period from January 2015 to January 2020. The latest research published by Public Health Scotland, which includes the 21 months after MUP was implemented, indicated there was also little change in non-alcohol-related crimes such as drug-related offences.
BBC News   The Times   The Herald   The National   The Scotsman  


Labour calls for Holyrood inquiry into pandemic
Scottish Labour have called for Holyrood to hold a parliamentary inquiry into the Scottish Government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, following a joint report from two Westminster committees that described the UK Government's early response to the crisis as "one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced". Deputy leader Jackie Baillie says First Minister Nicola Sturgeon "ignored" the same early warnings as Prime Minister Boris Johnson, resulting in the "same tragic outcome". "At crucial points in the pandemic the UK and Scottish Governments were in lockstep", she says, "acting too slowly in response to the danger and failing to warn the public of the risk."
The Herald   The Press and Journal   The Scotsman  


EU ready to scrap most checks on British goods entering NI
The EU will offer to remove a majority of post-Brexit checks on British goods entering Northern Ireland in a move that would see up to 50% of customs checks on goods lifted and more than half the checks on meat and plants abandoned. The move, set to be outlined today, comes after Brexit minister Lord Frost warned that it would be a “historic misjudgement” if the EU did not consider scrapping and replacing the existing Northern Ireland protocol. The reduction of the checks has been proposed by Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s Brexit commissioner, who is set to say the proposals are not being tabled on a “take it or leave it” basis.
The Guardian  


Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry: Boy drugged and abused by teacher
A former pupil at a private school has told an inquiry how he was drugged and sexually abused by a teacher. John Findlay waived his anonymity to tell the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry about the incident at Aberlour House in in Moray in 1990. The matter was taken up with a senior official at the school and Mr Findlay's parents agreed not to pursue police action after being assured the man would never teach again. However, Mr Findlay said he discovered the man went on to teach in England where he ended up leaving in similar circumstances. The man, who cannot be named under inquiry restrictions, has now died.
BBC News  


IMF expects economic growth to hit 6.8%
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the UK economy to see growth of 6.8% this year. Although this is slightly lower than the 7% predicted in July, it would still represent the fastest growth in the G7. The IMF also believes the UK will see growth of 5% in 2022, a 0.2% increase on its previous forecast. The IMF said the global economy is set to grow 5.9% this year and 4.9% next year – with these 0.1 percentage points lower than previously suggested.
BBC News   Daily Mail  

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