Second knight for Sir Henry Brooke

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May 16, 2017
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President Nishani of Albania will honour Sir Henry Brooke for efforts to improve justice in the country

Mike Segar/Reuters

Sir Henry Brooke, the former vice-president of the civil division of the Court of Appeal in England and Wales, is scheduled to receive an unlikely award today. The octogenarian, who has taken to blogging with the enthusiasm of a teenager, is to be bestowed with the title of Skanderbeg Order’s Knight, which, for those who are not familiar with European gongs, is one of the highest medals doled out in Albania.

The Albanians are awarding Sir Henry – a long-time campaigner for court modernisation and improved technology in the justice system – for his work through the Slynn Foundation and its efforts to improve access to justice in the country. And they are not just popping the gong in the post. Bujar Nishani, the Albanian president, will be in London to make a personal presentation.

Presumably, Brooke will gently raise with Nishani and his entourage that while it is jolly decent of them to honour him, not everything is rosy on the rule of law front back in Albania. Amnesty International’s most recent country report for the central European state points uses worrying terms such as “enforced disappearances” and “forced evictions”. It also highlights issues around judicial independence and points out that over the last year, 20,000 Albanians have sought asylum in the EU.

Brooke says the Albanians are making progress. He tells The Brief: “I have paid 18 visits to Tirana since February 2010, and there are many fine people within the Albanian justice system who have welcomed the help we have been giving.”

That’s a picture of Richard, officer

Caroline Adams, a Sussex police officer, came over all coy as she was updating lawyers at last week’s Youth Justice Summit in London on the evolving approach to “sexting” by young people.

Readers of The Brief readers are doubtless aware that sexting – or creating or sharing explicit images of a child under 18 – is a criminal offence, even if the person doing it is a child. The down-with-the-kids copper told delegates at the inaugural Youth Justice Summit in London – organised by the Youth Justice Legal Centre – that the boys and girls in blue have moved from using the word sexting to describe the practice to the not quite so catchy phrase “youth produced sexual imagery”.

Senior rozzers must have taken the view that business managers and politicians should not have exclusive use of the principle of using four words when one was perfectly adequate. Adams told the conference that the phrase was used to “reflect more what we are talking about”.

A delegate pressed the point. What lingo did the yoof of Britain themselves employ? Adams was reluctant to say for fear of turning blue the rarefied air of Allen & Overy, the City of London law firm hosting the event. “Nude pics,” was the best the increasingly flustered police officer felt able to say, leaving it to the vice-chairwoman of the Criminal Bar Association, Angela Rafferty, QC, of Red Lion Chambers in London, to elucidate. “They call them dick pics,” clarified the learned silk.

Justice tiptoes through Scottish independence

“In these times of political and constitutional change, we face significant questions about the nature of our democracy and the foundation of the United Kingdom,” said the legal reform think tank Justice as it released a “pocket guide for Scottish lawmakers”.

“This guide doesn’t provide answers to those questions,” it continues somewhat disappointingly. Instead, it is a handy reference for members of the Scottish parliament to assist in their “understanding how our constitution, our government and our society is regulated and how the rights of individuals are protected or enforced”.

One would think that considering the Scottish Nationalist Party is particularly keen on independence, they would have those concepts fairly well nailed down in their collective cerebral cortex. But the Justice mob seems keen to provide belt and brace certainty.

“We are at a crucial point in the development of the Scottish legal system,” intones Lord Carloway, the president of the court of session, in the foreword. “Political uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, and the place of Scotland in the future world order, are only two of the important issues which the Scottish Parliament will have to grapple with in the coming months and years.

“The legal consequences of the anticipated political change may be very significant. They will require legislative alterations to the substantive law, especially in those areas which have been heavily influenced by the EU. As law-makers, Scottish Parliamentarians will be responsible for many of these alterations.”

Let’s hope they’ve been genning up.

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