The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, February 02, 2004

Hutton: the fanciful appeal versus the possible judicial review

For reasons that escape me, the Observer took it into its head yesterday to ask five eminent English lawyers to play a little fantasy shystering:
It has been argued that the damning Hutton verdict against the BBC was not supported by the evidence presented to the inquiry. Here five legal experts give their views on whether his judgment would give grounds for appeal were his inquiry a court of law.

Most of them are bullish. On the Big Rock Candy Mountain, an appeal would stand a good chance.

Meanwhile, in the real world, many readers might have been a little confused.

Because there is a real-life judicial process whereby the Hutton Report might be impugned, which, confusingly for US readers is called judicial review. (It's nothing much, if at all, to do with what that term imports Stateside.)

The English version is described in this (Heaven sent!) layman's guide.

Essentially, it's a means whereby one may challenge the validity of the procedures by which public decisions, political and judicial, have been arrived at, in cases where no legal appeal procedure is provided. (It's the procedures, not the substantive decision, which may be reviewed.)

Former BBC Director-General Greg Dyke (removed following the publication of the Report) is apparently considering launching judicial review proceedings, based on the claim that Hutton had misdirected himself as to the law to be applied - in particular, the effect of the European Convention on Human Rights (mentioned on January 28).

Chances of success? Much more research needed! (There looks like pitifully little online on UK judicial review generally.)


A propos of Dyke, the letter he sent to Tony Blair in March 2003 is well worth a gander: it provides a reality check for anyone who supposed that Blair was above Alastair Campbell boot in the nuts bullying to intimidate news organisations to play ball.

The old Bambi image was scarcely credible, of course, and is long gone. But, surely a capo should let his wiseguys take care of business. And this the chap who could have been the Primo de Rivera of Britain had he struck just after Princess Diana went for a Burton. Possibly. For a week or so back then, those Royals had browner trousers than the BBC Governors did last Wednesday. Just as long as Tone put a guy in charge of the plebiscite who knew how to make it look good. Not Lord 'Kim Il Sung' Hutton, for instance...

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