The parents of murdered school girl Milly Dowler were given false hope she was alive after the News of the World hacked her phone and deleted voicemail messages, the family’s lawyer said today.’
Articles Today from the News of the World:
RUTHLESS lawyers will be banned from berating murder victims’ families in court in the wake of the Milly Dowler trial.
Tough new rules to be unveiled this week will protect their privacy and dignity – with judges forced to halt intimidating, humiliating or distressing questioning.
The safeguards come in a revamped courtroom code aimed at ending the nightmare ordeal faced by thousands of witnesses and innocent victims of crime.
It follows the shameful treatment of Bob and Sally Dowler by lawyers defending their 13-year-old daughter’s killer Levi Bellfield.
The distraught couple endured cruel questions about their sex life, Bob’s porn collection and letters which showed Milly was unhappy.
Such vicious cross-examinations will be halted under a charter of rights for witnesses drawn up by Victims’ Commissioner Louise Casey.
She wants to tilt the justice system back to give victims at least equal status with the rights of suspects.
She said yesterday: “I see lobby groups and campaign organisations in droves on the offender side. Yet victims struggle to get heard.”
Ms Casey will hand her 60-page report to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke on Wednesday.
Among its other proposals is one that courts should have flexible start and end times to make it easier for family members to give evidence. Another is that the bodies of murder victims should be returned to their families within a month.
The report is expected to be backed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, who chairs the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee overseeing court practice.’
LOUISE CASEY writes for the News of the World
‘MANY of us felt such compassion for the brave family of Milly Dowler and anger at the way they were treated in court.
Sadly for me, although I was shocked and appalled, I wasn’t surprised.
When I started working for the rights of victims I thought I was unshockable. But what I have found over the last year has made my jaw drop.
Like most people I assumed that families who, like the Dowlers, have had their lives ripped apart by criminals, would get all the help they need. And that the criminal justice system would be on their side.
What I discovered is they are often not given the support, care or consideration they deserve. Many are still treated as if they are an “inconvenience”, and this can make their grief worse.
These families deserve not to have to sit next to an offender’s family in court listening to them laughing and joking. They deserve to be told that their rapist is going to be released before they bump into him in the supermarket.
They deserve to bury the body of their child without defence lawyers asking for autopsy after autopsy – in one case I know a 35-day-old baby only got to be buried by her family on what would have been her first birthday.
They deserve to not find out that the murderer of their husband is appealing by reading it in a newspaper. They deserve to be treated with humanity, dignity and most of all a bit of respect.
So when my report comes out about the treatment of families like these, I ask that you be shocked too. And then those in charge might sit up and listen.’
“All you citizen journalists/bloggers – call the NOW newsroom on 0207 782 1001 email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out their views”
Members of the National Union of Journalists are expected to abide by the following professional principles:
I sometimes wonder what this country would do without its whistleblowers…
Welfare cuts ‘could leave 40,000 families homeless’, Eric Pickles’ office warns
David Cameron has received a stark warning from within his own administration that the coalition’s plans to cut welfare payments risk making 40,000 families homeless.
The media have taken up the story and have wrung every last fact out of it. It is being discussed on internet fora, Facebook and Twitter and has the country in a proper tizz!
But why only now? The details have been there for all to see for nearly a year! First suggested in the Emergency Budget and then fleshed out in the Spending Review.
So why the uproar now? Why is this such a matter of concern today and not when it was announced initially?
The real hidden consequences were realised and pointed out by the Labour Party and many important charities such as Shelter, but uptake and publicity from major news outlets has been very small.
I have spent an unproductive afternoon searching press and TV archives for any substantial coverage of warnings of an impending crisis. I scoured Hansard, charities’ websites and relevant blogs.
In May 2010, Karen Buck MP, Labour, gave a speech in the House of Commons stressing that new benefit policy would cause great difficulties. A transcript of her speech can be found here .
So over a year ago, the Government were warned.
On the National Housing Federation’s Website, I found this:
‘Helen Goodman, Labour’s frontbench spokeswoman on child poverty, childcare and housing benefit, said it was plain that the government had “rushed through the changes without thinking through the social consequences”. National Housing Federation Friday 23rd July 2010′
Further examples of articles and blogpieces expressing great concern:
‘This cut is certainly going to hurt, particularly as the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed today the new cap will apply nationally. Labour MPs warn of a housing crisis in London and the South East, where rents are higher. For example, in parts of Hackney, the maximum housing benefit is £1,000 a week for a four bedroom house. Losing £600 a week would mean families currently claiming housing benefit would have to move to cheaper parts of London. Anti-poverty campaigners say that will entrench the divide between the haves and the have nots.’ Ch 4 Factcheck 22nd June 2010
BBC News – Benefit Cuts: Your Stories – 3rd Oct 2010
In his speech at the Conservative Party Conference George Osborne announced the proposed new cap on Housing Benefit as reported by Channel 4, complete with Video:
Osborne Imposes Cap on Family benefits – Video – Channel 4 News – 4th Oct 2010
Perhaps it would not not have been unreasonable to expect a flurry of articles in the mainstream press as well as programmes on TV following such an announcement?
Nothing could have been further from reality! Many of the local papers did carry short pieces assessing the implications for their own areas. There were, on Channel 4 and the BBC valiant attempts to flag up possible problems. But what are considered the right-wing papers remained mostly disinterested in the possibility of many of the poorer members of society, the vulnerable amongst us, losing their homes.
There were a few journalists with an eye for balance and honesty who did occasionally try to highlight what may be about to happen:
South London Press Today – News – MP Warns More People Face Becoming Homeless – Chuka Umunna MP, Labour – 5th Oct 2010
In its Spending Review last week, the government announced major changes to housing benefit – including cutting it by 10% for the long-term jobless.
Labour has offered to join forces with Lib Dem backbenchers to force the government to rethink the policy. BBC News – 25th October 2010
‘These measures, taken together with the removal of caps on the amount of rent housing associations can charge, has led critics to claim thousands of people will be made homeless across the UK.
‘Scaremongering’ Labour has warned the moves – which represent the biggest shake-up in housing policy in decades – are unfair and could lead to an increase in support for far-right groups.
Ministers have conceded that some families will have to move to less expensive areas – but have angrily rejected suggestions by London Mayor Boris that it could lead to “social cleansing” of poor families with long-established roots in the capital to the suburbs or the south coast of England.’
Independent on Homelessness – Housing Benefit Homelessness – 19th November 2010
‘Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Douglas Alexander said: “Labour will maintain the pressure for further changes to this ill-thought through housing benefit package, not least their plans to punish people who have been unable, despite their best efforts, to find work for a year by cutting their housing benefit by 10%.”‘
BBC News – 30th Nov 2010
Other journalists however were not so scrupulous and continued to grind their political axes at the expense of the truth both before and after Osborne’s speech:
It beggars belief: How the fake homeless are raking in more than £20,000 a year
By Claire Ellicott
Last updated at 2:13 PM on 16th August 2010
This quote is in relation to school trips but does flag up the worrying impact of a claims culture
The people behind unreasonable rulings were often “well-meaning but misguided jobsworths” who go too far, said Hackitt, adding that many organisations imposed restrictions not out of concern for people’s safety but due to fears of no-win no-fee lawsuits for personal injury. Other bodies used the guidance as a cynical excuse to cut services, she added.
This government is keen to reduce red tape and the number of burdensome insurance claims.
The particular case at Stafford is about the failure to give insulin at the right time. This is clearly wrong, The Coroner is clear that it did contribute to the death of a very sick lady, and the family have every reason to be hurt and angry.
I was certain that I had heard that this is in fact an extreme example of what is a very common occurrence.
The Patient Safety Alert follows a review of 16,600 patient safety incidents involving insulin, reported to the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) over a six year period between 1 November 2003 and 1 November 2009. Six deaths and 12 incidents resulting in severe harm were reported. Of the 16,600 incidents, 26 per cent were due to the wrong insulin dose, strength or frequency and 20 per cent were due to omitted medicine. Patients being prescribed or dispensed the wrong insulin product accounted for 14 per cent of incidents.
THE CHAIRMAN: But presumably in a case such as the one you mention, an injustice might be identified in terms of the distress caused by the late diagnosis, even if it has no physical causative effect.
A. Absolutely, chairman, and I can think of a number of cases in — in which what we’ve concluded is that the – the outcome in terms of the person’s death may not have been any different, but that doesn’t mean there has been no injustice.
I mean, in a sense, by definition that’s an impossible problem, but it seems to me from my previous inquiry, and generally my experience, that there is a diaspora of complainants who are damaged by a process, whether or not their original complaint had any foundation to it?
How brave was the Dowler family to stand up and criticise their ordeal… ? Then there is this afternoon’s breaking news…
However, much of the press coverage has been about Milly’s family – her father, mother and sister who bravely stood up outside the Courthouse to deliver their verdict on the process to which they’d been subjected. The jury took seven hours to debate and as the verdicts were read out the family broke down sobbing and Mrs. Dowler collapsed, clearly very seriously upset. But was their upset about the verdicts or the fact that the episode of the inquiry into Milly’s death had ended… probably both.
The four-week trial saw Milly’s father, Robert Dowler and her mother Sally subjected to cross-examination by Bellfield’s defence team. Each of them had broken down in the witness box – it was suggested that Milly may have run away because she was unhappy at home. In their statement outside the courthouse the Dowler family said that the process had been “mentally scarring” and that the justice system was loaded unfairly in favour of the criminal http://is.gd/T57Hfx.
There have been different accounts of this from the Police and the Defence team, defending their actions although the Police did apologise and has called for changes. Surely the Chief Constable was aware of how the family were being treated? This was a high profile case. Wonder if an apology would have been made had the Dowler family not read out their statements? http://is.gd/7kRgug.
The defence barrister, Jeffrey Samuels QC, has been unavailable for comment. A spokesperson for the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) argued that the adversarial nature of trials is fundamental to justice. http://is.gd/ogZfCM. He may have a point. But what about the reporting. Should parts of this trial been held in private.
Finally, it transpires that although the jury debated for seven hours, and this was on the issue of whether Levi Belfield had abducted another girl Rachel Cowles, the judge discharged the jury without reaching a conclusion. The judge blamed the media coverage of the trial. http://is.gd/MXtmLW,
So basically the media got the in way of a fair trial of Levi Belfield the man suspected of also trying to abduct Rachel Cowles. The attempted abduction file will lie on file. Clearly questions will be asked about the Judge’s decision to dismiss the jury.. it appears that the Attorney General’s office will be looking into it.
Yet again the media is in the spotlight. In May the Attorney General’s office won permission from the high court to bring contempt of court proceedings against the Sun and the Daily Mirror over their coverage of the Chris Jefferies in December last year. He was the man who was arrested on suspicion of murdering Joanna Yeates in Bristol. A date is awaited for the case to be heard.
This afternoon, as I write this blog, the death and reported possible suicide has been announced of Mr. Christopher Shale, a Snr Conservative in David Cameron’s constituency. I won’t say too much as it is early days but as the circumstances of Mr.Shale’s death unwinds, one has to wonder if external bodies had a role to play – all roads appear to point in that direction! http://is.gd/Tqk15v and http://is.gd/YwrYMZ. Questions arise here too…
At this stage, despite what our political beliefs may be, we should consider the feelings of Mr.Shale’s family. This will be a very sad time for them.
But watch this space…
Some of the latest media coverage : Dowler family
The Telegraph – Chief Constable talks about ‘shock’ of experience for the Dowler family http://is.gd/fOi4ES
The Indy – Lawyers defend cross-examination of Dowler family http://is.gd/ogZfCM
The Mail – Murder tore Milly’s family to shreds, and the legal jackels feasted on what was left http://is.gd/XojSJ4
The Mail – Police & Lawyers blame each other for ‘inhumane’ court ordeal http://is.gd/MkCCoD
The Guardian Milly Dowler’s family solicitor re phonehacking Milly’s voicemail http://is.gd/YvqeJA
Some of the latest media coverage : Christopher Shale
The Guardian – Christopher Shale found dead.. http://is.gd/Au05rZ
Daily Mail – Did Cameron’s ‘rock’ die of a heart attack 20 hours before his body was discovered in a portable toilet at Glastonbury? http://is.gd/yRw5HN
The Telegraph – Tests to reolve mystery death… http://is.gd/BBW0sg
The Telegraph – Christopher Shale – big society man http://is.gd/zX72OT 26th June 2011
Sky News – announces Post Mortem on Christopher Shael is ‘unascertained’ 27th June 2011
The Indy – ‘Top Tory’s festival a mystery’ Undetermined pathology findings re death of Christopher Shale http://is.gd/YWC5lI
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