Human Rights Law: Ella’s Case

1. Going through the scenario chronologically, identify any human rights issues that are raised in each aspect of the scenario, including any particular right contained in the European Convention/Human Rights Act (Max: 250 words);

2. Having chosen the rights contained in any three of the paragraphs of the scenario, explain how that human right’s claim would be addressed and resolved by the domestic and European Court of Human rights (Max: 1750 words). In each answer you should use relevant case and other authority to address and answer the following issues:

• Identify the nature of the right (conditional or absolute)
• Whether there appears to have been a prima facie breach of that right
• Identify what principles would be used in judging whether that right has been violated in the circumstances and whether any violation was lawful and justified
• Provide your conclusions on whether the claim is likely to succeed

3. Using any one case that you have used in 2 above, write a case note of 1000 words, outlining the facts and the decision in that case and providing a critical analysis of the decision and the importance of the case in resolving human rights’ cases.

In April 2017 Ella left her partner, taking her three children with her, after he had struck her in the face in front of the children. She and the children were taken in by her mother, who had a drug habit, and when Ella complained to the police that she had been assaulted and that she was in fear of her life she was told by the police that no court was likely to believe the likes of her, especially as she was living with a junkie. Two days later her partner came round to her mother’s house and attacked Ella and one of the children, resulting in the child being hospitalised. When the police heard of the incident they arrested the partner for assault occasioning grievous bodily harm. A day later social services visited her mother’s house and took the children into foster care on a temporary basis using an Emergency Protection Order (EPO), which had been made that day at an ex-parte hearing (a hearing of which parents are not informed). A full hearing to review the Order took place 2 days later, but Ella was not informed about this. The press and public are not permitted to attend the EPO hearings, which are confidential because they concern children. By the time Ella was able to see a solicitor about the removal of her children, the court had already decided to continue the EPO.

Ella then went to live with her friend, Billy, who was an animal activist, and both complain that they have had their telephones bugged by the police, following Billy’s caution for harassment of employees working at an animal laboratory. They also claim that they were both followed by the police into the city centre one day, the police explaining that they wanted to be sure that they were not going to protest outside a cosmetic’s shop. Two weeks’ later, they were both stopped from boarding a coach which contained several members of an anti-vivisection group, who were on their way to a protest some 100 miles away. 

A week later, Ella and Billy attended a meeting outside the Council offices, to protest against the Council’s stance on animal cruelty, and when they started swearing at councillors who were entering the building (they shouted ‘bloody fascists) at each of them as they entered) they were arrested for breaching the peace and taken to the local police station where they were detained in police cells for 18 hours. When Ella told them that she had to get back to see to her mother’s medication she was told, falsely, that it was too late as they had discovered her mother’s body in the canal that afternoon. During their confinement Ella complained that she had to share her cell with individuals who had soiled themselves, the police refusing to clean the cell or move her to another cell. Two weeks later they appeared before the magistrates’ court and were bound over to keep the peace with the condition that they were not to enter the vicinity of the council offices for the next year. As a result, Ella had to miss an appointment to discuss the care order for her children and had to conduct the meeting over the telephone.

Outraged by this, Billy decided to launch a campaign against the police and the local council. He targeted two police officers and produced a leaflet claiming that they had sexually assaulted victims of sex crimes, distributing the leaflet outside the local police station and persuading the local newspaper to publish the allegations. The officers have now brought an action against Billy, for harassment and defamation, and are seeking an injunction against the newspaper from running the story. Billy also told the national press that two local councillors had been having affairs with members of the social services and one newspaper ran that story, resulting in an action being brought by the councillors against the newspaper for misuse of private information.

In August 2017, following a series of bomb attacks in several city centres, Parliament rushed through a new Terrorism Act, which prohibited all public demonstrations for a period of 6 months. This affected Billy’s plans to organise a demonstration outside the House of Commons. In addition, the Act prohibited the wearing of any garment which covered, wholly or partially, an individual’s face, and Shabina, a young Muslim, wishes to bring an action, claiming that the provision is incompatible with her Convention rights.

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