Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Updates of Legal Affairs…

There is no such concept of ‘Good Divorce’ say researchers

February 22nd, 2012

The concept of divorce and its overall effect on the family members especially the children has been matter of debate on how to reduce the stress levels by timing the divorce amicably.

But a study which analysed 1000 families found that children suffered irrespective of how amicably a marriage was ended.

The researchers said that the widely believed notion that a ‘good divorce’ was possible where children and adults could walk away happily was only a myth. A ‘good divorce’ is when the parents are sharing child care and get on well with each other and rarely fought.

Instead of trying for a ‘good divorce’ the marriage counselors should put more efforts to save marriages and the parents should try to protect the children from the fallout of a split the researchers appealed.

The research was initiated by comparing the welfare of children whose parents were divorced and with those whose marriages were strong.

Within the broken marriages there was not much on the overall front with all the children in a separated marriages having low self esteem, not having satisfaction with life and school or experimentation with cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.

The researchers said that overall the results provide ‘only modest support’ for the good divorce hypothesis.

It is also possible that the idea of a ‘good divorce’ caught on because people simply wanted it to be true.

Researcher Paul Amato, a professor of family sociology, said divorcing parents should be given more advice on how to help their children adapt to the sudden change in circumstances.

He called on marriage counselors to do more to save marriages that have not irretrievably broken down.

The good divorce hypothesis was a cause for concern as it creates a false belief among some parents that their children are well protected even from the effects of divorce. With all their sterling efforts they can never eliminate the damaging consequences of family he added.

He concluded that not all children with divorced parents experienced long-term problems.

Two men convicted of rape of a 11 year old get only forty months each in jail as the judge says the child was ‘willing participant’

February 22nd, 2012

Despite being five years below the consenting age, a girls willingness to participate in sex with two men, charged with rape , have been sentenced only for 40 months each.

Roshane Channer and Ruben Monteiro admitted of the offence in a block of flats inLuton, Bedfordshire.

Though the judge David Farrell said that their crime was disgusting he sentenced the two 21 year olds to less than three and a half years each.

The judge said he accepted their claim that the girl was willing and also the fact that the girl looked like she was 14. Legal age for consent is 16.

Yvonne Traynor the Rape Crisis spokeswoman said the sentences were of worst she ever heard of especially when it was filmed and was believed to have been circulated on a mobile phone.

She said that the disgusting nature of the case spreads the ignorance of a judge who believes that a 11 year old could have been a willing participant.

Sexual offences Act 2003 suggest a prison sentence up to 10 to 13 years for the rape of a child below 13 years.

Judge Farrell said there were exceptional features to the case which led him to reduce the sentences to 40 months.

Peter Bradley, Deputy Director at Kidscape, said ‘Even though there was “exceptional features” the sentencing of these two men was far too lenient and sends out the wrong message to potential other offenders.

The girl may have looked 14 but even so this would also have been a serious crime he said.

The Crown Prosecution Service is considering an appeal against the ‘unduly lenient’ sentences.


Murderer of a two year old, taking legal action against News International for compensation being resisted by the mother of the victim

February 22nd, 2012

After the news, that Robert Thompson, 29, could sue News International for tens and thousands as compensation for having his voice mails targeted, the mother of James Bulger the toddler who was killed by

Thomson has instructed her solicitors to find out any which way the pay out could be stopped.

The Lawyers acting for Robert Thompson, 29, had informed Scotland Yard that they were planning to take legal action against News International.
After the team from Operation Weeting had informed Thomson about his voice mail been targeted between 2002 and 2007, the lawyers for Thomson started the action.

Mrs Fergus the mother of the two year old called on Theresa May, the Home Secretary, and the Press Complaints Commission to intervene. She said that it was a terrible insult to the memories of James if any payout was made to the animal who murdered him.

She said, she could not believe that lawyers failed to see of what they were doing.

She added that it was blood money for a killer who had robbed a child of his life and that he should not benefit out of the wicked crime. It was like rewarding the evil she said.

Having been on the suffering end since her son was murdered, down from the government to the courts, the lawyers and other agencies who she said were on the side of the killers, she was not taking it any more and she would not sit lying back and watch it happen she added.

Her husband Stuart Fergus said that he was shocked when he was told by the Operation Weeting team that the killer was claiming compensation for phone hacking.

There was no provision to oppose the move and the team also could not offer any suggestion he said.
It is thought that Thompson’s lawyers are arguing that he should receive more than £50,000, as revealing his identity to the public would have put his life at risk.

Thompson and Jon Venables were convicted of murdering two-year-old James Bulger in Liverpool in February 1993 when they were both aged 10. they were released in 2010 and given new names to protect their identity.

Brain injured girl due to the negligence of health center awarded £7.3m

February 22nd, 2012

Danielle Marshall now 12, of Letchworth Garden City, who was prematurely born and was in the special care baby unit at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, has been awarded £7.3m for negligence of the center in responding to her medical situation on time.

She had suffered a collapsed lung while in the care of the hospital which eventually led to a devastating brain injury which has left her in a wheelchair with severe learning difficulties neither able to speak nor feed herself.

Danielle is unlikely to be a normal person as she is impaired for life not able to sit, sleep nor walk without aid. She cannot have a independent life and have to obtain paid employment and professional care for her needs.

The East and North Herts NHS Trust admitted of its medical negligence by not promptly responding to the emergency needs of Danielle. The Trust has also apologized for the treatment she received in 1999 and has said that they have learnt from the issue.

Danielle will receive a lump sum of £2,820,000 and annual payments to provide care for the rest of her life.

The legal firm representing Danielle’s family has said that the money was to enable Danielle to purchase and adapt suitable property with aids, equipment and professional care for her needs.

Nick Carver, for the Trust said that the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust were pleased to have been able to agree to a settlement with Danielle Marshall and her family, which had the court’s approval.
They wished the family well for the future.

Select committee report recommends changes in the law involving ‘missing’ people

February 22nd, 2012

A report has called for a legislation based on Scotland’s 1977 Presumption of Death Act to replace a legislative patchwork in England and Wales.

It was found that families of missing people were found to be finding it difficult in managing their affairs after some one went missing for long or never returned back.

The MP’s of Commons Justice Select Committee have called for the Ministry of Justice to simplify the certification of declaring someone presumed dead.

The ministry has said that they would “carefully consider” all the MPs’ recommendations.

The present law in England and Wales does not provide any time limit on persons name to be held on the financial affairs in the absence of a death certificate. Which means life insurance policies that would pay off mortgages cannot be used.

The committee launched an inquiry into the law and processes relating to presumption of death in July 2011.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly admitted to the inquiry that the current law was complex and bulky but also said that it was working adequately and he can’t promise that it would be changed.

The select committee chairman Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith while releasing the committee’s report, said they did not agree with government ministers who say the system was working ‘adequately’.

There was overwhelming evidence that the families of the missing people were facing difficulties in managing the affairs. The laws needs to be changed as the government should look into the reports before responding he said.

The report had said that the present law was only a legislative patchwork was confusing and complex. The families who try to administer the affairs of the missing person face lot of emotionally exhausting and costly legal process before they are done.

Though the number of people affected from any change to the law was very limited still it would allow families facing extreme difficult situations in resolving the financial and legal affairs of the missing relative the MP’s agreed.

Campaign by a father to introduce a law which would allow women to know the violent past of their partners so as to make an informed choice

February 21st, 2012

Michael Brown the man whose daughter Clare Wood was murdered by her violent boyfriend has given a petition at the Downing Street seeking a change in the law of domestic abuse to protect women.

Mr Brown want’s Clare’s Law to be introduced which would allow women to find the past history of violence of their impending partners.

Campaigning for the change in law Mr Brown who hails from Batley, West Yorkshire, travelled to London to handover the petition for a Clare’s Law named after his daughter who was killed by her boyfriend in February 2009.
The law would allow women to find out if their boyfriends or husbands had a previous history of domestic violence.
Clare Wood had become friends with, George Appleton, on Facebook, unaware of his long history of violence against women, including repeated harassment, threats and kidnapping one of his former girlfriends at knifepoint.
He strangled Clare Wood and set her on fire before going on the run, before taking his own life.
Coroner Jennifer Leeming who conducted the inquest into her death, said women in abusive relationships has the right to know about the violent past of the men they were with. A verdict of unlawful killing by strangulation was recorded as the cause of her death.
The coroner said she would report it to the government of the risk and harm people face being unaware of the violent past of the men and the need to be given information about their partners’ past so they can make an informed choice.
Clare Wood had complained to Greater Manchester Police on a number of occasions about the campaign of harrassment from her former partner. The Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled she had been badly let down by Greater Manchester Police.
Brown, who is supported by the Salford MP Hazel Blears and Manchester radio station Key 103, is calling on the government to introduce Clare’s Law to help women.
The former prison officer handed over the petition on Monday that has around 1,000 signatures calling for a change in the law.

A first of its kind the ruling of Appeal Court allows a person to take refuge in his country’s customary law

February 21st, 2012

In another ruling of its own kind, Michael Prest, 50, a Nigerian born oil tycoon, who is fighting a bitter multi-million divorce battle with his former wife Yasmin has been given permission in the Appeal court to depend on Nigerian native law.

Mr Prest has gone to the Appeal court as he had been ordered to pay £17.5 cash and assets to his wife by an earlier High Court order.

Mr Prest had been claiming that he was £48 million in debt but the court said that even at conservative levels he was worth at least £37.5 million.

However, Mr Prest’s appeal was allowed on the grounds that his oil company’s assets did not belong to his wife but were “held in trust” for his children, and the children of his four siblings in Africa, under Nigerian Itsekiri customary law.

The Appeal Court heard that his company, Petrodel Resources Ltd, had come into being due to the gift of £10,000 “seed money” from his Nigerian father before he died in 1992.

QC, for Mr Prest, said that under customary law in Nigeria, the death left Mr Prest as head of his family, with a responsibility to use the inheritance to look after his siblings and their children.

It has to be said that Michel a brother of Mr Prest, launched a claim in the Nigerian High Court in 2009 seeking a declaration that the oil company formed a part of the estate of their late father.

Mrs Prest, 49, fiercely contested the assertion, telling the court that Petrodel, one of the largest independent energy investment companies in Sub Saharan Africa, was “100 per cent owned and controlled by her former husband and was effectively his “alter ego.”

Lord Justice Thorpe criticised Mr Prest’s “flagrant breach” of his duty to fully disclose his financial affairs but he granted him permission to appeal when he was told that the Nigerian court had forbidden him from sharing information relating to Petrodel with third parties. He allowed Prest to bring in the Nigerian court’s decision as the ownership of Petrodel was bound up in Nigeria and was governed by the customary laws.

Customary law, which reflects the ancient rules of various ethnic and religious groups, is one of the foundations of Nigerian law, alongside common law and legislation.

Convicted killer having served 24 years and on parole is to be sent to prison for 27 years at the age of 62 for conspiracy of importing drug into UK

February 21st, 2012

The man who spent 24 years in jail on conviction for the murder of a news agent Billy Osu. 38, in a Liverpool nightclub was released from prison on parole in 2006 and at 62 years of age Dennis Kelly is to serve another 27 years in the prison for his part in a conspiracy to import £83m worth of cocaine to the UK.

The convict was running the operation in his side with his son James who pleaded guilty of his part and was sentenced in 2007 for 19 years.

The 1.6 metric tonnes cocaine was channeled from Peru to Rotterdam, before being transported to Amsterdam where it was intercepted by the police. The cocaine was being smuggled in tins of asparagus.

The family of Kelly was expecting to take a cut of quarter as their share.
Dennis Kelly had escaped to Costa del Sol for six years but was arrested in 2010 and then extradited to the UK.

After his return to Britain he was jailed for breaching terms of his life long licence for the murder of Billy Osu.

The trial for the drug case lasted for six weeks and the jury took over seven hours to reach a unanimous guilty verdict.

Though the counsel for Kelly pleaded the court for a lenient sentencing keeping the age factor of Kelly in view the judge John Roberts sentencing said that the drug operation, Kelly was involved in was wicked and it was being run under him as the planner and the director of operations.

The judge added that Kelly along with his son had been partners in equal rights and the court believed that both father and son duo was on top of the UK supply chain.

Det Chief Superintendent Tony Doherty, head of the specialist Matrix team, said the sentencing of Dennis Kelly was a reaffirmation of the department’s commitment in tackling organized criminal groups, who had significant impact on the communities of Merseyside and other areas of the country.

“Kelly was wanted in connection with this operation for six years and his sentencing for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs puts an end to an organised crime group that was linked in to other criminal groups abroad and was responsible for the widespread distribution of drugs throughout the United Kingdom.

A black gay officer at the Met wins case in Tribunal for racial and sexual orientated discrimination at work place

February 21st, 2012

In another case of work place discrimination a gay black police officer has won his case of racial and sexual orientation discrimination against the Scotland Yard.

The case was heard at the Reading Employment Tribunal. Detective Constable Kevin Maxwell, 33, works at the counter terrorism command of the Metropolitan Police.

It all started before July 2009, when he was posted at Heathrow Airport. He was put to racist and homophobic comments from other officers and seniors during duty and training sessions and had to bear with the offensive atmosphere at his work place. The Tribunal heard.

When he fell sick due to a bout of depression and was off his job, his line managers continued to target him he claimed.

The Tribunal found that a Met officer had purposely leaked a distorted account of the details of the claims to the Sun newspaper in July 2010.

Such alleged practices and behaviour have no place in a modern police force the solicitor for Mr Maxwell said.

The judgment was a welcome and a positive step towards eradicating prejudice in the force he added.

The Tribunal found Mr Maxwell an officer serving for 10 years was subjected to direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation

A Scotland Yard spokesman said that the Yard was disappointed at the Tribunals findings in favour of Detective Constable Maxwell on nine counts and that the findings should be viewed in the context that Mr Maxwell had made over 100 allegations to the Tribunal.

He added that the 113 pages decision of the tribunal would be given full and careful consideration and an internal investigation will be launched under the supervision of Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Charity to start a website which would allow people to report crimes through it to the police

February 21st, 2012

‘Witness confident’ a charity for crime victims is starting a website, Streetviolence.org, allowing the crime victims to report of street robberies and assaults in London to the police.
Information on crimes reported through Streetviolence.org will be sent directly to the neighbourhood policing team to investigate.
Apprehensive people who have reservation of reporting a crime directly can record it on the site incognito. The ‘Witness Confident’ said that it would get in touch on behalf of the police if someone came forward as a witness or a victim itself.
Witness Confident cited the official crime statistics for England and Wales in 2010-2011, which stated half of street robberies and assaults going unreported in the police stations.
The initial hassle and frustration due to which many victims do not report the crime is where Witness Confident says its website comes into picture giving an opportunity to report crime through their website to begin with.
Guy Dehn the charity’s director said the site was a welcome alternative to hanging behind the scene, standing around at a police station or waiting in line at a call center.
It matters as the police can make the streets safer only if witnesses came forward to help he said. Talking to BBC news he said that engagement with the police was lost in recent times hence to make a contact with them the site is a convenient tool 24/7.
However the Met Police said it did not “endorse” the reporting of street crime online as it could delay an inquiry.
But the Witness Confident said the Met helped it develop the “scope, functions and regulatory clearance” of Streetviolence.org.
In a statement, the Met Police did confirm that while it had “expressed interest in some of its early proposed functions” a decision was taken that it could not support the launch of the site in its current format.
It added it would keep its option open as the Met was open to explore any efforts that were necessary to help reduce crime and catch criminals.