Collaboration with openDemocracy to build OpenJustice: a new site dedicated to justice issues
Access to justice is particularly under threat in the UK due to a range of measures from cutting legal aid, increasing court fees and introducing closed court proceedings, to the possible repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998. I am working with openDemocracy to build OpenJustice – a new site on oD-UK. It will be a central platform which ‘joins the dots’ on the various policy changes in the UK (whether implemented or proposed) which contribute to an overall erosion of the justice system. We are at the early stages – scoping and fundraising. Please contact me if you might like to contribute.
Strategic Litigation Researcher – rights of destitute migrant families
Nov-14 to present
I was the project lead and author of a report commissioned by Hackney Community Law Centre and Hackney Migrant Centre. The report is available here. We found that local authorities frequently provide substandard housing to destitute migrant families which can have a detrimental impact on the children. We hope to raise awareness of the thousands of London-based families who do not have recourse to public funds and are living in extreme poverty. The difficulties they face are largely unknown by the wider public. We also hope to inform litigation against local authorities and to inform the judges that hear those cases. I was responsible for the entire project including the budget, employing research assistants and reporting to our funders and steering group.
Investigator and Campaigner – money laundering and anonymous companies
Dec-14 to Jul-15
Whilst volunteering at Global Witness earlier this year I worked on two campaigns, carrying out investigations and publishing stories on their website.
Project #1 – investigating the use of the London property market for money laundering: I investigated the ownership of the most expensive properties in London, contributing to the final reports, two of which have been published here and here. I also wrote articles on other corruption and governance developments – for example on a US bill aimed at curbing grand corruption.
Project #2 – investigating the negative impact of anonymous companies: I identified, investigated and wrote up stories from around the world where anonymous companies were known to have had a negative impact on the environment and social justice. The stories were published on GW’s interactive map of anonymous companies. I wrote blogs on developments in corporate transparency – for example on a Privy Council decision regarding the use of offshore companies to “clean” dirty money.
Researcher and Co-Author – report demonstrating the arbitrary application of the death penalty
Jan-14 to May-14
I researched and contributed to an academic legal report examining domestic criminal law and state practice in the 92 jurisdictions which still retain the death penalty. The report, commissioned by an eminent death penalty academic, is intended to contribute to a death penalty appeal before the US Supreme Court. We sought to establish whether a defendant who had no intent to kill or injure could be convicted of death penalty eligible murder, sentenced to death and executed in each of the 92 retentionist jurisdictions. The research and report is ongoing.
Trainee Solicitor – holding government bodies to account via litigation
May-13 to Nov-14
During my training contract at Matthew Gold I mainly worked on litigation against public bodies and government departments, developing a response for victims of human rights abuses through the legal process. This included actions against the police, child abuse actions, judicial review challenges and inquests. The majority of these cases included claims under the Human Rights Act 1998.
- Taking the lead on a successful challenge to the Home Office’s decision to disperse an asylum seeker outside of London when accommodating her, in spite of her serious medical needs resulting from her abuse at the hands of a trafficker.
- Participating in roundtable discussions with all parties that secured compensation on behalf of our clients who were young boys that were victims of severe police misconduct.
- Successfully advocating before a High Court judge in issuing a claim on behalf of a family who was badly let down by a local authority.
- Leading the firm’s work in assisting women incarcerated in ‘Magdalene Laundries’ to obtain compensation.
Volunteer – Human Rights Advice Line
Jun-13 to Jul-14
I advised callers with regards to a range of human rights issues including data protection, criminal records, policing, mental health and immigration.
Paralegal – Legal Aid & Criminal Defence Cases.
Jul-11 to Apr-13
I ran and assisted on a large caseload at a major human rights law firm. Highlights included:
1. Working on the defence of a large number of UK Uncut activists arrested at Fortnum and Masons in 2011. Most people had their charges dropped while some others were found not guilty.
2. Successfully persuading the CPS to drop charges against a man arrested during the Occupy London protests of 2012 as a result of his mental health.
3. Obtaining a good outcome for a number of youths arrested during the London riots of 2011.
Caseworker on death penalty cases in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Sep-09 to Jul-11
I was a Reprieve intern and then a Fellow at this death penalty defence office in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a Fellow, I led the Motion for New Trial Project. This involved tracking and recording death penalty trials throughout the state of Louisiana and, in the event that the death penalty was given, investigating and preparing the client’s Motion for New Trial. My work involved forming a relationship with the clients by visiting them in prison, and with their families by visiting them in their homes. I collected and digested public and private records and interviewed witnesses and jurors. This work required strong attention to detail and an in-depth understanding of the nuances of the criminal justice system.
A major highlight of this role was, after uncovering clear evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, we successfully overturned the first death penalty conviction in Orleans Parish in 7 years.
Researcher and Co-Author – information guide on asylum law and its application on LGBT people
Jun-08 to Dec-08
The information guide is intended to advise people who are suffering persecution in their home countries on the basis of their sexuality and whether they may be successful in applying for asylum in the UK. The report is available here.