Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Legal challenges to broken Govt promises on classification review

Casey Hardison has been discussed on this blog before (here and here). He is currently serving 20 years for the manufacture of LSD, and whatever your view of his actions, there must be questions asked about a sentence - for producing psychoactive drugs to be used only by consenting adults who wanted them - that is substantially longer than most murderers and rapists.

Casey has been keeping himself busy in his legal battles, both in attempts to win his freedom, and also to challenge the illogic and injustice that underpins our drug laws. He has been supported from outside the prison gates by a group of legal experts and supporters, the unsung heroes of drug law reform. Transform has been keeping track of Casey's activities through phone calls from Casey in prison and from updates from the supporters. Most recently, August the 31st, involved a high court hearing for a judicial review of the Government's decision to abandon the promised review and consultation on the ABC drug classification system. The report from one of Casey's supporters is posted below (Transform also has the hearings Court submissions in print, available on request).

Casey is also soon to be having a High Court hearing for a judicial review of the drug strategy consultation process (again he will be appearing by video link from Swaleside prison), Casey and and friends have also made a submission to the Better Regulation Executive online consultation on conflicting regulations which you can read here. The Government response is due in 3 weeks. Some of this stuff may seem a little dense and legalese - but stick with it. This is important stuff. We will keep you posted.

report on the August 31st hearing:

Hi Steve.

Yes, the oral hearing went well apart from failing! Of course Casey will appeal, as usual.

It failed on a technicality: Casey had not sufficiently proved that Government had actually promised a classification review because he only provided one reference from Hansard (Jan 19 06). Case law says you can't get a 'legitimate expectation' from what may have been a passing comment in Parliament. BUT Casey had referred to Coaker's evidence to the SciTech Committee where Coaker said the draft consultation document was at the Home Office. Casey had told the court previously that he had tried to obtain that document but had been refused. So the Judge should have known that the Jan 19 statement was not a passing comment but a genuine promise. Casey did show that everyone else believed it was a promise, eg the Sci Tech Committee, but this is not legally sufficient. He now has extra evidence from Lords Hansard but this may not be admissible on appeal since its Casey's fault he didn't present it earlier.

Casey also believes the Judge assessed the type of legitimate expectation wrongly - I'll have to read the court transcript and case law to fully understand what this one's about.

The Judge was very impressed with Casey's concise summary and criticised the Government's side for irrelevance. Importantly the Judge does appear to have confirmed for the first time that the MDA does affect property rights - relevant to Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the ECHR. The Judge also fully understood the equal treatment argument and corrected the Government's side when they suggested Casey was calling for prohibition of alcohol and tobacco by including them in the MDA.

All in all we were very pleased with the result. And the Drugs Strategy consultation JR should have a better chance of success. Casey is hoping to get professional representation for that - he realises that he can't know all the technicalities like the one that scuppered the oral hearing.

When I see the transcript I'll be able confirm or amend the above.

all the best

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to see some progress on this case. This should really be getting much more press! It's probably the most important civil liberties battle of the decade. Casey deserves a Nobel Prize for the stance he has taken, not 20 years in prison!