Steven Barrett

Steven Barrett is a barrister.

Sunak’s Rwanda Bill looks doomed

Rishi Sunak is pinning his hopes on emergency legislation, the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, to ‘Stop the Boats’. But within hours of the Bill’s publication yesterday, immigration minister Robert Jenrick walked out. Last month, home secretary, Suella Braverman, was fired. To lose one minister may be regarded as misfortune, but to lose two means

Is the Met doing all it can to control the Palestine protests?

The Metropolitan police force is falling apart before our eyes. With it is going our sense of safety and security in our capital city, as we watch hate filled marches and what would be, in any other circumstances, criminal activity on London’s streets. The Met commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, recently went on national television and

The government can’t weaponise legal fees against Boris

The Cabinet Office is trying to weaponise the law against a former prime minister. They have threatened to withdraw funding for his legal fees during the Covid inquiry. Government lawyers wrote to Johnson: The funding offer will cease to be available to you if you knowingly seek to frustrate or undermine, either through your own

Sunak’s absurd decision to sue the Covid inquiry judge

Thursday evening saw the extraordinary sight of a government suing a highly respected retired judge from our Court of Appeal, who also now sits in the House of Lords. Perhaps a sheepish admission that this is Trumpian behaviour lay in the government refusing to use her name; instead calling her ‘The Chair of the UK

The EU has no right to lecture the UK over its Rwanda migrant plan

The EU deigns to warn the Tories: don’t try and bypass the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) when it comes to deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda. Senior EU officials, including European commissioner for home affairs Ylva Johansson and European Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič, are among those to voice concern about the UK’s attitude toward the

Is Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal all it’s cracked up to be?

Rishi Sunak’s ‘deal’ on the Northern Ireland Protocol is finally out. My first impression is that it is no ‘deal’ at all: the version of the text published by the government is a document with no legal effect that is possible to enforce. It’s a wish list of vague commitments. The document is patronising in places: it

Why can’t the UK remove EU laws in a year?

As is increasingly common, government policy was leaked to the Times this week by a ‘senior government source’. The source stated that the government’s plan to remove Retained EU Law (REUL) from the British statute book by the end of the year must now be put off for another four years (meaning ten years after the Brexit

Why the Good Law Project lost – again

The Good Law Project (GLP) has lost again. But the lessons from this particular loss touch on a deeper problem in society. Our relationship with ‘the law’ and ‘rules’ has become dangerously confused.  What happened? Well, there was a two day hearing involving a King’s Counsel and three other barristers for the GLP, and another

Did Chris Bryant mislead parliament?

Labour MP Chris Bryant could not have been clearer: the ugly scenes that unfolded last month in parliament during the vote on fracking amounted to bullying:  ‘I saw members being physically manhandled into another Lobby and being bullied. If we want to stand up against bullying in this house, of our staff, we have to stop

The problem with parliament’s partygate inquiry

Boris Johnson has recently employed the services of the lawyer Lord Pannick, who has given his legal opinion on a House of Commons investigation into Boris Johnson’s partygate comments. The advice has been published here by the government. It seems to have cost £129,000, which is not expensive, believe it or not, by market rates

The parallel world of EU law

The EU courts are not like our courts. They are given a specific purpose of advancing the union. That purpose can be hard to spot and does get denied. I would say that is a court being required to do politics. Our courts do not try to advance the interests of our country – they

Raab’s Bill of Rights unpicks Blair’s messy reforms

For years, the Human Rights Act has cast a shadow over British politics. Its supporters claim, in the absence of a single written document in Britain’s constitution, that it upholds key freedoms; its detractors say it has been misused and hands too much power to the courts over elected politicians. Soon, this debate may be

No, Boris Johnson didn’t mislead parliament

The PM did not lie to the House of Commons. Now, ordinarily what goes on inside the House of Commons is not for lawyers like me to adjudicate. The 1688 Bill of Rights says ‘Freedome of Speech and Debates or Proceedings in Parlyament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any Court’. So normally

The Colston verdict is the triumph of values, not law

The verdict is in on the case of the Colston statue in Bristol. Not guilty. Every one of the accused is innocent. And I mean that: everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If found not guilty, they must — at all times — have retained their innocence. But something feels wrong. Eminent lawyers have described the

No, the Downing Street party probably didn’t break the law

Was the law broken at the Downing Street Christmas party last year? A video has now been leaked showing a No. 10 advisor joking about the festivities. Yet this incident, which is currently dominating the news, almost certainly did not break the law – which is why the story is so perplexing. During the course of the

Is the European Court of Justice about to unravel?

For the European Union to work, its law must be supreme. All member states have courts, but those courts submit to the EU’s own court, the European Court of Justice (the ECJ). The UK knew and accepted this. By the time the Lisbon Treaty was signed, everybody knew this. That is why Poland and Germany

The ECJ’s credibility is in tatters

Is the European Court of Justice (ECJ) a properly independent court? The damning verdict of two respected EU law academics on an episode involving the ECJ suggests it is not. This debacle also undermines the EU’s legal criticisms of Hungary and Poland – and raises worrying questions about how the Northern Ireland Protocol will be enforced.