As a journalist I have written about social issues and international affairs for the Guardian, the Independent, New Internationalist, Huffington Post, Equal Times and the Big Issue in the North, among other titles. I now work at the University of Leeds as a qualified careers professional, helping international students fulfill their career ambitions
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Campaigners crowdfund fees for crucial Supreme Court intervention
A group of women campaigning against the law of joint
enterprise have successfully crowdfunded their legal fees for a critical
intervention in a forthcoming case at the Supreme Court.
Janet Cunliffe of JENGBA visiting her son Jordan prison
Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association (JENGBA) used the
pioneering website, Crowd Justice, to raise over £10,000 for an intervention in
the case of Ameen Hassan Jogee, whose appeal of his 2012 murder conviction will
be heard by the Supreme Court in October.
JENGBA’s lawyers will seek to use the intervention to argue
that the controversial joint enterprise doctrine has led to a number of
miscarriages of justice and the excessive criminalisation of secondary
participants in murder cases.
Janet Cunliffe, a co-founder of JENGBA whose son Jordan is also
appealing his conviction for the 2005 murder of Gary Newlove, said she hopes the
intervention will lead to the law being amended:
“This is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to go to
the Supreme Court with a valid argument. I think the Supreme Court will come
out in our favour and once the judges clarify how the law should be amended
then the government can act on that.”
Joint enterprise is a doctrine of common law under which a
person who is not directly implicated in a murder can nevertheless be convicted
as part of a group if it is proven they could have foreseen the killing taking
place. The law is designed to facilitate the prosecution of entire groups for murder,
regardless of who dealt the fatal blow.
However, critics argue it amounts to guilt by association
and last year a House of Commons Justice Select Committee inquiry called for an
“urgent review” into the doctrine, warning that it could lead to miscarriages
Despite the report’s warnings the use of joint enterprise in
murder prosecutions remains widespread. In July JENGBA penned a letter to Lord
Chancellor Michael Gove urging him to “place an immediate moratorium on the
Crown’s use of joint enterprise, until reform or preferably abolition occurs”.
The group’s successful crowdfunding campaign is one of the
first to be successfully funded since Crowd Justice was founded earlier this
year. Cunliffe hopes the venture will help raise money for other individuals
and campaigns who are struggling to afford the costs of accessing justice due
to legal aid cuts.
“I think it’s very
sad that people have to go to that extreme in order to get adequate legal
representation,” said Cunliffe, “But I also think it’s positive that people can
get the funding they need off their own back by using Crowd Justice.”
The website allows individuals and groups - who have the
backing of a lawyer but cannot afford legal fees - to pitch their cases to an
online community of backers. It was founded earlier this year as a social
venture by former UN lawyer, Julia Salasky, who hopes the scheme will help in
the quest to “democratise justice”:
“If you’re not a very wealthy individual it’s actually
extremely expensive to access the courts. There have been huge cuts in legal
aid and in some areas court fees have gone up over 600% over the last 12 months.
“We set up Crowd Justice to look at ways that people can
come together to overcome those financial barriers when there’s a court case
that affects their community or an issue that’s important for them.”
Earlier this year a report by Unite the Union and Goldsmiths
University of London estimated that the government’s £350million cuts to the
legal aid budget since 2013 have had “extremely negative impacts” on 623,000
people – the vast majority from disadvantaged sections of the population.
Salasky hopes Crowd Justice can be useful to some of these
people and is especially excited about JENGBA’s successful campaign which she
predicts could have a significant social impact:
“Often in legal cases you’re holding the government or
others to account which is a very powerful democratic privilege.
“In this case what is so exciting is that by going to the
Supreme Court they really have the opportunity to change the law. To be able to
crowdfund that and have all sorts of people feel they were part of that
historic moment is pretty powerful.”
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In the UK, it’s estimated that around 350,000 people suffer from an
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and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM V) – and those numbers
Last week the Guardian hosted a debate in collaboration with
Discuss, where two expert speakers debated whether or not gambling is now out
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If members of the audience were in any doubt about the
potential for gambling to cause harm, few remained unconvinced after hearing
the first speaker, Paul Buck, recount his personal story. Buck who is the
founder of EPIC, a problem gambling consultancy, began his career in retail shortly
after graduating …
Over the past few years I have had the privilege of working as a freelance journalist, covering issues which I care about - from miscarriages of justice to disability rights - for numerous publications. I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience and have learned a great deal from researching social issues and interviewing fascinating people. Unfortunately, during the last few months I have been unable to write as much as I would have liked, owing to commitments related to a career transition.
Through my writing I have become increasingly interested in labour issues, including youth unemployment, graduate prospects, worker instability, the growth of freelancing and self-employment. This interest has led me to pursue a second career as a consultant, helping students in higher education to navigate the challenging and often confusing world of work as they plan their future careers.
I am often asked by
friends and acquaintances why I decided to learn Chinese. There is no simple
answer to this question. However, in this post I will attempt to summarise some
of the main reasons and describe my experience of joining an estimated 200,000 Brits
as a student of the world’s most spoken language.
I started working
at the University of Leeds two years ago, following a career transition. Having
moved to a new city I was looking for things to do which would enable me to
meet new people in my spare time. I noticed that the Business Confucius
Institute (BCI) were offering Chinese evening classes on the
university campus and, together with a friend who had also recently moved to
the city, decided to sign up to a beginner (level 1) class.
decision was made on a whim – there were no grand career ambitions, set goals
or plans to travel to China in the immediate future. Part of my attraction to
the challenge o…