Thursday, March 23, 2017

DSEI trial - Crown granted permission to proceed

Last October the Crown was granted permission for a judicial review of Judge Hamilton’s refusal to allow an appeal (by way of case stated) into our acquittal on charges of obstructing the highway.  You can see details of the case day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 and day 5 and the appeal at here with the judges response here

The Crown “forgot” to pay their court fees and therefore the action was struck out.  However, the Crown has now asked that the rules be waived and that the case be allowed to proceed despite this failure.  This morning’s action was to allow the court to determine whether or not the Crown should be allowed to proceed.

262 pages have been served on the court, most of which (I have deleted some personal information and medical records) can be found here.

There were oral hearings this morning which concentrated on four areas
  • The seriousness of the Crown’s omission
  • The delay to justice
  • The finality of proceedings
  • The impact on the “interested parties” (ie the defendants).

It was conceded by the Crown that the failure to pay on time was a serious omission, but they then claimed that it was not paramount and that it was more important that justice be done than that the Crown be held to account for their failures.

The Crown claimed that the three month delay was immaterial as it had not caused any disruption such as needing to move hearings that had already been scheduled, and that there would be no additional costs resulting from the delay.

They then claimed that the issues are of significant public importance, as in the Barkshire case the issues of imminence, proportionality and democratic deficit were not addressed, and the judges said these issues “would have to be considered some other time” and this case offers opportunity to do so.

Finally, they also claimed that our acquittal was a miscarriage of justice that needed to be put right.

Our representatives argued that there is a strong argument for finality, and on four occasions we believed that the case had ended – on acquittal, when the judge refused to state case, when he refused to do so at the second time of asking and when the Crown failed to pay their fees and the case was closed by the court.

They also pointed out the affect that the case is having on the mental health of some of the interested parties.

They also argued that the more robust use of sanctions (ie not allowing the case to proceed) for failure to follow the rules is important and has been laid out in the guidelines.

Finally, it was argued that whilst the prosecution evidence was agreed the defence evidence was oral and would therefore be affected by fading memories which would have a disproportionate effect on the defence.

The verdict

Whilst the burden falls on the claimant to demonstrate why the sanction should be overturned the judge stated that this error “falls towards the bottom of seriousness as it was not done to gain procedural advantage”.
  • The judge then basically re-iterated the Crown’s case that:
  • The Email didn’t include demand for fee, but the that the email made clear that the email was not complete,
  • There is at least an explanation for the breach
  • There has been nonconsequential loss as a result of the breach
  • The case does raise questions of law
  • Remitting the case would not disadvantage defendants (through fading memories) as the evidence concerned the status of highway and no of vehicles
  • The amount of time lost as a result of current failure is not major
  • There are important legal issues to consider
  • The time taken by dpp was not unreasonable in the circumstances
  • Finality important however correct application of law important
  • We would only have “hoped” that the case was over from 20 November when the case was struck

The judge thus entirely sided with the Crown, perhaps not surprising given David Lloyd Jones previous record defending the Paras in the Bloody Sunday Enquiry.

He also refused to impose the condition of not remitting the case, suggested by the claimant

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Ask the government to continue to support the "Dubs Amendment" - Open letter to Julian Sturdy MP

Dear Mr Sturdy,

I am afraid that I find myself writing to you only too frequently at the moment because of the appalling actions being undertaken by the government.  Here we have one of the vilest and most hypocritical actions that we have seen it take which will make hardly any difference to the number of people coming to the country, but will have a vast effect on a small number of vulnerable youngsters.

The government has announced that it after the current people being accepted under the “Dubs Amendment” no more will be accepted.  I, like many many other people find this shocking and hypocritical.  When the government eventually accepted the amendment they said that they would obey both the spirit and the letter of the law.  It is clear that they never had any intention of doing so as they have been laggardly and niggardly in their implementation.  From the debates at the time it was clear that the number that would be accepted would be in the thousands, but only about 350 children will have come. 

To suggest that the country struggles so much that we can barely accept on vulnerable young refugee in every two constituencies is simply ludicrous.  From discussions in York I know that York would be willing to accept more than one.

We have duties to refugees under international law. We have moral duties and as the fifth largest economy in the world we can clearly afford to take more.

Please will you write to the Home Secretary and the Immigration Minister demanding that as a simple matter of humanity they urgently review and rescind this decision and ensure that all eligible children are accepted.

Best wishes

Tom Franklin
4 Frazer Court
YO30 5FH

Julian Sturdy please oppose building in the West Bank - Open letter

Dear Mr Sturdy,

As one of your, probably few, Jewish constituents I am writing to ask you to please attend and speak up at the debate on Israeli settlements in the House of Commons on 9 February 2017 in order to show opposition to the illegal building of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The building of settlements constitutes a war crime under international law. Palestinians already walled in to the West Bank face continual loss of land and livelihoods due to the expansion of settlements, not to mention the violence from settlers and the Israeli military that goes along with them. In Jerusalem the situation is as extreme, with settlers invading homes with Israeli security support while the Palestinian owners are left without any channel of redress, protection or rights.

If the UK government is serious about peace and justice, it must take immediate steps to curb the growth of settlements including:

1) Refuse trade negotiations with Israel so long as it continues denying Palestinians their rights. Despite its systematic violations of international law, Israel enjoys favoured trade status with the UK and the European Union. Negotiating a new trade deal would encourage Israel’s impunity and send a clear message that its war crimes can continue without any meaningful consequences. As the UK prepares to renegotiate trade deals in light of the ‘Brexit’ process, it must not reward Israel’s aggression with an upgrade in diplomatic and economic relations.

2) Implement a two-way arms embargo on Israel over its blatant disregard for international law. UK arms companies like BAE sell weapons to Israel, used in its brutal occupation of Palestine. UK banks hold investments for arms companies that lend material support to Israel’s violations of international law. If the UK’s official criteria for licensing arms exports was properly applied, it would already result in a de-facto arms embargo on Israel over its continued building of settlements and other war crimes related to the occupation of Palestine.

Over the past years, Israel has continued to build illegal settlements and violate international law with impunity. FCO statements discouraging settlement building have no effect on Israel, so long as the words are not backed up by action.

This issue is of utmost importance to me, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of start of the brutal Israeli military occupation. Please ensure the UK does not go one more year enabling the atrocious crimes that deny Palestinians justice and freedom.

I am sure that you are aware that I am equally concerned about UK arms sales to other countries having written to you on the issue several times.

Yours sincerely,
Tom Franklin
4 Frazer Court

YO30 5FH

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Global warming - response from Julian Sturdy and my reply

I wrote to Julian Sturdy on 5 November about global warming with particular reference to Heathrow expansion and HS2.  He has now responded:

Dear Mr Franklin
Thank you for taking the time to write to me regarding the Government's recent decision to expand Heathrow Airport by building a third runway.
Air quality is a significant national health issue that the Government takes extremely seriously. The Airports Commission concluded that a new runway could be delivered without impacting the UK’s compliance with air quality limit values for nitrogen dioxide.
The Government conducted further analysis to compare these conclusions with updated projections provided in the Government’s 2015 Air Quality Plan. This analysis concluded that, based on the Government’s Air Quality Plan, the Heathrow and Gatwick schemes would neither cause nor worsen exceedances of air quality limit values.
While Heathrow is already taking action to reduce air quality impacts, such as through introducing low emission vehicles, the Government recognises that an expanded airport will need to go further, including during the construction period. Measures to mitigate air quality impacts will be determined through the National Policy Statement and development consent process. They could include measures which an expanded Heathrow have committed to, including:
I should note that the Secretary of State for Transport has said that the Government will grant development consent only if it remains satisfied that a new runway will not impact on the UK’S compliance with its air quality obligations.
The Government agrees with the Airports Commission that a new runway at Heathrow can be delivered within the UK’s carbon obligations. The airport will use low-carbon, locally sourced materials during construction, and its scheme includes plans for both improved public transport links and an ultra-low emissions zone for airport vehicles by 2025. The airport has a target of at least 50 per cent of passenger journeys to the airport being made on public transport by 2030.
More widely, October saw an unprecedented UN global agreement to combat aviation emissions. Under the deal, airlines will offset their emissions with reductions from other sectors to deliver carbon neutral growth for the aviation sector from 2020. 
I certainly agree that we need to be developing transport infrastructure outside of the South East but I believe reducing our reliance on flights is increasingly difficult in the modern world. Sadly, I feel that we would jeopardise the opportunities and life-chances of younger generations by severing Britain’s connections with the wider world.
I hope that this response is informative and if you have any further concerns or queries that you would like to raise with me please do not hesitate to get in touch. 
Yours sincerely 
Julian Sturdy

To which I have responded:
Dear Mr Sturdy,

Thank you for your letter on global warming and Heathrow expansion of 14 November.  Unfortunately I must disagree with you as you have some of your facts wrong.

It is quite clear that the government does not take air quality seriously; to the extent that it has now had two judgements against it on air quality. The first ordering it improve the plan as it did not meet minimum legal requirements, the second that the revised plan still did not meet the minimum requirements.  To quote from the recent judgement which can be found at and was published on 2 November (almost two weeks before your letter).

3….the Supreme Court made a declaration that the UK was in breach of Article 13 of the Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC). In his judgment of April 2015 granting that declaration, Lord Carnwath, with whom the other members of the Court agreed, said (at paragraph 31), "The new government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue." [emphasis in the original)

16. The United Kingdom is divided, for the purposes of the 2008 Directive and AQPs, into 43 zones and agglomerations. It is common ground that in 2010 40 of those zones and agglomerations were in breach of one or more of the limit values for nitrogen dioxide.

21.  The Supreme Court decision established, as had been accepted by the Secretary of State, that the Government had failed to meet the obligations set out in Article 13 in relation to non-compliant zones. The Government accepted that it was obliged to devise a new AQP in accordance with Article 23 and that that plan should be published by December 2015. The Government did indeed publish its plan, which was entitled "Improving Air Quality in the UK-Tackling Nitrogen Dioxide in our Towns and Cities", on 17 December 2015.

86. It seems to me plain that by the time the plan was introduced the assumptions underlying the Secretary of State's assessment of the extent of likely future non-compliance had already been shown to be markedly optimistic. In my judgement, the AQP did not identify measures which would ensure that the exceedance period would be kept as short as possible; instead it identified measures which, if very optimistic forecasts happened to be proved right and emerging data happened to be wrong, might achieve compliance. To adopt a plan based on such assumptions was to breach both the Directive and the Regulations.

89….[I]t seems to me likely that fixing on a more proximate compliance target date and adopting a less optimistic assumption for likely emissions might well mean that CAZs are required in more cities, but ultimately that will depend on the outcome of further modelling.

95 iv) that it would be appropriate to make a declaration that the 2015 AQP fails to comply with Article 23(1) of the Directive and Regulation 26(2) of the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010, and an order quashing the plan.

In short the government has failed to meet its minimum requirements.  The autumn statement has also failed to help, when it might, for instance, have introduced a scrappage scheme for the most polluting cars or changed car tax and fuel duty rates to encourage people to use cleaner cars.

Moving on to Heathrow airport.  Firstly, on clean air, the declaration by the government that either Heathrow or Gatwick schemes would not cause or worsen exceedances [sic] of air quality limits in the 2015 AQP is rendered moot as the plan has been found to be unlawful.  With an improved plan that meets Article 23(1) of the directive it is clear that the proposals for Heathrow would not meet the minimum requirements.

I also find it worrying that you can have confidence in a secretary of state who has twice been found to be failing to meet minimum requirements.

As to meeting our CO2 obligations, it is clear that a whole variety of government decisions have made this nigh on impossible, but here we need only consider aviation. According to a parliamentary answer in 2007 “in the UK, flights leaving UK airports are responsible for 13% of the country’s entire ‘climate impact’”, and since then aviation has been growing faster than most sectors of the economy which will only worsen the impact of aviation on climate change.

The government’s own aviation White Paper, the DfT’s ‘high scenario’ predicts that by 2030 passenger numbers will treble compared with 2003 levels and their central scenario predicts passenger numbers will double from 228 million to 455 million on 2005 levels.  (Department for Transport (2009) - CO2 and Passenger Demand Forecasts, P45 Government forecasts say that as a result, CO 2 emissions will increase from 37.5 MtCO2 to around 59 MtCO2 by 2030. The government’s own forecasts show that even conservative aviation growth estimates mean this one industry alone would absorb nearly 50% of the UK’s carbon budget by 2050. 

In other words, the entire rest of the economy is expected to subsidise the airline industry by billions of pounds through much harsher reductions in their own CO2 use.

Until, and unless, the government can clearly demonstrate that we can, and will, meet our CO2 obligations it should do nothing that would lead to an increase in climate changing emissions, and on the precautionary principle should not allow any airport expansion.  I have read the UN global agreement to combat aviation emissions ( and there is nothing there that requires the industry to do anything.  There are a large number of get outs and some aspirations (such as increasing efficiency by 2% per year), but nothing that requires reductions to be delivered.

Finally, in your penultimate paragraph you state “I believe reducing our reliance on flights is increasingly difficult in the modern world. Sadly, I feel that we would jeopardise the opportunities and life-chances of younger generations by severing Britain’s connections with the wider world.”  I hope you appreciate that the effects if global warming would do far more to jeopardise the life-chances of younger generations than not flying as often as people currently do.

You do not address my points about renewable energy generation and fracking at all.  I must therefore again request that you:
  • Press the Prime minister and transport minister to cancel airport expansion as this is not compatible with even meeting our current emission targets.
  • Press the Prime minister, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy transport minister and Chancellor of the exchequer to cancel HS2 as unnecessary and polluting.
  • Press the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to change planning regulations to make it easier to install wind turbines
  • Press the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to ban fracking as incompatible with meeting our global warming targets and a danger to health and industrialisation of the countryside.

Yours sincerely

Tom Franklin

Friday, November 25, 2016

Treatment of Palestinians by Israel - open letter to Julian Sturdy MP

Dear Mr Sturdy,

I have just watched the short documentary, 'Breaking the Generations: Palestinian prisoners and medical rights', which is now available online ( I am writing to you because I am concerned about the serious human rights and health issues it raises, and am especially concerned as a Jew.

The documentary covers several issues including Israel's arbitrary and repressive use of so called administrative detention (ie imprisonment without charge for an indefinite period) on Palestinian detainees, the use of torture and the failure to provide proper medical care.

Remarking on the film, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association said, “Over 700 Palestinian administrative detainees are currently being held without charge or trial. It is crucial that the UK speaks out on their behalf and highlights Israel's systematic violations of international human rights laws, including systematic detention without charge or trial, torture and ill treatment, and medical negligence inside Israeli prisons and detention centres.”

The film also addresses the issues of alleged torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and "systematic" medical negligence creating potentially dangerous medical consequences for the physical and mental health of Palestinian prisoners. Given that these prisoners have no mechanisms available to meaningfully raise, challenge and end these violations, I am writing to you to call on the British government, as a close ally and trading partner of Israel, to apply full diplomatic and political pressure on the Israeli government to:

(1) end the arbitrary use of administrative detention against Palestinian prisoners
(2) outlaw the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and end these practices in Israeli prisons;
(3) fulfil its legal obligations to provide Palestinian prisoners with adequate medical care and mental health treatment.
(4) end the sale to Israel of military and dual use equipment.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Tom Franklin
4 Frazer Court
YO30 5FH

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Torture - Open letter to Julian Sturdy MP

Dear Mr Sturdy,

I am writing to express deep concern at the way the Home Office is handling the cases of people who have been horrifically abused and fled to us for safety.

The UK had a proud history of taking in victims of torture, but the current government has introduced at least two new huge problems.

The first is the new definition of torture proposed by the Home Office, which defines torture as only by state agencies.  This thereby excludes those tortured by state surrogates (which are widely used by dictators to do their dirty work for them).  It also excludes torture by non-state groups which may be supported by the state or not opposed by the state.  Fortunately, the High Court has found this definition illegal and ordered the release of hundreds of victims of torture from UK prisons (see, but the definition clearly needs to be changed.

The second is the way in which evidence of torture is treated. New research by Freedom from Torture has shown that poor procedures and mistakes in the handling of medical evidence are letting some of the most vulnerable people down.

In the research, over three quarters of the torture survivors had their claims wrongly rejected by caseworkers who mishandled and rejected expert evidence. A judge overturned these decisions at appeal, but when so much is at stake it shouldn’t go that far. It demonstrates a culture of disbelieving claimants and looking for excuses to reject them rather than giving them a fair hearing.

Please write to Secretary of State Amber Rudd

1) Demand that she ensures that the definition of torture does not refer to who has done the torturing, but to the nature of torture.

2) Ask her to read the report and take action to improve asylum decision-making for torture survivors, including complying with their own policy and using the training they have developed but never rolled out. The report can be found here:

Yours sincerely

Tom Franklin

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Brexit - Open Letter to Julian Sturdy MP

Dear Mr Sturdy,

I am writing to make two important points about Brexit, which I hope you will bear in mind in your thinking on Brexit, and point out to the various Brexit ministers and the Prime Minister.

52% percent of voters who voted in the referendum voted for Brexit, but many of these people did not want “hard Brexit”.  Indeed from my discussions with people both before and since the referendum few want the so called hard Brexit proposed by several ministers (including those who are responsible for negotiating Brexit).  There is clearly no mandate for a hard Brexit, indeed when almost half the electorate who voted want to remain in the EU, and many who voted to leave want a minimal exit there is clearly a majority for having a minimal possible exit, including free movement of people and the right of EU citizens here to remain (and for UK citizens in the EU to have the right to remain there).

To put it another way, if the vote had been 52% to remain and 48% to leave there would not be a mandate for a hard remain (which might be defined as joining the Schengen area and the Euro).  Seeing the absurdity of the that proposal if the just a small number more had voted remain then it is clear that hard Brexit has no validity and would be a small number of extremists forcing their opinion onto the majority.

Whilst there are clear problems with the EU, and some things that we will be better off without it has also brought many things which have made the lives of its citizens better, and I would therefore ask you to press the relevant ministers (both departmental ministers and Brexit ministers) to ensure that we keep:
·        Clean air regulations
·        Clean water regulations
·        Car emission regulations
·        Working hours directive
·        All Health and Safety regulations
·        Medicines regulations ensuring the safety of medicines.

I have yet to meet people who want to see these regulations abolished as they protect our health and safety.

Finally, can I remind you that York voted to remain, and therefore if you see the referendum as binding you should clearly follow the mandate from your electors and vote remain in any vote in parliament.

Best wishes
Tom Franklin

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

York Mental health hospital consultation

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS is intending to build a new hospital in York to provide mental health support in the Vale of York.  Unfortunately they are taking a very narrow view of what to build (only considering the bits of mental health that they are currently funded to support) and of the consultation (just on the location of the hospital).  

This is my response to the consultation on the new mental health hospital for the Vale of York.

Number of beds

The proposal is a marked reduction in the number of beds for the region at a time when we know that there is a great need for mental health beds with significant numbers of people being shipped around the country due to the lack of availability of local beds.  Having only 60 beds to cover the Vale of York will create severe problems at a time of rising mental health problems and a lack of services to meet the existing need.  Whilst I do not have the expertise to say how many beds are required it is clear that the cuts over the last few years have put a strain on services and even more to the point a severe strain on people with mental health issues.  Using the  formula has clearly not helped as the situation has been deteriorating for many years.

Hospital location

Building a single hospital to cover the whole or the Vale of York is not appropriate as many patients, and their families, will have to travel a long way.  This will mean that it is harder for families to visit patients in terms of both time and cost so that they will be able to make fewer visits.  Yet, we know that contact with family is vital to improvements in mental health.  Therefore there should be more than one hospital to cover the area.  Perhaps one in York and one in Selby.  The location of the one in York might be affected by the location of the second (or second and third) hospitals.

However, if there is to be only one hospital then Bootham Park is the only sensible location.  It has far and away the best public transport access (and drivers can use any of the park and ride points).  It is close to York Hospital which is important for many patients who have physical as well as mental health issues.  And both the other locations are pretty sterile.  There is nowhere to go with patients for a short trip outside the hospital (this appears to be seen as advantage in that the consultation document refers to the low likelihood of other development in the vicinity).  Again, it is important for people’s recovery that they can re-integrate with general society with such things as visits to shops, cafes, cinema, museums etc.  None of these are possible at either of the other sites.  With both the Haxby and Clifton sites it would be necessary to take a bus into town and back again meaning that any excursion would be at least a couple of hours by the time one had got to the bus stop, got a bus, got into town, done something and retraced ones steps.

Service provision

Whilst this does not seem to be part of the consultation I think that there is a problem with the way that the consultation is being undertaken.  We are being asked merely to consider the number of beds to be provided, but in fact that can only be done as part of a proper service review, working out what services should be provided (for instance it might be better to include provision for mother and baby or mother and child units and alcohol treatment units within the provision).  By saying that it is only looking at services provided by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust a huge opportunity is being missed.  The opportunity to provide an integrated service including social service provision etc.  The hospital cannot, and should not, be treated in isolation.  To take a single example, at the consultation we were told that no provision would be made for alcohol treatment as that is now funded through public health provision.  However, it may well be sensible for an ATU to be collocated in the new hospital, whether funded TEWV or public health.  It is this very failure of integrated thinking and integrated support that is causing many people real and very severe problems.

Another way of putting this, is that the hospital is being designed to match the current funding formula rather than needs of patients and the community.  If you really want to meet the needs of patients and the community then the hospital should address mental health needs, not the funding formula, and this will mean working closely with others with responsibility for parts of adult mental health need and creating a hospital focused on patient needs whatever the funding source.


·        We do not have enough information to know how many beds are needed
·        There should be more than one hospital to cover the area
·        The best site in York is Bootham Park Hospital
·        There is a need to take an integrated approach and not develop the hospital to match the way services are currently funded.


Tom Franklin
York Green Party
15 Priory Street