Time for a Women’s Rights Law and real radical change – CEDAW President’s report

Jocelynne Scutt, President of the CEDAW People’s Tribunal

A major blueprint for how the United Kingdom can transform its laws to end all forms of discrimination against women and properly implement the UN convention ratified by Margaret Thatcher in 1986 has been published by the CEDAW People’s Tribunal.

The 252 page report written by Jocelynne Scutt, with the backing of a researcher team,, proposes to end the piecemeal implementation of parts of the UN Convention Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination, both in national law and in different parts of the UK.

Its conclusion said: “The proposal now made by the CEDAW People’s Tribunal that the United Kingdom seize the opportunity now presented to it and introduce a Women’s Bill of Rights into the United Kingdom Parliament provides
a real opportunity to do this – create a climate where women’s rights are truly recognised as human rights, and human rights as women’s rights – with the United Kingdom taking the lead.”

it says it is time to replace fine words by politicians on women’s rights with deeds and includes comprehensive proposals backed up by research for almost every conceivable area of British life to improve the rights of women. Indeed in the space of one article it is impossible to encompass every area of this report – you will have to read and study it for yourself.

The shortcomings of the Equality Act

Some of the more dramatic findings reveal shortcomings in the 2010 Equality Act – which is probably the UK’s major contribution to women’s rights – both in sections that have never been implemented and the fact that its provisions don’t apply to Northern Ireland – which the present government insists should remain an integral part of the UK.

To back up that last point the report said:
” No devolved authority to have the power to undercut or reduce the provisions, extent or scope of the Women’s Bill of Rights and to address any potential conflict or proposal by any devolved authority to do so, the UK Act to include a provision prohibiting its terms from being excised from operation in the devolved jurisdictions. This provision to be based in the principle herein stated, namely that all women of the United Kingdom, wherever residing, are entitled to equal rights without being deprived of them by reason of residency in any devolved jurisdiction.”

But it does not rule out as Scotland and Wales introducing their own legislation both to improve any UK Act or if the government doesn’t introduce any legislation for Scotland and Wales to go ahead with their own law as they are proposing to do now.

Royal Courts of Justice – time judges learnt about CEDAW

The report also insisted on widespread training for lawyers and public officials on what CEDAW means.

“That the Women’s Bill of Rights include a provision making it mandatory for members of the judiciary and magistracy at all levels to receive education and training on an initial and regular basis, including remaining up to date with CEDAW jurisprudence, and that this provision extend to all holders of public office, whether by appointment or election, in international, national and local bodies and authorities.”

This is a point I felt during the Court of Appeal hearing on the judicial review of women’s pensions that the judges did not seem to have a clue about CEDAW – and in my view this contributed to their decision to throw out the case.

It also makes it mandatory for every piece of legislation to have a gender impact assessment and for all government departments to have a gender impact assessment for every new policy they introduce. Since women are the majority in this country I would have thought that to be essential.

The report picked up that many women do not understand their rights because it is not presented in simple and clear language and the information is not available ( take the 50swomen case in informing women about the rise in the pension age for example).

The ” whole person ” approach to women’s rights and discrimination

There is also a failure to connect discrimination against women to other serious forms of discrimination. As the report said:

“The discrimination of women based on sex and gender is inextricably linked with other factors that affect women, such as race, ethnicity, religion or belief, health, status, age, class, caste and sexual orientation and gender identity. Discrimination on the basis of sex or gender may affect women belonging to such groups to a different degree or in different ways to men. States parties must legally recognize such intersecting forms of discrimination and their compounded negative impact on the women concerned and prohibit them.”

Where is particularly bad the report said the government should use “special measures” – specific legislation to address the problem – to end this inequality.

The report looked at major policy issues such as Brexit, climate change, the Covid 19 pandemic and the Windrush scandal and how they affected women.

It quoted evidence on how these separate issues impacted on each other. One passage read:

“The evidence further provided a snapshot view of the rise in hostility in the lead-up to, the confirmation of, and the continuing aftermath of Brexit. The Covid pandemic has exacerbated this, in that because Black and minoritised women (along with their male counterparts) have been in the forefront – both as doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and cleaning staff in hospitals, and suffering from being more susceptible to the virus – this has militated against their interests in the community, too – drawing racist attacks as if they are to blame because of that greater susceptibility”.

It tackled controversial issues such as migration, asylum seekers, women being detained in prison and made strong recommendations on how to deal with these issues. And it dealt with the lack of equal pay for women, and being forced by the partners into credit debts -coining the phrase ” sexually transmitted debt.”

” Sexually transmitted debt”

“This term, coined by lawyer Jenny Lawton and barrister Emma Swart recognises the position of women who, believing
their signature does not ‘count’ and under pressure that is difficult or impossible to counter, sign contracts – including mortgages and guarantees – at the behest of husband or partner, plunging them into debts they did not envisage, from which they do not profit, and which they did not wish to accumulate. Not infrequently, this occurs with the complicity, to a greater or lesser degree and even amounting to collusion, with banks or other financial providers.”

It also looked at faith marriages among the South Asian community which are not recognised by civil law and how they can lead to polygamous marriages, trafficking and women left with nothing in a divorce settlement.

This gives you an idea both of the breadth of issues covered by the tribunal and the need for widespread reform in many areas to give women full rights. And I haven’t touched on violence against women and domestic abuse.

This is truly a major document and a basis for major campaign to change the entire approach to women’s rights. Read it, digest it, and go forward and campaign for change.

The arrogance of Daniel Janner over the future of the Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry


Daniel Janner QC Pic credit: http://www.regulatorycriminallawyers.co.uk


On May 3 a final decision was made by Alexis Jay, the chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse not to hold a preliminary hearing into whether there should be inquiry into Lord Janner and Leicestershire institutions of allegations of child sexual abuse.

His son and his two sisters who had already had a meeting to press the case for such a preliminary hearing were understandably unhappy. They believe their father is innocent and just the subject of an historic witch hunt and no one needs to look into it.

And it is now clear that at some suitable date there will such an inquiry so long as it does not prejudice any other investigations still under way..

Daniel Janner decided to write an article for The Times denouncing the decision and protesting again that his father was ” wholly innocent of any wrong doing ” despite up to 33 people coming award and alleging they were victims of such acts.

Thus far a perfectly understandable stance from a close relative. But then he went so far to demand that the entire inquiry should be closed down and the chair was an incompetent. He also produced one sided evidence to justify his case.

As he said: ” Professor Jay is not competent to chair the inquiry because she is not a lawyer and unqualified to make difficult complex quasi legal decisions. She is simply out of her depth.”

And on the inquiry itself : “It veers between a bloated expensive irrelevance and a vindictive witch -hunt which will be condemned by history”.

To back his case up he quoted the former judge Sir Richard Henriques in his defence : ” prominent people..are more vulnerable to false complaints than others…They are vulnerable to compensation seekers, attention seekers, and those with mental health problems.”

However he doesn’t quote what Sir Richard said about his father’s case: ” In my opinion there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in 2007, and Janner should have been arrested and interviewed and his home searched.He should have been charged with offences of indecent assault and buggery.”

So Times readers would not have known  that the very judge warning of prominent people being accused of false complaints decided in his father’s case that he should be prosecuted.

My main complaint about Daniel Janner is his arrogance. Just because the inquiry chair has decided not to do what he and his family alone wanted and not investigate his father – he decides the inquiry is a sham and the chair incompetent.

It is also extremely arrogant to say that only lawyers have the intelligence to chair inquiries. On that basis the Hillsborough inquiry would never have happened – and no one denies that has been a success.

A chair will anyway be guided by counsel and I notice the counsel to the inquiry was of the same opinion.

The inquiry is not perfect and has had serious troubles and run into serious problems with survivor groups – but the idea that the whole process should be stopped because one man doesn’t like it is ridiculous. It would deny investigations and recommendations far beyond the Janner case.

I certainly will be keeping a critical look at what the inquiry does – but I am afraid abandoning it just because it won’t do what the son of VIP tells it  is no go territory.


Chris Grayling: A Despicable Political Thug and Mugger

Chris Grayling? Pic courtesy:The Sun

Update: The cuts in criminal injuries compensation came will come into force  on Tuesday November 27. You know which MPs to  blame by logging on to the link below.

Labour’s attempt to block these horrendous cuts being imposed by Chris Grayling and Helen Grant  was  defeated on Wednesday November 7  by 289 votes to 209 – with Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs rushing into the lobbies to support the cuts. A new passionate supporter of the cuts emerged – former prisons minister Crispin Blunt – who admitted the cuts were being made so victims of crime pay their share of the deficit. And he claimed David Cameron supported this move.

Helen Grant defended the removal of compensation to children and adults attacked by illegal breed dogs and dogs owners could not control them – by saying motorists did not have to compensate people they accidently ran over. Other speakers who backed the change included David Burrowes, Conservative MP for Enflield, southgate and Nick de Bois, Conservative MP for Enflield, North.

See full list of MPs who blocked Labour ‘s opposition here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121107/debtext/121107-0004.htm

Portrait of a nasty political mugger Pic courtesy: The Sun

One of the most despicable decisions coalition was taken last week in Parliament. But you won’t have read it in the papers.

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, and chief advocate of the law and order brigade of the Tory Party decided that muggers, rioters , thugs, burglars,and thieves who maim their victims can now safely do this in the knowledge  that the injured person won’t get a penny of compensation from the state. And many more seriously injured people will get their compensation cut.

Chris Grayling mugging the innocent public? Pic Courtesy; thief.org.uk

And just to make sure the victims really squirm –  if their injuries mean they can’t go to work for more than six months they won’t get their loss of earnings made up by the state – they’ll have to live on a minimal state benefit of £85.85 a week. Those victims who have not been in full time work for three years will be considered shirkers and won’t get a penny. And if the NHS can’t give you any counselling, forget it, you’ll have to pay privately, Grayling has withdrawn any payments to private providers.

This wonderful new version of compassionate Conservatism is brill news for the criminal classes and bad news for victims. For while rightly he is making criminals contribute to the taxpayer funded compensation scheme – some of the injuries innocent members of the public suffer at the hands of muggers won’t qualify for compensation.

Let me spell it out in graphic terms. If a thug breaks your jaw or  fingers , cuts off one of your toes,burns your hand with a cigarette, breaks your ribs,impairs your speech, you’ll no longer get any compensation. Mr Grayling in a private letter to Tory MPs defends such damage as ” emotional” and not worth any compensation.

If your assailant causes some permanent brain damage , punctures your lungs,  smashes your elbow or knee ,Mr Grayling thinks your compensation should be cut by up to 60 per cent. A mugger has to rape you and permanently reduce you to a paraplegic state for life  for you get the full compensation.Even that has its qualifications. Don’t believe me – see  the list at http://bit.ly/RKvxPX 

If you can’t control your dog or have an illegal breed and  it attacks a child or a postman the injured person can’t claim any state compensation either. These payments are described as ” anomolous ” by Mr Grayling. This  comes at a time when another ministry, Defra, is trying to tighten up the law on dangerous dogs. And all because Grayling is worried that the criminal injuries compensation scheme is costing too much and he must save £4m a month. The changes are fully debated in an excellent House of Commons research paper – see http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06451.

But there something even worse about this sick decision which shows why Grayling is on par with the criminals he says he loathes.

Rather than openly get this debated in the House of Commons – which you might expect given the consequences for the general public – he chose to get it through Parliament by using an obscure regulatory committee – with the result that not a single lobby correspondent noticed it was happening.

John Redwood; Decent Tory silenced by Grayling Pic courtesy:getwokingham.co.uk

This is the equivalent of  a mugger or rapist using a dark alleyway to ply their trade -knowing if it was done in broad daylight many more people will notice. But he is even worse than that. When this was last debated a number of loyal Tory MPs, notably ex-minister, John Redwood, and Angie Bray refused to support it – they have been silenced by their removal from the committee scrutinising it.

Like any  common gangster he recruited loyal gang members – people desperate to get promoted into ministerial  jobs – to do his dirty work. He wasn’t even there when the deed was done.

Helen Grant; From respectable solicitor to political gangster’s moll?: Pic Courtesy: Helen Grant MP website

Instead he  used his deputy Helen Grant, like a gangster’s moll, to push through the changes last Thursday with the help of  a Tory whip, four parliamentary private secretaries to Tory and Liberal Democrat ministers, a Tory Party vice chairman and a wimpish president of the Liberal Democrats.

Indeed so incensed am I about this that I am going to list all their e-mail addresses in the hope that they get a verbal mugging. I don’t believe in physical violence- but they deserve a stern magisterial dressing down for mugging the British public. (see e-mails at end)

They guilty gang are: Helen Grant  (Conservative Justice Minister, Maidstone & Weald); Rebecca Harris (Conservative, Castle Point); John Howell (Conservative, Henley, PPS to Andrew Lansley); Jessica Lee (Conservative, Erewash, PPS to Dominic Grieve); Tessa Munt (Liberal Democrat, Wells, PPS to Vince Cable); Bob Neill (Conservative Party Vice-Chairman & new member of Justice Committee, Bromley & Chislehurst); and Lee Scott (Conservative, Ilford North, PPS to Chris Grayling)  Michael Ellis (Conservative, Northampton North); David Evennett (Conservative, Bexleyheath & Crayford, Government Whip);

The hapless wimpo Liberal Democrat who stood by at the scene of the crime is  Tim Farron (President of the Liberal Democrats,Westmorland & Lonsdale) .

Labour  members to their credit, led by Rob  Flello, Labour’s justice minister, opposed the move and those against it included David Blunkett, the former home secretary.

Of course Mr Grayling won’t be worried personally by any changes – his work routine avoids meeting any potential muggers outside the House – and he has a government provided chauffeur driven car to take him from his large well guarded detached home in Ashstead, Surrey to London.

The email addresses are: helen.grant.mp@parliament.uk, rebecca.harris.mp@parliament.uk  howelljm@parliament.ukjessica.lee@parliament.uktessa.munt.mp@parliament.uk ,bob.neill.mp@parliament.ukscottle@parliament.uk michael.ellis.mp@parliament.uk, david.evennett.mp @parliament.uk.

And the abstaining Lib Dem is tim@timfarron.co.uk .

But perhaps you should complain direct to Chris Grayling. His e-mail is chris.grayling.mp@parliament.uk.