Posts Tagged ‘judicial review’

Heathrow – No Third Runway – 2008

Friday, May 31st, 2024

Heathrow – No Third Runway: On Saturday 31st May 2008 I joined around 4000 people marching from Hatton Cross to the village of Sipson, doomed if Heathrow was to be allowed to go ahead with its plans for a ‘third runway’.

Heathrow - No Third Runway

This was a protest I had a more personal interest in than most. I grew up under the Heathrow flight path, about two and a half miles from touchdown, and have lived in the area most of my life. I now live about the same distance from the edge of the airport but fortunately no longer on the flightpath, with just the occasional aircraft making the steep turn needed to fly over our house.

Heathrow - No Third Runway

My post about the protest written in 2008 began with this paragraph:
“It is now obvious to everyone with their head out of the sand is that London Heathrow is in the wrong place. It always was, since its creation by subterfuge and lies during the last years of the war, but no government since has had the nerve to challenge the powerful aviation lobby.”

Heathrow - No Third Runway

In 2010 the newly formed Coalition government did cancel the plans as a part of the deal the Tories reached with the Lib-Dems. But then the government set up the Davies Commission, chaired by Howard Davies who was at the time employed by one of the principal owners of Heathrow, GIC Private Limited. Though he resigned when he was appointed it came as no surprise when his final report recommended the building of a third runway and a sixth terminal at Heathrow.

Heathrow - No Third Runway

The government, now solely Conservative, approved these proposals in 2016 but London councils and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan applied for judicial review and the Court of Appeal ruled that the decision was unlawful as it did not take into account the government’s commitments to combat climate change under the Paris Agreement. Heathrow appealed and in 2020 the UK Supreme Court lifted the ban.

Since then nothing has happened, partly because of lack of finance and arguments about who would fund some of the huge infrastructure costs involved in the proposals outside the airport boundary. The economic costs of the dislocation during the long development would also be considerable. Covid led to a huge decrease in passenger numbers and although these have picked up, finding the investment needed to finance the project probably remains impossible.

You can read more detail on Wikipedia about the supporters of expansion and also those opposed to it.

Although the project was always clearly an environmental disaster, clearly the government and Supreme Court decisions reflected the lack of importance at the time given to our increasing climate chaos. Recent weather in the UK and around the world are now beginning to change this and a new government is going to have to do more than pay lip-service and will no longer be able to push things into the distant future. So I think it very unlikely we will ever see another runway being built at Heathrow.

You can read a lengthy account of the protest on 31st May 2008 on My London Diary, when I mention that when I was taking pictures like the one at the top of the post as a few under 3000 of us made a giant human ‘NO’ on the grass of the recreation ground I was taking pictures with one hand and holding up my ‘No’ towards the cameras on the cherry-picker behind my back with the other.

Heathrow – No Third Runway

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies 2009

Saturday, February 24th, 2024

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies – Tuesday 24th February 2009 was a long and varied day for me and included some serious issues that are still at the forefront of current news as well as some lighter moments – and I ended the day enjoying a little unusual corporate hospitality with some free drinks for London bloggers.


Al-Haq Sue UK Government – Royal Courts of Justice

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

First came Palestine, with Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq filing a claim for judicial review before the High Court of England and Wales challenging the government’s failure to fulfil its obligations with respect to Israel’s illegal activities in Palestine.

They were calling on our government – then New Labour under Gordon Brown – to publicly denounce Israel’s actions in Gaza and the continuing construction of the separation wall, to suspend arms related exports and all government, military, financial and ministerial assistance to Israel and to end UK companies exporting arms and military technology.

They also asked them to insist the EU suspends preferential trading with Israel until that country complies with its human rights obligations, and for the government to give the police any evidence of war crimes committed by any Israelis who intend to come to the UK.

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

Of course the court refused Al-Haq’s case, declining to deal with the UK government’s compliance with its international legal obligations and stating that their claim would risk the UK’s diplomatic “engagement with peace efforts in the Middle East“, something which seemed at the time to be absolutely zero if not negative. They also refused Al-Haq any right to bring the claim because it was not a UK-based organisation and “no one in the United Kingdom has sought judicial review of United Kingdom foreign policy regarding Israel’s actions in Gaza“.

Al-Haq Sue UK Government


Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Race – Guildhall Yard

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

It was Shrove Tuesday and I couldn’t resist the Pancake Race organised by the Worshipful Company of Poulters, and held – with the permission of the Chief Commoner, in the Guildhall Yard.

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

As I said, “It’s a shame that the Pancake Race is unlikely to feature in the London 2012 Olympics, because it’s perhaps the one sport in which Britain still leads the world, and we seem to have plenty of talent in training.

Poulters Pancake Race


Keep the Post Public – Parliament Square

Postal workers came out from a rally in Methodist Central Hall against government plans to privatise Royal Mail. The government argued they needed to do this to protect pensions and modernise the service.

Postal deliveries had been deliberately made uneconomic by earlier measures which have allowed private companies to cream off the easily delivered profitable parts of the service, while leaving the Royal Mail to continue the expensive universal delivery service – including the delivery of its competitors post at low regulated prices to more difficult destinations.

The government picked up the responsibility for the pensions when the post was privatised and the privatised post office has been allowed to fail on its delivery obligations. We now get deliveries on perhaps 3 or 4 days a week rather than 6, few first class letters arrive on time, and the collection times for most pillar boxes are now much earlier in the day – now 9am rather than 4pm at our local box. While privatisation was supposed to result in more investment it largely seems to have resulted in large dividends and higher pay to managers and the Post Office is in a worse state than ever.

Keep the Post Public


London 2012 Olympic Site – Stratford

I had time for a brief visit to the publicly accessible areas in and around the Olympic site where a great deal of work was now taking place with the main stadium beginning to emerge.

There were some reports at the time that the landmark building Warton House, once owned by the Yardley company with its lavender mosaic on Stratford High Street was to be demolished, but fortunately these turned out to be exaggerated, with only a small part at the rear of the building being lost. But all the buildings on the main part of the site had gone. Some others south of the mainline railway were also being demolished for Crossrail.

Olympic Site Report
London Olympic site pans


March of the Corporate Undead – Oxford St

I made my way back to Oxford Circus for the ‘March of the Corporate Undead’, a Zombie Shopping Spree complete with coffins, a dead ‘banker’, posters, various members of the undead and a rather good band.

Police watched in a suitably deadpan manner (I did see one or two occasionally smile) as the group assembled and applied large amounts of white makeup before making its way along the pavement of Oxford Street, to the astonishment (and often delight) of late shoppers and workers rushing home.

We stopped off at Stratford Place, opposite Bond Street Station to toss some fried bankers brains in the frying pans and then there was a pancake race, holding up a Rolls Royce that was prevented by the police from driving through while we were there.

The parade continued, stopping for a minute or two under the bright lights of Selfridges before continuing to Tyburn, or at least Marble Arch, with more zombies joining all the time.

Hanging the already dead banker seemed a great idea, but getting a rope up over the arch was tricky. Eventually a severed hand gave sufficient weight to enable a rope to be thrown over the ornamental iron-work and the banker was soon hoisted up to dangle over the continuing revels below.

March of the Corporate Undead

This was an anticapitalist event and in particular aimed against bankers and the huge amounts of cash given to them to in the aftermath of the 2007-8 financial crisis which was seen as rewarding the very people who had caused the mess the system was in. The mass of the population was having to suffer cuts in services under a severe austerity programme while bankers were still pigs in clover. The UK has become a very unequal society over the years since 1979 when Thatcher became Prime Minister. The the top 10% got 21% of the UK income, by 2010 it was around 32%.

I left to go to a meeting of London bloggers – and enjoy a few free drinks thanks to Bacardi. The blue and green Breezers seem to me just right for zombies, though I’m afraid after tasting one I went for the beer instead. But I think the zombies on Oxford Street were more alive than those in the corporate world.


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Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day – 2013

Thursday, September 14th, 2023

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day – Saturday 14th September 2013 was a very mixed day for me, beginning with a victory celebration by hospital campaigners in Lewisham, then moving to Westminster for a protest celebrating secularism in Whitehall before finally photographing a highly religious Malta Day celebration at Westminster Cathedral.


Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

Lewisham Hospital is a highly successful and well run hospital serving a large area of South London, and when the government planned to close large areas of its services there was a huge public outcry, with large marches to keep it open, as closure would have severely damaged the health service in the area.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

The planned closure was not in response to any failure by Lewisham; it’s sole purpose was to allow the NHS to continue to make massive PFI repayments due from the building of other London hospitals through contracts that were badly negotiated when interest rates were high and have already delivered huge profits to the lenders.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

As well as a hugely successful public campaign, both Lewisham Council and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign went separately to the High Court for Judicial Review of the decision by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and both were successful.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

The immediate response of the Health Secretary was to announce he would appeal the two decisions, and the campaign had launched a petition calling on him to accept the defeat gracefully and not waste any further time or taxpayers money over the appeal. Given the clear judgement of the court any appeal seemed unlikely to succeed.

The government also intend to change the law to make it much more difficult for people to contest their decisions in the courts after being defeated on this and other cases where they have failed to give proper consideration to policies. But having a government which seems to think ‘sod the law, we’re going to do as we like‘ doesn’t seem at all healthy for democracy.

The Victory Parade was rather smaller than the earlier protests which had brought thousands out onto the streets of Lewisham, with perhaps a little fewer than five hundred people, though more turned up to take part in the celebration event at the end of the parade in Ladywell Fields. But perhaps marching now seemed less important, and the poor weather will have put some off.

At the front of the parade was a Lewisham Council dustcart with large posters on it and following it were marchers with a small street band. Among those marching were two nurses wearing their uniforms from the Olympic opening ceremony, some ‘Olympic’ drummers and others in medical uniforms.

More pictures on My London Diary at Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade.


Secular Europe Protest – Downing St

Around a hundred people had marched from Temple to a rally opposite Downing Street for the 6th annual Secular Europe Campaign protest celebrating secularism and demanding an end to religious discrimination and indoctrination.

As well as the protest in London there was also a similar protest taking place in Krakow, Poland, a country where politics are still very much dominated by the Catholic Church.

Things are rather different in the UK, but we still have the anomaly of 26 Church of England bishops sitting in the House of Lords, reflected in some of the campaigners wearing paper versions of a Bishop’s mitre with the number 26 on the front.

We obviously need reform of the House of Lords, but the bishops seem to me a minor issue and are among the more sensible and progressive members of the house. There are still 92 hereditary peers, as well as many more wholly undeserved political appointees, particularly those given a seat as thanks for their political and other services to retiring Prime Ministers. The recent list by Boris Johnson included some that clearly bring our politics into disrepute, and if the list by Liz Truss is approved following her disastrous fifty days in office, our politics will clearly have become a farce.

The campaigners also called for an end to religious indoctrination in schools, though I was pleased to hear one speaker make clear that not all church or religious schools were guilty of this, with many providing a good education that encouraged their pupils to think for themselves.

Others complained about the lack of secular speakers on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’, and though I think the selection has widened a little in recent years there is certainly still room for a wider choice of viewpoints. And they still have some who make me cringe every time they appear.

Some of the other things that concern the secular movement are religious discrimination against women and gays, abuse of children by the clergy, the teaching of creationism in schools, the anti-abortion lobby and misinformation about contraception and AIDs, religious male circumcision and female genital mutilation, false accusations about witchcraft, Sharia law, forced marriages and the right to die with dignity. And of course many of these concerns are shared with many religious people.

More at Secular Europe Protest.


Malta Day Procession – Westminster Cathedral

Finally I walked to Westminster Cathedral where a Mass was taking place for Malta Day, attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Sarah Richardson, taking pictures as people came out from the church for the procession which was to follow.

Malta Day, actually 8th September, is a public holiday in Malta, the Feast of Our Lady Of Victories or Victory Day. Celebrations in villages there mark the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated in statues of ‘il-Bambina’, one of which was carried in the procession.

The day also celebrates the Victory of the Knights of St John of Malta against the Turks in 1565, a victory over the French in 1800 and the surrender of Italy, then occupying Malta, in 1943.

Fire-crackers were set off in the plaza and a band played before the procession finally set off down Victoria Street.

As well as the statue of ‘il-Bambina’, there were also seeral large and colourful banners, men in the robes of the Knights of Malta, and girls in huge black hooded cloaks (Faldetta or Ghonella), which seemed a little sinister to me. For various personal reasons although I’ve never been there I’ve long regarded Malta as an epitome of religious intolerance.

More pictures at Malta Day Procession.


Pussy Riot, ATOS, Scientology & Stand with Brad

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

Pussy Riot, ATOS, Scientology & Stand with Brad
January 16th 2013 was an unusually busy day for protests in London on a Wednesday, though not all were quite what they seemed.

My working day started a short walk from Notting Hill Gate station, where a small group of protesters had come to take part in an International Day of Solidarity with Maria Alyokhina, one of the three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot who were sentenced for their performance of an anti-Putin “punk anthem” in a Moscow Orthodox cathedral the previous February.

Alyokhina was sent to serve two years in a prison camp at Perm in Siberia, one of the Soviet Unions harshest areas and was appearing in court that day to plea for her sentence to be suspended so she could raise her son, born in 2008, until he is 14.

She was kept in prison until 13th December 2013 when she was released under an amnesty bill by the Russian Duma, and since has continued her political activism, suffering further arrests and assaults. Last year – 2021 – she served two 15 day prison sentences before being put on a year’s parole.

The protest on the main road close to the Russian Embassy which is hidden down a very private street was scheduled to last three hours, and had got off to a slow start, with some of those arriving deciding to go away for coffee and come back later. Numbers were expected to rise later, but I couldn’t wait as I was due at another protest at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand.

I arrived at the vigil at the Royal Courts of Justice to find there was also a second protest taking place. I had come to meet disabled protesters who were supporting a tribunal hearing of a judicial review of Work Capablility Assessments on the grounds they violate the Equality Act as they are not accessible for those with mental health conditions.

Those taking part included members of the Mental Health Resistance Network, MHRN, Disabled People Against Cuts, DPAC, Winvisible, Greater London Pensioners Association and others, including members of the Counihan family and PCS members who work at the court.

Speakers at the rally reminded us of the special problems with the Work Capability Assessments for many with mental health conditions, as these are often spasmodic. On good days claimants may not seem very ill and seem fit for work, while on bad days they may be unable to attend an assessment and for this reason be automatically judged fit for work.

Their press release included the statement:
‘Dozens of disabled people are dying every week following assessment. Nearly 40% of those who appeal the decision to remove benefits have the decision overturned, meaning thousands of people are wrongly being put through a traumatic and harrowing experience needlessly. The governments own appointed assessor of the policy has ruled it ‘unfit for purpose’… This would not be acceptable in any other government contract, yet goes without comment or sanction by this government. No-one is called to account, no-one takes responsibility.’

Also protesting outside the courts were the ‘Citizens Commission on Human Rights (United Kingdom)’ who claimed that a child who has never been diagnosed with any mental illness was being dosed with a dangerous anti-psychotic drug prescribed by a psychiatrist. Wikimedia describes the group as ‘a Scientology front group which campaigns against psychiatry and psychiatrists’ and was established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology.

The court backed them in the particular case concerned, though most of the information about it was confidential and the court decision may not have been confirmed by the family court.

Among those taking part in their protest was a man in a white coat at the protest holding pill bottles representing the drugs they described as redundant and unscientific and instead promoting the benefits of ASEA, which appears to be an unscientific scam, promoted by dubious means. Basically salt water, the web site ‘Science-Based Medicine’ concluded: “The only value of the product is the entertainment value that can be derived from reading the imaginative pseudoscientific explanations they have dreamed up to sell it.”

Finally I went to Grosvenor Square for a protest outside the US Embassy where protesters, including members of ‘Veterans for Peace’, were holding a vigil in solidarity with Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, on day 963 of his pretrial detention while his defence argued in court for charges to be dismissed for lack of a ‘speedy trial.’

They stood holding placards in silence while the audio of a 45 minute video, ‘Collateral Murder’ allegedly leaked by Manning to Wikileaks was played on a PA system. The video clearly shows US forces committing war crimes and has become a symbol of the need for Wikileaks and ‘for courageous whistle-blowers like Bradley Manning.’

The protest was one of a series organised by WISE Up Action, a Solidarity Network for Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, and after the vigil at the US Embassy many of those taking part were going to the daily vigil outside the Ecuadorian embassy where Assange was then inside having been granted asylum and under threat of arrest by British police should he leave. But it had been a long day and I decided it was time for me to leave for home before ‘Collateral Murder’ finished playing.

More at:
Stand with Brad at US Embassy
Stop Psychiatry Drugging Kids
Equality Protest Against ATOS Work Assessments
Pussy Riot London Solidarity Demonstration


NHS Victory Parade in Lewisham: 2013

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Among years of gloom for the NHS, under various reorganisations which have furthered the Tory project for privatisation a few bright spots have stood out, mainly where local people have stood up and fought to retain NHS hospitals and their services. One of these was celebrated on 14th September 2013, when the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign held a community march through Lewisham past the hospital to a free celebration in Ladywell Fields of their High Court victory which overturned the government closure plans.

The government had planned to close most of Lewisham Hospital, a hospital serving a large area of South London simply to allow the NHS to continue to make massive PFI repayments due from the building of other London hospitals at Woolwich and Orpington through contracts that were badly negotiated under a Labour government when interest rates were high; these contracts had already by 2013 delivered huge profits to the banks with payments of over £60m a year.

The popular campaign was also backed by the London Borough of Lewisham and both the council and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign went separately to the High Court for judicial review of the decision by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt – and both were successful.

A new Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust was established in October 2013 as it states “following a period of intense controversy” and after early problems claims to have made considerable progress in maintaining a good service at the two hospitals in Lewisham and Woolwich including 24/7 emergency services at both as well as some other services in the area.

There had been previous large protests against the closure plans – which I photographed in November 2012 and January 2013 along with a couple of smaller events. But rather fewer came for the victory celebrations, which were led by a council dustcart with large posters on it. Behind the marchers were a couple of nurses in uniforms that they wore to take part in the Olympic opening ceremony, along with a small street band.

The parade ended in Ladywell Fields behind the hosptial, with live music, dancing and a children’s dance competition, although it and the parade were a little dampened by the continual light rain. But it was a good day for the people of Lewisham and for those of us who support an NHS free at the point of service, for “everyone – rich, or poor, man, woman or child” to “relieve your money worries in times of illness”.

Although they were celebrating victory, Jeremy Hunt had then yet to concede defeat, announcing the government would appeal against the decision. I think his advisers probably told him there seemed no chance an appeal would succeed and any appeal would simply waste public money. Eventually the policy was dropped.


Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade

See also:

Save A&E at Lewisham Hospital – Nov 2012
Save Lewisham Hospital – Jan 2013


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