3 March 2016

Peat Worrying at DeclarationFest

As reported in the National this morning (thanks for the punt, lads), in Glasgow tomorrow, I'm compeering a session as part of a new human rights festival - Declaration.  Each of the sessions is organised around one of the Articles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Mine is Article 10 - the right to a fair, public hearing. We've interpreted that generously, and the session will focus on the critical, politically urgent, question of access to justice in the UK and Scotland. 

How would you get on defending yourself in court, cobbling together a case? Article 10 of the Universal Declaration provides that “everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.” The session will take a critical look at access to justice in the UK in a time of unprecedented strain, as more and more people are falling back on their own resources, being priced out of justice, and trying (and frequently failing) to vindicate their rights.

There will be contributions from a range of speakers, from academic voices, to those who have been involved in litigation, high profile and no profile, on the very human challenges these produce. I'm delighted to confirm that we'll be hearing from the talented and committed young lawyers from our Law Clinic as part of the programme, who bring with them some really interesting insights about the struggles and strains of trying to crack open a justice system which can seem to price out very many of our fellow citizens. Technical and dry, it won't be.

We'll also be hearing from Phaemie Matheson, one of the four petitioners who put everything to the touch, to launch the election petition against Alistair Carmichael. Our purpose here isn't to relitigate the rights or wrongs of the action, but to consider again the human scale of it, the risks and the incentives. For anyone who has been following the case - do come, and bring questions. It should - hopefully - be an engaging and informative session. And if you have comrades and friends around Glasgow who you think might be interested in attending, do give them a punt. It'd be lovely to see some of you there.

What is it? Article 10: Right to a Public Hearing, Declaration Festival
When is it? Friday 4th of March, 12:00 noon, Club Room, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow.
What does it cost? Sod all. Tickets are free. You can register for the session here.

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