Justice ministry under pressure to curb attacks on family court judges
Judges dealing with sensitive issues – including child custody – in the family courts have had hate mail sent to their homes, been physically attacked and been victims of attempted assaults in court buildings, according to information obtained by the Guardian.
In the 12 months up to January this year, 26 incidents were recorded, including one direct threat to life and three physical attacks. The Guardian understands – from another source – that one of these involved a judge who required hospital attention after being knocked to the floor and beaten by a parent over whose case she was presiding.
A number of freedom of information requests submitted by the Guardian revealed that at least five district judges have received threatening correspondence in the past year related to hearings they have presided over. One letter was sent to a judge’s home address, three messages were posted on social media sites and one abusive email was received – the last two incidents suggesting the writers were able to discover and access the judges’ private email addresses and social media pages, such as Facebook. Read more.
Amelia Hill | The Guardian | 27th February 2013
Local authorities expect half of poor residents to refuse to pay council tax
Local authorities have conceded that up to half of people on low incomes will refuse to pay council tax after being caught in the net by benefit changes next year, and that there is little they can do about it. Under coalition plans to reduce council tax benefits 2 million low-income workers will face an average bill of £247 a year from April – a charge from which they are currently exempt.
But the sums are so small – on average less than £5 a week – that councils are warning it “would in many cases be uneconomic to recover, with the costs of collection, including legal recovery costs, being higher than the bill”. The result is that councils are budgeting for large losses and potentially leaving the door open to widespread non-payment.
A series of freedom of information requests by False Economy, a campaigning group part-funded by trade unions, found that the two dozen councils that responded were resigned to seeing swaths of residents refusing to pay the tax. Read more.
Randeep Ramesh | The Guardian | 15th October 2013
It’s thirsty work being an MP, as their bar bills reveal
Was there really a time when you could walk into your local boozer, order three pints of Youngs for you and your mates, and settle up with the words, “Put it on the slate, Charlie”? Did we dream that you could run up wine and whisky bills on credit? No we didn’t – but it seems there’s only one place in the UK where, today, a request for credit is not met by a smack in the mouth. It’s the House of Commons.
Some enquiring soul used the Freedom of Information Act to ask for a breakdown of MPs with outstanding food and drinks bills and elicited some top items of information. Read more.
John Walsh | The Independent | 27th February 2013