Advancing human rights and equality
through public interest litigation

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June 2014

Significant judgment in favour of integrated education

On 15th May the High Court delivered its judgment in the judicial review action brought by Drumragh Integrated College.  The case concerned a challenge to the approach taken by the Department of Education (DE) to the school’s development plan to increase pupil numbers.  One of our stakeholders, The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) supported this case.  We are proud of our involvement having provided both legal and financial assistance to allow the case to be brought.


Parole Commissioners’ decision was unlawful

This successful judicial review action was brought by another stakeholder, The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ).  We also provided the financial funding to allow this case to be brought.  Delivering its judgment on 15th May, The High Court ruled that the decision to deny CAJ access to hearings on whether to release a prisoner from custody was unlawful.

The Court held that the Northern Ireland Parole Commissioners (PCNI) had misdirected themselves in law in refusing to let CAJ attend hearings as an observer.  The Court stated:

Prisoners' Rights

Withdrawal of night-time care breached disabled woman’s human rights

The ECtHR ruled that the removal of night-time case from a retired, disabled ballerina was initially illegal.  However, the judgment grants the government wide discretion in balancing the needs of vulnerable individuals with ‘the economic wellbeing of the state’.  Therefore the ruling could have a significant impact on the level of support local authorities are required to provide.


Disabled man’s father loses legal challenge over paying for his care.

In a local case, the issue of having to pay towards care costs was also considered.  On 29th April, the High Court ruled that the Western Health Trust is entitled to charge for respite care provided to a severely disabled man (“PH”). 


Court of Appeal overturns fraud trial legal aid ruling

On 21st May the Court of Appeal in England and Wales quashed the decision to halt a multimillion pound fraud trial after the defendants argued they could not get a fair trial because of cuts to legal aid. 

Legal Aid

Stena Line ordered to pay £45,000 to unfairly dismissed victim of homophobic abuse

Mr Martin Shiel has been awarded compensation of £45,000 against Stena Line, his former employer.  The Northern Ireland Industrial Tribunal found that Mr Shiel was the victim of discrimination and harassment at work on the grounds of his sexual orientation.  The Tribunal also upheld Mr Shiel’s complaint that he had been unfairly dismissed, following an incident involving him and another member of staff who had been taking part in the homophobic abuse. 


Disabled woman can continue with suing PSNI over flawed criminal investigation

On 7th May 2014 the High Court ruled that a disabled woman can continue with suing the PSNI claiming damages for negligence and breach of her human rights arising from its flawed investigation of her rape case.

The woman, who suffers from autism and Asperger syndrome, claimed she was raped in June 2007.  A subsequent Police Ombudsman report identified serious failings by the PSNI investigating the claim, including not interviewing her until six months after the incident.  The Ombudsman concluded that the PSNI had not even met the basic principles of investigation.