Matt Foot

Legal advice for doctors

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In their battle against an intransigent monotone Tory ideologue imposing unjust contracts the junior doctors can draw inspiration from the recent victory of legal aid lawyers.

In December 2012 Chris Grayling was promoted to minister of justice. Immediately he set to work putting his sole talent to use; asset stripping legal aid. The cuts meant the closure of 1,000 criminal legal aid firms to be replaced with the likes of Eddie Stobart Law. Morale among lawyers was at an absolute low and there was an overwhelming feeling of paralysis and powerlessness.

Turmoil inside the police

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The police are facing a major crisis, caught between endless revelations about cover-ups and injustice, as well as government cuts. Matt Foot looks at the turmoil in a once monolithic arm of the state.

No one could have predicted that an altercation between a police officer and a cabinet member wheeling his bike out of Downing Street would cement the biggest crisis in the police since 1919.
Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell was disgraced and consigned to the back benches until the police version of events imploded.

The diplomatic protection unit police officer, Keith Wallis, wrote to his MP confirming he witnessed the event from Whitehall. There was a slight problem with his account however — CCTV footage showed he wasn’t there at all.

I rest my Casey

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Louise Casey, former Asbo tsar, is recommending that the government curtail the right to request a jury trial for some offences. Matt Foot exposes the injustices at the heart of Britain's justice system.

Governments come and go but tsars remain. Like some awful nightmare, the former anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) tsar, Louise Casey, has returned - this time as the commissioner for victims and witnesses. The Con-Dem government was quick to close all sorts of quangos (many useful), but has inexcusably promoted this unelected has-been as spokesperson for reform of the criminal justice system.

Sus

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Director: Robert Heath; Release date: 7 May

A good lawyer advised me many years ago that before a jury a police interview should always be referred to as an interrogation. That accurate description explains why the police interview has become such a common feature of film and television dramas, because it is not simply a question and answer session but a tense, stressful battle where the sole ambition of the police is to get a confession.

Support the Tamils

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I did not agree with the emphasis of the article "Sri Lanka - the dead end of nationalism" (Frontlines, Socialist Review, March 2009).

The critique of nationalism does not seem to be the priority for socialists - as the government of Sri Lanka, led by the hardliner President Rajapakse, pursues a brutal "war for peace" policy against the north east Tamil area.

Over 300,000 Tamils have been displaced living in desperate conditions amid a growing humanitarian disaster. There are clear similarities with the plight of Palestinians but due to the reporting ban of the government the Tamils' story is hidden.

Bad Men

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When George Bush opened his offshore prison camp of Guantanamo in January 2002, he was proclaiming to the world that he and the US were above the law.

In the "war on terror" US agents were given licence to abduct Muslim men from almost anywhere in the world and transport them to prisons. A gruesome list of torture methods was then approved at the highest level.

Leave Our Kids Alone

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Matt Foot looks at the implications of Asbos, from the ridiculous to the draconian.

'Anti-social behaviour' seems to have replaced 'weapons of mass destruction' as the latest buzz phrase of New Labour. Tony Blair, looking a little out of place, spread the message on a recent visit to the Potter Street area of Harlow:

'Anti-social behaviour can ruin neighbourhoods and make life a misery for decent, hard-working families... anti-social behaviour orders, acceptable behaviour contracts, fixed penalty notices, dispersal orders, closing crack houses, controlling fireworks, clamping down on graffiti and litter... Together we can beat it... the louts are on notice.'

Women on the Front Line: Keeping Torture at Bay

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Victoria Brittain speaks to Matt Foot about the issues behind her new play Guantanamo.

What made you want to write a play about Guantanamo Bay and what does the title, Guantanamo: 'Honour Bound to Defend Freedom', mean?

I simply wanted to do it as soon as the director, Nick Kent, offered it to me. It is such an outrageous situation just in terms of the obvious illegality of the whole thing. Anything that could draw attention to what was happening, I thought, would be a contribution.It's the title that they had written up outside Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo. You know, like in Auschwitz they had 'Work makes men free'.

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