About Geoffrey Bindman

Geoffrey Bindman is a former chair and vice-president of the Society of Labour Lawyers.

Articles by Geoffrey Bindman

This week's editor

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Adam Ramsay is co-editor of OurKingdom.

The European Parliament must not condone human rights abuses in the United Arab Emirates

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on whether to add the United Arab Emirates to the short list of countries eligible for visa waivers in Europe, despite the country's shocking human rights record.

Torture – Strasbourg upholds immunity of state officials

The British and European courts have granted Saudi state officials who tortured British citizens immunity from prosecution. It's time to change the law so this can't happen again.

Slavery and the law

There have been laws about slavery since the birth of our legal system. Whilst they might need to be tidied up, the government shouldn't feel that headlines about them being broken in London require a legislative approach, argues Geoffrey Bindman.

Will governments ever obey their own law?

As governments are so infrequently held accountable for their actions, is there any reason why they wouldn't try and circumvent the very laws they hold in place?

Justice in the balance

Can the rule of law survive cuts to Legal Aid? Is it time to rethink the adverserial system of law entirely?

Justice in the world's light

What precedent did the arrest of former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet set for international justice? An interview from the openDemocracy archive.

The British legal profession has a duty to help ensure justice for all

Legal aid and Law Centres are under threat in the UK, along with the principle of equal access to justice. Geoffrey Bindman QC says it's time for the legal profession to dig into their pockets and help meet the gap in state funding. This week's Friday Essay.

A British Bill of Rights? Report shows none is needed

Today's report on replacing the Human Rights Act with a bill of rights reveals the confused and flawed arguments at the root of the proposition.

Extradition: muddled, unjust, in desperate need of reform

Britain's extradition law must be reformed. A leading lawyer and chair of the British Institute of Human Rights explains why, and how.

Coalition deadlock over the law and politics of human rights

The UK Commission on a Bill of Rights seeks to unravel the disputes about national autonomy that have arisen from Britain's relationship with the European Human Rights Convention. Regardless of their findings, this inquiry should not be used as evidence to repeal the Human Rights Act. 

White male judges: the Supreme Court and judicial diversity

Britain's most senior judges are far removed from the make-up of the general population. The first new appointment to the Supreme Court, Eton-educated Jonathan Sumption, fits the general mould. But more than his astronomical wealth, his beliefs on the proper limitations of the judicial process are cause for concern within a system that refuses to take diversity seriously.

Safety First? The critical perils of Cameron's "compensation culture"

David Cameron has expressed a commitment to ”liberate” British business from “excessive” health and safety legislation. But does this ‘liberal’ rhetoric mask the relinquishing of one of the state’s vital roles? Geoffery Bindman QC challenges the ideology behind the government’s “compensation culture” campaign. 

Could Britain have tried Saif Gaddafi? - on the limits of universal jurisdiction

It is wrong for countries to grant immunity to foreign citizens accused of the most atrocious crimes. 

Can we rely on the Lib Dems to defend the role of human rights in Britain?

David Cameron pledged in the wake of England's riots to address the country's 'rights not responsibilities' culture. Will the Liberal Democrats stand firm against the Prime Minister's hostility to human rights legislation?

On becoming a silk: ritual, restriction and royal allegiance

The legal profession is changing, yet the elite of QCs, steeped in medieval ritual, maintain their restrictive practices. Geoffrey Bindman, who recently became a silk, argues that the link to the Queen is a sham, while the Bar's dominance of the system is deeply problematic On becoming a silk: the QC elite, ritual and restriction

Defend the Human Rights Act: the Aso Mohammed Ibrahim case shows the need for a strong response

It is time not only to defend the UK's Human Rights Act but to counter-attack the falsehoods and distortions of those who misrepresent it. The Labour Party must speak up for the Act which it courageously introduced to enable people to defend their fundamental rights from arbitrary power.

Race, human rights and religion: the UK's Jewish free school decision

How is it that the President of Britain's new Supreme Court has been quoting the Book of Deuteronomy in reaching an important judgement?

Whatever you say Gordon, the war was illegal

A leading lawyer sums it up, Britain's attack on Iraq was illegal

Free-born John Lilburne: A hero for our time

Geoffrey Bindman (London, BIHR): My old school in Newcastle, founded in 1545, was proud of famous former pupils. Several of them were mentioned in the school song. Eldon was the procrastinating judge caricatured by Dickens in Bleak House, Armstrong an armament manufacturer, Collingwood was Nelson’s second-in–command at Trafalgar. Absent was John Lilburne, leader of the Levellers at the time of the English Civil War, who I discovered years later had been at the school in the early 17th century.

Lilburne is only now coming to be recognised as a fundamentally important figure in our political and constitutional history. He was also a man of extraordinary personal courage and determination. Cromwell thought highly of him and made him a colonel in his army but he became disillusioned with Cromwell when he abandoned the democratic programme which Lilburne passionately advocated.

Rule of law at risk

Geoffrey Bindman (London, BIHR): The interesting OurKingdom debate on Labour After Brown risks becoming too remote from actual policy needs as it discusses general strategy. Of course, government needs to be fairer and extend justice in a way that supports individuals while building shared values. If this is what David Miliband and Sunder Katwala mean by combining social democracy with liberalism, who could disagree? Except that it runs the danger of phrase-making. What I am looking for is a much more principled approach to endorsing the need for public values that explicitly face down the marketisation of government that has been the tragic hallmark of New Labour. After a lifetime of support, I have witnessed this process at first hand, as the legacy of 1945 is systematically undone. What is happening is wrong. We need the new generation to identify that it is wrong and pledge to reverse it.

Gaza: unlock this prison

Geoffrey Bindman is a former chairman and vice-president of the Society of Labour Lawyers. He is chairman of the British Institute of Human Rights. Also by Geoffrey Bindman in openDemocracy:

"Justice in the world's light" (14 June 2001)

"Civil liberties and the 'war on terror'" (5 May 2004)

"From race to religion: the next deterrent law" (18 August 2004)

"War on terror or war on justice?" (3 March 2005)

"Human rights: can we afford them?" (2 February 2006)

Does the UK need more anti-terror laws?

On 3 June Gordon Brown attracted easy headlines by announcing his willingness to be tough in security measures to prevent terrorist incidents and would consider further legislation to do so. Among new measures, he mentioned using phone-tap evidence in court, allowing questioning of suspects after charge and, most controversially, extending the permitted period of detention without charge beyond the current 28 days to as much as 90 days.

In fact, new measures were already in preparation by John Reid and have now been published. The one encouraging element in Gordon Brown's contribution is his insistence that "at no point will our British traditions of supporting and defending civil liberties" be compromised but that guarantee has a hollow sound when set against the erosion of civil liberties which has already taken place in the plethora of anti-terrorist legislation already enacted, including the Terrorism Act 2000, Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and the Terrorism Act 2006. These create a range of new offences targeted at virtually anyone remotely linked to the possibility of terrorism, a term so widely defined as to embrace virtually any kind of hostile activity for political ends.

Human rights: can we afford them?

The defence of human-rights principles, procedures and conventions is essential to the security of citizens in democratic states fearful of terrorism, says Geoffrey Bindman.
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