Freedom Hotline's blog

To UK Home Office: Stop deporting final-year architecture students

Post by Manick Govinda, head of the Manifesto Club Visiting Artists Campaign.

Imagine if the world-acclaimed Iraq-born architect Zaha Hadid was unable to complete her studies in the UK at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in the 1970s, and was threatened with deportation because of short-sighted immigration and employment policies? What reputation would British architecture have on the world stage if it stopped developing professional relationships with talented international young architects about to complete a long period of study?

This is what is currently happening to thousands non-EU architecture students who enrolled for 7-8 years study in the UK, before the points-based system was introduced by New Labour in 2009.

Newcastle and Sunderland unite to defeat draconian ‘bubble’ match

A guest post by Peter Lloyd, author of the Manifesto Club’s report ‘Criminalising Football Fans – The case Against ‘Bubble Matches’.

One of the most eagerly anticipated football matches in the Premier League calendar is the derby between Newcastle United and Sunderland. There were plans to make the 1 February fixture a “bubble” match, with all supporters of Sunderland AFC travelling to the game on Tyneside only on official coaches; travelling to the match in a private vehicle or using public transport would have been banned.

Thankfully, this proposal has been dropped, after pressure from both sets of fans.

A sad day for music in Camden

Camden Council has passed a motion bringing through compulsory licences for buskers. This is terrible news - for live music, and for freedom in public space.

Here is a copy of an email sent by Jonny Walker, Association of Street Artists and Performers, to supporters of his petition against the new licences.

300 pound fine for spitting: Disgusting and unacceptable!

A magistrate's court in Waltham Forest has fined two young men 300 pounds for spitting in the street - creating a precedent that is likely to lead to similar cases across the country.

This case was celebrated by the council, but raises worrying questions about the rule of the law and its application.

The men were fined and prosecuted under litter laws - Waltham Forest being one of the few councils, along with Hillingdon, who currently fine people for spitting under litter legislation.

Wrexham FC v Chester FC - Draconian ‘Bubble Matches’ spread to non-league football

A guest post by Peter Lloyd, on the draconian travel restrictions to be imposed on Chester fans travelling to Wrexham for a 31 August fixture. Peter Lloyd is author of the Manifesto Club’s report ‘Criminalising Football Fans – The case Against ‘Bubble Matches’.

Statement on Visa refusal for Turkish theatre director

The Turkish theatre director Mine Cerci was refused a UK visa to rehearse an upcoming show - forcing the company to rehearse on Skype. Below is a joint statement from Clout Theatre and Manick Govinda, head of the Manifesto Club's Visiting Artist Campaign.

Clout Theatre is an international ensemble that formed at the Jacques Lecoq school in Paris. Last year they had a hit with their Edinburgh show How a Man Crumbled directed by Mine Cerci in Paris and Istanbul. The piece was nominated for a Total Theatre award and toured nationally and internationally.

Has Trafford issued illegal on-spot fines?

I just received this email from Mike Duffy, about Trafford's council issuing of on-the-spot fines to motorists. He complains about the letter sent by the council to motorists (who are generally being fined for throwing a cigarette butt out of the car window) saying that they are legally obliged to give the identity of the driver or pay the fine. His account is worrying and pertinent and so is reproduced below...

US musician - deported for carrying a guitar case?

US musician Nathan Payne was refused a visitors' visa and deported - all for carrying a guitar case.

His testimony outlining his reasons from coming to the UK, and his treatment at the hands of UK customs officials, is published in full here.

PNDs - No right to appeal

We posted before on a gentleman fined for 'drunk and disorderly' behaviour, though he says that he was 'at no time disorderly'. In attempting to appeal the fine, he has shown the lack of basic checks within the fixed penalty system and its openness for abuse.

He made a detailed appeal in a letter to Sussex Police, explaining that his refusal to comply with a 'direction to leave' notice was because he did not want to leave his bag behind. This appeal was rejected without explanation. He now learns that "my 'appeal' was 'unofficial' i.e. they were under no obligation to treat it seriously or to justify their findings".

Fined in Belfast - for PICKING UP dog mess

A lady has been fined in Belfast for picking up her dog mess. She had left the house without poop bags, and popped home (a few doors away) to get a bag and pick up her dog’s mess ‘60-90 seconds later’. Yet her explanations were dismissed by a ‘bellicose’ council warden, who ‘harranged’ her repeatedly and issued her with a fixed penalty notice for dog fouling.

Her account of events, below, shows how on-the-spot fines are being used to punish the law-abiding. All the basic principles of criminal justice are disregarded: guilt is impugned and officials ignore their own guidelines for the issuing of fines. Her letter is a strong demolition of the basis for this particular fine - and also a case lesson in principles of criminal justice and the rule of law.

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