“We say it’s highly improper and unorthodox, effectively OFMDFM are seeking to resist the grant of leave against the Department of Justice.”

A Belfast High Court judge has adjourned the application for a judicial review of the controversial new law criminalising the paying for sex following a last minute intervention by the Northern Ireland Attorney General on behalf of the Office of the NI First and Deputy First Ministers (OFMDFM).

Interestingly, as the BBC report notes

A barrister representing the [NI Department of Justice] confirmed it was not opposing Ms Lee’s application for a judicial review of the new law, on the basis that an arguable case had been established.

The BBC report has what information is available

The judge adjourned the case until next month, but requested full reasons for the intervention, which was made on the eve of the hearing.

I accept that this application made on behalf of the attorney general, who is acting for the first minister and deputy first minister, has not been accompanied with any clear or cogent explanation as to the course of events,” he said. [added emphasis throughout]

Ms Lee’s judicial review challenge is directed at the Department of Justice (DOJ), led by Justice Minister David Ford, who also opposed the criminalisation of those who pay for prostitution.

A barrister representing the DOJ confirmed it was not opposing Ms Lee’s application for a judicial review of the new law, on the basis that an arguable case had been established.

However, Ms Lee’s legal team criticised the attempt by another Stormont department to become involved in the case.

My client is deeply concerned at the proposed, grossly late intervention on the part of the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister,” her lawyer told the court.

“We say it’s highly improper and unorthodox, effectively OFMDFM are seeking to resist the grant of leave against the Department of Justice.”

The court heard the OFMDFM challenge raised a potential devolution issue and the judge allowed the department an opportunity to explain the late move.

[Isn’t the Attorney General the chief legal adviser to the entire NI Executive? – Ed]  You might very well think that…  [So isn’t he intervening against his own advice? – Ed]  That’s above my pay-grade…

Adds from Ciaran Moynagh on Twitter

 

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  • Korhomme

    Very peculiar; what’s going on?

  • Zig70

    the law as drafted by the sex obsessed numpties on the hill is full of holes. Nobody actually voted for them to be legislators, they are supposed to bicker and fight at most. Well, I blame the voters.

  • Gopher

    If only we had the oil and sunshine the Saudi’s have instead of just their theocracy

  • sadie

    Had never heard much about an AG, now he pops up every five minutes. Looks like there may be something flawed about the legality of the legal system of Nl. What a shock.

  • Gaygael

    That’s a shocking number of interventions by the AG. Is he over playing his hand?

    Austrian same sex couple adoption case in 2012 which was not his to intervene in.
    The tension with London over Peter Hain.
    Ashers last month.
    Abortion before Xmas.
    His offer to ‘assist’ the justice committee over the opening of Marie stopes.
    Now this.

    Will he be intervening in the two upcoming marriage cases?

    There were questions asked before over how much personal baggage/prejudice he brings to his role, after the leaked tape where he compared abortion to shooting a new born.
    He also lead the case for the challenge to the sexual orientation regulations back in 2007.
    Spot a trend?

    Any progressive republicans wish to explain why your party extended this mans tenure?

  • Heather Richardson

    I know very little about what Attorney Generals are meant to do. Are all these interventions of his legit? Is he not meant to be neutral? Apologies for my ignorance, but I really don’t know what his role is supposed to be.

  • I wouldn’t be so quick to blame the AG in this case.

    It looks like his office is just stalling for time at the request of the DUP and Sinn Féin.

    As Ciaran Moynagh pointed out in his tweet

    Today’s adjournment came about solely as a result of the Office of the Attorney General for NI advising the court that they had received instructions only yesterday from OFMDFM who wish to resist leave being granted.

    From the reports they have yet to formulate any allowable objection.

  • I wouldn’t be so quick to blame the AG in this case.

    It looks like his office is just stalling for time at the request of the DUP and Sinn Féin.

    As Ciaran Moynagh pointed out in his tweet

    Today’s adjournment came about solely as a result of the Office of the Attorney General for NI advising the court that they had received instructions only yesterday from OFMDFM who wish to resist leave being granted.

    From the reports they have yet to formulate any allowable objection.

    Nothing to do with the legality of the legal system.

  • I wouldn’t be so quick to blame the AG in this case.

    It looks like his office is just stalling for time at the request of the DUP and Sinn Féin.

    As Ciaran Moynagh pointed out in his tweet

    Today’s adjournment came about solely as a result of the Office of the Attorney General for NI advising the court that they had received instructions only yesterday from OFMDFM who wish to resist leave being granted.

    From the reports they have yet to formulate any allowable objection.

    As for his role, you could try his office’s website…

  • David Arnold

    Isn’t it great though that SF and the DUP can actually agree on something? Adult sex shouldn’t be allowed if money is involved. Even when 98% of local sex workers, the World Health Org and Amnesty totally disagree with them.

  • murdockp

    It is obvious to any libertarian that the banning of prostitution is bad law. This point is well reinforced when it is a prostitute who is behind the judicial review.
    I always felt that burying a prostitute ban within a human trafficking bill made no sense and hid a wider puritan agenda which has turned out to be the case.
    Consenting adults should be left to do what they want to do. Obviously anyone who ends up in prostitution who is a victim in all this should be protected but we are not talking about that here we are talking about local people who choose to work in the sex industry by choice.
    If you actually read the legislation, it reads Orwellian with references to touching and their attempts to define sexual. On a lighter note, you can also tell they are puritan prudes who wrote this law as there is no reference to C,D,E or F doing the touching (scroll down).
    I am no real fan of prostitution in particular the pimping and genuine victims of human trafficking trafficking, but I will fight for the right for the profession to exist. If the sex industry is correctly administered and regulated, it has a part to play in our society just like it has since the origins of mankind.
    It may be an alternative career choice but who are we to judge what consenting adults want to do with their lives.
    Our politicians have also forgotten about members of our society who have sexual needs but struggle to experience or fulfil these needs. For example some one who has learning or communication difficulties, disfigurement, someone who is disabled etc. all these people have sexual needs and if they were to go with a prostitute and we are not talking sex in every case, we could be talking about just experiencing a hug or close contact, they are now criminals as the law is written which is ridiculous.
    Our laws should be the same as the rest of the UK and it is madness that one can have a criminal record that stays with you for committing an offence which is perfectly legal in England, Wales and Scotland.
    The creation of a puritan state is starting to scare me if truth be told.
    Read the following extracts from the Act re touching, Scary stuff.
    (4) No offence is committed under this Article unless the sexual services that are provided or are to be provided by B to A involve—

    (a)B being physically in A’s presence,

    (b)B touching A or A touching B, and

    (c)the touching being sexual; or

    (d)B touching B in a sexual manner for the sexual gratification of A, B being physically in A’s presence.

  • Heather Richardson

    Thanks, Pete. I had looked at the website (I’m not that lazy!) but couldn’t make the connection between what it says and the various interventions he’s made – all of which seem to be taking a ‘resist all liberalisation’ angle.

  • murdockp

    Our ministers seem to forget that game of thrones, a TV production which they fund, has done more to romanticise, promote and celebrate brothels than any TV show in history and most of the fictional prostitutes featured in the show are enslaved.

    Maybe the ministers should arrest themselves.

    You really couldn’t make it up.

  • Well, his role in this case would seem to be the chief legal adviser to the NI Executive.

    His office has been directed to intervene in this case by the OFMDFM. They seem to be stalling for more time to try to come up with an allowable objection – despite the fact that they have had plenty of time to do so.

    But it would be a mistake to try to link this intervention by the AG’s office to others.

    This one is under direction. Others have been under his assumed role as defender of the public interest.

  • Gaygael

    Oh I am not necessarily in this case. I’m suggesting a pattern of behaviour.

  • Heather Richardson

    Thanks, Pete.

  • chrisjones2

    “Adult sex shouldn’t be allowed if money is involved.”

    Why?

  • chrisjones2

    This all smells of Panic.

    Perhaps they were all so busy filling in expense claim forms that they suddenly realised that there is a big legal problem with this Act and needed to intervene to stop is all going off the rails just in the teeth of the election.

    All those religious fundamentalists opposed to the ‘hoors and homos need to be kept in the electoral pens until June.

  • sadie

    lf l rightly recall legality and constitution were mentioned when Mr Larkin intervened in other cases eg Ashers Bakery and the abortion issue. Perhaps Fm/Dfm just throwing a little tantrum over having been put in naughy corner this week over MLA pocket money.A few warning blanks ( hopefully) being fired.

  • David

    Sorry if the sarcasm in my post wasn’t entirely clear. The best people to answer your question are the DUP, Ruhama (with their Magdalene Order connections) and Turn Off the Red Light. Oh and I almost forgot — Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP & TUV. In fact the only local parties to oppose criminalisation of paid sex were Alliance, the Greens & NI21.

  • Brendan Heading

    The problem seems to be, essentially, that OFMDFM have failed to define the job’s remit properly, and we end up with this appointed lawyer acting as if he is an elected politician.

  • Brendan Heading

    I wish Pete would just explain his point properly and clearly for a change. Like most of the people commenting reply, I’ve no idea what point he is actually trying to make.

  • chrisjones2

    My apology for not recognising the sarcasm!

    And of course I fully recognise that sex is only for the procreation of children and any fund involved must be stamped out. I am amazed that more in the DUP dont realise that it is all this sex in marriage is the big problem ……. or perhaps in DUP marriages ……..

  • aquifer

    No it is death not sex that rules the hill. SFDUP are into theatrical funerals, imagined hereafters, martyrdom, the historic compulsions of dead people being more important than the choices made by living people. Evolution is sex again and again ad infinitum, so some other explanation for the natural world is proposed.

    Sexual pleasure subverts this theatre of control and must be suppressed.

    e.g. Gerry Adams’ beard has put many off sex.

  • Korhomme

    The attorney general is the government’s legal adviser. As such, this should be a neutral, apolitical office.

    But recall the build-up to the second Gulf War; the Westminster AG seems to have said initially that any war would be illegal. Later, he changed his position. We will have to wait and wait to hear what the Chilcot Inquiry says as to why there was this apparent volte-face.

    Locally, I have the distinct feeling that the members of the Executive act as individuals rather than presenting a united face; in no sense is there a coalition. And I suspect that members of the Executive act according to the interests of their party, their faith and their own consciences rather than acting for the benefit of the entire population or even a majority.