Leave granted for a judicial review of Lord Morrow’s Prostitution law…

Another legal case, this time it’s the granting of a judicial review of Lord Maurice Morrow’s private members bill criminalising payment for sex.

As our own Siobhan Fenton (writing here for the London Independent) notes:

In an unprecedented case, a sex worker has taken launched a legal challenge against the laws, saying they expose sex workers to greater danger as it means they are more likely to have to operate alone. Laura Lee, a sex worker and Dublin-born law graduate, has brought the case. She claims the legislation is a breach of human rights entitlements to privacy and freedom from discrimination

Northern Ireland is the only region of the UK where it is a criminal offence to pay for sex. Purchase of sexual services became a criminal offence under a private member’s bill brought before Stormont by MLA Lord Morrow, from the evangelical Christian party DUP. Lord Morrow argued criminalisation of buyers would reduce sexual exploitation, while penalising clients but not workers.

Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin has opposed the review and called for proceedings to be thrown out at the first stage.

You can read more of Laura Lea’s case in a soapbox by her Slugger carried a couple of years back. Interesting to see how it pans out.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • chrisjones2

    The NI version of the Dangerous Dogs Act

    Does it stop prostitution? No

    Does it stop Tarfficking? No it makes it harder for Police to get evidence

    Does it make women safer? No it makes them more vulnerable and means that the working women cannot easily vet clients

    Does it reduce crime? No it hugely increases the scope to blackmail men who use prostitutes

    What then does it do? It garners votes from Bible Believing Christians on a moral crusade against wicked weemin and makes it appear that the DUP is doing something. Praise the Lord!

  • Zorin001

    I agree entirely Chris, looking back on the history of moral crusades on social issues (Temperance, The War on Drugs, etc.) do they ever work; or do they simply lead to more invasive criminality? I think a studious look at history gives us the answer on that one.

  • chrisjones2

    In essence its a flight from reality. I have no doubt that Lord Morrow had genuine good intent – noone would waste so much time on something they though foolish – but the fundamental analysis of the problem was profoundly wrong and there was a collective failure to consider the likely consequences outside the narrow field of prostitution. It then ends up as gesture politics because ‘something must be done’ and morally we dare not confront reality

    Drugs are perhaps the same. All drugs have associated problems but the biggest problems lie with tobacco and alcohol which kill literally thousands of citizens a year and maim many more – yet we dare not address them

  • Chris – drop me an email [alaninbelfast AT gmail DOT com] so I can get your Good Food Show ticket to you! I can’t find a good
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  • Gaygael

    Another (moral) issue that the AG has intervened in. Was he instructed by a department or the executive?

  • chrisjones2

    What is that for please? I cant remember?

  • chrisjones2

    Perhaps the Lord himself – if not Marlene?

    And isnt it great that so often he represents us himself in court saving the costs of Counsel

  • NotNowJohnny

    I was trying to figure out what the AG’s role was here. This was a private members bill rather than an executive bill which, if I recall correctly, the minister of justice didn’t support at the time. I can’t help but wonder which of his functions is the AG exercising through his intervention here?

  • Korhomme

    As I understand it, the original application would have been directed to the Justice ministry. They seem to not to have had any problems with judicial review and did not oppose it.

    The AG for NI is appointed by the First and Deputy First ministers, but is independent of them and the Executive. From the AG’s website:

    My responsibilities and role are exercised independently of any other
    persons. As Attorney General I am statutorily independent of the First
    Minister and deputy First Minister, the Northern Ireland Executive and
    the Northern Ireland Departments.

    I take this to mean that the AG instructed himself rather than being instructed by the Executive. One of the AG’s duties is to, “Protect the public interest in matters of law”.

    It’s odd though, that the AG has opposed a judicial review while the Justice ministry didn’t. You might even think that a judicial review would serve to protect the public interest.

  • Zig70

    Not sure why she’s vexed, no one will be prosecuted under this law and it has only served to allow those oddly obsessed with sex trafficking including the media to talk about sex trafficking. This review adds more waste to the original waste. Politicians in NI should be reminded they are donkeys in flags just sit there and bray till we figure out something, Feck knows what. Somebody push the button. Hang on, didn’t Bono and Clinton say the children were the future about 20years ago, we should be okay soon.

  • Gopher

    I’m looking forward to auto-da-fé’s and ducking stools being introduced by our inquisitor, should boost tourism. If ever on paper there was an obvious area to exploit the chasm between the DUP and SF surely it would be on Larkin. Just goes to prove the rest of the parties are pretty crap. I suppose that is pretty obvious since the freaking bill actually got passed in the first place.

  • Mister_Joe

    Like Drugs, does anyone believe that passing a law will remove the perceived problem?
    Prostitution is here to stay. Efforts would be better directed to ensure that minors are not forced into it.

  • chrisjones2

    “does anyone believe that passing a law will remove the perceived problem?”


  • NotNowJohnny

    If indeed it is his ‘Protecting the public interest in matters of law’ function that he (believes he) is exercising, then I wonder what the public interest is that he is seeking to protect.

  • You’ve won one of the pairs of Good Food Show tickets for the political dish competition with your Fresh Start Fricassee!

  • Korhomme

    ‘Public interest’ may have a specific legal meaning, though I’ve never seen it defined.

  • nagantino

    I think Lord Morrow is a well meaning chap……Sure who would object to this piece of legislation? The PSNI for a start.