London riots: the best of the legal blogs roundup

A tumultuous August week, to say the least.  As scenes of violence, rioting and looting spread across the capital and into the English regions, legal bloggers had plenty of fodder on which to opine.

Among the most prolific was David Allen Green, author of the Jack of Kent blog and legal correspondent for the New Statesmen, who vetoed the extreme measure of bringing in the army to restore calm and why we should just keep calm and carry on. But, by far the most popular item in the current affairs magazine this week was his reporting on a riot that never took place.

Legal blogger Obiter J asked who will pay for the damages under the 19th century Riot (Damages) Act while a saddening eyewitness account is offered by a third-sector lawyer working in Hackney.

Blogging under the moniker Inspector Winter, a law enforcement officer gives a graphic online account of the powerlessness and terror he and other officers felt as the looting took place around them.

Irish blogger Deirdre Duffy argues that the removal and lack of youth clubs lies at the heart of the rioting in her human rights blog and One Crown Office Row pupil Matthew Flinn questions whether publishing photos of alleged rioters infringes their human rights.

Barrister Rupert Myers equated England’s cities to a Lord of the Flies nightmare in this week’s opinion piece arguing that “without power, organization and authority the law is merely a taboo”.

A magistrate – who goes by the blogname Bystander – reminds us that defendants are entitled to be dealt with properly and self-confessed caffeine-fuelled technology, media and telecoms lawyer Andrew Sharpe asks whether the UK Government could order an internet blackout and mobile phone network shutdown in future cases of disruption that depend on social media to rally masses.

Twenty-something in-house lawyer Matthew Taylor hails the e-petition calling for rioters to be stripped of benefits as “everything that’s wrong with democracy encapsulated in one neat package” and, lastly, we have the ever-brilliant ‘Without Prejudice’ podcast chaired by Charon QC, barrister Carl Gardner and David Allen Green plus guests. This week’s topics cove the Riot (Damages) Act 1886, what criminal offences rioters and looters are being charged with and why and whether rioters and looters should be denied social housing. Listen to the podcast here.