Should suspects in police investigations have a right not to have their identities published prior to their being charged?
Emma: In my view the strongest argument in favour of a suspect being able to protect their identity is that often the public will hear that someone’s being investigated and assume that there are guilty of whatever they’ve done and that also will have an impact on the individual’s articulate right to privacy. However, a strong argument against that proposition is that in this country we have the principle of the presumption of innocence, which means that someone is innocent until they’re proven guilty and therefore the public ought to be confident that they haven’t necessarily committed the act until it is proven that they’ve done so.
In my view suspects shouldn’t have the right to privacy for that very reason and also because it’s important that the press can act as a public watchdog and can scrutinize decisions of the police and the investigators, and there’s an important public interest in knowing what’s going on. Also, I think that in cases such as Jimmy Saville and Harvey Weinstein, when it was announced that they were being investigated, other victims were able to come forward and that’s really important for the justice system as a whole. And finally, I think that, in the case of Cliff Richard, the Court of First Instance held the opposite, an indicator that he ought to have had his privacy protected, however I know that the case of ZXE v Bloomberg is going on appeal so perhaps the higher courts will take a different view.
Should persons who left the UK to live in Islamic State held territory be stripped of their British citizenship? Should it make a difference if they have dual nationality or if they repent?
Emma: In my opinion they should not. Citizenship is a fundamental right and should only be removed in wholly exceptional circumstances rather than as a general rule. Revoking someone’s citizenship puts them at risk and their health and their safety and security. It might mean that they can’t cross international boarders, they might risk being detained, they may even have to return to a country where their life is at risk. I think it also depends upon the circumstances in which someone went to Islamic state, such as their age, their mental health and whether they were coerced. So, for example the case of Shamima Begum, I know she was a child at the time, she was influenced by Islamic propaganda and she was groomed upon arrival in the country. And so, for those reasons, her responsibility is to some extent diminished.
I think dual nationality is of limited relevance. While the person won’t be rendered stateless it may be wholly disproportionate to strip them of their UK citizenship if they have no connection with the other country and if they’ve never even been to that country before. I also think it is an abdication of the UK’s responsibility, if they expect another state to deal with this person when the person may never have been to that state and has grown up in the UK all their life.
Why is an equal opportunities policy important to an organisation?
Emma: Well, for an organisation like Matrix, where promotion of equal opportunities is one of the core values, it’s obviously important to have that set out in a policy. I think first of all, having the equal opportunities policy ensures better and fairer recruitment and also diversity in the workforce. So, if you have a clear policy that says ‘we want to attract the best candidates no matter what protected characteristics they have, then you are more likely to have people apply, and therefore more likely to get more diverse candidates from more diverse backgrounds who will enhance your organisation. Second, I think that within the organisation, if you have an equal opportunities policy then you can ensure fair allocation of work, so that you can ensure that women and minority groups also get good, interesting and well-paid cases.
Third, I think that having a policy will protect people from discrimination and will promote respect for everybody. I think if people are aware there is a policy, they’ll be more aware of their rights and responsibilities in respect of equal opportunities. Fourth, I also think that having a policy will ensure compliance with important human rights laws, with the Equality Act and with employment legislation so that the organisation is protected from any claims against it, and so that it complies with these important laws and regulations. And finally, I think that most policies will probably have a disciplinary or complaints procedure to ensure that everyone’s clear about how they will be punished or how they can complain about someone who breaches the equal opportunities policy.
What qualities do you think are most important in a barrister to a client?
Emma: First, I think it is really important to be able to listen to the client and to understand what they want to achieve because often jumping straight into litigation won’t be what’s best for the client. Second, I think being prepared and able to give robust advice is really important, often you’ll have to tell the client that the outcome is negative and it’s something that they don’t want to hear, and it’s important that you’re able to do that and able to manage the client’s expectations so that they’re not disappointed down the line. Third, I think having really good judgment is important, because often coming up with a clever idea is not the best strategy and you need to be able to make a good judgment call about what’s in your client’s best interests. And finally, being able to deliver when you say you’re going to deliver is really important. The client might have a tight court deadline or might be working their week around when you said you’ll provide something, so it’s really important that you stick to what you said you’d do.