The aftermath of the riots continues to rumble on. In a hasty u-turn the Government has said that it will not follow through on proposals to clamp down on social media during times of social unrest. More than 2,000 people have been arrested over the disturbances in London, and the Metropolitan Police has warned that its operation is “far from over”. 1,400 suspects have appeared in court. A 16-year-old who admitted inciting rioting on Facebook has been identified after a court lifted reporting restrictions protecting his anonymity. The unusual step of revealing the identity of a juvenile involved in court proceedings has been heavily criticised.

Meanwhile, further tensions are brewing in the coalition. Following David Cameron’s assertion that the Human Rights Act and the its “associated culture” had a role to play in causing the riots Nick Clegg has issued a robust defence of the Human Rights Act 1998 and made it clear that he will fight any attempts to ‘water down’ human rights. In an opinion piece for The Guardian, the Liberal Democrat leader said that

“Britain has a proud history of international leadership on human rights . . . Yet something strange has happened in recent years: while governments have continued the call for greater rights abroad, they have belittled the relevance of rights at home. The Labour government that passed the Human Rights Act then spent years trashing it, allowing a myth to take root that human rights are a foreign invention, unwanted here, a charter for greedy lawyers and meddlesome bureaucrats.”

The law firm Public Interest Lawyers are leading a challenge against the Scottish university fee system. Currently, while Scottish and non -UK EU students can benefit from university education funded by the Scottish government, students from elsewhere in the UK can be charged higher fees. According to Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, this “contravenes article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and could also be in breach of the Equality Act”.

As ever, Charon QC had some interesting things to say on the matter. Charon QC has also highlighted the fact that, given the media furore over the advent of “Tesco Law”, the arrival of “Google law” has caused relatively few ripples. RocketLawyer, the Google-backed American online legal document business, is set to launch in the UK next year and will be looking for lawyers to offer services to its customers. US legal services firm LegalZoom is also planning a UK launch next year as well. These online legal services may well have a considerable impact on the UK legal industry.

Finally – it has now been clarified when one may or may not eat wild birds, after a pub on the Isle of Wight stopped selling wild bird on its menu – in the form of rook salad – on police advice. According to the BBC it is technically legal for people to eat some species if they killed the birds under licence but, with the exception of wood pigeon, they can never be sold for human consumption. It would, however, be legal to eat a wild bird if it had been killed by someone else, or discovered dead as roadkill – although anyone wishing to do so would have to prove they were not responsible for its demise. This provides an interesting addition to the examples of offences placing a reverse burden of proof upon the defendant.