Section 44 of the constitution is a curious beast – one that's been ignored over the years | Richard Ackland

Barnaby Joyce’s plight isn’t over despite the government’s confidence the high court will rule in his favour. In the past he’d have to reinvent himself as British to proceed in parliament

  • Richard Ackland is a Guardian Australia columnist

By now school children will be reciting section 44 of the constitution every morning under the flagpole: “any person who is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or citizen …”

Such splendid 19th century language: “acknowledgement of allegiance … obedience … subjects”. Back then people were expected to know their place. We were subjects first, citizens second. The founding fathers were anxious that parliamentarians owed their loyalties to the crown, and it wasn’t until after the second world war that Australians stopped being British subjects and then later in 1986 when the Australia Act was passed that being British made you a foreigner for the purposes of parliamentary qualification.

Related: Australia’s deputy PM Barnaby Joyce revealed to be a New Zealander

Related: Senior Labor figures support inquiry into foreign influence on Australian politics

Continue reading…

Universities are not spying on students | Letters

Spying, as opposed to awareness and management of risk, is prohibited by the guidelines to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, write Steven Greer and Lindsey Bell

Giles Fraser contributes to the mythology about the Prevent duty in universities rather than helping to dispel it (Universities stop spying on their students? That’s a radical idea, 4 August). The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 imposes a statutory obligation on schools, universities, the NHS and other institutions to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism” (the “Prevent duty”).

Related: Universities stop spying on their students? Now that’s a radical idea | Giles Fraser | Loose canon

Continue reading…

Nigerian gay rights activist wins UK asylum claim after 13-year battle

Home Office previously denied refugee status to Aderonke Apata and accused her of lying about being in lesbian relationship

The Home Office has granted refugee status to a prominent Nigerian LGBT activist, ending a 13-year battle over her right to remain in the UK.

Aderonke Apata, 50, says she knew she was gay from the age of 16 and was persecuted in Nigeria. She has been recognised internationally for her human rights work, and recently received Attitude magazine’s Pride award.

Related: Gay relationships are still criminalised in 72 countries, report finds

Continue reading…

Justice secretary told to 'get a grip' on backlog of prisoners held beyond sentence

Parole Board chair Nick Hardwick warns over ‘unacceptably high’ level of suicide among inmates serving indeterminate sentences

The chair of the Parole Board has expressed his frustration at the government’s failure to “get a grip” on the issue of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences under the discredited imprisonment for public protection (IPP) programme.

There are 3,300 people in England and Wales on IPPs in jail with no release date, Nick Hardwick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. The scheme was abolished in 2012.

Continue reading…

Why a computer could help you get a fair trial | John Naughton

Recent research suggests that AI could make a valuable contribution to the judicial process

In 1963, an American attorney named Reed Lawlor published a prescient article in the journal of the American Bar Association. “In a few years,” he wrote, “lawyers will rely more and more on computers to perform many tasks for them. They will not rely on computers simply to do their bookkeeping, filing or other clerical tasks. They will also use them in their research and in the analysis and prediction of judicial decisions. In the latter tasks, they will make use of modern logic and the mathematical theory of probability, at least indirectly.”

Related: Rise of the racist robots – how AI is learning all our worst impulses

Continue reading…