MENU
EU Legislation

Britain will STAY signed up to European Court of Human Rights but will not slavishly follow rulings from Strasbourg judges

  • New British Bill of Rights will give the UK’s courts the final say over Europe
  • Greater protection for journalists and British soldiers fighting overseas
  • Justice Secretary Michael Gove working on scrapping Human Rights Act

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has been wrestling with how to fulfil the Tory pledge to scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act and return sovereignty to the UK Parliament.Justice Secretary Michael Gove has been wrestling with how to fulfil the Tory pledge to scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act and return sovereignty to the UK Parliament.

Britain is to remain signed-up to the controversial European Court of Human Rights – but will no longer slavishly abide by the rulings of Strasbourg judges.

Under the new British Bill of Rights, the UK’s own courts would have the final say where there is a clash between the Government and Europe.

The plans, which were leaked today, would also give greater protection from human rights lawyers to journalists and British soldiers fighting overseas.

Whitehall officials said the intention was to end the abuse of human rights laws and stamp out the courtroom ‘compensation culture’.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has been wrestling with how to fulfil the Tory pledge to scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act and return sovereignty to the UK Parliament.

To the dismay of the Tory right, they have stopped short of deciding to quit the European Convention on Human Rights and the accompanying court in Strasbourg.

Instead, British judges will be told they will not have to follow the Court’s ruling where they disagree.

In doing so, they will able to rely on the common law — the body of judicial rulings built up in Britain over centuries — when making their judgments.

The legislation is expected to set out measures to ‘reduce the amount of compensation’ that can be won in cases against public bodies.

The bill will grant soldiers greater protection from human rights cases – with the convention no longer applying on the battlefield overseas.

Legal challenges over incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the taxpayer £85m.

General Sir Nicholas Houghton, the chief of the Defence Staff, warned that the current rules could lead to soldiers ‘hesitating’ in a combat zone as they tried to work out the legal ramifications of their actions.

He said ‘that completely undermines the whole basis of the way in which we operate at a tactical level’

The Bill will also give journalists greater protection from people trying to use human rights law to sue for damages by giving explicit support for the ‘freedom of expression’.

A note leaked on the draft Bill of Rights proposals also outlines plans to ensure that only cases that fulfil ‘a certain level of seriousness’ go before the courts.

 The leaked plan says: ‘We would make clear that the domestic courts are not automatically bound to follow Strasbourg and will be free to reference other sources of law such as common law and rulings from other Commonwealth countries when formulating judgments.’

Ministers are trying to strike a balance between the demands of the different wings of the Tory party – both of which could scupper the legislation.

Many Eurosceptic MPs argue that nothing short of leaving the Convention will end the rampant abuse of human rights rules and restore supremacy to the UK courts.

However, there is also a rump of backbenchers who argue that leaving the Convention will set the wrong example to the rest of the world.

They include ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve, ex-Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, ex-shadow home secretary David Davis, Ken Clarke and former prisons minister Crispin Blunt.

David Cameron, pictured leaving Downing Street today with wife Samantha, has previously refused to rule out leaving the Convention


 The need to protect a majority of only 12 has previously led to confusion at the top of Government over what the position should be.

Earlier this year, Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said of leaving the Convention: ‘That is not the proposal on the table.’

But he was later contradicted by Prime Minister David Cameron who said, quitting was an option.

He told MPs: ‘If we can’t achieve what we need – and I’m very clear about that, when we’ve got these foreign criminals committing offence after offence and we can’t send them home because of their right to a family life – that needs to change.

‘I rule out absolutely nothing in getting that done.’

Last night Lord Falconer, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said: ‘These are ill-thought out, illiterate and dangerous plans.

‘They say they don’t want to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights but their plans clearly show that they have misunderstood the relationship between our courts and the

European Court and their approach could result in such tensions that we would have to withdraw.

‘For the Government to dither over this issue and send a message that it’s ok to pick and choose the human rights you like does incredible damage both at home and to the UK’s standing in the world.’

The consultation document is expected to be published in the next month, though Number Ten has yet to fix the date.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘This is speculation. We will set out our proposals in due course.’

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3309280/Britain-STAY-signed-European-Court-Human-Rights-not-slavishly-follow-rulings-Strasbourg-judges.html

Comments are closed.

MENU
Powered by: Wordpress
%d bloggers like this: