Paris attacks show need to scrap Human Rights Act, says Tory MP with no understanding of the Human Rights Act

8 January 2015 by

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 15.38.28I will keep this short. David Davies MP (not David Davis MP) has posted on his official blog that the Paris attacks show that the Human Rights Act should be repealed. His reasoning is spurious. He does not understand the law. He misrepresents the Human Rights Act. I will explain why below. But first, here is his post in full:

A few years ago while working a Special Constable in London, I was involved in the arrest of a man who had declared himself to be a member of the Taliban.

He backed up his statement with various documents and photographs of himself in a desert holding weapons with other armed militants.

We radioed for advice and after a while were told to let him go. Apparently he was an asylum seeker whose claim for asylum in Britain was based on his membership of an extremist terrorist group who have taken the lives of hundreds of British soldiers. He was set free to continue his journey across London to meet his lawyers who were no doubt being paid for out of public money.

This incident has always worried me. Under current laws, including the Human Rights Act, anyone can come to the UK and make a claim for asylum.

There must be huge numbers of people in Britain who have been members of extremist Islamic organisations. Some are actually using this as the basis for an asylum claim.

The tragic terrorist attacks in Paris should be a wake up call.We should state that anyone suspected of links with any militant Islamist organisations should be prevented from entry under any circumstance into Britain.

Those who enter illegally should be held in custody until deported to their home country regardless of any penalty they may face there.

Here is the main problem for Mr Davies’ argument. He is wrong to say that “Under current laws, including the Human Rights Act, anyone can come to the UK and make a claim for asylum.” The right to claim asylum is not contained in the Human Rights Act. It is in the the 1951 Refugee Convention. Here is a site which explains what that is. The United Kingdom signed up to it on 28 July 1951.

It requires that signatory states grant asylum to those who demonstrate “a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, and are unable or unwilling to seek protection from the authorities in their own country”.

And! The Convention does not apply to those who has committed a “crime against peace” a “war crime” or a “crime against humanity” (Article 1F). So the example Mr Davies uses is itself spurious. That rule is enforced in our law – see for example this post.

As far as I am aware, no MP is (yet) arguing we should withdraw from the Refugee Convention.

So withdrawing from the Human Rights Act would not address the problem which Mr Davies identifies.

Yes, asylum seekers often also attempt to use the Human Rights Act in order to obtain leave to remain in the UK, for example if they face the risk of ill-treatment in their home country. But let me repeat – the right to claim asylum is contained elsewhere and will remain despite repeal of the Human Rights Act.

There are other points which can be made. Such as the fact that along with protecting people coming to the UK from dangerous countries, the Human Rights Act does a huge amount more – including protecting free expression of the press under Article 10, the rights of religious believers under Article 9, the right to life under Article 2, the right not to be tortured under Article 3. But that is perhaps for another day, when someone makes a serious argument that human rights are responsible for the Paris attacks.

MPs have a responsibility to be accurate when the promote the repeal of an important law. Mr Davies’ post is irresponsible, particularly in the charged climate following the Paris attacks. He should remove or amend it, with a clear message that he got it wrong.

Update – see also Dr Mark Elliott’s excellent post on this


  1. Lakeesha Lehner says:

    Hence Everyone

  2. dashinoz says:

    Human rights? What about the right to go about your business without being shot?

  3. John Phillips says:

    Sadly Andrew, I have to agree with you. The old saw of how do you know a politician is lying, his lips are moving should have added to it ‘or he is blogging on yet another subject he knows nothing about.

    In response to Ma January the 8th, well you only have to see the way since 9/11 and 7/7 that Western governments in general rushed to curtail our freedoms in the name of freedom to be saddened but not too surprised at how government will seek ever greater power to curtail its citizens’ rights. Of course, all the while claiming it is for our own good and, through playing on peoples real or imagined fears, being able to get away with claiming that it is all supposedly to protect their freedoms. The reality of course is either about more control over their citizens or protecting themselves against bad press Me cynical, what makes you think that?

  4. LucyButler says:

    “The Convention does not apply to those who has committed a “crime against peace” a “war crime” or a “crime against humanity” (Article 1F). So the example Mr Davies uses is itself spurious. That rule is enforced in our law – see for example this post.”

    If this is the case why is a person who openly declares membership of a group that carries out “crimes against peace”, “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” and shows photographic evidence to prove it, not bounced back to whence they came. Rather than spend, probably a considerable amount of time in the country having their case: “Apparently he was an asylum seeker whose claim for asylum in Britain was based on his membership of an extremist terrorist group who have taken the lives of hundreds of British soldiers” decided.

    From the article it is argued he had no case to be heard.

    Perhaps if the Human Rights Act was implemented properly it would receive less criticism.

    It took 9 years to deport Abu Hamza this was a man who was convicted of “11 offences under the Terrorism Act, including incitement to murder and possession of a terrorism document” during this time he was resident in the UK while lawyers were deciding his fate. 9 years is far too long especially when the article states he had no case at all.

  5. Andrew says:

    Member of Parliament writes utter rubbish. And dog bites man.

  6. allen stevens says:

    This seems a little nit-picky to me. While he did cite the wrong piece of legislature, his point was still valid. He was a special constable, and is now an MP, but he isn’t a lawyer. At the end of the day, the refugee convention is being utilised by terrorists to enter this country, and his statement sits more in reality than the idea that terrorists will stop being terrorists when they come over here.

  7. Frank Cranmer says:

    Oh dear. Wrong but not at all surprising.

    What worries me is that those – like you and Mark Elliott – who point out that he’s just completely confused about the law will simply be dismissed as a bunch of soaking-wet liberals who can’t recognise a serious threat to the public when it’s staring them in the face.

    It seems to me that the crux of the current problems over the HRA and the ECHR is that people will only start worrying about human rights and the rule of law if they start being eroded – and by then it will be too late. Or am I just a born pessimist?

    1. I think you’ll find they will be called ‘Lefties’… especially as the ill-informed Mr Davies is a Tory.

  8. So we should defend freedom of speech by repealing the Act that guarantees freedom of speech. Many thanks to Mr Davies for clearing that up.

  9. Ismail Abdulhai Bhamjee says:


    The words Perfidious Albion, This is from the 13th Century whilst the United Nations declaration made in 1960, on Independence.

    This has not been taken into account, where it does become legally flawed.

    There is and has been a hatred against the Persons of the Muslim Religion, whilst it is the British, French, German and Portugal who had taken the land in many parts of the world from those area, as we are now living in a different Century which should be taken into consideration.

    I am a person of Muslim Religion, but in accordance with my Belief- I believe in Dialogue and Free Speech. It is wrong to take someone’s property, possession and life by any means what so ever, and the Suicide Bombers should Stop, as there is time to be patience and sacrifice.

    Yours Faithfully

    Ismail Abdulhai Bhamjee

  10. James Lawson XIX says:

    Politics is not and never has been about truth. Its about the manipulation of public perception for political purposes. It relies for its efficacy upon the ‘Milgram’ effect. That is to say, the logical fallacy that an ‘authority’ figure is better informed than the man on the Clapham Omnibus and that his or her statements are reasoned and authoritative. The Politician will assume that any area of public debate is ‘political’. He does so in order to claim exclusive jurisdiction over its direction and having done so, he or she, individually or collectively, invariably proceeds to wreck positive outcomes which would otherwise have been arrived at by reasoned analysis.

    I gave up on the British Politician years ago. They generally have little of value to say and they say it too loudly!

  11. brandon bell says:

    Thank you Mr Davis, MP, for your kind statement. I really did not know until now that the Human Rights Act is for immigrants and foreigners, only! But, even it were, would be a terrorist attack a valid reason to scrap such fundamental act? I am very worried that such poorly educated politicians, as you are, are MPs!

  12. Jon Bell says:

    It just never stops.

  13. Gavin Steele says:

    Has this post itself been sent to Mr Davies for his reaction? And if so, what has he said in response?

  14. Lindsey Donald says:

    His lawyers should also direct him to Article 1F of the Refugee Convention

  15. Clicky Steve says:

    Reblogged this on clickysteve and commented:

    How anybody can get from the events in Paris to the scrapping of protections for the freedom of expression is beyond me.

    1. Ma says:

      ….read what the French have done to their own ‘Freedom of Expression ‘ using an accelerated procedure!

  16. Daniel Smith says:

    We don’t need to scrap the Human Right’s Act – we need to build a fairer and more tolerant society. Globalisation means that the world has become a salad bowl with distinct and different tastes – perhaps the French satirists weren’t as cool as they thought they were.

  17. Clicky Steve says:

    Dear God. How one can get from the events in Paris to the scrapping of the HRA is mind boggling. Utter nonsense.

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




7/7 Bombings 9/11 A1P1 Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology birds directive blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity circumcision citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Cologne Commission on a Bill of Rights common buzzard common law communications competition confidentiality confiscation order conscientious objection consent conservation constitution contact order contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs costs budgets Court of Protection crime criminal law Criminal Legal Aid criminal records Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty declaration of incompatibility defamation deficit DEFRA Democracy village Dennis Gill dentist's registration fees deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention devolution Dignitas dignity Dignity in Dying diplomacy director of public prosecutions disability Disability-related harassment disabled claimants disciplinary hearing disclosure Discrimination Discrimination law disease divorce DNA doctors does it matter? domestic violence Dominic Grieve don't ask don't ask don't tell don't tell Doogan and Wood double conviction DPP guidelines drones duty of care ECHR economic and social rights economic loss ECtHR Education election Employment Environment environmental information Equality Act Equality Act 2010 ethics Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice european disability forum European Sanctions Blog Eurozone euthanasia evidence Exclusion extra-jurisdictional reach of ECHR extra-territoriality extradition extradition act extradition procedures extradition review extraordinary rendition Facebook Facebook contempt facial recognition fair procedures Fair Trial faith courts fake news Family family courts family law family legal aid Family life fatal accidents act Fertility fertility treatment FGM fisheries fishing rights foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Association Freedom of Expression freedom of information Freedom of Information Act 2000 freedom of movement freedom of speech free speech game birds gangbo gang injunctions Garry Mann gary dobson Gary McFarlane gay discrimination Gay marriage gay rights gay soldiers Gaza Gaza conflict Gender General Dental Council General Election General Medical Council genetic discrimination genetic engineering genetic information genetics genetic testing Google government Grenfell grooming Gun Control gwyneth paltrow gypsies habitats habitats protection Halsbury's Law Exchange hammerton v uk happy new year harassment Hardeep Singh Haringey Council Harkins and Edwards Health healthcare health insurance Heathrow heist heightened scrutiny Henry VII Henry VIII herd immunity hereditary disorder High Court of Justiciary Hirst v UK HIV HJ Iran HM (Iraq) v The Secretary of state for the home department [2010] EWCA Civ 1322 Holder holkham beach holocaust homelessness Home Office Home Office v Tariq homeopathy hooding Hounslow v Powell House of Commons Housing housing benefits Howard League for Penal Reform how judges decide cases hra damages claim Hrant Dink HRLA HS2 hs2 challenge hts Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority human genome human rights Human Rights Act Human Rights Act 1998 human rights advocacy Human rights and the UK constitution human rights commission human rights conventions human rights damages Human Rights Day human rights decisions Human Rights Information Project human rights news Human Rights Watch human right to education human trafficking hunting Huntington's Disease HXA hyper injunctions Igor Sutyagin illegality defence immigration Immigration/Extradition Immigration Act 2014 immigration appeals immigration detention immigration judge immigration rules immunity increase of sanction India Indonesia Infrastructure Planning Committee inherent jurisdiction inherited disease Inhuman and degrading treatment injunction Inquest Inquests insult insurance insurmountable obstacles intelligence services act intercept evidence interception interests of the child interim remedies international international conflict international criminal court international humanitarian law international human rights international human rights law international law international treaty obligations internet internet service providers internment internship inuit investigation investigative duty in vitro fertilisation Iran iranian bank sanctions Iranian nuclear program Iraq Iraqi asylum seeker Iraq War Ireland irrationality islam Israel Italy iTunes IVF ivory ban jackson reforms Janowiec and Others v Russia ( Japan Jason Smith Jeet Singh Jefferies Jeremy Corbyn jeremy hunt job Jogee John Hemming John Terry joint enterprise joint tenancy Jon Guant Joseph v Spiller journalism judaism judges Judges and Juries judging Judicial activism judicial brevity judicial deference judicial review Judicial Review reform judiciary Julian Assange jurisdiction jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Act Justice and Security Bill Justice and Security Green Paper Justice Human Rights Awards JUSTICE Human Rights Awards 2010 justification just satisfaction Katyn Massacre Kay v Lambeth Kay v UK Ken Clarke Ken Pease Kerry McCarthy Kettling Kings College Klimas koran burning Labour Lady Hale lansley NHS reforms LASPO Law Commission Law Pod UK Law Society Law Society of Scotland leave to enter leave to remain legal aid legal aid cuts Legal Aid desert Legal Aid Reforms legal blogs Legal Certainty legal naughty step Legal Ombudsman legal representation legitimate expectation let as a dwelling Leveson Inquiry Levi Bellfield lewisham hospital closure lgbtq liability Libel libel reform Liberal Democrat Conference Liberty libraries closure library closures Libya licence conditions licence to shoot life insurance life sentence life support limestone pavements limitation lisbon treaty Lithuania Litigation litvinenko live exports local authorities locked in syndrome london borough of merton London Legal Walk London Probation Trust Lord Bingham Lord Bingham of Cornhill Lord Blair Lord Goldsmith lord irvine Lord Judge speech Lord Kerr Lord Lester Lord Neuberger Lord Phillips Lord Rodger Lord Sumption Lord Taylor LSC tender luftur rahman machine learning MAGA Magna Carta mail on sunday Majority Verdict Malcolm Kennedy malice Margaret Thatcher Margin of Appreciation margin of discretion Maria Gallastegui marriage material support maternity pay Matthew Woods Mattu v The University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust [2011] EWHC 2068 (QB) Maya the Cat Mba v London Borough Of Merton McKenzie friend Media and Censorship Medical medical liability medical negligence medical qualifications medical records medicine mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Capacity Act 2005 Mental Health mental health act mental health advocacy mental health awareness Mental Health Courts Mental illness merits review MGN v UK michael gove Midwives migrant crisis Milly Dowler Ministerial Code Ministry of Justice Ministry of Justice cuts misfeasance in public office modern slavery morality morocco mortuaries motherhood Motor Neurone disease Moulton Mousa MP expenses Mr Gul Mr Justice Eady MS (Palestinian Territories) (FC) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department murder murder reform Musician's Union Muslim NADA v. SWITZERLAND - 10593/08 - HEJUD [2012] ECHR 1691 naked rambler Naomi Campbell nationality National Pro Bono Week national security Natural England nature conservation naturism Nazi negligence Neuberger neuroscience Newcastle university news News of the World new Supreme Court President NHS NHS Risk Register Nick Clegg Nicklinson Niqaab Noise Regulations 2005 Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance nursing nursing home Obituary Occupy London offensive jokes Offensive Speech offensive t shirt oil spill olympics open justice oppress OPQ v BJM orchestra Osama Bin Laden Oxford University paramountcy principle parental rights parenthood parking spaces parliamentary expenses parliamentary expenses scandal Parliamentary sovereignty Parliament square parole board passive smoking pastor Terry Jones patents Pathway Students Patrick Quinn murder Pensions persecution personal data Personal Injury personality rights perversity Peter and Hazelmary Bull PF and EF v UK Phil Woolas phone hacking phone taps physical and mental disabilities physician assisted death Pinnock Piracy Plagiarism planning planning human rights planning system plebgate POCA podcast points Poland Police police investigations police liability police misconduct police powers police surveillance Policy Exchange report political judges Politics Politics/Public Order poor reporting Pope Pope's visit Pope Benedict portal possession proceedings power of attorney PoW letters to ministers pre-nup pre-nuptial Pre-trial detention predator control pregnancy press press briefing press freedom Prince Charles prince of wales princess caroline of monaco principle of subsidiarity prior restraint prison Prisoners prisoners rights prisoners voting prisoner vote prisoner votes prisoner voting prison numbers Prisons prison vote privacy privacy injunction privacy law through the front door Private life private nuisance private use proceeds of crime Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecution Protection of Freedoms Act Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest protest camp protest rights Protocol 15 psychiatric hospitals Public/Private public access publication public authorities Public Bodies Bill public inquiries public interest public interest environmental litigation public interest immunity Public Order Public Sector Equality Duty putting the past behind quango quantum quarantine Queen's Speech queer in the 21st century R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Ors [2011] EWCA Civ 895 R (on the application of) v The General Medical Council [2013] EWHC 2839 (Admin) R (on the application of EH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 2569 (Admin) R (on the application of G) v The Governors of X School Rabone and another v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust [2012] UKSC 2 race relations Rachel Corrie Radmacher Raed Salah Mahajna Raed Saleh Ramsgate raptors rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion resuscitation RightsInfo right to die right to family life right to life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials security services sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa south african constitution Spain special advocates spending cuts Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance swine flu Syria Tax Taxi technology Terrorism terrorism act tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine unfair consultation universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vaccination vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: