Category: Bill of Rights


UK loses 3 out of 4 European human rights cases? More like 1 in 50, actually

12 January 2012 by

It is rightly said that 95% of statistics are made up. Today’s Daily Mail front page headline contained a typically exuberant statistical claim: Europe’s war on British justice: UK loses three out of four human rights cases, damning report reveals. According to journalist James Slack “Unelected Euro judges” are mounting a “relentless attack on British laws laid down over centuries by Parliament”.

The Telegraph’s Andrew Hough and Tom Whitehead chime in with Britain loses 3 in 4 cases at human rights court. But are they right? To add a bit of spice to this statistical journey, I will aim to use at least one analogy involving a popular TV singing contest.

The “explosive research” is a report by Robert Broadhurst, a Parliamentary legal researcher for a group of Conservative MPs. The headline grabbing figures are in this paragraph:

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Lord Irvine: British judges should decide human rights cases for themselves – Carl Gardner

15 December 2011 by

Lord Irvine tonight weighed in to the debate about Britain’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights – and effectively accused the Supreme Court of having surrendered its intellectual independence, and shirked its judicial responsibility.

His at times toughly-worded lecture to the UCL Judicial Institute and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law chimes with what the Attorney General Dominic Grieve has been saying recently about the need for primary responsibility for human rights protection to lie with states, not Strasbourg – and Grieve will surely approve of both the content and timing of Lord Irvine’s intervention, on the eve of the European Court’s ruling in Al-Khawaja and Tahery v. UK and in the context of Britain’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe. I’ll link to the text of his speech when it’s available.

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Rights on the rocks: Some Bill of Rights Commission responses

22 November 2011 by

Updated x 3 | One way or another, by the end of this Parliament, rights protections in the UK will look very different. If you could pull yourself away from the spectacle of actor Hugh Grant giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking, the main event in yesterday’s live legal transmission bonanza was the second debate on the Legal Aid and Sentencing of Offenders Bill in the House of Lords.

Although the bill is likely to pass, it is likely to do so in slightly revised form – knowledgable tweeters were predicting that the domestic violence and clinical negligence provisions were most likely to be affected.

Meanwhile, over at the Commission on a Bill of Rights, the somewhat dysfunctional committee will be combing through responses to its recently closed consultation. I have collated some of the responses below, mainly from people who have sent them to me. What follows is an entirely unscientific summary.


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Listen to Northern Ireland’s advice on a UK bill of rights – Colin Harvey

10 November 2011 by

There is a commission on a bill of rights for the UK. It is in the midst of a consultation process, and visited Belfast this week. Have you noticed?

The commission’s establishment and composition provoked adverse comment. The mood of open hostility to existing human rights law merged with the potential for engineered political standoff, as the commission members are split between those who support the Human Rights Act and those who oppose it. A commission born from political compromise looks primed for stalemate. Not the best way to initiate a new constitutional conversation.

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3 days to say whether you want a UK Bill of Rights

8 November 2011 by

The Commission on a Bill of Rights consultation on whether we need one (a bill, not the Commission) closes this Friday 11 November. 

The consultation document is here: Do we need a UK Bill of Rights. You can respond by email or to the Commission’s address. Our posts on the commission are here and listed below for background – you can also read our existing Bill of Rights, from 1689, here, the Magna Carta here and the Human Rights Act here.

I intend to collate responses and summarise them once the deadline passes, so please feel free to email your responses (ideally as an MS Word document or PDF) to 1crownofficerow@gmail.com .


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Two great UK Bill of Rights events

24 October 2011 by

The Commission on a Bill of Rights consultation is closing on 11 November 2011, which is two weeks on Friday. If you trying to decide what you think about the consultation paper (the paper itself is unlikely to help much, as it doesn’t provide any options), then there are two excellent events coming up which may help.  

The UCL Institute for Human Rights Debate, Does Britain Need a Bill of Rights? 

Free event, this Wednesday 26 October: Book here , Registration from 6:30pm, Event starts at 7pm, featuring

  • Chris Bryant MP – Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform,
  • Aileen Kavanagh – University of Oxford,
  • Colm O’Cinneide – UCL,
  • Saladin Meckled-Garcia – UCL Institute for Human Rights. Chaired by
  • Joshua Rozenberg, Presenter of the BBC’s Law in Action

A Bill of Rights for the UK? – Human Rights Lawyers Association

Free event, Wednesday 2nd November 2011, 6pm – 7.30pm, BPP Law Centre, 68-70 Red Lion Street, London WC1R 4NY – info here

  • Chair Madeleine Colvin, Immigration Judge, Human Rights Consultant, Doughty Street Chambers
  • Speaker: Professor Colin Harvey, Head of the Law School, Queen’s University Belfast and Northern Ireland Human Rights Commissioner 2005-2011
  • Discussant Jonathan Cooper, HRLA Chair

Reports of the Human Rights Act’s death have been greatly exaggerated

2 October 2011 by

The Home Secretary Theresa May’s has told the Sunday Telegraph that she would “like to see the Human Rights Act go“.

There is plenty of nonsense out there about the Human Rights Act. For example Emma McClarkin – a member of the European Parliament no less – said on BBC’s Politics Show (at 5:15) that we are “hamstrung by the European Charter of Human Rights”; a charter which does not exist.

There will more of this before the Conservative party conference is over, so let’s go back to basics with a few questions and answers about the Human Rights Act.

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Rehashing old ideas? A response to the Bill of Rights Commission’s proposals

20 September 2011 by

As we recently posted, the UK Commission on a Bill of Rights has published its interim advice to Government on reform of the European Court of Human Rights. The Commission made recommendations to achieve the “effective functioning of the Court over the long term”, following which Joshua Rozenberg stated that “everybody now agrees on the need for fundamental reform. It has to happen. And it will.

But if there is such agreement, can the Commission’s recommendations produce any meaningful reform? Or do the proposals simply rehash old ideas?

by Graeme Hall


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Bill of Rights Commission publishes advice (and squabbles) on European Court of Human Rights reform

9 September 2011 by

At odds

Updated | The Commission on a Bill of Rights has published its interim advice to Government on reform of the European Court of Human Rights. It has also published a letter to ministers on reform of the Court.

It is already clear that the Commission has its work cut out because of the strong opposing views of its membership. After the publication of its initial consultation document, one of the Commission’s members, Michael Pinto-Duschinsky instantly said “I strongly regret the terms in which it has been presented.” Now the Commission’s chairman has had to publish a letter alongside its advice so that the views of one member (is it Pinto-Duschinsky again?), that there should be some form of “democratic override” of the court’s decisions, could be incorporated despite them not being agreed to by the other members.

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Do we need a UK Bill of Rights?

5 August 2011 by

The UK Bill of Rights Commission has launched a public consultation on whether we need a Bill of Rights.

The consultation document is here and reproduced below. You have until 11 November 2011 to respond and you can do so via email or post.

The document provides a useful and fairly noncontroversial summary of rights protections as they currently exist within the UK constitutional structure. It does not, however, provide any information at all about what a “bill of rights” might entail or how such instruments work in other countries: contrast the far more detailed (and very useful) document produced in 2010 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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Bill of Rights Commission on politics, preconceptions and football metaphors

27 June 2011 by

Members of the UK Bill of Rights Commission, an independent body asked by the government to investigate the case for a UK Bill of Rights, has been giving evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (transcripts here: part 1, part 2). The sessions give an interesting if predictable insight into the likely discussions between the Commission’s members.

The group has made slow progress so far, and little is known about how it will operate, save that any proposed bill must “incorporate.. and build.. on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights“. It is under no great time pressure, having been asked to report by the end of 2012. It is comprised of 9 people, mostly Queen’s Counsel and not all of whom are human rights experts. It also has a website, which provides little information beyond the dates of meetings. Given the importance of the process and lack of information so far, the evidence sessions are of interest.


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Who are the Bill of Rights Commission “human rights experts”?

18 March 2011 by

The much trumpeted commission on a UK Bill of Rights has been launched by the Ministry of Justice. It is pretty much as was leaked last week, although it will now have 8 rather than 6 experts chaired by Sir Leigh Lewis, a former Permanent Secretary to the Department of Work and Pensions.

The commission is to report by the end of 2012. Its members, described as “human rights experts”. Are they? The roll call, made up mostly of barristers, is:

 

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Details of human rights reform group emerge, but will it have teeth?

10 March 2011 by

Lord Anthony Lester, Helena Kennedy QC and Martin Howe QC are to sit on the upcoming commission on human rights reform, the press are reporting this morning.

Lester and Kennedy are both well-known human rights experts. Howe has long-standing proponent of replacing of the Human Rights Act with a bill of rights.

According to The Sun, which says the “probe on how to tackle power-crazy Euro judges is being held up by bickering Tories and Lib Dems“, the 7-strong commission will also include another Liberal Democrat nominee (in addition to Lester), two more members appointed by the Tories and a senior Ministry of Justice civil servant. It will have to report by December 2012.

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