If We Really Want to Escape the Grip of Human Rights Law We Must Quit the EU

Article excerpt

Byline: MELANIE PHILLIPS

ONCE again, the Prime Minister is trying to surf a wave of popular outrage by announcing he will take action - which on closer examination proves to be mere froth - not least because his own policy lies at the very heart of the problem.

Thus Tony Blair has spoken out against 'an abuse of common sense' in the way human rights law has been used to allow nine Afghan hijackers to remain in Britain, or free a rapist from prison only for him to commit murder.

But it is his own human rights law which has quite simply altered the entire legal and moral culture of this country, and taken an axe to common sense.

The judge in last week's Afghan ruling has been roundly pilloried. But common sense in this case was trounced in 2004, when an immigration tribunal ruled on human rights grounds that it was too dangerous to send the hijackers back to Afghanistan - even though the Taliban, from whom they had fled, had been replaced by a Western-backed government.

The root of the problem here is not the wretched judge, but the Government itself, which dragged its feet over this case for years. This was because it was paralysed by the fact that human rights law - described only last week by the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, as the Government's 'greatest achievement' - has created a culture of legalised lunacy.

Disruptive Detectives across the country are refusing to issue 'wanted' posters for missing foreign criminals because they say they do not want to breach their right to privacy, and risk lawsuits by releasing their names and photographs.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency routinely shreds the driving records of speeding and drunken drivers because bureaucrats are afraid of human rights laws. That means thousands of drivers with a bad history escape with lighter punishments because courts cannot learn the full truth about their past.

It is no use saying that such judgments misread human rights law since, because such law consists of a balancing act between competing 'rights' requiring the courts to arbitrate between them, no one can be sure how any such disruptive cases will end up.

The fact is that ruling after human rights ruling has turned right and wrong on their heads and radically undermined the covenant of responsibility between the individual and the state. To take an egregious example, human rights law has destroyed this country's ability to control its own borders.

The courts have used the 'human right' to family life to reward illegal immigration.

Their absurdly generalised interpretation of the prohibition against torture - which wrenched this principle out of all recognition - has made it all but impossible to deport those foreigners who threaten this country's security.

The Law Lords' perverse reading of 'discrimination' last year has meant that such suspects can't even be locked up pending removal from this country.

What kind of 'human rights' are these, which actually force a country to destroy its own security along with its principles of citizenship, fairness and obligation?

At the weekend, Mr Blair said he was considering fresh legislation to prevent future court rulings from 'overruling the Government'. Here lie the first clues to the fact that these are likely to be empty words.

First, he's only considering any change.

Second, human rights law doesn't give the courts the power to overrule the Government. All they can do is declare legislation incompatible with human rights law, thus putting pressure on ministers. So Mr Blair has given us a straw man which he promises he will knock down.

Then look at the way in which the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, has been twisting and turning. …