The European Human Rights Judges Wrecking British Law

Article excerpt

Byline: James Slack, Arthur Martin

FOR the third time in a week, Strasbourg's unelected European Court of Human Rights is under the spotlight.

First, Tory MPs made it clear they have no intention of bowing to the court's demand to grant the vote to tens of thousands of prisoners.

Next Lord Carlile, the Government's reviewer of anti-terror laws, said its rulings against deportation had turned Britain into a 'safe haven' for those who wish the country harm.

Now Damian Green, the immigration minister, has said its rulings have turned human rights into a 'boo phrase'.

He said the court's judgments - and our own judiciary's liberal interpretation of them - meant the public immediately expected bad news when the phrase 'human rights' was uttered.

'Clearly, something is wrong if you get to that stage', Mr Green said.

His remarks will fuel the anger of MPs towards the European court.

In 2005, 17 judges ruled in favour of John Hirst, who argued prisoners should be able to vote. He had been in jail for killing his 69-year-old landlady with an axe, after which he calmly made a cup of coffee.

Under pressure from the court, the British Government announced last year that it would comply with the ruling. Hirst celebrated by drinking champagne and smoking cannabis - and put a video of it all on YouTube. The court believes it can overrule the UK Parliament and Supreme Court. But the astonishing truth is that its 47 'representatives' need never even have served as judges in their homeland.

Nor is there any attempt to make the amount of influence they have reflect the size of the population of their nations. Thus Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco and Andorra have the same amount of say as Britain, France and Germany - despite their combined populations being smaller than that of the London borough of Islington.

The former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, said many of the judges cannot speak English or French - the languages of the court - and do not understand how they reached their own judgments.

The judges - one for every nation in the Council of Europe - have blocked the deportation from Britain of countless foreign criminals and awarded thousands in compensation to alleged Islamic terrorists.

Opponents say it is a nonsense to believe a single body is capable of passing judgment over a continent with such diverse moral and social structures as Europe.

The British judiciary is in no doubt that the European court is seeking to impose a federal law upon the UK.

Ex-Law Lord Hoffmann said: 'The Strasbourg court has been unable to resist the temptation to aggrandise its jurisdiction and to impose uniform rules on member states.

'It considers itself the equivalent of the Supreme Court of the United States.' A random selection of the court's representatives are placed in charge of each decision.

The 17 who were appointed to the panel who rode roughshod over 100 years of British law to call for prisoners to get the vote included many with no judicial experience. They are appointed by their home nation.

Comment - Page 16

PANEL OF 17 WHO GAVE THIS CONVICTED AXE KILLER THE VOTE

Sir Nicolas Bratza QC, the British vice-president of the court, is the son of a Serbian concert violinist who settled in London after the First World War. …