Ms. Riddell

You know, there\’s something wrong here:

The signs point to a punitive Conservative regime in which ancient liberties are cast aside, suggests Mary Riddell.

Has she not been paying attention for the last 12 years? We\’ve had a government which has abolished Habeas Corpus (if they can do it for one crime then that\’s the bulwark breached), trial by jury (ditto) the presumption of innocence (ditto), the burden of proof (ditto).

And she\’s worried about the Tories perhaps repatriating the HRA?

On which subject, Lord Justice Woolf has been, at least to my mind, terribly persuasive.

His point is that there\’s nothing wrong with the HRA, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe (it\’s not an EU thing: you have to be part of the CoE to be in the EU though) except:

There\’s 45 odd judges on the Court (Russian, Serbian, Montenegrin and all, yes, these are the people we now have to trust to uphold our human rights) and only two of them have any possible training at all in our system of law. For we do have a legal system entirely different from that of all the other members: we\’re based largely upon Common Law, they upon Roman or Napoleonic.

No, this isn\’t a rant about Johnny Foreigner and how they don\’t do things like we do (nor the glories of the Anglo Saxon system…insert jingoistic rant here) . It\’s an observation that the very basis of the legal systems are entirely different.

Woolf\’s point is that we can solve all of our problems very simply. The ECHR is indeed based very much upon those ancient liberties which we associate with the Common Law. Quite rightly, as that is pretty much what it was designed to do. However, having 43 out of the 45 judges deciding how such rights should be implemented in a Common Law system so ignorant of a Common Law system that they would not recognise one if it came up and bit them on the arse simply isn\’t the way to do it.

Don\’t repeal anything, just alter very slightly: the HRA is appealable up to our own new Supreme Court and that\’s it. No going to Strasbourg. And we\’ll not take direct instruction from the ECHR, we\’ll filter it through our own legal system and implement it so that it fits, not try to shoehorn Roman Law solutions into the Common Law.

What might be wrong with that solution?

4 thoughts on “Ms. Riddell”

  1. “What might be wrong with that solution?”

    Because it’s not a solution that could be remotely compatible with the whole concept of the ECHR: either the ECHR can declare “you must give your citizens these rights” (i’m simplifying here) or it can’t.

    If it can, but we get to say how there is always the possibility that the ECHR fundamentally disagrees with the way it’s implemented. Then what? We tell them to swivel? How is that different from telling them to swivel in the first place?

  2. “We’ve had a government which has abolished […]”

    You missed out “double jeopardy”.

    It just occurred to me that we are playing a macabre game: New Labour’s Bill of Rights Bingo.

  3. Wot Cleanthes said, and wot Kay Tie said about Bill of Rights Bingo.

    It is worth noting that Hansard shows the Tories are much better than Labour on the liberties Tim mentioned*. The LibDems are better than the Tories, except for one hiccup I can’t recall at the moment.

    * There is a difference between ‘calling for longer prison terms’ (Tory) and ‘calling for punishment without trial’ (Labour).

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