Posts Tagged ‘Dominic Grieve’


UPDATE: 5 May  … still no sign of a draft of what the British Bill of Rights will contain.  People go to the polls in a couple of days time without knowing what is planned.  Since the election campaign has been based largely on the deficit and who is going to spend the most on the NHS, oh and being run by Scotland: what is, or is not, in the BBoR may seem trivial.  But it touches on all our rights and on our relationship with Europe so it is important. 

The #Conservative party #manifesto was published today 14 April and as promised, there is a plan to scrap the Human rights Act #HRA.  The manifesto says on p73:

We will scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act and introduce a British Bill of Rights which will restore common sense to the application of human rights in the UK.  The Bill will remain faithful to the basic principles of human rights, which we signed up to in the original European Convention on Human Rights.  It will protect basic rights, like the right to a fair trial, and the right to life, which are an essential part of a modern democratic society.  But it will reverse the mission creep that has meant human rights law being used for more and more purposes, and often with little regard for the rights of a wider society.  Among other things the Bill will stop terrorists and other serious criminals who pose a threat to our society from using spurious human rights arguments to prevent deportation.

This will have profound implications in our relations with Europe and we still do not know what the new bill will look like even after many years of discussion about the abolition of the HRA.  Incidentally, although the Act was introduced under the Labour administration, it was voted for by many Conservatives as well.

A draft of the BBoR has been a long time a coming and the latest we heard was that it was to be published before Christmas.  One assumes a draft will now appear before polling so that voters can see in more detail how it differs from the existing HRA.

The Conservatives seem to have got themselves into something of a bind with this Act.  They were happy to go along with the anti-European sentiment expressed by most of our newspapers and were obviously spooked by the Ukip surge over the last few years.  There has been a torrent of misinformation and disinformation about the workings of the HRA which, apart from the honourable exception of Dominic Grieve MP, they have made little or no attempt to counter with facts.

What got them steamed up most of all – and got our tabloids into a fearsome lather – was the case of Abu Qatada or the ‘preacher of hate’ as he was called.  Many attempts were made to deport him but the problem was not just the HRA but the fact that he might be tortured when he was returned to Jordan, or the Jordanians would convict him using evidence obtained from torturing others.  Is this an example of ‘spurious human rights arguments’?  Since, quite apart from the ECHR, we are signatories to treaties banning the use of torture, there was a problem in getting him out of the country in any event.  We might note in passing that the Jordanians had to clean up their judicial act as part of the agreement to send him back.

A puzzle though is that the other area which gets politicians steamed up is the issue of a right to life yet this is quoted as being ‘an essential part of a modern democratic society.’  Something about a cat.

The fact remains that many ordinary people are beneficiaries of the Act.  Lawyers can use it in their day to day work with individuals and their dealings with authorities of one kind or another.  Little of this gets published in the media and most are unaware of it unless by chance they know of someone who has benefited.

As far as the Strasbourg court is concerned, the UK are the ‘good guys’ since we still have a largely uncorrupted police and judiciary and people can appeal decisions in cases of injustice.  Our police operate under PACE and suspects have a right to a lawyer.  Very few of the cases which go to Strasbourg get overturned – we believe there were only eight last year.

As one of the original countries, along with France, who prepared the ECHR after the war at the behest of Winston Churchill – a Conservative – if we leave the Convention it will have significant repercussions in places like Belarus, Turkey and Russia.  Belarus is the last country in Europe with the death penalty and human rights are largely ignored.

It will be interesting to see how our local Conservative candidate John Glen reacts to this.  When he came to see the local group to discuss this topic he did agree to be more balanced in his comments which we welcomed.  This followed an article in the Salisbury Journal saying he wanted it abolished.  But now it is part of the manifesto for his party we shall have to see…


UPDATE:  Where to obtain tickets for 12 March now at the end of that item.

Our group is planning a number of events to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta.  We have been working with the Cathedral in Salisbury which has one of the surviving copies of the document.  Our focus will be on its relevance to the present day and in particular, the Human Rights Act #HRA and its place in modern politics.

We have several projects planned and we will update these pages as time goes on.  But for the moment, this is a brief introduction to what we have planned:

  • A standing display in the cloisters of the Cathedral outside the Chapter House where the Magna Carta is kept.  This will
    Torture wheel

    Torture wheel

    feature images to illustrate the #StopTorture campaign and will have the torture wheel, based on the one used by the Philippine police.  In case you have not come across this, it is a wheel on which the various methods to torture their victims are displayed.  They then spin the wheel to decide on which one to use.  This display will be set up in March and will run for at least a month.  To read more about the torture wheel follow this link.

  • On 12th March at 7pm we will be delighted to welcome Dominic Grieve QC MP who will speak on the relevance of the Human Rights Act today.  In June 1999 he was appointed Conservative spokesman for Scotland and in September 2001 the Conservative spokesman for criminal justice and community cohesion as part of the Shadow Home Affairs team.  From 2003 to 2009 he was Shadow Attorney General.
    Dominic Grieve QC MP

    Dominic Grieve QC MP

    Under the coalition Government Dominic Grieve became a Privy Counsellor and appointed the Attorney General for England and Wales and the Advocate General for Northern Ireland and he held that post until July 2014.

    He has spoken often on human rights matters arguing that despite the Conservative leadership’s recent announcement of fundamental change to both the HRA and the national relationship with the ECHR, there is much that remains undebated and misunderstood about both. 

    He will try therefore tonight try to lay out reasons why – while not free of imperfections – the ECHR and its direct application in our law through the HRA is of enormous benefit to our country and our collective wellbeing.  He is determined that this argument can and must be made with some passion because he believes that it goes to the heart of our identity as a nation and of our national interest.

    It will be an interesting talk and will follow the annual Choral Evensong in aid of Amnesty in the Cathedral.  Tickets: apply to magnacartaevents@salcath.co.uk.


    In the summer on 15 June, we are planning, with the Playhouse, an event where an actor will read selected passages from the Charter and then a panel of guests to discuss their significance.  The guests are likely to be Kate Allen, the Director of Amnesty UK, Prof Guy Standing author of The Precariat and writer and researcher, Ben Rawlence.  This will be in the afternoon so it’s a date for the diary at present.  Details will be both here and at http://www.salisburyplayhouse.com.

    On the morning of the 15th, there will be a 6th form conference involving local schools and Kate Allen has been invited to that.


Dominic Grieve was sacked by David Cameron in the last reshuffle and it was widely interpreted as a clearing of the decks by the prime minister of supporters of the Human Rights Act #HRA.  Grieve has now spoken on the issue and below is a link to the interview in the Guardian newspaper.

In an earlier piece, Dominic Grieve expressed his dismay that David Cameron had narrowed the range of views held by his senior team. The attorney general sacked by David Cameron over his dogged support for the European convention on human rights (#ECHR) says he fears the prime minister will use this week’s party conference to dilute the UK’s commitment to the international treaty.

The Conservatives have misgivings about the act partly because of their distaste for things European.  There has been a concerted tabloid campaign against the act and the ECHR because allegedly it gives rights to criminals and terrorists.  The benefits of the act to ordinary people is rarely given a mention however. They also publish a great deal of misinformation which is seldom corrected.

Readers may like to look at an earlier post following a meeting the group had with the Salisbury MP, John Glen.  He has said he wants to see the HRA abolished but after some of the benefits of the act for ordinary people – including some of his constituents – were explained, he did agree to be more balanced in future.

Guardian article