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Monday, September 20, 2010

Nick Clegg ready to give votes to prisoners after ruling by EU judges

Nick Clegg ready to give votes to prisoners after ruling by EU judges

By Gerri Peev
Last updated at 4:56 AM on 20th September 2010

Prisoners could be given the right to vote under human rights laws, aides close to Nick Clegg said last night.

European judges have already ruled in favour of a number of inmates who have challenged their exclusion from elections.

The Government has also been ordered to pay them £750 in compensation.

An official source said the rulings might make it impossible to keep the ban in place.

Deputy PM Mr Clegg has taken over the issue from Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, under his constitutional reform remit.

In opposition, his Lib Dem party argued for all but the most serious offenders to be given the right to vote – a policy that would anger their Tory coalition allies.

A source close to Mr Clegg said: ‘There have been a

number of court cases in Europe and the Government has for some time known that something needs to be done about it.

‘However this is not a shift in position and it is something which the last government had to face. No decisions have been made.’

Mr Clegg is reportedly looking at deciding which criminals would be allowed the right to vote.

A spokesman said: ‘There needs to be a change to the current situation in the light of the court cases but we don’t support the blanket rights for prisoners to vote.’

Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: ‘General Elections are about forming a government which is going to pass laws.

‘If people have committed serious offences, and are in prison, they forfeit the right to make laws of the land. So why should they get the right to vote?’

But the liberal policy will appeal to Mr Clegg’s grassroots activists...

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