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Friday, November 12, 2010

Ex-prisoner hits back at MP’s voting blast

Ex-prisoner hits back at MP’s voting blast


A CONVICTED killer has spoken of his ‘disgust’ after Burton’s MP blasted inmates’ rights to vote in general elections.

Ex-prisoner John Hirst claimed that the argument put forward by Andrew Griffiths that ‘when someone commits a crime they should lose their right to vote as part of the punishment’ had already been ‘soundly dismissed’ by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in a comment left on the Mail website.

Hirst served 25 years after being convicted of the manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, of his landlady in 1980 and he used his time behind bars to campaign for the Government to change its legal system allowing inmates to vote.

His campaign was taken to the ECHR in 2004 where he won the landmark case.

The comment reads: “If he took the time to read the court judgment in my case, Hirst v UK (No2), he will discover that his pathetic argument has already been soundly dismissed by the highest court in Europe.

“Time to move on and simply, fully comply with the UK’s obligations under the convention. Far from it being the ECHR out of touch Mr Griffiths is the one too far removed.

He added: “Victims of crime will be very angry. This case has nothing whatsoever to do with them. In any event, the victims here are the 75,000 convicted prisoners denied their human right to vote.”

His argument goes on to talk about the human rights of the convicted prisoners, which means even those convicted of the most serious offences should be able to vote.

“Under the Hirst test applied in Frodl v Austria, it is clear that even those convicted of manslaughter and murder are entitled to their human right to the vote,” he said.

“I am surprised that an electorate voted for an MP who believes that some human beings are less than human and not deserving of the minimum standard of human rights.”

Hirst’s crusade started 10 years ago and was eventually successful when it was announced last week that for the first time in 140 years prisoners would have the right to vote. Prime Minister David Cameron conceded there was nothing he could do to halt a European court ruling demanding change.

This will allow prisoners in HMP Dovegate, Sudbury and Foston to vote in general elections.

Mr Griffiths blasted the ruling as ‘barking mad’ and said he did not want them voting in his constituency, claiming he wanted to ensure they voted in the area they came from.

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