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Friday, December 17, 2010

Murderer loses appeal over right to vote

Murderer loses appeal over right to vote

By Stephen Howard, PA

Friday, 17 December 2010

A man serving a life sentence for raping and murdering his niece lost his appeal today over the right to vote while in jail.

Peter Chester went to the Court of Appeal, where three judges unanimously dismissed his case and refused permission to go to the Supreme Court, the highest in the land.

Chester, 55, is serving life for raping and strangling seven-year-old Donna Marie Gillbanks in Blackpool in 1977.

The appeal court hearing last month came the day after the Government admitted it had no choice but to give "some prisoners" the vote because of a European court ruling that the blanket ban on serving prisoners going to the polls was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Chester's lawyers argued at the Court of Appeal that the serious nature of his offence did not justify disenfranchising him and to do so was "disproportionate" and violated his human rights.

Chester, also known as Peter Chester Speakman, has served 33 years in jail.

The High Court rejected his claim over voting last year.

Lord Justice Laws, giving the appeal court ruling, said: "There are deep philosophical differences of view between reasonable people upon the question of prisoners' suffrage."

He said Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke had stated that those who commit offences with aggravating features which lead to a jail sentence and who have previous criminal records forfeit their right to have a say in the way the country is governed for that period.

"Opponents of this view would say, with some force, that it is unconstitutional to regard disfranchisement as part of a criminal's punishment."

Lord Justice Laws said others believe that a person convicted of a very grave crime has so far distanced himself from the values of civil society that it would be a travesty of justice to allow him to participate in its governance.

He said the decision was a political one and the law is that a blanket ban is impermissible and there must be a link between the sanction and the conduct and circumstances of the individual concerned.

"The Government will no doubt consider carefully whether compliance with these standards requires a decision-making role in specific cases to be accorded to the judiciary."

He and Lord Justice Carnwath and the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, dismissed the appeal.

Comment: I will criticise this when I get the full judgment. However, Chivers (solicitos) and Hugh Southey (Tooks Chambers) should never, ever, be allowed anywhere near a prisoners rights case again. They are both so incompetent they should be struck off! As for LLJs Law and Carnwath, and Lord Neuberger MR, you would be hard pressed to find 3 more corrupt judges in totalitarian regimes worse than the one we have in this country.

Chester CofA judgment just in here.


Tim said...

Doesn't that go against your ECHR judgement, John?

Domestic court just storing up expensive trouble for the UK.

jailhouselawyer said...

Tim: Well spotted. One has to wonder why the 3 judges concerned did not spot this, and the government and the MainstreamMedia.

After Christmas I will pop their bubbles, and explain the law to them. They are not going to like it.

JuliaM said...


jailhouselawyer said...

JuliaM: Welcome to my blog. He who laughs last laughs longest. I suggest you read the post above this one, where my solicitor warns that the government is not complying with the judgment in my case and the judgment in Frodl v Austria. Both clearly state that all convicted prisoners irrespective of seriousness of crime and length of sentence are entitled to vote. The only exceptions being someone convicted of electoral fraud or abuse of a public office.