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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

True cost of voting rights for prisoners

True cost of voting rights for prisoners

Published on Tue Feb 15 12:30:04 GMT 2011, Yorkshire Evening Post, Letters

The vexed question of whether inmates of HM Prisons should be allowed to vote in elections, as they are alleged to be entitled to by the arcane Human Rights laws imposed on this country by the EU is now compounded by lawyers queuing up to offer them help to sue the Government if those rights are denied.

With conservative estimates of the potential costs based on likely numbers of inmates involved already around £100 million, this is a burden the taxpayer could well do without.

Also, with our secret ballot system, ie where ALL votes, no matter who they are cast in favour of remain anonymous, what does it really matter and how many prisoners, if given the option may actually bother to vote at all if there was no longer any chance of making a claim for compensation?

Human Rights law can never be eliminated here, unless we leave the EU no matter what David Cameron or anyone else might suggest and so far that appears to be out of the question, so we are stuck with it.

However, the conduct of some lawyers in this matter indicates to the layman that they are in fact, not practising the noble profession of the law but a very low form of prostitution and I hope the Law Society takes note of it, because some are in danger of being regarded with the same contempt as certain politicians have over expenses.

D S Boyes, Rodley Lane, Leeds

Comment: The question of whether convicted prisoners have the human right to vote was answered in the affirmative by the European Court of Human Rights more than 5 years ago in Hirst v UK (No2). So, there is nothing "alleged" about it all. The human rights laws are not "arcane" at all, they are freely available in public libraries and available on the internet and in bookshops. There is a legal maxim "ignorance of the law is no excuse", if the person doesn't bother to make reasonable inquiry then the person is not going to learn anything. The UK voluntarily signed up to abide by the Convention and Court decisions, therefore they were not "imposed" upon us at all, and certainly not by the "EU" but instead by the Council of Europe. I don't agree with equating some lawyers out to make a living out of the Prisoners Votes Case, either with prostitutes (some of whom have more honour than expenses fiddling MPs) and expenses fiddling MPs who are law breakers plain and simple!

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