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Friday, March 04, 2011

A car crash waiting to happen...

What has surprised me is how little we have heard so far from the anti-European political lobby. I thought after the recent grandstanding over rejecting the European Court of Human Rights ruling on giving prisoners the right to vote, that the anti-European forces might see the ECJ ruling as an opportunity to pick another fight with a European institution. But, so far, there has been hardly a peep.

It seems that anti-European Labour and Tory MPs see more benefit to them in opposing rights for prisoners than they do in being seen to go into battle on behalf of the insurance and savings industry. That is a very sad commentary on the standing of insurance and financial services in the world of politics today.

That said, if any sort of political lobby driven by opponents of the broader European project should emerge I would urge caution on the industry before embracing it.

The European Union makes most of the rules that affect the industry so to attempt to do battle with it on an issue where the industry case is not as solid as the knee-jerk reactions might make it appear would not be a wise move, especially if the only political allies you can find are really just using it as a convenient issue with which to attack the EU and pursue an agenda that is only heading into a dead-end.

A car crash waiting to happen...

David Cameron is in the driving seat, Nick Clegg is in the front passenger seat, the 1922 Committee and Backbench Business Committee are in the back seats trying to clamber into the front passenger seat. The car is a Bluebird and its idling on top of the White Cliffs of Dover, suddenly David Cameron knee-jerks. Would you insure him?

Meanwhile, Dominic Raab is down on the beach below trying to draw a line in the sand but the incoming tide keeps washing it away.

The European Convention on Human Rights is quite clear; Article 44 – Final judgments 1. The judgment of the Grand Chamber shall be final. Article 46 – Binding force and execution of judgments 1. The High Contracting Parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the Court in any case to which they are parties.
2. The final judgment of the Court shall be transmitted to the Committee of Ministers, which shall supervise its execution.

Therefore, the political grandstanding in the Commons, "rejecting the European Court of Human Rights ruling on giving prisoners the right to vote", was a pointless sideshow.

The main event is in Strasbourg. And my case, Hirst v UK (No2), still stands. I challenged the State in a legal battle and won. I don't see the UK's tactics as picking a fight "with a European institution" at all. The UK is 1/47th of the Council of Europe and 1/27th of the European Union. This requires the UK being a team player, or else being shown the Red Card and sent off.

The Labour administration got away with it for 5 years because the Committee of Ministers was a toothless watchdog. The Lisbon Treaty, particularly Protocol 14, gave new powers to the Court and Council of Europe. The UK has not recognised this shift in the balance of power. The EU acceded to the Convention in February 2010. Also there is the Interlaken process, the Interlaken Conference in February 2010, and the Interlaken Declaration signed by all 47 Member States. The United Nations joined forces with the Council of Europe in November 2010. All 3 institutions have declared to tackle human rights abuse thorughout Europe. The Interlaken process is about sanctions to get rogue or pariah States to toe the line.

Lord Justice Woolf has stated that: "The European Convention on Human Rights was drafted in the wake of the Second World War and the Holocaust. It was conceived as an ‘early warning system’ to prevent states from lapsing into totalitarianism".

The only country to leave the Council of Europe was Greece during the Greek Colonels dictatorship in the 1960s. The UK was reminded of this by the President of the ECtHR Jean-Paul Costa. In my case all 3 objectives of the Council of Europe; Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law have been violated by the UK.

The UK is accusing Strasbourg of being a bully, and threatening to withdraw from the Convention. The UK is demanding that the Court alter the decision in my case. The loser is now wanting to win the case it lost. If Strasbourg gave in to this tyrannical demand, it would be the end of the Council of Europe, the Convention and the Court. Imagine if those who did not cause an accident had to pay compensation to those who did? The law would be uncertain and lawyers unable to advise clients.

I would call the UK's bluff. On 8 March the UK has to appear before the Committee of Ministers to explain why it has failed to fully comply with the judgment in my case. The UK will claim that Parliament debated the issue whether convicted prisoners should get the vote and rejected it. The truth is that the Court has already answered the question in the affirmative. And that charade in the Commons will not fool the Council of Europe. It is not a complex issue. All Kenneth Clarke needs to do is make a remedial order under s.10 of the HRA 1998 to amend s.3 of ROPA 1983 and lay it before Parliament.

My case is solid and cannot be shaken by a knee-jerk reaction. On the other hand David Cameron is heading into a dead-end.

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