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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Dominic Raab MP: Strasbourg can try to bully us, but we make our own laws

Dominic Raab MP: Strasbourg can try to bully us, but we make our own laws

Mar 3 2011 With Dominic Raab, Mp For Esher And Walton

THIS month Parliament debated 'votes for prisoners', following the human rights ruling delivered by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

It is the latest in a long line of claims by prisoners - from fertility treatment to a right to methadone.

Between 2002 and 2008, legal aid for prisoner claims rose from £1million to £19million. I support prison reform. But, shouldn't we focus taxpayers' money on drug rehabilitation and training - to help offenders go straight - rather than fuelling the compensation culture?

The Strasbourg ruling relates to the case of John Hirst, who attacked his landlady with an axe, then made a cup of coffee as she lay dying. The judges claimed 'there is no evidence that Parliament has ever sought to weigh the competing interests or to assess the proportionality of a blanket ban'.

Yet, remand prisoners and those and Parliament has now debated - and overwhelmingly rejected - giving prisoners the vote.

The original European Convention on Human Rights did not contain a right for prisoners to vote. So, if we are creating a new human right, is that a decision for unaccountable judges, or elected law-makers? In a democracy, judges interpret the law, but elected representatives make it.

So what happens if we fail to follow the ruling? Standing up for democracy comes at negligible cost. Strasbourg cannot enforce its own judgments. There is no prospect of a fine, nor has any state ever been voted off the Council of Europe.

It is time Britain drew a line in the sand. MPs voted with a 200-plus majority that prisoners should not be given the right to vote. Parliament has debated the issue, as Strasbourg recommended. In return, Strasbourg must now respect the decision of Britain's elected law-makers. That is how democracy works.

Comment: It comes to something when a failed international lawyer becomes a corrupt MP, and then lies about the UK attempting to bully Strasbourg, and then is confused about the fact that we already make our own laws!

This month Parliament did not debate votes for prisoners. Last month the newly formed Backbench Business Committee put forward a motion to be debated in the Commons. The fact that legal aid for prisoners claims has risen so sharply is because MPs are not interested in prison reform at all, and prison conditions have become so bad that prisoners are having to resort to the courts to settle their legitimate grievances. If MPs did their job rather than be more concerned about fiddling their expenses at the taxpayers expense, then the taxpayers could be saved from unnecessary extra expenditure. It is an outright lie for Dominic Raab to claim that he supports prison reform. Prisoners are claiming compensation for being denied their human right to the vote, and Dominic Raab is just one of the corrupt MPs who support defying the decision of highest court in Europe.

The Strasbourg ruling in Hirst v UK (No2) does not relate to my case at all for which I was convicted of manslaughter. Once again Dominic Raab is lying and trying to confuse the issue. The ruling relates to my claim that s.3 of ROPA 1983 by banning all convicted prisoners from the vote is incompatible with Article 3 of the First Protocol of the Convention. When I conducted research I was shocked to learn that Parliament had not even bothered to debate the issue before disenfranchising convicted prisoners. In an attempt to get a favourable ruling from Strasbourg, in 2000, Parliament decided to amend the law to allow Remand prisoners the vote. Like I have already said, it is not true to claim that Parliament has now debated whether prisoners should have the vote and rejected giving prisoners the vote. As the UK was found guilty of a human rights violation by denying the vote to convicted prisoners, a pathetic backbench motion and vote does not remedy the continuing violation. The only way that this can be done is for the UK to fully comply with the judgment.

Whilst it is true to say that for once Dominic Raab is not telling a lie when he states "The original European Convention on Human Rights did not contain a right for prisoners to vote". However, Article 3 of the First Protocol is part of the original Convention. It is not a question of creating a new human right, so once again Dominic Raab is being less than truthful with posing his non question. As he points out, it is for judges to interpret the law and this is precisely what the judges did in my case before Strasbourg.

A genuine question from Dominic Raab for a change "So what happens if we fail to follow the ruling?". Strasbourg will impose sanctions which includes penultimately the UK being suspended and ultimately expelled from the Council of Europe, for being a rogue or pariah State. He states "Standing up for democracy comes at negligible cost". What he is conveniently forgetting is that the three objectives of the Council of Europe are Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law. So, Dominic Raab is not standing up for democracy at all. He is standing up for a toalitarian regime. As Lord Justice Woolf has stated: "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". When Dominic Raab states "Strasbourg cannot enforce its own judgments", he is missing the point that the onus is upon the UK to amend its domestic law to become Convention compliant. The complete idiot goes on to say "There is no prospect of a fine, nor has any state ever been voted off the Council of Europe". The UK can face financial penalities, and there is always a first time for everything.

Rather than time Britian drew a line in the sand, it is time for the UK to toe the line. There are 650 MPs in the Commons and only 220 engaged in the illegal vote to try to deny prisoners their legal entitlement to the human right to the vote. So, once again Dominic Raab lies about a majority vote. He then lies twice in one sentence when he states "Parliament has debated the issue, as Strasbourg recommended". Strasbourg did not recommend any debate let alone conduct the sham exercise in the Commons. What Strasbourg is demanding is fully complying with the Hirst v UK (No2) judgment. What a cheek and arrogance that a bunch of backbench MPs are demanding that Strasbourg respect their decision. You have to command respect not demand it, and those behaving tyrannically certainly do not command any respect at all. They have disrespected the Council of Europe. The legislature, Commons and Lords together, are the law makers and not a bunch of rebel backbench MPs. If Dominic Raab thinks that is how democracy works then he needs to go back to school, because all he is proving is that a crap international lawyer has become a not fit for purpose MP!

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