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Wednesday, April 13, 2011



By Alison Little, Daily Express, Wednesday April 13,2011

The ECHR dismissed the UK’s final attempt to appeal against its ruling

SENIOR MPs last night urged the Government to defy European judges who have insisted again that Britain must give prisoners the vote.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) dismissed the UK’s final attempt to appeal against its ruling that our 141-year-old blanket ban on votes for convicted inmates is unlawful.

A five-judge panel has given Britain six months to draw up legislation to change the system.

Furious MPs, who voted by 10 to one in the Commons in February against a Government proposal to give the vote to prisoners serving up to four years, said ministers should put Britain first and ignore the Strasbourg court.

Conservative Philip Davies said: “The court is sticking two fingers up to the British public and the UK Parliament and as far as I’m concerned the best response is for the British Parliament and the British public to stick two fingers up at the court.

“The Government should say we’re not going to be told, especially by a bunch of unelected judges in a foreign country, who we should and shouldn’t allow to vote in our general elections.”

Fellow Tory MP Priti Patel, who raised a petition against giving prisoners the vote, said: “This is outrageous.

“The British Government should defy the court and say no. It has to put Britain’s interests first. As far as I’m concerned, this is about who governs this country.’’

The Daily Express is crusading for Britain to leave the EU. We have led criticism of the ECHR, which is not part of the EU but is linked, because all member states must sign up to it.

The court’s ruling on prisoner votes is the outcome of cases brought over several years by convicted British prisoners, including murderers and rapists, who say their human rights were infringed by not being allowed to vote.

David Cameron has said in the past that the idea of giving prisoners the vote makes him “physically ill” – but also warned Britain faced paying them millions in compensation if it did not toe the line.

After the Commons vote, Britain asked the ECHR to refer the case to its highest tier, the Grand Chamber, for what in effect would be an appeal against its previous ruling. Last night the court confirmed it had dismissed Britain’s request and it decreed the original verdict final.

It said: “The Court now gives the UK Government six months from April 11, 2011, to introduce legislative proposals to bring the disputed law in line with the (European Human Rights) Convention.

“The Government is further required to enact the relevant legislation within any time frame decided by the Committee of Ministers, the executive arm of the Council of Europe, which supervises the execution of the Court’s judgments.’’

More than five years ago, the court delivered a similar verdict in a case but the Labour government left the blanket ban in place. Last November the court confirmed its stance in another ruling.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said last night: ‘’We are disappointed with the court’s decision not to reconsider the judgment and we will consider the next steps.’’

Last week Britain’s second most senior judge gave the Government clearance to ignore the ruling.

Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger said that if Parliament chose not to implement a court decision, it would be “an end to the matter’’.

He said such an action would put Britain in breach of its European treaty obligations but that was a matter for politicians, not judges, and “as a matter of domestic law there would be nothing objectionable in such a course”.

About 40 per cent of the countries in the Council of Europe, have no limits on prisoners voting, while others ban only some prisoners.

The UK is among a group including Armenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary and Romania, which remove voting rights from sentenced prisoners, although UK remand prisoners can vote.

The Strasbourg court is not insisting all inmates get a vote, only that a blanket ban breaches human rights law.

Comment: I think it would be no loss if Philip Davies, Priti Patel and Lord Neuberger were put up against the wall and shot as traitors!

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