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Saturday, April 09, 2011



Friday April 8 2011 by Anil Dawar

ONE of the country’s most senior judges has won widespread political support after saying the Government has the right to ignore controversial Human Rights rulings from Europe.

Lord Neuberger said the decision not to implement judgments was “ultimately a matter for Parliament”.

The Master of the Rolls said the domination of the European Court of Human Rights over the UK would only last as long as “Parliament wants it to endure”. Lord Neuberger won praise for his words which come at a time of high tension between Westminster and the court in Strasbourg over the right of prisoners to vote.

In February MPs voted to reject a demand by European human rights judges that prisoners should have the vote. They insisted that it was a matter for Parliament, but Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said he will comply with the ruling. Lord Neuberger’s opinion will pile pressure on David Cameron to find a compromise.

Yesterday, Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Clacton, said: “It is refreshing to hear such a senior legal figure confirming that British people have supremacy through their parliament. Power unexercised is power lost. Again and again we discover that we are being governed by foreign courts and technocrats. Lord Neuberger has made that clear with these words.”

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: “The Master of the Rolls is absolutely correct, Britain has the right to ignore these judgments, but he is also right that to do so we would have to choose to leave the EU. David Cameron should listen and allow the people of this country to make that choice.”

Lord Neuberger made his comments at an annual lecture to the Bar Council and Law Society on Wednesday night in a speech entitled Who Are The Masters Now?

He argued the implementation of judgments from the European court was ultimately “a matter for Parliament” that British courts could not challenge, adding: “If it chose not to implement a Strasbourg judgment, it might place the United Kingdom in breach of its treaty obligations, but as a matter of domestic law there would be nothing objectionable in such a course. It would be a political decision, with which the courts could not interfere.”

He went on to say: “Whatever limit membership imposes on legal sovereignty, it is a fetter which endures only whilst our membership endures – that is, only while Parliament wants it to endure.”

His comments come as the case for a Bill of Rights is being considered by legal experts advising the Government on ways to reform the European Convention on Human Rights so British law is not pushed aside. One former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, has said the UK may have to leave the convention because its judges may not be able to balance opposing rights.

Comment: (To follow)

1 comment:

Tim said...

Exactly the position that a right-wing human rights-abusing dictator would take.

His view is erroneous in law and totally illogical. The whole set-up was intended to ensure that majorities do not pick on minorities - which is what Parliament sometimes does. Strasbourg is supposed to be an external check on that.