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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Joshua tree of knowledge struck by lightening and the gutter press

The Joshua tree of knowledge struck by lightening and the gutter press

Joshua Rozenberg

Dominic Grieve takes on the European court of human rights (Headline)

Under government plans, countries would not only implement human rights law but interpret it – and decide if they complied (sub-heading)

"The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, said the European court of human rights should not interfere on issues such as votes for prisoners" (text beneath photo).

"What do you understand by the word "subsidiarity"? Lawyers may recognise it as a principle of European Union law – that the EU should legislate only if action by individual states would be insufficient".

I have no idea whether Joshua Rozenberg is the author of the headline. It is what I would expect from The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express, but not what I would expect form a broadsheet once described as a quality newspaper. Is it accurate? No. Rather it is the kind of spin Joseph Goebbels the Nazi Propaganda Minister might have published to hide the truth. What then is the truth? Simply that Member States or NGOs with the leave of the Court are permitted to join an application before the European Court of Human Rights as an interested party in a particular case. In this case it is Scoppola v Italy, before the Grand Chamber. It is a prisoner votes case in which the Chamber reached a decision relying upon the leading case Hirst v UK (No2). Frodl v Austria relied upon my case, as did Greens and MT v UK (the UK sought to appeal against Greens but the Grand Chamber refused permission). Italy is appealing against the decision and not the UK appealing against the decision, therefore it is inaccurate, to say the least, that "Dominic Grieve takes on the European court of human rights". If I was a judge of the Grand Chamber I would question Dominic Grieve as to his intention to challenge the Court, and if he answered in the affirmative I would order him to leave the Court and if he refused I would get the Court security to remove him. Recently 2 newspapers faced contempt of court proceedings for misreporting a case. I would suggest that the Guardian tread very carefully because the courts are fighting back against media misreporting.

The same applies for the sub-heading, it may or may not be written by Joshua Rozenberg. Whatever plans the government has, because our jurisdiction remains within the UK we cannot dictate to other countries what they should or should not do on the issue of human rights law. This is like Hitler dictating all over again. We should be afraid, very afraid at the turn the extreme right wing Tories are taking this country. The Convention was drafted precisely to stop totalitarian or authoritarian regimes ever again taking control in Europe. Interpretation of the Convention is the sole preserve of the ECtHR. And interpretation of the Court's judgments is a matter for the Council of Europe, and not Member States, particularly those that have been found guilty of human rights violations like the UK, but if a Member State seeks an interpretation then an application must be lodged with the Committee of Ministers and the CoM will decide whether it is necessary to approach the Court for guidance upon interpretation.

Once again, I don't know whether Joshua Rozenberg wrote the text beneath the photo. If Dominic Grieve said what is claimed then it begs the question, why the government's top law adviser is Dominic Grieve and not somebody more competent on the subject? The UK signed up to allow individual petitions to the ECtHR. My individual petition related to the subject of prisoners human right to the vote. My challenge was against the UK. The UK signed up to accept that the ECtHR has jurisdiction to decide cases, and signed up to accept the binding nature of the Court's decisions. Isn't it the case that Dominic Grieve should not be interfering in the jurisdiction of the Court but should instead be telling the UK it must fully comply with the Hirst No2 judgment?

Joshua Rozenberg did write the bit on subsidiarity, but I suspect that he merely read the Wikipedia stub on the subject. I don't believe that he understands what it means. He is right in so far as he states that the subsidiarity principle is a Europen law. But not simply EU law. And "that the EU should legislate only if action by individual states would be insufficient" is inaccurate and not worthy of any marks for interpretation under "O Level" standard. Must do better!

For those really interested in the subsidiarity principle you can learn something about it here.

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