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Monday, November 19, 2012

Chris Grayling's proposals on prisoners votes is unlawful

Chris Grayling's proposals on prisoners votes is unlawful

Would you go to a dentist if you had an ingrowing toenail? Clearly, the answer is no. Given this, it beggars belief that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has appointed Chris Grayling, a non-lawyer, to the post of Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor.

On 8 November 2012 the Daily Telegraph carries a report on Chris Grayling: "He has made it clear that “no change is not an option” after the Strasbourg court ruled against the UK ban on prisoner voting".

However, on 17 November 2012, again the Daily Telegraph carries a report: "The Ministry of Justice will publish a draft Bill on Thursday which will outline a “series of options”...One of these options will be to keep the present system which sees virtually all prisoners prevented from voting".

One has to ask the question, 'Does Chris Grayling know what he is doing?' . The answer would appear to be 'No'.

For example, on 28 October 2012, the BBC reports Chris Grayling as saying, from the Andrew Marr Show,  "Parliament has, in clear case law, the right to say to the European Court of Human Rights 'We do not agree with you'".

Let's examine this statement. As any law student knows, Parliament legislates but case law is decided by judges.  Parliament does not have the right as claimed. Before the ECtHR I argued that s.3 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which provided for a blanket ban on convicted prisoners voting was in breach of Article 3 of the First Protocol of the ECHR. The UK argued that it was not. The Court decided that I was right and that the UK was wrong. The UK lodged an appeal but the Grand Chamber upheld the original ruling.

It may be recalled that Labour conducted 2 consultations on prisoner voting. The options offered were; retain the ban, votes for under 4 years, or votes for 6 months or less. Labour quietly dropped the issue. Chris Grayling has noisely picked it up .

Labour's consultation exercise was legally flawed. One of the reasons being that prisoners had not been consulted. I raised this issue with a member of the House of Lords, who raised it with the MoJ in Parliament. As a result the MoJ drafted Prison Service Instrction 35/2011:


From time to time, Government departments and agencies,and other official bodies, carry out public consultation exercises.   Where a consultation takes place on matters which have a specific impact on the rights, health and interests of prisoners, as distinct from the public as a whole, it is important they are made aware and able to respond if they wish. 

It is contended that Chris Grayling's intended proposals are unlawful and that it would be unlawful for the HoC to vote upon them.


Anonymous said...

Quick question, how would you feel about a constituency for prisons/the secure estate? Seems the most sensible solution to me.

jailhouselawyer said...

They will vote by postal ballot in constituency prior to imprisonment.

Tim said...

This is why I don't feel guilty about being unemployed. I get turned down while dummies like Chris Grayling get promoted.