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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Who guards the guardian of the Judiciary?

Who guards the guardian of the Judiciary?

Andrew Neil on Sunday Politics questioning Chris Grayling on votes for prisoners

Tony Blair stated in the HoC that prisoners would not get the vote under a Labour government. It's Ground-hog Day! David Cameron said that prisoners are not getting the vote under this government. Can he justify this statement? It appears to clash with the views expressed by two members of the Cabinet; the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Attorney General Dominic Grieve. If Cameron's reasoning is based upon his other statement that the thought of giving prisoners the vote makes him physically ill, it is contended that this reasoning is not legally sound.

Is the draft Bill presented to Parliament by Chris Grayling legally valid? In particular, the option to maintain the blanket ban, and excluding the option for full franchise?

Which way will Grayling vote? It depends if he has a conscience. He dodged answering Andrew Neil's question, before feeding him with a load of waffle. Laughably Neil then thanked Grayling for clarifying the issue. Clear as mud!

Andrew Neil: “Which way will you vote?”.

Chris Grayling: “Well we haven’t got anything to vote on yet, but let’s be clear about what the legal position is and my position is particularly different in this because I am Lord Chancellor, I’ve sworn an oath to uphold the law. The requirement upon government and government ministers is very clear. That it is our duty to implement rulings of the European Court. But the legal position for parliament is different. That – and this is advice that’s come from the Attorney General,  there was also advice under the House of Lords 12 years ago from Lord Justice Hoffman, that parliament has the right to overrule the European Court of Human Rights if it believe it wants to do so. It has to accept there may be a political consequence for doing that, but it has the right to do so. So what we’ve done is we’ve said to parliament, right, this is the legal position. We’re under an obligation to do that, you’re not. I’m going to give you three options two of which involve giving some prisoners the vote, the third of which will give you the right to exercise your sovereignty and say no to the European Court. It’s up to you to decide. And there’s going to be a process of consultation over the next few months before it reaches the point of a vote”.
The prisoners votes case is over 7 years ago. Why hasn't there been anything to vote on yet? Hasn't Grayling heard of the legal principle 'justice delayed is justice denied'? He appears to be a man without principle.
Call me Dave has stated 'were all in this together'. Grayling is now claiming he's different. I don't accept his position is any different. Aren't the Tories the 'law and order' party? Are they now to be known as the lawless and disorder party? The requirement upon the government and ministers he is referring to relates to the Ministerial Code. However, the Prime Minister's Rules are not a creature of statute and have no legal status. They might as well be called the Bullingdon Club Rules! The Ministerial Code should be laid down in an Act of Parliament, because as they stand it is doubtful that a court would enforce the Code or provide a remedy for its breach, in other words, adopting a 'hands-off' policy on the issue. Nor is it accepted that it is different for Parliament. Hirst v UK (No2) is binding on all three arms of the State; Executive, Parliament and Judiciary.
Grayling has misunderstood advice given by Dominic Grieve, and misunderstood what Lord Hoffman stated. Parliament has no legal right to overrule the ECtHR, its decisions are final. There is no so-called 'democratic override'. The Greek Colonels discovered this in the 1960s, and more recently the President of Belarus. Dictatorships, authoritarian or totalitarian States do not adhere to human rights, democracy and rule of law. Grayling has also misled Parliament with his non-lawyer “legal advice” claiming parliamentary sovereignty of being above the law with the right to break the law. The consultations are yet another delaying tactic.
Given that Cameron has had appropriate legal advice and ignored it like Blair did on the Iraq War, will Grayling also ignore the appropriate legal advice when he votes on prisoners votes?

Grayling: “I have legal responsibility and you can’t be Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary and not uphold the law”.
Charles Falconer, Jack Straw and Kenneth Clarke managed to do this, not uphold the law.
Given that Grayling accepts that it would be easy simply to accept the ECtHR ruling, why has the UK resisted for over 7 years? It is nonsense to claim that the legal base for Parliament is different, it's the same for all 47 Member States of the Council of Europe. Toe the line. Grayling is saying he's given Parliament the choice of sticking up two fingers to the ECtHR. It's pure spin. Grayling's choice is the modern equivalent of Hobson's choice. He's given less margin of appreciation than the ECtHR.

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