"Too often today, people are ready to tell us,
'this is not possible; that is not possible'.
I say, whatever the true interest of our country calls for, is always possible!"

- Enoch Powell.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Seven new human rights cases against Britain every day... and Strasbourg court's judgments are already costing the taxpayer £2billion a year

At least seven new cases are being lodged against Britain at the European Court of Human Rights every day, causing a huge backlog and a massive bill for UK taxpayers.

The Strasbourg-based court was accused of presiding over a ‘field day for criminals’ after the number of actions against the UK almost doubled in the last 12 months.

Official figures released by the court revealed yesterday that the total number of cases pending against Britain rose from 1,690 in 2009 to 3,172 last year.
The Strasbourg human rights court was accused of presiding over a 'field day for criminals' after the number of actions against the UK almost doubled in the last 12 months

The Strasbourg human rights court was accused of presiding over a 'field day for criminals' after the number of actions against the UK almost doubled in the last 12 months

On average, more than 50 new actions a week were lodged against the UK at the Strasbourg court. The rate of cases being brought is rising five times more quickly in Britain than in the rest of Europe.

This helped to increase the court’s overall backlog of cases by 17 per cent last year to a staggering 140,000 – up from 120,000 the previous year.

The soaring number of cases against the UK is hugely unwelcome at a time of financial strictures. Research by the TaxPayers’ Alliance suggests that the cost of complying with the court’s judgments is already running at more than £2billion a year.

The astonishing figures led to renewed calls for ministers to ‘draw a line in the sand’ with the court, which has prompted fury by ruling that Britain must give prisoners the vote. Failure to comply could lead to further claims for compensation running into many millions of pounds.

Mr Raab, a former international lawyer, said: ‘We’ve seen a surge in litigation against Britain as Strasbourg rewrites UK law – a field day for criminals avoiding deportation or suing the prison service, and a nightmare for the British taxpayer.

Terror expert Lord Carlile also said it was time for ministers to ‘get hold of this issue and show leadership’.

The Liberal Democrat peer, who is the independent adviser to the Government on Britain’s terror laws, said the European Convention on Human Rights drawn up after the Second World War ‘needs to be revised’ to take account of modern developments.

Lord Carlile also suggested that cases against the UK should be dealt with by British judges in British courts rather than handled by a Strasbourg court drowning in work.

He said British judges were ‘actually rather better’.

‘Human rights should not be enforced in Strasbourg. They should be enforced in the Welshpool county court or the Wolverhampton crown court without the need to wait for a backlog which is increasing every month. The case management system of the European Court of Human Rights is actually defunct.’

The latest figures will add to concern in Britain about the operation of the Strasbourg court and its power to overrule Parliament.

MPs will vote on Thursday on whether to back Government plans to lift the blanket ban on allowing prisoners to vote.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has warned that the UK could face a compensation bill of more than £100million if it fails to give prisoners the vote. Mr Clarke has suggested that the UK must do at least the ‘minimum’ required by the court – possibly involving giving the vote to criminals sentenced to less than a year in jail.

But, in an extraordinary move, David Cameron has given his MPs a free vote on the issue – effectively encouraging them to vote down the idea. Even ministers have been told they can abstain on the issue.

Hundreds of MPs are expected to vote against the idea, which breaches the long- standing principle of British law that criminals sacrifice the right to vote when they commit offences.

MPs believe the vote could strengthen the Government’s hand in settling the long-running issue with the court. But some are also now pressing for the UK to pull out of the Strasbourg court’s jurisdiction and repatriate human rights law.

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