> The European Union angle

Christopher Grayling's promise to "Scrap the Human Rights Act" (Conservative Party conference September 2013 amongst other statements and Conservative Manifesto 2015) is designed to keep the reach of the European Court of Human Rights away from our land.


Can we wriggle out of the European Court of Human Rights (The Council of Europe institution of 47 nations) and still continue to be a member of the European Union (the economic block of 26 nations which UKIP want us to get out of)?

The European Union is seeking to overcome legal hurdles that will enable the European Union to succeed in the plan to join the European Court of Human Rights itself.  The UK agreed to this plan!

The Court of the European Union, known as the European Court of Justice, ruled in December 2014 that the accession of the European Union to the European Court of Human Rights was flawed.  So, lawyers are working on getting the membership terms right.

When the European Union becomes a member of the European Court of Human Rights then all 26 European Union Member States, including the UK, will be treated as full members of the European Court of Human Rights whether they like it or not! And of course  all 26 are members in their own right anyway at the moment!

There is a very strong case that under European Union law as it is now withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights is incompatible with European Union membership. When the European Union joins the European Court of Human Rights there can be no doubt that the UK could not leave the European Court of Human Rights without withdrawing from the European Union.

This is why threatening at this General Election to get out of the Human Rights Act  and the European Court of Human Rights is at best a cynical publicity stunt  and at worst a political deception. The honest approach for the Conservatives would be to suspend the pledge to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights and instead concentrate on the pursuit of the referendum on the European Union. If there is a "get out" vote the Conservatives can then raise, if  they still desired, the question of also withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights!

If there was any doubt about the ability of the European Union joining the European Court of Human Rights then Chris Grayling will still find UK human rights law being ruled upon by a European Court come what may so long as we are members of the European Union. This is because the European Union block of 26 countries has adopted a European Charter of Human Rights which contains the same rights as the 47 country strong Council of Europe's European Convention of Human Rights that the European Court of Human Rights rules upon. The European Charter of Human Rights will be ruled upon by the European Union's own court: The European Court of Justice. Rulings of the European Court of Justice are fully binding on the UK. 

Are you confused? Chris Grayling certainly is!



The United Kingdom is "playing with fire" when it threatens to pull out of the international system of human rights oversight. The message encourages human rights abusers worldwide. If the European Court of Human Rights has overreached itself and entered areas of our lives it has no business in then the constructive and safe way forward is to reach agreement with the other 46 members to amend the European Convention of Human Rights that defines the powers of the European Court of Human Rights. And, that is exactly what the UK Government has been doing in recent years by making its contributions to a Protocol that when ratified by all 47 nations will amend the Convention. Protocol 15 recognizes the need for our country to have greater responsibility for governing its own human rights positions. Is that not enough for Mr Grayling? See the following article for more detail:

Who’s afraid of Protocol 15? Not the Joint Committee on Human Rights


You may also find the insight of the former Conservative Attorney General Dominic Greive QC interesting:

“What actually is being suggested is not that we will leave the ECHR, but that we will announce for our manifesto that we will pass primary legislation to use parliament to prevent the government from implementing its international obligations, except when parliament rules when we should,” he tells the paper.

“Of all the ideas I have heard about, that strikes me as just about the worst of all,” he continues. “It may appear superficially attractive, but it is effectively driving a coach and horses through international legal obligations, behaving in a way that can only be described as anarchic. It creates massive uncertainty and it risks a legal road crash.”  Grieve also implies a comparison between David Cameron and Putin: “It’s not dissimilar from Putin using the Duma to ratify his annexation of the Crimea. Putin will say, well it’s now lawful; the Duma has said so.”

For full article go to Conservative Home LINK HERE

Mr Greive has produced two detailed, and devastating, critiques: the first in Prospect Magazine and then last night in a lecture at University College London. Both are highly recommended as measured and unarguably correct analyses of the Tory plan.

"The proposals represent a failure of ambition by the Conservative Party on the global promotion of human rights."