Justice minister’s attack to destroy ability to challenge state
According to most of the broadsheets, if there is a Conservative government after the next General Election, the European Court of Human Rights will no longer be able to overrule British courts.
Under plans unveiled today at the Conservative Conference, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is expected to state that a future Conservative government will introduce laws ensuring that human rights cases are determined by Britain’s Supreme Court and not judges sitting in Strasbourg.
This is the Conservative response to an agonised cry: “Who will rid me of that troublesome law?” (and replace it with… well, we don’t know yet).
The dangers of this approach can be considered by reference to the DNA database and the case of Marper v UK, which provides a timely example of Mr. Grayling’s policy at work. This case was considered by the House of Lords, which judged that there was no human rights breach if the police indefinitely retained personal data that represented the DNA profile of a data subject — even when the data subject had not been found guilty of an offence.
The House of Lords judgment was overturned unanimously by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in S and Marper v UK; it was a 17-0 victory for Marper. This has resulted in the changes in UK law identified in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and now the DNA database focuses on the guilty.
However, if Mr. Grayling’s proposed policy of preventing appeals to the ECHR were in place, then DNA on the innocent would still be stored on police databases. It is as simple as that.