Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Cameron's approach to rights is legally illiterate

Ed Williams, a leading employment barrister, has strongly criticised David Cameron's plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a 'British Bill of Rights' over on LabourList.

He concludes:
"Yes we need a Bill of Rights, but not the legal nonsense that is the Conservative version, but one that builds on the rights in the HRA and goes beyond them into the field of welfare, education and health provision. In the meantime we should strengthen the current HRA, for example by placing a duty on public bodies to promote human rights, or by looking again at how despite the Higher court’s issuing a declaration of incompatibility the Government suffers no sanction if it fails to make the legislative change.

The time is now for those who believe in the case for human rights in this country to challenge the hollow, ill thought out and politically expedient policy of David Cameron and his Conservative Party. Repealing the HRA exposes once again the absurdity of Cameron and Osborne's claims to be in the "progressive" tradition of British politics."


  1. Stuff rights, time to focus on duties and responsibilities instead. The HRA was the worse most ill conceived piece of legislation ever devised. If this lawyer is moaning perhaps it is a sign that the change will put some of the civil rights legal brigade out of business, if so great.

  2. First kill all the lawyers.

  3. The Human Rights Act was a landmark piece of legislation that has redistributed rights from the state to individuals in one of the most sweeping and progressive changes this nation has ever seen.

    Cameron's opposition is borne out of populism and an instinctive anti-Europeanism. Ed William's succinct comments does well to encapsulate my views of Tory regression on rights.

  4. Cameron's opposition to the HRA is based on its obvious ineffectiveness in protecting individual freedoms and the misuse of it by many of my and Ed's profession - and our sister professions.

    It is not, in my view, an opposition to the convention rights - most of which find their origins in English legal jurisprudence.

    Far from being an Act that 'has redistributed rights from the state to individuals in one of the most sweeping and progressive changes this nation has ever seen', the wariness of organisations and the anticipated extortionate cost of HR litigation means that it is yet another disproportionate burden on our community. In addition, the Act has singularly failed to curb the egregious excess of authoritariansim that Labour attempts in Government to pose as 'justice' post 2001.