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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Sun Human Rights Confusion

As Michael “Oiky” Gove ponders the problem of how to repeal the Human Rights Act (HRA) without running into major problems with the legal profession, the judiciary, and the devolved Parliaments and Assemblies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, those in the press who are ready to cheer for the Tories are deploying their propaganda in his support. Some of that propaganda is also facing problems.
Nowhere has that been better illustrated than today’s headline from Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, where deputy political editor Steve Hawkes has shown the world just why even the non-bullying Tom Newton Dunn is more clued up than he is. Hawkes claims that the repeal of the HRA has the backing of a judge. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, it’s not that kind of judge.

HUMAN RIGHTS ACT AXE BOOST FROM JUDGE” proclaims the headline, as Hawkes tells “BOOST for PM’s bid to tear up act as ex-Chief Justice Lord Judge says European Convention on Human Rights is out of date … DAVID Cameron’s bid to tear up hated human rights laws was given a huge boost by one of the country’s former top judges”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here.
One, Lord Judge is indeed a judge, but in surname only. He has, shall we say, significant previous when it comes to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Typical of his interventions since resigning as Lord Chief Justice in September 2013 were comments creatively reinterpreted by the Daily Mail which told that the ECHR “should not impose rulings on the UK”. But the ECHR does not impose rulings on the UK.

And two, more importantly, as any fule kno, the ECHR and HRA are not one and the same thing. The UK was a signatory to the ECHR when it was ratified in 1953, that date preceding our accession to what was then the European Economic Community by 20 years. The HRA received Royal Assent in 1998 and mostly became law two years later. One might have expected the Sun’s deputy political editor to know the difference.

Moreover, the HRA performs two functions which one might also expect intelligent and diligent journalists to easily understand: firstly, it provides a remedy for breach of the ECHR in UK courts - so without the need to involve Strasbourg - and secondly, it seeks at all times to uphold Parliamentary Sovereignty (We are forever being told that the ECHR and/or HRA undermines Parliamentary Sovereignty).

Indeed, were the Tories - cheered on by the Sun, no doubt - to repeal the HRA and thereby break the link between UK courts and Strasbourg, there would be more cases being decided outside the UK. Steve Hawkes does not want his readers to understand such trivialities, but then, he himself doesn’t bother to figure out that the ECHR and HRA are different. The impression is given that the Sun would rather its readers remain ignorant.

That would not be the first time the paper had acted thus. And it’s not good enough.

2 comments:

rob said...

" The impression is given that the Sun would rather its readers remain ignorant"

No change there then. Problem is that we have a country, having been fed the same diet for years, still full of willing mushrooms.

Stephen Holmes said...

It could've been a worse Judge - Bruno off Strictly.