Dominic Raab has stated that he will legislate to ‘correct’ court rulings in human rights cases undertaken by the European Court of Human Rights that go against the government. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he said that he was creating a mechanism that allows ministers to bring forward ad hoc legislation to ‘correct’ court judgments, whether passed by the ECHR in Strasbourg or by UK judges, which he regards as creating new law through ‘judicial legislation’ rather than the decisions of elected politicians. ‘We want the Supreme Court to have a last word on interpreting the laws of the land, not the Strasbourg court,’ Raab told The Telegraph further stating that he would work to ‘protect and preserve the prerogatives of [the British] parliament from being whittled away by judicial legislation, abroad or indeed at home’.
He further stated: ‘We will get into the habit of legislating on a more periodic basis and thinking about the mechanism for that.’ ‘Where there have been judgments that -albeit properly and duly delivered by the courts – we think are wrong, the right thing is for parliament to legislate to correct them,’ Raab said.
Many legal experts have responded with criticism against Raab. Former head of the government’s legal service, Jonathan Jones, claimed that the deputy prime minister’s proposals were ‘muddled’ and a professor of public law at Cambridge University Mark Elliot said they were ‘deeply troubling’ and that his suggestions seek to undermine basic standards of good governance.
David Lammy, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, has accused Mr Raab of resurrecting historic Tory assaults on human rights legislation as a way of diverting attention from the dire state of the criminal justice system under his watch. He stated that ‘rape convictions are at historic lows and women are rapidly losing faith in the criminal justice system, while record backlogs have eft the courts at breaking point’. ‘And yet the priority for Dominic Raab seems to be undermining vital human rights legislation that protects us all. Instead of trying to weaken the rule of law, the Tories need to set out how they plan to fix the chaos they have created in the justice system.’
Earlier this month Raab had announced his plan to ‘overhaul’ the Human Rights Act at the Tory Party conference in order to reduce the amount of influence that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has over British legislation.