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 UK must curb influence of European human rights rules, says Braverman
Category:International Legal News  
Subject:People and society  
Source:The Guardian
Publish Date:08-11-2022
 

Attorney general says it is 'national priority' to extricate UK from influence of European court of human rights
Ministers should “take radical action” to counter the influence of European human rights rules to curb a burgeoning industry of highly paid equalities officers touting bogus grievances, Suella Braverman, the UK government's chief law officer, has argued.
The attorney general said it was “a national priority” to extricate the UK from the influence of the European court of human rights, saying the court's interventionist approach on rights issues potentially jeopardised democracy.
Braverman, who campaigned for the Conservative leadership on a platform strongly focused on culture war issues, said the European convention on human rights (ECHR), to which the UK is a signatory and which is interpreted by the Strasbourg-based court, limited action vital in areas including stopping protests and deporting overseas offenders.
In a strongly worded speech to the rightwing Policy Exchange thinktank, Braverman took aim at what she said was “a culture where fringe campaign groups, purporting to champion rights, have claimed a moral high ground and have adopted an attitude of intolerance”.
“Often with vastly inflated salaries and armed with a Newspeak dictionary, they have created mighty citadels of grievance across the public sector and made huge inroads into the private sector,” she said.
“Equality laws have been misconstrued and weaponised to fight those who challenge their views as perpetrators of hate speech, calling for them to be swiftly no-platformed or cancelled.”
Removing the UK altogether from the ECHR, the rights of which were incorporated into UK law in 1998 with the Human Rights Act, is viewed as notably difficult, not least as the ECHR was an integral part of the Good Friday deal that brought peace to Northern Ireland.
In June, the government pledged to introduce a UK new UK bill of rights, saying this would greatly reduce the influence of the ECHR and the European court of human rights.
Asked about efforts to decouple UK law from Strasbourg during a Q&A after her speech, Braverman claimed this was possible using domestic legislation, saying: “So we can find legislative means. I think it's something we definitely support going forward, with our bill of rights.”
She added: “I think it's a national priority. It's something that I was vocal about in my short-lived bid to be the leader of this party. We do have to do whatever it takes, and ultimately we do need to be ready to take radical action, because I think the British people expect that.”
Overall, Braverman argued, there was a “serious risk that the fight for rights undermines democracy”, saying the UK now had “a ‘rights culture' in a way that did not exist prior to 1998”, when the Human Rights Act was passed.
She cited three examples as ways rights groups were, she said, abusing the current system: trying to prevent deportations of overseas offenders; allowing human rights considerations in court cases such as one in which four people were acquitted of criminal damage for toppling a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol; and the approach to trans rights in schools.
In a long section on the latter issue, Braverman said it was completely legal for schools to refuse to admit a child who identified as transgender, and to not use a child's preferred pronouns, or let them wear a particular uniform, if they remained biologically their birth gender.
She said: “A right not to suffer discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment is not the same thing as a right of access to facilities provided for the opposite sex.”

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