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Tories may leave Human Rights Act untouched for five years

The Daily Express' Patrick O'Flynn reports something I've heard in recent days: reform of the Human Rights Act is slipping down the list of Tory priorities:

"A couple of years back, during the furore over Britain’s inability to deport Learco Chindamo, the murderer of head teacher Philip Lawrence, Cameron appeared to have real fire in his belly.

He described Labour’s Human Rights Act as “rotten at the core”. “It has to go,” he added, “it’s a glaring example of what is going wrong in our country.” Amen to that. But later it transpired that Cameron’s proposed alternative, a British Bill of Rights, would change very little as he was not proposing to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (the body that this week declared police stop-and-search tactics illegal).

Now things are even worse. Cameron’s Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve has kicked what was meant to be an early pledge into the long grass, telling his liberal lawyer pals: “I don’t wish to see the matter rushed. I would like to think that we can do it in the course of a Parliament.”

The dripping wet Grieve has even pledged to publish a green paper – preliminary form of consultation – on the issue, which suggests the HRA may remain intact throughout a first Cameron term."

GRIEVE DOMINIC NW Putting aside the unnecessarily pejorative references to Dominic Grieve it is certainly true that he is much less supportive of reform than Nick Herbert, who was Tory Justice spokesman before him.

Also leading resistance to reform is Ken Clarke. Before he joined David Cameron's shadow cabinet he described the proposal for a British Bill of Rights as "xenophobic and legal nonsense".

Tim Montgomerie

> Dominic Grieve from April 2009: It's the interpretation of the Human Rights Act that's the problem - not the ECHR itself

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