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Four British Bill of Rights Commission members call for Parliament to control our next ECHR appointment

By Paul Goodman
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Senior members of the Government's Commission on the proposed British Bill of Rights are urging that Parliament take control of nominations for Britain's next judge at the European Court of Human Rights, according to sources.

In a draft letter, a copy of which ConservativeHome has seen, four Commission members claim that the present nomination procedure "contains nothing to reassure the British public that the Government understands the growing concerns at the activism of the Strasbourg Court".

Sources claim that key Government Departments, such as the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office, are aware of the letter, but that the former has been "unresponsive to date".  The letter is signed by Jonathan Fisher QC, Martin Howe QC, Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, and Anthony Speaight QC.

In it, these four Commission members back a proposal set out in a recent Policy Exchange paper by Speaight which called for a panel of Parliamentians to sift and interview applicants, and to recommend nominees.

They commend "a judicial philosophy in tune with the generally prevailing views of MPs and the public rather than the excessively interventionist tendency which has characterised many recent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights".

And they argue that Speaight's plan, which would require applicants to provide "a personal statement of their judicial philosophy in respect of the role of the Strasbourg Court", would if implemented reassure voters that their views had been taken into account.

They write that this would "demonstrate to the British public that the Government is doing all it can on such topics as prisoner voting and deportation avoidance".  The present procedure, they complain, "involves no input by parliamentarians".

"Nor is there any feature to allow the public to know that a person nominated would be a voice respectful of the democratic rights of peoples as reflected in national parliaments", they write, stating that their letter "implies no disrespect to the distinction of Lord Mance".

Lord Mance will chair the panel which will undertake the sift, interview and recommendation process.  As the letter notes: "the procedure involves no input by parliamentarians".  The authors point out that an advertisment for applications is already on the Ministry of Justice website.


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