QC rushes to defence of Human Rights Act

Published October 27th, 2009 - 12:00 GMT
Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC has launched a passionate defence of the Human Rights Act, issuing a stinging rebuke to the Tories who aim to dismantle it.
The Tories attacked the Act, describing it as a "criminal's charter," and stated their intent to replace it with a British Bill of Rights.
But addressing the Royal Society of Medicine, Mr Starmer said that scrapping the Act would bring "shame" to the nation.Mr Starmer used his annual lecture to dismiss these claims as "ill-informed."
He said that the Act enshrined the right to life, freedom from torture and slavery, the right to fair trial, privacy, freedom of thought and expression and equal protection under the law.
Mr Starmer said: "If those are some of the rights that attach to the suspect of a crime, let me instantly redress the balance and lay bare the lie that suggests that the Human Rights Act is a 'criminal's charter.'
"Human rights do not mysteriously disappear if one is a victim of crime. Human rights do not recognise any form of boundary.
"Contrary to what appears to be a widely held but ill-informed view, human rights do not just protect offenders but victims also," he said.
"It would be to this country's shame if we lost the clear and basic statement of our citizens' human rights provided under the Human Rights Act on the basis of a fundamentally flawed analysis of its origin and relevance to our society."
Responding to the DPP's comments, shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve said: "The Human Rights Act is not the only way to implement human rights in Britain.
"The Conservatives believe a Bill of Rights will deliver a better balance - it is a matter for Parliament to decide."
What the Bill would consist of has yet to be explained.
Liberty campaign co-ordinator Sabina Frediani said: "We welcome the staunch defence of the much-maligned Human Rights Act from Mr Starmer.
"He joins a growing consensus that recognises the legislation as our own home-grown Bill of Rights.
"We would urge those who are hostile to the act to heed his words and think again."
 

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