Thursday, October 06, 2011

Dominic Grieve vs. Theresa May: "hysterical untruths" about the HRA must stop

In an unexpected twist in the tale of Tory politics, Dominic Grieve has pitted himself against Theresa May, criticising the spreading of “hysterical untruths” relating to the Human Rights Act. Grieve made his comments after Theresa May explicitly called for the HRA to be scrapped. His words carry more weight than other proponents of the HRA because he has traditionally been very critical of the Act and still maintains that it has substantial flaws.

There has been a great deal of scaremongering in the press concerning the HRA, ranging from a focus on it being a piece of legislation forced upon the country by dictatorial Eurocrats, to reports on the criminals who have avoided prosecution due to the leniency of the Act. Typical of this trend is the story about a man on a roof who, before being arrested, was given fried chicken by the police. This, it is claimed, is because of the Act, and furthermore the British police force should not be forced to pander to criminals. At a fringe meeting organised by Liberty at the Conservative Conference in Manchester Grieve rallied against these kinds of stories, arguing that "We need some rational discussion of the issues and not, I'm afraid, what we often see in certain pages of some newspapers, which is hysterical untruths being peddled over and over again. It's not very productive." The fried chicken incident is one of these “hysterical untruths.”

The Huffington Post reports that Grieve had positive things to say about the HRA, noting that though the European Court of Human Rights was “out of control” and though the Act was “not perfect”, the UK also had much to thank for the Act. He also reminded delegates that the decision should be made with their coalition partners, the Lib Dems, who are largely in favour of retaining the Act, rather than the Conservative proposal of a British Bill of Rights. Whichever option is eventually chosen, the government should arrive at their decision through constructive debate, rather than contributing to the anti-HRA press scaremongering.

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