The UK and the ECHR


Reported in The Week August 19, 2023 on the Letters page

To The Daily Telegraph
In 1950, Britain led the Council of Europe in drawing up the European Convention on Human Rights and setting up the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). British lawyers drafted large parts of the convention to provide the European continent with liberties long enjoyed in Britain. However, Winston Churchill insisted that the Strasbourg Court should have no jurisdiction in Britain because we had – and have no need of it. Our own laws already guaranteed our freedoms. For political reasons, Tony Blair granted the ECHR jurisdiction in Britain through the 1998 Human Rights Act. The main outcomes have been the politicisation of our judiciary and the introduction of new, phoney “human rights” to things like privacy and family life. These rights are routinely abused by publicity-shy millionaires, criminals and terrorists. Continental legal practice is not easily compatible with Britain’s brilliant common law, and British courts are now subject to often perverse ECHR appeal decisions. The bench of the ECHR includes second-rate, political judges. Indeed, Russia only left the court last September. It would be risible to suggest that, without the ECHR, Britain would lack liberties enjoyed on the Continent. We must repeal the 1998 Act and replace it with legislation preventing powerhungry British judges from making new laws. Our rights and liberties should be based exclusively on British law, subject to democratic control by our own Parliament.

Gregory Shenkman, London