Saturday, 22 October 2011

Human Rights: Pronouncements by Lord Judge

From the Telegraph article 'Sound Judgements':

The press and the senior judiciary do not always see eye to eye. But where the pronouncements of Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, are concerned, there has been a gratifying meeting of minds, not least over the past few days. Sitting in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, Lord Judge upheld a majority of the sentences handed out to those who looted and rioted in August, rightly reflecting the public’s demand for severe and exemplary punishment of those involved.
On Wednesday, he delivered a powerful defence of a free press, in a speech welcomed by an industry beset by the twin perils of an economic downturn and the renewed threat of regulation. The Leveson inquiry, established by David Cameron at the height of the phone hacking scandal in the summer, has begun a process that risks worsening the commercial position of newspapers while at the same time undermining their autonomy. As Lord Judge put it, eloquently: “The independence of the judiciary and the independence of the media are both fundamental to the continued exercise and indeed the survival of liberties which we sometimes take for granted.” We could not agree more.
To that end, moreover, another of Lord Judge’s statements this week is of great significance. Giving evidence to the House of Lords constitution commission, he said British courts are free to ignore the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. In making this point, he appears to be at odds with Lord Phillips, the head of the Supreme Court, who takes the view that the Human Rights Act means that “in the end, Strasbourg is going to win”. If Lord Judge is right, then the courts must vigorously defend the laws passed by Parliament; if Lord Phillips is right, then the Human Rights Act must be repealed.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/8838687/Sound-judgments.html

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