A Bill of Rights will fulfil the Conservative dream of replacing Labour’s hated Human Rights Act – but critics warn it will rip up protections and put the UK on a collision course with Brussels.
The Queen’s Speech argues the legislation will “end the abuse of the human rights framework and restore some common sense to our justice system”.
It will make it easier to deport asylum seekers who claim the right to a family life to stay in the UK, stripping out the defence for anyone convicted of any “imprisonable” offence, it is expected.
Drawn up by the justice secretary Dominic Raab, the Bill will ensure “spurious cases do not undermine public confidence in human rights so that courts focus on genuine and credible human rights claims”, it says.
It will curb the “expansion of a rights culture without proper democratic oversight, which has displaced due focus on personal responsibility and the public interest”, the document argues.
And it will seek to end or reduce damages in human rights claims by “ensuring that the courts consider the behaviour of the claimant when considering making an award”.
Furious human rights campaigners accuse Mr Raab of a smokescreen in claiming the Bill is an attempt to protect free speech from “wokery and political correctness”.
Injustices such as the Hillsborough tragedy and the failure to investigate ‘black cab rapist’ John Worboys may have never been exposed if the curbs were already in place, they fear.
The crackdown will also block attempts to enforce human rights even before they reach a courtroom, despite “terrible abuses” being revealed only once a legal case starts, they say.
And the plans for past “conduct” to be taken into account when claims are brought for rights violations will hit ethnic minority groups, it is feared.
The Bill will establish “the primacy of UK case law”, so UK courts are not required to “follow” the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.
Brexit legal experts have warned this risks retaliation from the EU, under the terms of the Christmas 2020 trade and cooperation agreement, which “locked in” the UK’s future commitment to the ECHR.
Brussels can suspend the parts of the deal ensuring security cooperation if the UK does not sufficiently protect fundamental rights or the rule of law.