Why the UK should not leave the ECHR – 1828 – Championing Freedom

Why the UK should not leave the ECHR


FEBRUARY 23, 2023

According to reports this month, the Prime Minister would contemplate withdrawing the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) if the government’s policies on small boats are found to violate the ECHR. This would be the wrong decision. 

The ECHR is an international treaty – separate from the European Union – which most European countries committed to after the Second World War, obliging them to respect fundamental human rights.

The ECHR has been decisive in protecting important human rights against intrusive and coercive state powers when domestic law and politics have failed. These three cases demonstrate why the UK should remain a member of the ECHR.

The mass DNA database of the innocent: 

Until 2010, in England and Wales the police had the power to take and retain DNA samples from all people arrested for criminal offences. This retention had no time limit, and happened regardless of the seriousness of the offence, the age of the suspect, or whether the person was eventually charged and convicted of the offence.  

In 2003, the highest UK court concluded that this practice was lawful. The judges decided that the potential value of DNA evidence to solving crimes outweighed the interests of innocent people in having their private information deleted from a police database.  

By contrast, in 2008 in a case called S and Marper v United Kingdom, the Strasbourg Court – the international court that interprets the ECHR – concluded that this practice was a disproportionate interference with people’s right to respect for their private life (Article 8 ECHR). While the Strasbourg Court agreed that DNA evidence was essential in the fight against crime, it added that this could not justify a blanket state power to retain innocent people’s DNA forever.  

This is a critical example of the ECHR being used to promote proportionate, targeted government action, rather than excessive, precautionary, and absolutist interferences. 

Arbitrary terrorism stop-and-searches: 

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, senior police officers could authorise any uniformed officer within a defined geographic area to stop-and-search any person or vehicle for articles connected with terrorism. These searches could be conducted randomly without any suspicion of criminality. Refusal to submit was a criminal offence. In London, this authorisation had been granted on a rolling basis for five years. The public was not told when an authorisation was in place. 

The highest UK court concluded that not only was this power lawful, but that in many instances it did not even interfere with people’s privacy. As one of the judges put it:  

“I am…doubtful whether an ordinary superficial search of the person can be said to show a lack of respect for private life…I incline to the view that an ordinary superficial search of the person and an opening of bags…can scarcely be said to reach that level.” (para.28). 

This sentiment was common among the senior British judiciary. In a similar case, the judge remarked that people should not be “over precious” about minor infringements of their privacy by the police “which are the price today of participation in numerous lawful activities conducted in large groups of people.” 

By contrast, in 2010 in the case of Gillan & Quintan v United Kingdom, the Strasbourg Court concluded that there was a violation of the right to respect for people’s private life. Finding against the “put up with it” attitude of the British courts, the Strasbourg Court was insistent that: 

“The use of…coercive powers…to require an individual to submit to a detailed search of their person, clothing and personal belongings amounted to a clear interference with the right to respect for private life.” 

The Strasbourg Court also determined that this was an arbitrary power with too few safeguards against abuse and misuse to be considered lawful.  

Again, the ECHR promoted a more proportionate, targeted approach to state power. 

Public interest journalism

Between 1958 and 1961, a drug called thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women in the UK as a sedative. Sadly, this drug caused severe physical disabilities in fetuses and around 450 babies were born with life-changing conditions. In the early 1970s, affected families brought legal action against the drugs company and entered negotiations for financial settlements.  

The Sunday Times wished to publish stories related to the company’s negligence. Instead, the drugs company lobbied the Attorney-General to institute contempt proceedings to restrain publication of the stories. The British courts granted a broad injunction preventing The Sunday Times “by themselves, their servants, [or] agents” from “publishing, or causing or authorising…to be published” anything which “prejudges” the legal issues related to thalidomide.  

The Strasbourg Court took a different approach. In 1979, in the case of Sunday Times v United Kingdom, the Strasbourg Court concluded that this was a violation of the newspaper’s freedom of expression (Article 10 ECHR). While the Court recognised the need for limitations on freedom of expression to ensure the fair administration of justice, the judges were struck by the breadth of the prohibition on journalistic speech imposed by the British courts.  

As the Strasbourg Court put it: “Not only do the media have the task of imparting such information and ideas: the public also has a right to receive them.”  

There are many reasons why it would be a bad idea for the UK to withdraw from the ECHR. Because we would be joining Russia and Belarus in being the only European countries who are not signatories. Because it would undermine the UK’s reputation as a leading centre for the rule of law and human rights. Because it would undermine the international rules-based order when it is already on life support. But the best reason is because the ECHR works.

The effective protection of liberty and human rights requires a network of measures – political, social, economic, legal, domestic, and international. The ECHR will never be the only solution, but it is part of the solution, and the UK should remain a committed member.

Lee Marsons is a Senior Researcher at Public Law Project and can be followed on Twitter @LeeGTMarsons 





Jamie Bryson on #nolanlive explaining #DUP policy on the #BrexitProtocol once more.
Who is leading the DUP?

My goodness the whole spectacle is depressing. This paper that was sent by …. Jamie , is so embarrassing that Jeffrey has already distanced himself from it but yet endorsed it simultaneously. If Jeffrey contorts himself anymore , he may dislocate something

BREAKING | Off-duty police officer shot in Omagh

Forensic officers have arrived at the scene here on Killyclougher Road in Omagh.

Security sources tell @BelTel the officer was shot at least four times.

The PSNI officer has been taken to hospital where his condition is not yet fully known.


👎Shocking analysis from ERG

🤷‍♂️The Ireland’s Future position for some time, is there is only one way to resolve this broad issue

✍️It is contained in the GFA

🗣Ask the people what they want

🗳To not ask the question is to deny democracy

✅Plan for the unity referendum


Welcome progress. A deal on the protocol must be done.

Good Friday Agreement (GFA) Free From Sectarian Harassment #FuckTheDUP

No hard border, protection of the GFA, access to the single market must be maintained. Keep what works, fix what doesn’t. Then govt must get back to work. No more delay.


“If we don’t get Dáithí’s Law, I’m gonna crack up!”

#Time4Action #DáithísLaw


I don’t know how the good Christians @J_Donaldson_MP and @paulgivan can live with themselves.

One person in this photo voted for the Protocol and said it was an opportunity👇👇

Fuck the DUP

Two others have been recorded praising the Protocol and openly stating it wasn’t a threat to the union

Now they’re raging because a Judge agreed with them

Welcome to unionism 👍

Good Friday Agreement responsible for huge economic growth says Ibec

Good Friday Agreement has worked for everyone on the Island of Ireland for the last 25 years. Everyone on the Island wants it to work for another 25

February 9, 2023

The huge economic growth across the island of Ireland during the past 25 years would not have been possible without the Good Friday Agreement.

That’s according to Ibec, which is appearing before an Oireachtas committee today.

The business group says there has been record levels of investment across the island and Britain.

Fergal O’Brien, Ibec’s director of lobbying and influence, says the Good Friday Agreement delivered prosperity to the island of Ireland…

Audio Player



Highland Radio

Good Friday Agreement responsible for huge economic growth says Ibec

In spite of the DUP

All because a Catholic is FM, hatred and bigotry and bloody childish tantrums…

they have always tried to undermine the GFA and now the protocol they brought about, hopefully this will show once and for all the destruction they will bring to remain in dominance and line their own pockets

Hopefully everyone will see Lynne, they’re dragging us all backwards

Boris Johnson agreed Brexit protocol knowing it was a ‘mess’, says John Major.

Johnson’s administration made promises over NI deal it knew were unworkable, former PM tells MPs

Tuesday 7th February, 2023.

John Major has launched a scathing attack on Boris Johnson’s handling of Brexit, saying his administration agreed to NI Protocol the despite knowing it was unworkable.

“That must be the first agreement in history that was signed by people who decided it was useless in the first place,” Major told a Westminster committee on Tuesday.

The former Conservative prime minister did not name his successor but expressed astonishment at the acceptance of the protocol, which Johnson used to promote an “oven-ready” Brexit deal in the 2019 election.

He said Britain’s exit from the EU was a “colossal mistake” that had left the UK outside the world’s main three power blocs. “There is America, there is China and there is the European Union. We should be in Europe.”

The blunder was worsened by the agreement to impose checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, he said.

“The protocol is a mess. It was very poorly negotiated,” Major told the Northern Ireland committee. “I think some of the promises made after the protocol that there would be no checks on trade from Britain and Northern Ireland, how those promises came to be made I cannot imagine because they were patently wrong. The protocol needs changing. I am baffled as to how we could have reached a situation where that protocol was accepted.”

Major, who was prime minister from 1990 to 1997, criticised Johnson’s administration for signing the protocol with the EU apparently on the basis that it would be later reformed. He also criticised Johnson and his successor, Liz Truss, for their threats to override the Brexit agreement.

“Even if the protocol bill was wrong that does seem to be a strange way to proceed because that sort of behaviour is pretty unwise. We, the British, would not respond to threats of that sort. Why do we think that the European Union would?”

Major was appearing as a witness at a committee hearing on the effectiveness of the institutions of the 1998 Good Friday agreement. The Democratic Unionist party (DUP) has collapsed power-sharing in Northern Ireland in a protest against the protocol, leaving the Stormont executive and assembly mothballed. The party says the protocol damages the region’s economy and its place in the UK.

We’re hearing from former Prime Minister, Sir John Major.

📺Watch live here: parliamentlive.tv/event/index/22…


Major said all sides: London, Dublin, Brussels and parties in Northern Ireland, would have to compromise. “A statesmanlike response would be to recognise that nobody is going to get everything they wish, but to accept compromise in the interest of returning democratic government to Northern Ireland. That will not be easy for anyone.”

He said it seemed Rishi Sunak’s Downing Street team was making progress in talks with the EU. In a tacit rebuke to the DUP – and possibly also an appeal to Sunak to face down Tory Brexit hardliners – Major counselled compromise. “Statesmen who do that will succeed. Politicians who keep shouting slogans to their most extreme supporters will not.”

Major lauded the contribution of his Irish counterparts, Albert Reynolds and John Bruton, as well as Northern Ireland party leaders, clerics, civil servants, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair in paving the Good Friday agreement. “This is a settlement that has many parents. No one can claim full paternity.”

He expressed concern that poverty in Northern Ireland was undermining peace and reconciliation. “Economic hardship is a divisive force.”

With many thanks to: The Guardian @TheGuardian and Rory Carroll (Ireland Correspondent)
@roryrorycarroll72 for the original story.

Follow this link to to find out more on this story: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/feb/07/boris-johnson-agreed-brexit-protocol-knowing-it-was-mess-says-john-major#Echobox=1675785051

Time to enact the St. Andrews Agreement which is to enact the GFA agreement.

Big decision incoming for the DUP -they could choose to sell this as a result of their ‘pressure’ -but as it will still mean NI is treated differently to GB (if only slightly) there will be pressure from TUV etc to condemn it.

That would probably be last straw for devolved gov.

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