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 




Good Friday Agreement – Free From Sectarian Harassment

(1) Ringland is the kind of soft unionist for whom the Northern Ireland statelet was designed, who disregards the awkward fact that it wasn’t designed for nearly everyone else, and can’t understand why they don’t like it.

(2) Ringland complains that 40% of the Republic and 70% of Northern nationalists believe that the IRA’s campaign was justified and that this is a low point in the Peace Process. The Peace Process always revolved around accepting the views of the other side, not demanding they change.

(3) Ringland ignores,or is perhaps unaware of, the violence, random murders and arson used to create Northern Ireland in the first place, and which went on into the 1930s and began again in the early 1960s, until it created the Troubles. Unionist home rule failed but he ignores that.

(4) Ringland’s statement that “The moral compromises involved in the Belfast Agreement make it difficult to celebrate.” is the most anti-peace process sentiment imaginable; peace is the first and highest morality. This error goes far to explain why the process has stalled since 1998.

(5) If Ringland’s letter is representative of soft unionism’s mindset, it is the best argument that their demands to be given another shot at Home Rule Northern Ireland be politely refused.

They remember only what it pleases them to, and they have learnt nothing.

With many thanks to: Jonathan Mills https://twitter.com/Muinchille?t=ZnOxu2ZDd5Y5ilsRSJF2YQ&s=09 for the original Tweet follow this link to read the original Tweet: https://twitter.com/Muinchille/status/1614557336252698627?s=20&t=tOfue-8ECzk1Rc5cdFAduQ


Follow this link to read the original letter:https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/opinion/columnists/trevor-ringland-we-have-a-long-way-to-go-to-recognise-the-failures-of-our-past-3983451?s=09

Follow this link to read more on this story: http://seachranaidhe-irishandproud.blogspot.com/2023/01/a-nest-of-misconception-and-denial.html

1/ An Ombudsman’s report details how DUP-founded and set up ‘Ulster Resistance’ which then partnered with the UDA & UVF to buy guns & grenades with stolen bank robbery cash, it would lead to mass murder & mayhem across the north.

2/ ‘Journalists arrived at Ulster Hall, after hearing that the rally was being convened to mobilise what the next day’s newspapers described as a “secret army”
They were refused entry, but a young DUP press officer called Nigel Dodds emerged to hand out leaflets’

3/..but this was just the start….

4/…later to be confirmed.

5/5 Conspiracy as ‘RUC Special Branch, BA Intelligence, & MI5 Secret Service, used their combined agents within loyalism to rearm loyalist paramilitaries with weapons imported from South Africa.
At the heart of the plot was the DUP’s Ulster Resistance’

An untold part of the collusion jigsaw in Loughinisland

My story is one of crawling on my bullet-riddled stomach around a blood-soaked field through the mutilated bodies of my friends and the scattered, burning, body-parts of their murderers. Demonic social media agitators are trying to make my experience your reality too. Shun them.

Stephen Travers

Brother of man murdered by UVF paramilitaries to sue police and the Ministry of Defence.


What was the Troubles (1960s-1998)?

Introduction The Troubles (Irish: Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted about 30 years from the late 1960s to 1998. Also known internationally as the Northern Ireland conflict, it is sometimes described as an “irregular war” or “low-level war”. The conflict began in the late 1960s and is usually deemed to […]

What was the Troubles (1960s-1998)?

Vilifying the victims: two of the most vile British Intelligence smear campaigns of the Troubles blamed innocent murder victims for their own demise. By David Burke. – Village Magazine


‘KICKING OUT: Change starts with the man in the mirror’.


Take a look at this post… ‘Was mystery man found mutilated on Shankill killed by soldiers, or a victim of Butchers? ‘.


Controversies – The Poppy Appeal – The Celtic Wiki


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