Dominic Raab plans law to ignore Euro court ruling to block Rwanda deportations

22 June 2022, 08:42

By Megan Hinton

Plans to overrule European rulings blocking Rwanda deportations under the new Bill of Rights will introduce "common sense and balance" into the legal system, Dominic Raab has told LBC.

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The Deputy Prime Minister will lay out his new legislation plans to Parliament later, which could see the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgments blocking removal flights to Rwanda being ignored.

The Bill of Rights is also tasked with increasing deportations of foreign criminals and will be laid out on Wednesday after the Strasbourg court disrupted the Government's controversial flagship policy for asylum seekers who arrive in unauthorised journeys.

The Deputy Prime Minister wants the successor to the Human Rights Act to assert that British courts do not always need to follow the court in Strasbourg.

Read more: David Miliband slams 'perverse' Rwanda scheme warning it won't deter people smugglers

Instead, the legislation states that the Supreme Court in London is the ultimate decision-maker on human rights issues.

Mr Raab told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast he doesn't believe we need to leave the ECHR to achieve the changes required.

"We want to strengthen and reinforce the UK tradition of liberty - free speech - the liberty that guards all the others," he said.

"We want to see that strengthened, prioritised, given greater weight, and I think that reflects the history of this country and I think we should be proud about that. I think it's pro-human rights, in that respect.

"Of course, we've also seen under the Human Rights Act and the way it operates in conjunction with the European Court of Human Rights, elastic approaches to human rights, interpretation of the convention, the goalposts have shifted, and we want to be clear that the Supreme Court does what it says on the tin - it's got the last word on the law of the land in this country."

He went on to say his new 'Bill of Rights' will introduce "common sense and balance" into the legal system.

"I don't think it's right that Strasburg can override the ruling of the UK high court," he said.

The Bill would create a permission stage in court where claimants must show they have suffered significant damage before their case can go ahead, to reduce "trivial" cases.

It would also seek to restrict the circumstances in which foreign-born people convicted of crimes are able to argue their right to family life trumps public safety in a bid to prevent their removal from the UK.

They would have to prove that their child would come to overwhelming and unavoidable harm if they were deported under the plans, which need the approval of Parliament.

Mr Raab, who is also Justice Secretary, said: "The Bill of Rights will strengthen our UK tradition of freedom whilst injecting a healthy dose of common sense into the system.

"These reforms will reinforce freedom of speech, enable us to deport more foreign offenders and better protect the public from dangerous criminals."

He stepped back from demands from some Conservative MPs to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights. The first forced removals of asylum seekers to Rwanda on one-way tickets was due to take off last week, with ministers initially expecting around 130 passengers.

But legal challenges whittled down the manifest until on the morning ahead of take-off only around seven migrants or fewer were expected to be on board.

Read more: 'Kick these b*****ds into touch': Tory fury at Euro judges for Rwanda flight block

Mr Raab, who is also Justice Secretary, said 'the Bill of Rights will strengthen our UK tradition of freedom'
Mr Raab, who is also Justice Secretary, said 'the Bill of Rights will strengthen our UK tradition of freedom'. Picture: Alamy

Then the European court granted an interim injunction barring the removal of an Iraqi asylum seeker until a decision on the legality of the Government's policy is made in UK courts.

Strasbourg-based judges removed two others from the plane, while the Supreme Court granted injunctions preventing the immediate removal of three more.

Mr Raab's legislation would confirm that interim measures from the court under so-called rule 39 are not binding on UK courts.

The Bill would also seek to protect Government plans to increase the use of separation centres for extremists from legal challenges based on the right to socialise.

The Ministry of Justice also says it would boost press freedom by introducing a stronger test for courts to consider before ordering journalists to disclose their sources.