Martyn Brown, Express (London), October 1, 2013
Axing the hated Human Rights Act will be one of the top priorities under a Tory government, Theresa May vowed yesterday.
The Home Secretary said plans to ditch it would be spelled out in the Conservative Party manifesto for the next general election in 2015.
She also vowed to introduce tough laws to boot out foreign criminals and illegal immigrants before their appeals are heard.
Mrs May said a new Immigration Bill would allow deportation if there was no risk of serious or irreversible harm. Appeals would then be heard while the person is out of the UK.
The moves are part of Mrs May’s plans to cut the number of deportation appeals by half by slashing the number of challenges allowed and ending abuse of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights–the right to respect for private and family life.
She said the party’s position on the ECHR was clear–the Conservatives will leave the convention if that is what it takes to fix our human rights laws.
Citing the lengthy deportation of hate preacher Abu Qatada, whom she said called her “Crazy May”, the Home Secretary told the Tory conference in Manchester: “It’s ridiculous that the British Government should have to go to such lengths to get rid of dangerous foreigners.
“That’s why the next Conservative manifesto will promise to scrap the Human Rights Act.”
The party would also end the “abuse” of article 8 of the ECHR.
She said: “The trouble is while the European Convention makes clear that a right to a family life is not absolute, judges often treat it as an unqualified right.
“That’s why I published immigration rules stating that foreign criminals and illegal immigrants should ordinarily be deported despite their claim to a family life.
“Those rules were debated in the House of Commons and they were approved unanimously. But some judges choose to ignore Parliament and go on putting the law on the side of foreign criminals instead of the public.
“So I am sending a very clear message to those judges–Parliament wants the law on the people’s side, the public wants the law on the people’s side and Conservatives in government will put the law on the people’s side once and for all.”
Earlier this week Prime Minister David Cameron indicated Britain could withdraw from the ECHR.
But Attorney General Dominic Grieve warned that pulling out of the convention could cause the system to collapse, meaning countries with poor human rights records would be under less pressure to improve. In a hard-hitting speech Mrs May said she planned to slash deportation appeals.
She said: “The Government will soon publish the Immigration Bill, which will make it easier to get rid of people with no right to be here.
“First, we will cut the number of appeal rights. At the moment the system is like a never-ending game of snakes and ladders with almost 70,000 appeals heard every year.
“The winners [are] foreign criminals and immigration lawyers, while the losers are the victims of these crimes and the public. So we’re going to cut the number of appeal rights from 17 to four and in doing so cut the total number of appeals by more than half.
“Last year human rights were cited in almost 10,000 immigration appeal cases so the second thing we will do is extend the number of non-suspensive appeals.
“That means where there is no risk of serious and irreversible harm we should deport foreign criminals first and hear their appeals later.”
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper warned: “Blaming the Human Rights Act when the principal reason for not deporting foreign criminals is Home Office incompetence is just a cover for failure.”