Dominic Raab tries to thwart Rwanda flight blockers with new Bill of Rights set to be unveiled next week containing measures to effectively ignore ECHR injunctions
- Justice Secretary Dominic Raab wants next week to release a new Bill of Rights
- He plans to ignore injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights
- Members of the House of Lords are expected to block his controversial plan
- He said the government will retain the European Convention on Human Rights
A new Bill of Rights designed to speed up the removal of Channel migrants is expected to be unveiled next week.
Dominic Raab confirmed yesterday the legislation would include measures to effectively ignore injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights.
Such orders by judges based in Strasbourg were used to ground Tuesday night’s inaugural flight to Rwanda. However, peers are expected to block key reforms to the proposed major legislation.
Members of the Lords said it was likely to face ‘lots of opposition’ despite it being a Government manifesto commitment.
Justice Secretary Dominic Rabb, pictured, is planning to introduce a Bill of Rights which will allow the government to ignore injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights when it comes to forcibly removing asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing
The government had chartered a Boeing 767 from a Spanish airline to take a group of men who arrived on the Kent coast so their asylum claims could be processed in Rwanda
But a last minute intervention by the Strasbourg-based court prevented the flight from taking off
Justice Secretary Mr Raab’s remarks came after yesterday’s Mail revealed he was examining the possibility of disregarding last-minute Strasbourg injunctions.
But he said the UK would stay within the European Convention on Human Rights, following calls from Tory backbenchers for the UK to leave the treaty. ‘I don’t think that either in this case or in general it is right for the Strasbourg court to assume a power of injunction and then apply it,’ said Mr Raab, who is also Deputy Prime Minister.
‘It’s not grounded in the Convention and I don’t think it’s right as a matter of policy. ‘I certainly believe they should not have a legally-binding effect under UK law.’
He said it would not be possible to ignore the measures while the Human Rights Act remains in force. But he added that ‘we will address this squarely with the Bill of Rights’, which will replace Labour’s widely-loathed law.
The Bill will also contain measures to make it easier to carry out deportations and other types of removals. For example, it is expected to curtail use of the ‘right to private and family life’ by foreign offenders.
Conservative peer Lord Blencathra, a former Home Office minister, told the Mail: ‘I’m certain the Bill of Rights will face opposition in the Lords, but not from me.
‘With the socialists on the crossbenches, Labour and the huge number of lawyers in the Lords it is bound to face lots of opposition. The Human Rights Act was Labour’s mistake and yet they regard it as sacrosanct.
Mr Rabb said his Bill of Rights will remove a Human Rights Law from the statute books and make the process of removing asylum seekers easier
‘We must try to ensure domestic law has prominence, especially after the interference by Strasbourg this week.’ He predicted the Bill would ultimately be part of a ‘ping pong’ between the two Houses and ‘we will have to depend on the Commons to overturn lots of Lords amendments’.
Extensive opposition in Parliament means the Bill – already unlikely to become law until next year – could take even longer to get on the Statute Book. One peer said: ‘The Government can expect trouble. Whether it will be substantial trouble depends on how Labour responds to this, and they must be careful given attitudes to immigration in marginal seats.’
The crossbencher added: ‘The lawyers’ brigade in the Lords won’t buy the Bill of Rights at all.
‘They think so-called advances in human rights law are to be preserved and anything the present Government produces is likely to be intended to undermine the present law.’ The Rwanda flight was grounded following a series of legal challenges in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court on behalf of the asylum seekers due to be sent on the one-way trip to East Africa. All three British courts refused to intervene. But the Home Office had to abandon the first flight after lawyers for six migrants due to be on board went to Strasbourg judges at the 11th hour.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to press ahead with the policy, which she insists is essential to deter Channel migrants risking their lives in small boats. But officials are understood to be assessing the full impact of the Strasbourg injunctions, and whether they are likely to bar all future attempts at removals
Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to press ahead with the policy, which she insists is essential to deter Channel migrants risking their lives in small boats.
But officials are understood to be assessing the full impact of the Strasbourg injunctions, and whether they are likely to bar all future attempts at removals.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The Government believes that it has presented a workable solution, a legal solution, to this intractable problem and we want to get on with it.’
England’s top barrister last night accused Boris Johnson of ‘bullying’ lawyers after the PM claimed they were ‘abetting the work of criminal gangs’. Mark Fenhalls QC, chairman of the Bar Council, told Times Radio there had been ‘a number of death threats’ against immigration lawyers and called the comments ‘appalling’.