British prisoners to get the right to vote after 140 years following European ruling

Jack Straw, the British Justice Secretary, is considering allowing anyone sentenced to less than four years the right to cast a ballot. This would result in more than 28,000 British prisoners voting in future general elections.

Ministers have acted five years after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the ban on prisoners voting was unlawful.

The ban on inmates voting in elections dates back almost 140 years. It was overturned after John Hirst, who was jailed for manslaughter after killing his landlady with an axe, challenged the ban in Europe. Hirst was preparing a judicial review over the Government’s failure to implement the European court ruling before the latest proposals were outlined.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow Justice Secretary, said: “The Government should get a backbone and start standing up for the British people by simply refusing to do what the European Court of Human Rights says.”

Michael Wills, a Justice Minister, said that the Government was inclined to only grant less serious offenders a vote. “The Government has made it clear that it disagreed with the European Court of Human Rights ruling,” he said.

Is this the same Michael Wills who came to Sark in February 2008 to bully Sark into binning our constitution and heritage and put in place a labour-style dictatorship of the proletariat because – in his view – we were not compliant with European Convention on Human Rights? Readers will note that no court has ever ruled the roles of the Tenants in our former assembly to be not European Convention on Human Rights compliant – unlike inability of British criminals to vote, and the role of the Seneschal, which have both been declared non-compliant by the courts. Yet the Labour administration insisted we threw the Tenants out, while at the same time stregthening the Senescha’s powers, just like they now object to the European Court of Human Rights ruling about their own non-compliance.

This only serves to reinforce what The Sarkee Times has always known: that Labour use human rights legislation solely to push a socialist programme on the unwilling, yet to ignore it when it does not suit their own political agenda.

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