Updated, 19 May 2013 | Last night, lawyers, academics, NGOs and even the President of the Supreme Court gathered in a basement conference room in central London. Their purpose was to discuss the UK “without Convention Rights”, a possible future that some might view as post-apocalyptic, and others as utopia. Either way, given recent political developments, the event could not, in the words of the Chair, Lord Dyson, “be more timely or topical.”
The seminar was hosted by city law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and presented by theHuman Rights Lawyers Associationand the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law. Lord Dyson, who is the Master of the Rolls (the second most senior judge in England and Wales), introduced three speakers:
- David Anderson QC, the Government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation since 2011;
- Professor András Sajó, the Hungarian Judge at the European Court of Human Rights; and
- Professor Hugh Corder, Professor of Public Law at the University of Cape Town.
Lord Dyson began by warning that human rights in this country are under attack, “not least from some members of the government” who he said had recently made “intemperate remarks”. He described how calls for repeal of the Human Rights Act (HRA) or pulling out altogether from the European Convention system had been fuelled by a few high profile cases, not least that of Abu Qatada. This was all said by some to be the fault of “those terrible judges in Strasbourg who have no common sense and don’t understand our culture and values.”