Boris Johnson plans Bill giving British courts ultimate say on human rights

The new Bill of Rights will give the British Supreme Court the ultimate say over human rights issues. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Justice Secretary Dominic Raab will introduce a bill to Parliament on Wednesday (June 22) allowing UK courts to ignore rulings from the European Court of Human Rights such as the one last week that prevented Britain from deporting immigrants to Rwanda.

The new Bill of Rights will give the British Supreme Court the ultimate say over human rights issues, making it clear that ECHR case law does not always need to be followed by the British judiciary, according to a statement late on Tuesday from the Ministry of Justice.

The legislation - which was promised last month in the Queen's Speech setting out Prime Minister Boris Johnson's legislative agenda for the current parliamentary session - will go some way to pacifying Tory Members of Parliament who attacked the ECHR following last week's ruling, which stopped a planned deportation flight from taking off when the plane was already on the tarmac.

According to the government, the Bill will also:

Give greater weight in law to freedom of speech and the views of elected lawmakers

Include provisions to prevent "trivial" legal claims that waste taxpayers' money

Allow for future laws that "make it harder for foreign criminals to frustrate deportation process" by citing their right to a family life

Introduce a principle that responsibilities to society are as important as personal rights

The bill will "strengthen our UK tradition of freedom whilst injecting a healthy dose of common sense into the system," Mr Raab said in the statement. "These reforms will reinforce freedom of speech, enable us to deport more foreign offenders and better protect the public from dangerous criminals."

But the main opposition Labour Party said in a statement that the Bill would take away rights enshrined in the Human Rights Act, legislation passed in 1998 by former Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour government.

Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed accused ministers of seeking to pick fights and sow division by bringing forward the legislation.

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