James Forsyth

A Grieve error

A Grieve error
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The Conservative leadership claims that a British Bill of Rights would serve to guide judges in interpreting the European Convention on Human Rights and so give Britain some discretion in how the rights which exist in the Charter — many of which are vague — are applied in this country. But in the new issue of Standpoint the eminent legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg reports that Dominic Grieve, the shadow justice secretary and a firm supporter of the ECHR, thinks that a British Bill of Rights would only be introduced towards the end of a Cameron first term and might well not be on the statue book by the end of it. Grieve tells Rozenberg, "I would like to think we could do it in the course of a parliament". In other words, Britain will have to continue to accept judgments based on the ECHR until at least 2014.

As Rozenberg notes, there is no reason why Grieve could not be developing a bill now which is ready to go if the Tories win the next election. But it seems that the shadow Justice Secretary has decided to kick this issue into the long grass. That could be a decision that Cameron lives to regret if more cases relating to terrorism and national security end up going all the way to Strasbourg.