David Blackburn

Government to appeal on prisoner votes

Government to appeal on prisoner votes
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PoliticsHome reports that the government is to ask the ECHR to reconsider its verdict in the prisoner voting rights case. The website says:

‘In a response to a parliamentary question from Labour MP Gordon Marsden, Cabinet Office Under-Secretary Mark Harper said: "We believe that the court should look again at the principles in "Hirst" which outlaws a blanket ban on prisoners voting, particularly given the recent debate in the House of Commons."’

This is unsurprising. Last month, the government asked its lawyers to advise on the ramifications of noncompliance. The lawyers were unequivocal: the repercussions of such defiance was diplomatically impossible and extremely expensive. As non-compliance is foolhardy and acquiescence is unpalatable, the government had to ask the Court to reconsider. By doing so, it has bought itself time and a measure of political capital. But it can’t run forever. The Court is extremely unlikely to overturn its judgment, especially as it has since entrenched its position in favour of the claimant in the case of Frodl versus Austria. Eventually, the British government is going to be mugged by the plain facts of domestic and international law, of which its lawyers recently warned:

‘The Strasbourg judgements on Hirst and Greens and MT are binding on the UK and no action that could be taken now – even withdrawal from the ECHR – will remove the legal obligation to implement them.’