David Davis

Victim nation

The compensation culture costs Britain £10 billion a year. David Davis blames the human rights industry

The compensation culture costs Britain £10 billion a year. David Davis blames the human rights industry

One hardly knows where to start. The teacher who won £55,000 from the taxpayer because she slipped on a chip. The parents of the Girl Guide who won £3,500 after singeing her fingers cooking sausages. The prisoner who successfully sued the government when he fell off the roof while trying to escape. The 200 travellers who were granted retrospective planning permission to set up a permanent camp on the edge of a small village because they had a ‘right to family life’. The serial murderer who successfully demanded the delivery of hard-core pornography to his prison cell because of his ‘right to information’. My favourite is the case of Peter Foster, the Australian conman who exposed intimate details of the Prime Minister’s family affairs and then claimed that deportation from Britain would infringe his ‘right to respect for private and family life’.

I defer to no one in my defence of genuine human rights. Formerly a member of Amnesty International, my first action as shadow home secretary was to lead the successful attack on the government’s plans to end the right to a trial by jury. Now that really is a ‘human right’. The ‘rights’ to compensation, or to squat in someone else’s field, or to hard-core porn are special categories of something else: the ‘rights’ culture which is now so deeply rooted in our society that we have lost all common sense about the relations of individuals to each other and to the state.

It is at the local level that the compensation culture is most damaging. Volunteering is in sharp decline, with ‘risk, fear of blame and litigation’ the factor most often cited by people giving it up.

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