Time to Repeal the Human Rights Act

John Cooper QC

John Cooper is a QC, a broadcaster and human rights lawyer, and a part-time politician.  He stood for Labour in Amber Valley, in my East Midlands Region, in 1992.  He has been the Chairman of the League Against Cruel Sports, and once defended Dr. Crippen in a posthumous mock-trial.

Last night on the Stephen Nolan Show on BBC Radio Five Live, he was defending the right of a foreign child-rapist to remain in the UK, under the terms of the infamous European Convention on Human Rights, lest he suffer mistreatment if returned to Darfur.  I was debating the issue with him.  Catch the programme here, 1 hour twenty in.

Sani Adil Ali, aged 28, arrived in the UK from Darfur, Sudan, in 2003, and was granted asylum status in 2005.  He was then accused of raping a twelve-year-old Hungarian girl, an offence which he admitted.  He was held in jail until 2008.  Since then he has been appealing against deportation (while presumably living at the public expense).  Just recently, the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber has ruled that he has a right to remain in the UK, under the terms of the ECHR.  The UK Border Agency has expressed itself as “extremely disappointed”.  I bet they are.  I think they are probably hopping mad, as surely all decent people will be.

To be fair to John Cooper, he insisted that he held no brief for Mr. Ali, and made no attempt to defend his crime.  But he also insisted that the Human Rights Act was there to defend all decent people, and if that meant that some wrong ’uns were protected too, well that was just the price we paid for the protection of the Act.

I have crossed swords before with Mr. Cooper.  He loves to employ lawyerly tricks — like asking one to back up one’s criticism of the Human Rights Act with a long list of chapter-and-verse examples.  Of course as a politician and not a law student, I don’t tend to make such lists, nor do I have them at my finger-tips.  But I do know that example after example comes up of the ECHR producing palpably perverse outcomes, and I am quite happy to limit the discussion on each occasion to the example that Five Live has chosen to raise.

One point that Mr. Cooper repeatedly makes is that “The law can’t make moral judgements”.  So it can’t decide to deport someone simply because he’s committed a crime.  But that is surely a daft proposition.  Courts pass sentences, and when doing so they can and must assess the severity of the offence.  And human rights are not absolute.  For a sufficiently serious crime, we are prepared to set aside the accused’s right to personal liberty.  We put him in jail.  In other cases we set aside his right to property — by fining him, or in some cases by confiscating the proceeds of crime.  In principle I see no reason why we should not also set aside his right to asylum on the same basis, and send him home.

Surely the actual harm he inflicted on a child, and the risk that he will re-offend, outweigh any risk that he may be mistreated in his home country?  And surely British law owes a duty of care first of all to British citizens (and law-abiding foreigners) ahead of any duty we may owe to foreign rapists?

Of course Mr. Cooper may be right that under the law as it stands, the Tribunal made a correct decision — though we may still ask if they adequately assessed the alleged risk.  After all, all asylum seekers want to stay, and will exaggerate the alleged problems they may face if returned.

But if Mr. Cooper is right on the point of law, then the Law is an Ass, and should be repealed.  I believe that the Human Rights Act has produced so many perverse outcomes, and caused such great anger and indignation amongst decent and right-thinking people, and subjected British people to such risks from rapists and terrorists, that it must be repealed.

Here Cooper’s defence is pathetic.  “Would you give up rights to free speech, and so on and so on?”.  Does he imagine that we had no rights to free speech before the wretched Human Rights Act was passed?  Does he have no respect for British justice and our tradition of Common Law?  Does he not know (and Stephen Nolan put this point to him very forcefully) that if the repeal of the Act led to any significant gaps, we could legislate for them here in Britain, without reference to foreign Conventions or foreign courts?

Cooper’s last point was that the ECHR had been drafted by British jurists after the Second World War, in order to prevent any repeat of Hitler’s atrocities.  Indeed it was, John.  And if those very jurists could see how their text has been abused and over-interpreted by politically-correct, activist judges, they would be turning in their graves.

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10 Responses to Time to Repeal the Human Rights Act

  1. People often go on about the “democratic deficit”. And rightly so.
    But what about the “Legal deficit”? Our noble Common Law, honed over the centuries, is fair, just, organic and it works really well. It evolves, too, together with parliament to fit the nature of the time. The Continental legal traditions are totally different: man-made by experts. (Constantine, Theodosius, the Pope, Napoleon).
    It is noteworthy how that European Mr Clegg (married to a Continental lawyer, of course) is determined to dictate the nature of the organic House of Lords from on high. I do not think he can understand what being English actually means.

  2. Phil Richmond says:

    I noticed that even Nolan admitted there was amassive response to the debate and the traffic was all one way. It amazes me that we are are still part of this awful ECHR. It seems only the Westminster left-wing politicians & the BBC support this act.
    Lawyers like Cooper are the scum of the earth. If you allow 100 foreign rapists to continue to walk our streets than its near certain that an innocent woman/child will be attacked. If we had deported all 100 then that crime will not be committed. The “human rights” of innocent British citizens must always trump that of a dangerous foreign criminal.

  3. maureen gannon says:

    What sickens me is not the supposed human rights laws, but the lack of anyone with the power to do anything about it , we all know it is wrong but the traitors that rule us i.e the coalition are far more interested in clinging on to power regardless of the people’s wishes, Cameron trots out the usual rhetoric in it’s defence so as to appease the high priest of Europe clegg, so as to stay in what he sees as a seat of power,when all the while the throne he sits on is made of sand, but the wave of dislike now for the tories will wash that throne away and we will be back to square one with Millepede /bLiar and co who will be no different , we need an Oliver Cromwell to boot them all out wipe the slate clean take our country back from the people who are slowly destroying it.we now have enclaves in this country that are alien to us , so much for diversity and multi whatever , Oh sorry I just as I said get sick of hearing the words from both sides and nothing happens.

    • John Redwood, Dan Hannan, our host, and several others (I won’t be boring!) are all there to get the thing changed. But it is our fault. We elected the current government.

      • Sean O'Hare says:

        I now give credence to what Roger Helmer says, because he had the courage to defect from the faux conservatives. Until Redwood, Carswell and Hannan do likewise I will afford them no such credence.

  4. Gail says:

    I don’t know if Mr Cooper has any family or not, but I would like to ask him how he would feel if that had been his daughter? I somehow don’t think he would have held the same opinion as he has taken over this matter.As for the ECHR protecting law abiding citizens, don’t make me laugh. It is obvious that it only protects the criminals or else there wouldn’t be all this uproar about sending them back to where they came from. What about the young girl concerned and her rights? What about her right not to feel threatened / frightened by his continuing presence in this country? What about all law abiding people and their right to walk the streets without fear? ECHR? You can damn well keep it.

  5. Samuel says:

    Put simply this smarmy left wing nancy’s time has passed, we want right-wing now and we’re going to get it. We will leave the EU, we will unshackle ourselves from the BoHR and deal with immigration (deportations to the n-th degree), shut down the socialist BBC etc… and nobody will care, nobody will shed a tear, even when the hunting act is repealed.

    The right’s coming, I feel sorry for these misguided fools!

  6. EU Hypocrisy says:


    This is an absolutely brilliant article by Enoch Powell!

    Enoch Powell, MP : What are human rights?


    “The arbitrary implications of undefinable rights are particularly evident where the right claimed is
    by its nature not capable of being satisfied by any degree of compulsion exercised within the relevant society. However vague may be the concept of ‘medical care adequate for health’, the right clearly cannot be realized if there are no doctors. However subjective the ‘standard of living adequate forhealth and wellbeing’, it obviously cannot be achieved if population is outstripping subsistence.Unless therefore the right asserted is tautologous and meaningless – unless ‘adequate’ means simply whatever is available in the given circumstances –
    its assertion is a threat not merely of arbitrary compulsion but of unlimited and inherently futile
    compulsion: it is a programme of nihilistic aggression.

    This is precisely the purpose with which it was framed by its authors in the United Nations. The
    society implicit in any statement of a right is not in the context of the United Nations, a national
    society. The society intended is international – the so-called community of nations, or world society.The compulsion to be exercised in the attempt to satisfy the claim of right is not purely or mainly internal to particular societies: it is compulsion to be exercised by some societies against other societies, coercion to be brought to bear upon an intemational scale. The statement ‘everyone has a right to medical care adequate to his health and
    well-being’ is, in the Universal Declaration, tantamount to the highwayman’s ‘stand and
    deliver’: if this right is not realizable within a society, it must be realized by compulsory redistribution and reorganization as between societies,and if it is still impracticable even by compulsion on an international scale, so much the worse for the international community! The implicit nihilism and aggression are global.”

    • Tom Gowans says:

      I remember a slim volume by Enoch Powell entitled ‘Tax at 2/6 in the Pound’.

      12.5%. Imagine what that would do for a principally manufacturing and services orientated economy…

      Thank you, Mr Hypocrisy, for sharing another prescient observation by a sadly maligned politician. Of course, some would argue that, as Baroness Thatcher, he was barking mad by the end but how much of that, I wonder, was due to the impotence he felt in the face of blind stupidity. An electorate I am convinced he really cared for leading themselves to the slaughter.

      I have only recently discovered Mr Helmer´s site, through the blogosphere, and have been reading it with interest, especially the comments. Any platform allowing the free exchange of considered opinion is to be applauded and I notice that Mr Helmer has not exercised his right to hit the delete button for unfavourable comments. The very lengthy tome on alleged homophobia on the ‘About Roger’ page springs immediately to mind. Perhaps its author consoled himself with the knowledge he would provoke a reaction as hysterical and bigoted as Mr Powell’s deliberately misquoted and misconstrued ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. Since he posted his comment three years ago one can only assume that an increasingly rare common sense prevailed and it is I, years later, who have indiscreetly drawn attention to a tirade polite society ignored. I am not, therefore, holding my breath for an invitation to supper from Mr Helmer.

      Back on topic, though, I wonder what would happen to me, an English expatriate living in Angola if I raped a local girl, especially a minor. A couple of years ago the Economist Intelligence Unit predicted that Angola´s economy would grow faster than anywhere else in the world. Their over 25% estimate has since been revised down to the low teens but it is still vastly in more positive territory than the UK economy. Yet, unless you were a refugee swimming the Congo, it is bloody hard to get into to. Angola is quickly learning to stand on its own feet, they even had the balls to tell the World Bank where to shove their economic restructuring programmes.

      The Angolan Government is keen to encourage economic development. Last week they decided that my humble project was in line with their economic strategy and have qualified it for a subsidy. Essentially, financial support. A debt I will not have to service for one year and thereafter only the interest. At 2%. I have it in writing.

      Naturally the Ministry of Finance will be all over me like a wet blanket to ensure I pay taxes on any profit I may enjoy but, without the necessity for any skilful accountants to do questionable backflips on my behalf, these will amount to no more than 20%.

      Wouldn’t it be ironic to learn that tucked away somwhere on a bookshelf in some finance minister’s office in an African country was Mr Powell’s well digested little book?

      But if I commited some crime here, you want to see how fast they would cut me off from the family jewels, leave me to rot for a few years in Bentiaba jail before, always assuming I had survived, shipping my sorry arse back to UK and there would be little the Foreign Office could do to help me secure my human rights.

  7. George Morley says:

    As a pensioner I would like to know how the ECHR found in favour of the government in respect of the freezing of the pensions of just a minority of 4% of all pensioners worldwide and they are mostly in the Commnwealth countries. (Nice backhanders ?)Even the UK Equalities Act seems to protect the government and although they say that the government do abide by the Act the government are still discriminating against these pensioners. It’s allowed, because they made the law presumably, and stealing their pension uprating is ok . All pensioners have paid into the system throughout their working life, 47 yrs I paid, yet in retirement the government control where I am allowed to live if I want my full uprated pension. And this is justified ?

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