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Raab's Bill of Rights could make government ‘untouchable’

THE Bill of rights would introduce significant new areas of uncertainty into Britain’s courts, legal experts warned MPs today.

The government has declared that Britain will remain a party to the European Court of Human Rights, but will seek to reduce its influence on domestic courts through a new Bill of Rights. 

The new legislation would replace the Human Rights Act (HRA) and seeks to repeal an entire section that requires anyone interpreting the laws to do so in a way that is compatible with the Strasbourg court. 

Cambridge University professor of public law Mark Elliott said that while it appeared on the surface that the Bill of Rights still gives effect in domestic law to the same set of rights as the HRA, it actually gives effect to those rights in a lesser way. 

This risks creating a “gap in domestic and international law,” which the review of the HRA warned against, he said. 

“What I do have some difficulty with is the general tenure of this Bill which seems to assume incorrectly that it’s somehow open as a matter of domestic law to somehow manipulate obligations which are binding under a treaty,” he continued.

Legal experts also raised concerns to MPs sitting on the justice committee yesterday about a number of “significant” uncertainties in the Bill. 

Mr Elliott said one clause would “require domestic courts to engage in a bizarre guessing game of how the Strasbourg court might decide matters it hasn’t yet decided.”

The Bill of Rights has been condemned by human rights groups as an attempt by the government to make it “untouchable,” while lawyers have said it creates an “acceptable class of human rights violations.” 

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