15 February 2012

Sun's Seen the Light!

Five years ago, The Sun stood shoulder to shoulder with David Cameron as he hacked away at what The Sun almost always dubs the 'hated Human Rights Act'.

The Sun has welcomed David Cameron's commitment to "tear up [the] crazy human rights laws".  Mr Cameron's intervention came after public fury at the news that nine Afghan airline hijackers would not be deported.  The news produced the classic Sun front page that tops this post.  Today's Sun declared:
"The whole concept of “human rights” in Britain has become a travesty under which the interests of killers, rapists and paedophiles are placed above those of their victims.  Law abiding citizens must walk in fear while “human rights” give their assailants the freedom of the streets.  Convicted thugs and murderers are set free too soon after derisory sentences.  Yet what is prison for, but to keep those who wish us harm locked away?  It is absurd for judges to shelter Afghan terrorists who hijack an aircraft at gunpoint.  It is scandalous that a dangerous rapist is freed from prison to kill because his human rights had been infringed."

In February 2011, the Human Rights Blog wrote of The Sun's continued, unwavering anti - Human Rights Act stance: 
Much has been made in the prisoner voting debate of the fact that out laws should not be made by, as The Sun puts it, “unelected dictators”. Similarly, the Daily Mail saysthe time has come for Britain to tell unelected Strasbourg judges that they have overstepped their authority“, and the Daily Express poses a dilemma between “democratically elected Commons or an unelected and alien tribunal in Strasbourg“.
Just to set the record straight, unlike our own judges, judges  the European Court of Human Rights are elected.
According to Article 22 of the European Convention on Human Rights:
The judges shall be elected by the Parliamentary Assembly with respect to each High Contracting Party by a majority of votes cast from a list of three candidates nominated by the High Contracting
So the United Kingdom nominates its own candidate and has 18 seats on the Parliamentary Assembly which decides who is chosen. All  members of the assembly are MPs from domestic parliaments. So our own MPs vote on which judges to appoint. This is more power than they have to elect domestic judges.
And, again in stark contrast to our own jobs-for-life (well, until retirement) judges, after serving for a period of 9 years European judges cannot be reelected. Our own judge, Sir Nicholas Bratza, is due to be replaced in June 2012. The full procedure for electing judges, which is under review at the moment, can be found here.
It is a shame that none of the newspapers mentioned above spotted this inconvenient truth, and that the public have once again been misled about an important legal issue in order to fit with an editorial position.
On the 26th January this year, an article by Graeme Wilson appeared in the Sun entitled Court of Human Frights, full of vitriol and contemptuous railing at 'Europe's daft judges', describing David Cameron's speech on the European Court of Human Rights:

DAVID Cameron yesterday blasted European judges in Strasbourg for crazy rulings that could leave Britain open to terrorist outrages.

He launched a blistering attack on frightening decisions from the European Court of Human Rights — such as its BAN on Britain deporting hate preacher Abu Qatada.
The PM said it left the Government unable to "fulfil our duty to our law-abiding citizens to protect them".
In a keynote speech to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Mr Cameron bluntly accused the court of sabotaging the UK's war on terror.
He also unleashed a broadside at rulings on illegal migrants — saying the court acted like an "immigration tribunal" — and prisoners' rights.
Graeme Wilson then goes on to invoke the name of Winston Churchill to further highlight the depths to which the modern ECHR has sunk:
After the horrors of the Second World War, Churchill believed the court — and Europe's convention on human rights — were vital defences against fascism.
For decades, the Strasbourg court lived up to his vision by successfully defending fundamental freedoms. When the Berlin Wall fell, it was a bulwark for human rights in former communist countries.
But in recent years the institution has been accused of losing focus of those original, noble goals. Instead it has become a haven for terrorists, criminals and chancers and is being swamped by a tidal wave of cases.
But the final straw for The Sun, what effectively wedges the whole thing firmly up its disdainful nose, is:
Labour incorporated the European Convention into English law in 1998, with the introduction of the Human Rights Act. This has spawned a booming UK human rights industry, which is largely reliant on barmy cases
(A comprehensive list of articles from The Sun on what it considers the utter inadequacy of ECHR and the Human Rights Act can be found HERE

That's that, then. The whole Human Rights Act thing's a travesty, not fit for purpose. Useless....... until today, that is.

Today, The Sun, suddenly deprived of five of its journalists and anxious about the fact that informants' details had been revealed to the police ( read Trevor Kavanagh's account of what happened HERE ), has decided that perhaps the Human Rights Act may not be so hateworthy after all!

Under the headline:

Sun staff line up human rights challenge to News Corp inquiry team

The Guardian's Josh Halliday writes:
    Sun staff are considering a legal challenge to News Corp's internal inquiry under the Human Rights Act. Photograph: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters
    Senior journalists at the Sun are preparing to launch a legal challenge to the News Corporation Journalists at the News International red-top have approached the National Union of Journalists with a view to hiring the leading human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson QC, to question the legality of parent company News Corp's management and standards committee. The NUJ has been contacted by more than a dozen journalists from the Sun with concerns about the protection of sources, it is understood.
Read the complete article HERE 
Sun journalists have taken advice from Geoffrey Robertson, who writes in the Times Sun Journalists Must Fight For Their Rights.

Should we expect to see a more conciliatory attitude towards the Human Rights Act issue in the future from The Sun?

After all, if this article very recently posted in the Telegraph is anything to go by, The Sun may have need of a great deal of support for some time to come.....

Very funny poem, commenting on The Sun's attempts to find support from the Court of Human Rights, from Channel 4's 10 0'Clock Live and Charlie Brooker: