Ex Conservative leader blasts ECHR ‘farce’ as Rwanda flight grounded

Former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, has blasted the “legal farce” of the ECHR following an eleventh hour intervention by human rights judges to ground the UK government’s initial deportation flight to Rwanda.

Referring to the situation as “ridiculous”, the former work and pensions secretary told LBC Radio: “This has turned into a legal farce really because all our courts have agreed that the government may go ahead with this, including the Supreme Court, to be overruled by a court that had no representations made to it and just intervened on the back of stuff it had read, as it were. 

“So it is a ridiculous point. The government must deal with the convention. If we have our own Bill of Rights then we shouldn’t have to refer constantly back to the court in Strasbourg because we should rely on our courts to be able to uphold human rights and the rule of law which they were doing the other day. So the government should proceed, continue to go on with this…”

Sir Iain went on to suggest that the European Convention on Human Rights needed to be “dealt with”.


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Quizzed over whether this could mean a total UK exit from the convention, Sir Iain stressed: “The key thing is to whether or not the ECHR at the end of it all should have the final right in Strasbourg to overrule a supreme court here in the UK. After all, the Supreme Court of the United States decides all these types of cases and makes the decisions. The Supreme Court, the Appeal Court, and the High Court all ruled that the government could proceed. 

2016 was the year before the Brexit referendum. then home secretary Theresa May called for a withdrawal from the ECHR, arguing: “The ECHR can bind the hands of parliament, adds nothing to our prosperity, makes us less secure by preventing the deportation of dangerous foreign nationals — and does nothing to change the attitudes of governments like Russia’s when it comes to human rights.”

In a similar vein, Sir Iain told LBC today: “If eventually the ECHR rules that this is lawful then we will have got ourselves into a mess for no reason. The truth is that this was always voluntary. Many countries sign up for some, but not all, requirements in the ECHR.

“So the government needs to look at this very carefully and decide what we are goinbg to do about it.” 

More to come