This article first appeared in the Daily Express on 30th October 2013. It has been reproduced here with permission from the author
This year it was the 60th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights. In 1998 Tony Blair tied us even more tightly to this pernicious convention via the Human Rights Act. The incorporation of the Human Rights Act into British law was his self-proclaimed “proudest” achievement.
This newspaper has devoted many column inches to the travesties – and some will say treasonable rulings – against the British people that have since arisen.
The British public have been outraged. Our politicians, with a few noble Conservative exceptions, have expressed fake horror while having no intention of actually doing anything about it.
So now we have an Immigration Bill going through Parliament which seeks to rebalance the scales of justice when it comes to weighing the rights of law-abiding Britons against those of foreign criminals. But that is a bit like trying to squeeze toothpaste back into the tube.
Will it deal with cases such as Idreez Popoola, a Nigerian, who brutally attacked and raped a woman in her home in Northampton last December, before demanding that she drive him to a train station to help him effect his escape? Highly unlikely.
Popoola, who was this week sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment, should have been booted out of Britain in 2006 after his temporary UK visa expired but was allowed to continue living and working in our country.
Then in December 2011 he was arrested and told to return to Nigeria. But he successfully appealed the ruling. At the same time he posted on his Facebook page, “Always treat other people the way u wanted to be treated”, while clearly doing just the opposite.
Judges granted the nightclub bouncer temporary leave to stay in January 2012 because he had a wife and child and therefore chucking him out would have contravened his “right to a family life”.
If he had been deported by Mr Blair’s government in 2006 a whole chain of terrible events could have been avoided. For a start he would not have had the children and could not have invoked his right to family life. The victim would not have been raped, the taxpayers would not have had a huge legal bill and our overcrowded prisons would have had one fewer inmate to accommodate.
The new Immigration Bill is the eighth dealing with asylum and immigration since 1997. On average that’s one new law every two years since Tony Blair first took office.
Migrants and refugees are undoubtedly the most legislated-upon section of society in the past 16 years. Yet there is no reason to suppose the new Bill will be any more successful at fixing the problems that beset the system nor any quicker in deporting the likes of the disgusting Popoola.
The Bill seeks to limit Article 8 (the right to a family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights and instructs the judiciary to “have regard for parliament’s view of public interest in immigration cases”.
It tries to specify that foreign nationals guilty of serious crimes should be deported, with exceptions only made for “extraordinary circumstances”, by forcing courts to properly reflect the balance of public interest.
Yet judges are unlikely to decide that one part of a bog standard Immigration Bill overrides a Human Rights Act that cements in British law fundamental and inalienable rights for everyone, no matter how badly they have behaved.
I seem to remember Home Secretary Theresa May has tried many times to persuade British judges to take a more balanced view of the public interest where offenders have cited human rights. And she has nearly always failed.
Let’s face it, there is a whole industry employed in keeping the likes of Popoola here. And very lucrative it is too for those it employs largely at the expense of taxpayers
Popoola is married with two children. I have not been able to ascertain whether his wife is a British citizen but of course she will have her own rights under the troublesome Article 8 and they may extend to him having leave to carry on living with her when he finishes his sentence for rape.
And once he leaves prison there is no doubt that the army of human rights clones will be rushing to the prison gates to start his legal bid to secure a British passport.
In the meantime the Government’s Immigration Bill is merely setting up a conflict with the European human rights regime that will not be won unless the Human Rights Act is repealed and replaced with a new British Bill of Rights that makes clear that when the rights of criminals clash with the interests of lawabiding citizens the latter must normally win out.
And Britain must withdraw from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights too so that our Supreme Court can live up to its name and enforce a new and properly balanced regime of rights and responsibilities.
We desperately need the British Bill of Rights that David Cameron promised us at the last election. To get it we will probably first have to leave the EU because it will not let us bail out of our undertakings to the increasingly absurd Strasbourg Court.
Until Britain gets a government willing to grasp these nettles the blood of ordinary decent people will be left to boil as the bad remain free to persecute the good.
Janice Atkinson is a candidate in the European Elections, standing in the South East. She is also a journalist. Janice tweets at @janiceukip