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The Times/Matrix debate on the Human Rights Act

20 April 2010

An overwhelming majority of the (legal) audience supported Cherie Booth QC's fierce defence of the Human Rights Act

On Tuesday night Cherie launched a defense of the Human Rights Act at the Times/Matrix debate. The motion: “The Human Rights Act should be scrapped and replaced by a British Bill of Rights” provoked an interesting discussion and a fierce defense from Cherie.
The team proposing the motion was led by David Davis, a parliamentary candidate and civil liberties campaigner, as well as the former shadow Home Secretary whilst Cherie, a founder member of Matrix, led the opposers.
Cherie, who had the uphill task of trying to persuade an audience of lawyers, pointed out that the few pieces of legislation had had such a bad press as the Human Rights Act and the Daily Telegraph, she said, had described it as the world’s worst law and it had been painted as a charter for rapists and murderers. It was depicted as a plot by Tony Blair to undermine the Magna Carta and for sneaky foreigners to extent control over little England by the back door.
But it was not down to Tony Blair but Nick Clegg - sorry I mean Winston Churchill: and the rights drawn up in the European Convention were not alien rights foisted on us but were drafted by British lawyers. As for trial by jury, more than 90 per cent of cases were tried by magistrates and not by jury at all, she said. What the Human Rights Act did was what the Government said it would - bring human rights home. That meant rights could be decided in courts here, rather than in Strasbourg and British judges could decide.

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