The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has defended theHuman Rights Act, describing its portrayal as a "criminal's charter" as a lie and criticising claims that it was "un-British".
In a speech likely to be seen as a rebuttal of Tory proposals to scrap the act in favour of a US-style bill of rights, Starmer said: "It would be to this country's shame if we lost the clear and basic statements of our citizens'human rights provided by the Human Rights Act on the basis of a fundamentally flawed analysis of their origin and relevance to our society."
Speaking at the Crown Prosecution Service annual lecture last night, Starmer said the UK was among the leading architects of the 1951 convention on which the act was based and dismissed the suggestion it could be repackaged to be made "more British" as critics suggest.
"I am proud to be part of a society that regards these rights as part of my entitlement as a member of that society," he said. "They are basic; they are fundamental; and I venture to suggest that, for the majority of us, they are so much a part of our way of life that we take them for granted."
David Cameron has blamed the act for putting the rights of criminals before those of law-abiding citizens and has weaved a bill of rights into the Tory narrative of "rights with responsibilities".
He has cited the example of Learco Chindamo, who murdered headteacher Philip Lawrence in 1995, but could not be deported because of human rights considerations.
Travis, Alan. (22nd of October, 2009). Keir Starmer defends Human Rights Act against critics. The Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/oct/21/keir-starmer-human-rights-act