Senior labor and legal figures have voiced concerns that Dominic Raab has been appointed justice secretary in order to enact far-reaching changes to human rights law.
Labor has unearthed images of the former foreign minister saying he does not support the law, which he will now have to enforce or revise. In messages sent to ministers earlier this year, Raab urged the government to be more ambitious as it seeks to reform the human rights law and judicial reviews.
The government has launched the independent review of the Human Rights Act, due to report later this year, which reviews the obligation of UK courts to ‘take into account’ judgments of the European Court of Rights rights, and their ability to declare UK laws “incompatible” with human rights.
Images of Raab uncovered by the office of shadow justice secretary David Lammy from 2009 show Raab, then a backbench MP, looking at the camera and saying, “I don’t support the rights law. human rights and I do not believe in economic and social rights.
In a book called The Assault on Liberty: What Went Wrong with Rights, written by Raab in the same year, he argued that the human rights law – introduced by the Labor Party in 1998 – had led to a multitude of new complaints to the courts.
“The spread of rights has become contagious and, since the Human Rights Act, has opened the door to vast new categories of claims, which can be judicially enforced against the government through the courts,” a- he writes.
The law had allowed British law to be overshadowed by European courts, Raab said, while the boundaries between parliament, the judiciary and the executive were blurred.
“The very enactment of the human rights law served as a trigger for the formulation of claims by lawyers and judicial reasoning by the courts, using human rights arguments that would never have been dared before, ”he said.
Raab was removed from his post as foreign minister on Wednesday and accepted the roles of justice secretary, deputy prime minister and lord chancellor, and is now also responsible for the independence of the judiciary. Former justice secretary Robert Buckland has returned to the backbench.
Informed sources said Raab commented earlier this year on the government’s proposals for possible human rights law changes and judicial review. After receiving a “redacted” – a note sent to cabinet ministers about the proposed policy -om Buckland’s office, Raab suggested that ministers could be “more ambitious,” a source said.
Legal blogger David Allen Green said Raab was not a popular choice for the post among lawyers due to his fixation on the law. “One would not be surprised if a condition made by Raab in accepting the post of Lord Chancellor is that he gets another chance to repeal the human rights law,” he said.
There have been concerns about the high turnover in the role of Lord Chancellor during a turbulent time for the justice system, with huge spending cuts. Derek Sweeting QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, said: “As we welcome the eighth Justice Secretary over the past 10 years to play this vital role, the need for a cohesive and strong voice within government to our justice system couldn’t be bigger. . ”
Sir Bob Neill, Conservative chairman of the Justice Select Committee, said he would work with Raab, but lamented the way Buckland was sacked by Boris Johnson to ‘make room’.
“The post of Lord Chancellor is crucial. It is not some kind of candy to be distributed by the Prime Minister ”, he declared.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said: “The new secretary of state will carefully consider the findings of the independent review when the panel reports later this year. “