The European Court of Human Rights today ruled that the system for whole life terms in the UK is compatible with prisoners’ Article 3 rights, after significant concessions by the Government.

 

The European Court of Human Rights today ruled that the system for whole life terms in the UK is compatible with prisoners’ Article 3 rights, after significant concessions by the Government. Joel Bennathan QC and Katy Thorne of Doughty Street Chambers appeared before the Court in October 2015, instructed by John Turner of Kyles Legal Practice. 

 

Read the Grand Chamber judgment Press Release, or visit the European Court of Human Rights website for more information.

 

Although we are obviously disappointed, we note that the ruling has been decided, at least in part, due to the Attorney General conceding in the course of the hearing before the Grand Chamber, that any prisoner could apply at any time, and that application would be considered by the Secretary of State on far wider criteria than are set out in any document, and would, in turn, be subject to judicial scrutiny. 

 

That concession has given hope to those who are serving whole life terms.  We will be considering the judgment carefully and consider any further steps for Mr Hutchinson.  In the meantime we welcome the concession made by the Government and call upon the Secretary of State for Justice to clarify as soon as possible the application procedure.

 

Despite the headline result today, the direction of travel towards allowing “whole life” prisoners at least having some hope of eventual freedom is unmistakable.

 

Email: Katy Thorne, Joel Bennathan QC, or John Turner

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