Kirsty Brimelow QC responds in The Times letters to Lord Sumption's Reith lectures for the BBC
Kirsty Brimelow QC had a letter to the editor of The Times newspaper published on 7th June. In it Kirsty challenges the views espoused by Lord Sumption in his Reith Lectures being broadcast by the BBC. The text of Kirsty's letter reads:
States cannot be trusted with how they treat their citizens. Lord Sumption (“ ‘If European court blocks parliament, we should quit’ ”, News, Jun 5) refers to 1933 Germany, where parliament transferred its powers to a dictator, but he omits to properly link the subsequent atrocities committed by Nazi Germany with the purpose of the ECHR. The latter gives citizens an individual stake in their governance. The Human Rights Act 1998 enables that stake to be examined by domestic courts.
Courts have the power to review the actions of the state for compatibility with Convention rights, but this review is decoupled from judicial supremacy by leaving the final word with the legislature. The result is strengthening of national institutions and legislature through accountability. The courts do not have extra powers and parliament remains sovereign. The Abu Qatada-type cases will reoccur irrespective of withdrawal from the European Convention as the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of a Child apply.
Strasbourg did not prohibit the UK from removing the vote from prisoners. It prohibited blanket bans while allowing a wide margin of appreciation for the UK parliament, in accordance with its own traditions.
Kirsty Brimelow, QC