"Britain should be defending European justice, not attacking it", The Independent, Tuesday 24 January 2012 Edit
The United Kingdom's contribution to the European Convention on Human Rights has been immense. British parliamentarians and lawyers played a key role in its conception and its drafting.
The court has overseen the slow but steady consolidation of the rule of law and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. Much remains to be done, but the court can be proud of what it has achieved over the past 10 years.
The Strasbourg court has been particularly respectful of decisions emanating from courts in the UK since the coming into effect of the Human Rights Act, and this because of the very high quality of those judgments.
It is disappointing to hear senior British politicians lending their voices to criticisms more frequently heard in the popular press, often based on a misunderstanding of the court's role and history, and of the legal issues at stake. It is particularly unfortunate that a single judgment of the court on a case relating to UK prisoners' voting rights, which was delivered in 2005 and has still not been implemented, has been used as the springboard for a sustained attack on the court and has led to repeated calls for the granting of powers of Parliament to override judgments of the court against the UK, and even for the withdrawal of the UK from the convention.
The UK can be proud of its real contribution to this unique system and its influence in bringing about effective human rights protection throughout the European continent. It would be deeply regrettable if it were to allow its commitment to that system to be called into question by a failure to defend it against its detractors or to offer its strong support for the vital work of the court.