Conservative plans to strip European judges of their power to enforce human rights in the UK have been condemned by a Midland legal expert.
Dr Bharat Malkani, a lecturer at Birmingham Law School at the University of Birmingham, branded the plan as “misleading, vague and completely incoherent”.
Under the blueprint, a future Conservative government would effectively issue an ultimatum to Strasbourg that it must accept being merely an “advisory body” - or Britain would withdraw from the system altogether.
The party would scrap the Human Rights Act introduced by Labour in 1998 to enshrine the European Convention on Human Rights in domestic law.
Instead there would be a Bill of Rights, which would include the principles from the convention - originally drawn up by British lawyers after the Second World War.
But it would also make clear that the Supreme Court UK judges were not obliged to take European Court of Human Rights’ rulings into account when coming to decisions.
The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said if the ECHR and the Council of Europe refused to accept the new arrangements, Britain would simply leave the convention. It was no longer sustainable to write European judges a “legal blank cheque” in the wake of rulings such as that demanding prisoners be given the vote, he argued.
Mr Malkani said: “I have looked at the document, which is only about eight pages long and we haven’t really got the detail yet, though I know they are going to publish a draft bill soon.
“Some bits of it are just misleading, or vague or completely incoherent and that is the worrying bit. It seems to be riddled with misleading information.
“It is too vague to know what is going on and too incoherent to make sense of it, ie to say the European Court of Human Rights is no longer binding is an out and out lie.”
Mr Malkani said there were popular misconceptions that European Court of Human Rights decisions frequently went against Britain, but that this was simply not the case and that on average only one in 50 went against the UK, with the vast majority in its favour.
He also described the prospect of a British Bill of Rights as “vague”, particularly in the wake of the Scottish referendum and pledges to devolve more powers to Scotland and other regions.
He said: “How do we form a British Bill of Rights? Will it vary for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is not entirely clear how this is going to affect Scotland.
“They also need to clarify exactly how a British Bill of Human Rights would be any different to the Human Rights Act.
“They need to be fair to the British public and correct some of the misrepresentations.”
Mr Malkani said he failed to see how the Government could simply opt out from the European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights.
He said: “They are saying the European Court of Human Rights will be only advisory and no longer binding, I don’t see how parliament can do that.
“A court can’t decide against you or I and then we say we are only going to regard it as advisory.
“In the document it goes on about how the European Convention of Human Rights is a good thing in principle but on the other hand saying it would pull out of it. This document seems to be a bit of a mess..
“As a starting point it is lacking in detail, lacking in coherency and lacking in accuracy.”
“It seems to be based on a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings of how it works at the moment.”
Mr Grayling meanwhile has insisted the current Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, believed the plans were “fine, viable and legal”.
Mr Grayling also stressed he had consulted a range of QCs and other experts before producing the paper - denying it had been “rushed out” after the Prime Minister made a pledge at last week’s party conference.