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Britain bidding to share prison expertise with Saudi Arabia

An MP accused the government of trying to share a "best practice of how to behead" with Saudi Arabia after the Justice Secretary defended the Government's attempt to sell expertise to the country's prison service.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan slammed the MoJ bid for the £5.9 million contract.

Sadiq Khan slammed the MoJ bid for the £5.9 million contract. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling defended the move, saying the Government has always tried to encourage "improvements" and "best practice" in countries around the world.

The pair clashed after reports that the MoJ's commercial arm, Just Solutions international, is hoping to sell its expertise to Saudi Arabia's prison service.

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Justice Secretary rejects human rights criticisms

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Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has rejected criticism of his party's proposals to withdraw the UK from EU human rights law, stressing that he had consulted a range of QCs and other experts before producing the paper.

He also insisted the current Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, believed the plans were "fine, viable and legal" and pointed out that he had a longstanding disagreement on the issue with Mr Grieve - who was sacked in David Cameron's last reshuffle.

Vince Cable: Human rights plans a 'retrograde' step

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Proposed Conservative Party plans to pull the UK out of the European Court of Human Rights are a "very retrograde step" Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable has said.

Speaking on a visit to Edinburgh, he continued:

We do value human rights in our society - it's what our democracy is all about - and we also value a system of law in which judges rather than politicians make the final decisions, and it's very important that we retain that core and that framework.

We would see a gradual decline in the credibility of our legal system because, essentially, in order to score cheap populist points, the legal system is being undermined and judges are being undermined.

– Vince Cable MP

Tory human rights plans contain 'number of howlers'

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The former Attorney General has rubbished plans by the Conservative Party to strip the European court of their power to enforce human rights in the UK.

Dominic Grieve QC slammed proposals by the current attorney Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, saying that they contained a series of "howlers" and were not properly thought through and that there was already plans in motion to reform the European Court of Human Rights in Strausbourg.

"All courts are ultimately human constructs and they will sometimes get things right and sometimes get things wrong," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"In many cases there is a misunderstanding of what the court does.

Even the paper which has just been produced by my colleague Chris Grayling includes in it a number of howlers which are simply factually inaccurate.

One howler is...where it says that the court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has prevented the imposition of whole life tariffs on whole life tariff prisoners in this country.

It hasn't. Its judgment never said that."

Mr Grieve added: "It seems to me it is factually inaccurate in what it says, and that is unfortunate.

Because if one is going to approach a complex subject I think it is very important that we should all collectively adopt a moderate and measured approach towards explaining what the issues are and what can and cannot be done."

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Tories 'would make it harder for victims to enforce human rights'

Sean Humber, head of the human rights team at law firm Leigh Day, said it was "intellectually dishonest" to imply that scrapping the Human Rights Act would reduce the UK's human rights obligations as it would still be signed up to, and obliged to comply with, the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, and entirely cynically, by abolishing the Act and replacing it with some watered-down inferior imitation, the Conservatives would make it much harder for victims to enforce their human rights as they would then need to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

What is so wrong with wanting to live in a country where you have internationally recognised basic and fundamental rights by virtue of your existence as a human being that can be upheld by an independent judiciary and which an over-zealous state cannot take away?

Is this not a concept that Conservatives hold dear?

– Sean Humber, human rights lawyer

British Bill of Rights 'would diminish our freedoms'

Shami Chakrabarti, director of campaign group Liberty, said:

So finally the cards are on the table - and what a hand has been played.

As legally illiterate as politically provocative, this plan would gamble with our fragile Union and put us in breach of international law.

This so-called British Bill of Rights would diminish everyone's freedoms and make Government even less accountable in the future.

– Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty

Charity accuses Tories of 'setting themselves above the law'

Tim Hancock, campaigns director of Amnesty UK, said:

These proposals are nasty, spiteful and shameful. This is electioneering on the backs of Europe's most vulnerable.

Under these plans human rights would be reserved for only those people the Government decides should get them. This is a blueprint for human rights you would expect from a country like Belarus.

We should all be worried when politicians try to set themselves above the law.

It's a complete disgrace to see the government blackmail the Council of Europe.

– Tim Hancock, Amnesty
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