A rapist who murdered a couple and their son has become the first person in Britain to appeal over a 'life means life' sentence.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke insists that Britain has steered through real reforms to the European Court of Human Rights.
The row over Abu Qatada is set to be reignited as Britain tries to secure a deal that could see European human rights judges intervene less.
- Sixty-year-old British Airways employee Nadia Eweida, from London, says she was prevented from wearing a visible cross necklace
- Hospital nurse Shirley Chaplin, 57, from Exeter, who also feels she was prevented from wearing a cross visibly around her neck
- Gary McFarlane, 51, a Bristol marriage counsellor, who claims he was sacked for saying that he might not be comfortable in giving sex therapy to homosexual couples
- Registrar Lillian Ladele, from London, who said she was disciplined by London's Islington Council for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples
The European Court of Human Rights will give judgment today on cases involving four Christians who say they were discriminated against in the workplace.
Sixty-year-old British Airways employee Nadia Eweida, from London, says she was prevented from wearing a visible cross necklace.
It is hoped that success today will lead to an overhaul of the Equality Act and other diversity legislation.
Judgment will take place at 0900 UK time.
In January, Europe's human rights judges ruled that Britain's most dangerous and notorious criminals could be kept behind bars for the rest of their lives.
The judges ruled that condemning people to die in jail was not "grossly disproportionate".
They said that each case London's High Court had "decided that an all-life tariff was required following a fair and detailed consideration".
That ruling will now be tested by the court's Grand Chamber after the appeal of Douglas Vinter, who stabbed his wife to death in 2008, was granted.
Vinter's appeal means the cases of Jeremy Bamber, who killed five family members in August 1985, and Peter Moore, who killed four gay men in 1995, will also be considered.
Jeremy Bamber and two other murderers will have their appeal that keeping them behind bars for the rest of their lives is a breach of their human rights heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.
Bamber received a life sentence for shooting dead five members of his family in Essex in 1986.
He has always protested his innocence and claims his schizophrenic sister Sheila Caffell shot her parents and her six-year-old twin sons before turning the gun on herself.
Bamber has previously attempted to get his conviction overturned but it has been upheld several times.
Killer Jeremy Bamber and two other murderers will have their appeal that keeping them behind bars for the rest of their lives is a breach of their human rights heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, judges decided today.
Tara Lyle, policy adviser at Amnesty International, warned:
These changes might allow Britain greater autonomy in a handful of cases that have gone against it, but they will also offer increased impunity to human rights abusers across Europe.
Ken Clarke is so insistent that Britain should not be obliged to put up with interference from Strasbourg that he is willing to reduce the scrutiny of decisions made in domestic courts across Europe.
The president of the European Court of Human Rights has said he is "uncomfortable" at the suggestion government can dictate how it should carry out its work and there is no need for new admissibility criteria cases. Sir Nicolas Bratza addressed the council meeting:
In order to fulfil its role the European court must not only be independent, it must also be seen to be independent. That is why we are, I have to say, uncomfortable with the idea that governments can in some way dictate to the court how its case law should evolve or how it should carry out the judicial functions conferred on it."
– Sir Nicolas Bratza, President of the European Court of Human Rights
It is in the nature of the protection of fundamental rights and the rule of law that sometimes minority interests have to be secured against the view of the majority. I would plead that this should not lead governments to overlook the very real concrete benefits which the court's decisions have brought for their own countries on the internal plane."
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has told a Council of Europe meeting that a "shared national interest" in change is needed to reform the European Court of Human Rights:
It's only by advancing human rights that we secure our ability to live, travel and trade in a more open, stable and prosperous world. However, all institutions need to adapt to a modern world.
– Kenneth Clarke, Justice Secretary
We're all in no doubt the urgent need to reform the Strasbourg Court convention system. The reform is not designed to weaken human rights, on the contrary. We are not seeking to undermine the profoundly important shared values of the convention but to strengthen them and advance justice, democracy and freedom.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke says he is hopeful the other 46 member states of the Council of Europe will agree to the reforms the UK government wants to make to the role of the European Court of Human Rights.
The UK wants to:
- Improve the efficiency of the court to enable it to work faster
- Find ways to help the court reduce the backlog of some 150,000 cases
- Increase the role of nation states in protecting human rights so that fewer cases are referred to the court
Consensus will be required to alter the court's regulations.
The Council of Europe has prepared a preliminary opinion of the Court outlining the reforms it wants to debate.