Dominic Raab to claim overhaul of Human Rights Act will create 'common sense'

Dominic Raab said the reforms will strengthen “typically British rights” Credit: PA

Plans to change the Human Rights Act have been described as a “blatant, unashamed power grab from a government that wants to put themselves above the law”.

The proposals, which will be unveiled by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab in the Commons on Tuesday, have prompted a backlash from campaigners who warn the rights of “ordinary people” could be “fatally weakened” by the changes.

But Mr Raab said the reforms will strengthen “typically British rights” and add a “healthy dose of common sense” to the interpretation of legislation and rulings.

Martha Spurrier, director at human rights group Liberty, said: “This plan to reform the Human Rights Act is a blatant, unashamed power grab from a government that wants to put themselves above the law.

"They are quite literally rewriting the rules in their favour so they become untouchable.”

Accusing the government of “systematically shutting down all avenues of accountability through a succession of rushed and oppressive Bills”, she added: “The Human Rights Act protects all of us. We lose it at our peril.

“It is an essential law that allows us to challenge public authorities when they get it wrong and has helped secure justice on everything from the right to life to the right to free speech.”

The proposals will be unveiled by the Justice Secretary in the Commons on Tuesday. Credit: PA

Mr Raab said: “Our plans for a Bill of Rights will strengthen typically British rights like freedom of speech and trial by jury, while preventing abuses of the system and adding a healthy dose of common sense.”

Sacha Deshmukh, the chief executive of Amnesty International, said human rights are not “sweets” ministers can “pick and choose from” and the “aggressive” attempt to “roll-back” the laws needs to be stopped.

He added: “If ministers move ahead with plans to water down the Human Rights Act and override judgments with which they disagree, they risk aligning themselves with authoritarian regimes around the world.”

The findings of a review of the Act are expected to be published alongside the launch of a three-month consultation asking for views on the plans, which have been named the Bill of Rights.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the measures will “restore Parliament’s role as the ultimate decision-maker” on laws affecting the UK, “allowing more scope to decide how we interpret rulings from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg”, and aims to “strike a proper balance between individuals’ rights, personal responsibility and the wider public interest”.

According to the government, it is estimated that as many as 70% of successful human rights challenges are brought by foreign national offenders who cite a right to family life in the first instance when appealing against deportation orders.

Although it has so far been unable to supply figures on how many cases this involves.

The plans could also see a filter for claims introduced, called a permission stage, to intercept spurious or “frivolous claims that sap the energy and resource of courts.”

His plan to rewrite the Act is the latest attempt by Tory ministers to tackle the legislation, which enshrined the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic law.

The government said it still intends to adhere to the ECHR, with Mr Raab telling MPs last month there was a “clear argument” to retain it, but a “very strong case for an overhaul of the procedural framework of the Human Rights Act”.