Prisoners rights 'breached' after being prevented from voting, court rules

The rights of 1,015 UK prisoners were breached when they were prevented from voting in elections, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

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Government 'ignoring' rulings on prisoner voting rights

A former prisoner said the Government is "ignoring" European rulings over UK inmates' right to vote.

John Hirst, who served 25 years in jail after admitting the manslaughter of his landlady in 1979, has been campaigning for prisoner voting rights since 2001, when his legal challenge at the High Court failed.

Hirst said:

It is a real shame that compensation has not been awarded. While I can get some satisfaction from the ruling, the Government keeps ignoring what the ECHR is saying.

It has been 10 years since my case and still nothing has changed. The only way I can see to force the issue is to impose some kind of financial penalty.

You don't lose your status in civil society just because you're in prison - you are still a member of the public. If prisoners had the vote, then MPs would have to take note of prison conditions.

– John Hirst

Despite the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers calling for a new Bill to be introduced, and a draft Bill being published in 2012, there has been no change in the legislation.

Prisoners' voting compensation claims rejected

The rights of UK prisoners were breached when they were prevented from voting in elections, but the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has rejected the applicants' claims for compensation and legal costs.

The case before the ECHR concerned 1,015 prisoners who were behind bars throughout various elections between 2009 and 2011.

UK prisoners were denied the right to a free election, the ECHR ruled. Credit: PA

Grouping together all of the long-standing prisoner voting cases against the UK, the court ruled that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights - right to a free election.

In August last year the court made a similar ruling, endorsing previous cases where it was found that the blanket ban was a breach.

In September 2014, the Council of Europe's Committee urged the UK authorities to introduce a Bill on the issue as soon as possible.


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