Kirkhope: Prisoner-vote ruling puts down a clear legal marker

16-Oct-2013 @ 15:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

A senior Conservative MEP today welcomed the SupremeCourt's decision dismissing appeals from two prisoners over the right to voteunder European Union rules.

Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative spokesman on justice andhome affairs in the European Parliament described the judgment as "Sound,sensible and offering clear direction".

Convicted murderers Peter Chester and George McGeochargued they had a right to vote under EU law - even though British law deniesall prisoners the vote.

David Cameron tweeted that the ruling was "a great victory forcommon sense".

Following a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulingwhich told the UK it must end its blanket ban on prisoners voting, theGovernment has been considering potential legislation. But no plans for theshape of any proposed reform have been revealed yet.

Mr Kirkhope, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and a formerHome Office Minister, said: "The Prime Minister has it spot on. The judgment today is very welcome because itputs on record a very clear and important judicial statement about the positionof UK law as it stands.

"One of the men in this case, Peter Chester, rapedhis niece and then murdered her. The Parole Board say he is too dangerous to belet out of Wakefield Prison. And yet he says society should allow him a vote.

"Well I don't want his vote, thank you very much,and I don't think any other self-respecting politician will either."

"It might be in the longer term that the UK looks atlegislation that differentiates between people in prison for summary offencesand those in prison for longer periods for more-serious crimes. It might bepossible to make some kind of allowance for more-petty criminals - perhaps those serving sentences of up to sixmonths who were dealt with by magistrates courts.

"What we cannot do, and will not contemplate, isextending voting to dangerous and hardened criminals, those serving exactingprison sentences imposed by Crown Court judges. Especially the likes of Chesterand McGeoch.

"This rulingfully backs that position - a position shared by all main parties as well asthe vast weight of public opinion."

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