Has the villain Straw decided to leave the Commons? [No - ed]

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
2 March 2010


I went to the Equality and Human Rights Commission discussion about Human Rights today in London. Not a lot was learnt. Dominic Grieve was interesting. It seems that he is planning a new "UK Human Rights Bill" (not "British" - thanks for spotting that Qudsi). They will disincorporate from the European Convention and then repeat the Convention word for word in the UK Bill - plus adding bonus points like trail by jury). At least Grieve addressed two points: that the public don't believe in human rights and they need to and he wants them to; that the HRA has not prevented obvious abuses to our liberties and we need to address this. David Howarth for the Lib Dems didn't want change and Jack Straw chatted amiably about written constitutions and how he was proud and it's not a "villain's charter". In a notorious and typical moment, of course, it was himself who told the Daily Mail "There is a sense that it's a villains' charter".

CORRECTION: Jack Straw's office has just emailed to say

Jack Straw has never described the HRA as a "villain's charter".

This is the relevant section from Daily Mail article from which you misquote.

""And he is 'frustrated' by some of the judgments which have encouraged voters to conclude that the act is a 'villains' charter' which favours the rights of criminals over those of victims."

His office continues:

It is certainly true that there are some who regard the HRA as a "villain's charter". Jack is not one of them.

However, in my defence, I linked to and quoted from the Mail's editorial of the same day which I did not misquote. It has the words I give in direct quote marks as being Straw's words:

As this paper has always argued, the Human Rights Act turns justice on its head by putting the rights of criminals above those of the law-abiding.

Now, at last, a minister has had the honesty to admit as much.

Not just any minister, either. As Tony Blair's first home secretary, Jack Straw was the man who piloted this disastrous Act on to the statute book ten years ago.

Today he confesses, in words that will resonate with millions of Britons: 'There is a sense that it's a villains' charter.'

Straw had a relaxed smile in place of his usual nervousness: he looked like a man who had got away with it and knew it. Is it possible that he's chosen to go to the Lords and not stand at the election?

ANSWER: Jack's office says "He Is not" standing down as an MP.

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