The Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, is to intervene in an employment dispute to establish a clear legal precedent that the European Union’s charter of fundamental human rights has only a very limited role in British courts.
Seen as part of a plan to halt the spread of European human rights laws, Mr Grayling has confirmed that his department’s lawyers are to become involved in a Court of Appeal case involving two women who allege they suffered abuse at embassies in London.
Effectively overturning an Act of Parliament to uphold their right to a fair trial, the High Court has ruled that the women can pursue their claims under the EU’s human rights charter, even though the Foreign Office argued that, under domestic legislation, the embassies were entitled to diplomatic immunity from the actions.
A number of Conservative MPs are appalled by this decision and others and have written to the Justice Secretary expressing their concerns and demanding a national veto over all areas of EU law to restore the primacy of Parliament.
Speaking this week before the Commons European Scrutiny committee, the Justice Secretary said that there is quite enough human rights legislation in the UK and that he would not want to see the EU charter become “a reference point on human rights” in the UK.
Mr Grayling insisted that failure to challenge the EU charter’s deployment in UK cases would encourage “mission creep”, as the charter and Lisbon treaty become more prominent “reference points” for those arguing in favour of further EU integration.
The Justice Secretary will therefore use the embassy case as a test with which to challenge the recent ruling in a bid to settle the issue of which laws take precedence.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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