UK Tory leader proposes US-style Bill of Rights

[JURIST] UK Conservative Party leader David Cameron [party profile] said Monday that he would appoint a panel of legal experts to examine whether the increasingly-controversial Human Rights Act of 1998 [text; JURIST news archive] should be replaced with an American-style Bill of Rights. Speaking at the Centre for Policy Studies [think tank website] in London, Cameron asserted that the act doesn't adequately protect rights even as it makes fighting crime and terrorism more difficult. Cameron said [text, PDF]:

So I believe that the time has now come for a new solution that protects liberties in this country that is home-grown and sensitive to Britain's legal inheritance that enables people to feel they have ownership of their rights and one which at the same time enables a British Home Secretary to strike a common-sense balance between civil liberties and the protection of public security. The Conservative Party, under my leadership, is determined to provide a hard-nosed defence of security and freedom. And I believe that the right way to do that is through a modern British Bill of Rights that also balances rights with responsibilities. This would clearly set out people's rights, would enable those rights to be protected in British courts, and would strengthen our hand in the fight against crime and terrorism.
The Human Rights Act was passed to comply with the European Convention of Human Rights [text; BBC backgrounder], which Britain signed in 1953. Cameron said his proposal would not withdraw Britain from the convention and would continue to allow UK citizens to take cases to the European Court of Human Rights [official website].

The governing Labour Party immediately attacked Cameron's remarks [party press release]. The government's chief legal adviser, Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith [official profile], described the Bill of Rights proposal as "muddled, misconceived and dangerous" [BBC report]. Reuters has more. The Guardian has additional coverage. BBC News offers recorded video of the full speech.

 

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