Home Secretary Theresa May wants Human Rights Act axed

Theresa May Theresa May says the Home Office has had "some problems" with the Human Rights Act

Related Stories

The home secretary has called for the Human Rights Act to be scrapped, less than a fortnight after Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said it was "here to stay".

The act enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

But Theresa May told the Sunday Telegraph she "personally" would like to see it go because of the problems it caused for the Home Office.

Lib Dem Chris Huhne has warned scrapping the act would threaten the coalition.

The coalition has set up a commission comprising of human rights experts to report on the possibility of bringing in a Bill of Rights for the UK to replace the Human Rights Act, by the end of the year.

'Extremely uncomfortable'

Speaking as the Conservative Party conference got under way in Manchester, Ms May said: "I'd personally like to see the Human Rights Act go because I think we have had some problems with it.

"I see it, here in the Home Office, particularly, the sort of problems we have in being unable to deport people who perhaps are terrorist suspects.

"Obviously we've seen it with some foreign criminals who are in the UK."

Prime Minister David Cameron said he agreed with Mrs May that the act should be scrapped and replaced with a British Bill of Rights.


Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, he said that because of the coalition it would take longer to review this than he would like.

He also said he wanted to change the "chilling culture" created by the act.

Start Quote

Only a pretty 'nasty party' would promote human rights in the Middle East whilst scrapping them at home.”

End Quote Shami Chakrabarti Liberty

He cited an example of a prison van being driven nearly 100 miles to be used to transport a prisoner 200 yards "when he was perfectly happy to walk".

"The Human Rights Act doesn't say that's what you have to do. It's the sort of chilling effect of people thinking 'I will be found guilty under it'.

"The government can do a huge amount to communicate to institutions and individuals let's have some commonsense, let's have some judgment, let's have that applying rather than this over-interpretation of what's there."

Britain is about to start a six-month role as chair of the Council of Europe, which would be an opportunity to influence how the European Convention on Human Rights works, he said.

"We're going to try to get some commonsense in at that end as well. Would I like to go further and faster? Yes, I have said so."

But Mr Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, defended the act at his party's conference.

'Lazy and incoherent'

Mr Huhne, the Lib Dem energy secretary, said: "If Conservative backbenchers persist in wanting to tear up the European Convention on Human Rights, then I can foresee a time when this party would be extremely uncomfortable in coalition," he said.

Shadow justice minister Sadiq Khan described scrapping the act as a "lazy and incoherent position to hold".

"When Tory ministers blame the Human Rights Act, it's usually an excuse not to sort out the problem or a cover for their own failing policies," he said.

He called on government to clarify the coalition's stance.

"Either the deputy prime minister has been overruled, or this is another fantasy policy from Theresa May."

Human rights organisation Liberty did not welcome the government's stance.

Director Shami Chakrabarti said: "Modern Conservatives should think again about human rights values that were truly Churchill's legacy.

"Only a pretty 'nasty party' would promote human rights in the Middle East whilst scrapping them at home."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    As so often is the case this is not clear cut black and white and HRA needs to be carefully examined for its obvious shortcomings and then modified by a team of independent legal experts who understand the full ramifications.
    Don't leave it to Teresa May or there will be an outcry from many quarters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    93. corncobuk

    Oh don't be so hysterical. As if the Tories want to remove free, fair trials, life, freedom of expression etc.

    What a stupid thing to say. Labour under Blair tried to get criticism of religion listed as hate speech in the Race and Religious Equality Act. They failed because the Dems and Tories, plus Lords, told them where to go and got it amended FOR free speech.

    Learn something.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    There is nothing wrong with the human rights act. If Ms May is having problems with it then what is wrong is her policies. Europe may have its failings but one good thing is reigning in British politicians with bad ideas. If they want to scrap something related to humans rights how about re-examining some of the appalling counter-terrorism legislation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I doubt the HRA would protect anybody against serious and determined abuse from government or big business in this country.
    For the day to day stuff we have more than enough precedent and statutes to equal the intent of the HRA.
    What has happened is that interpretation of HRA has been partial, not even handed, leading to abuses.
    We don't need this offenders charter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Don't get rid of something that can be useful until you have something better to put in its place. The rights of individuals can be ridden over and often are - we need something that can protect us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    I can see how She would want to get rid of the act with all the problems it has caused us in having to keep imported criminals but I suspect some Tories will be rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of article 4 being revoked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    May would like this country to be more like the USA with all of its social ills so long as the rich can keep getting richer while the poor are expected to starve. She should feel ashamed of herself and so should the war criminal Blair!

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    At present, the so called human rights act favours criminals, illegal immigrants & other unsavoury types. Of cause this is good news for the corrupt human rights lawyers who milk the system dry. So yes, it needs to change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Human Rights Laws to be abolished ?? or just the one about Benefit scroungers from the new members from Europe....It would be folly to scupper useful laws that can affect you and I one day !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    83 part two
    Yet if mug someone and I get arrested red handed. But I get a recording of a cop say he going to do the paper properly dot all the I and cross all the T. The judge will let me free and say it proves the cop was account of what happed might be face or biased. Judge need to be voted in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    There is no need to axe the HRA. If this is allowed to happen then you will see exactly how nasty the conservatives can really be. No more right to a fair trial, no more freedom of expression, no more freedom from slavery and forced labour to name but a few. If May has a problem with the HRA then amend the parts she disapproves of but she must not be allowed to dismantle it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    heresa May seems to be on the ball here. Let's replace a piece of frequently abused legislation, which has been imposed by Europe, with one which has been decided by our own parliament.
    THE HRA has nothing to do with the EU it pre-dates it by decades it is the codification of rights laid down by the Council of Europe.

    47 Member states and started in 1949 Under the terms of the Treaty of London!

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    This goes both ways. We don't want to throw away ALL of our rights for the sake of a few people who find respecting Human Rights "problematic".
    If we are going to have a British Bill Of Rights it has to be created by the people, not unilaterally by a powerful elite. They don't have the same lives as the rest of the country, and they are clueless.
    Be very careful what you wish for!

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I agree with Thersa May. We need our own Bill of Rights drafted by our own Parliament; not the current laws imposed by the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Human rights
    Employment rights
    Building on green belt
    Look after their pals in the city
    Were are the Lib Dems when you need them?
    yep...i did vote for them...very very sorry!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Well the steal from the people to give to the poor and know most will not put up with this for much longer so they have an answer remove human rights and lets not forget they want to allow companies to fire up to 2 years after employing you and you dont have to have done anythging wrong after that its abolish minimum wage and start paying p[eople 1p per day and let them be happy

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    What about MY human rights, as a law-abiding citizen ? Why should the Tories want to take away my rights ?
    This is just pandering to the Daily Mail, and is no way to run a country. Pathetic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    The HRA itself is ok. Are we really saying that we want the state to torture people? Remember, it's also been used to protect old people in care homes.The problem is that it's poorly interpreted by the judiciary- I don't think France has an issue deporting terrorists. Rather than take on the judges, the Tories would rather manipulate public opinion to blame the HRA. The Nasty Party hasn't changed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Well, its our own stupid fault. We're too stand-offish from our EU partners. We should be closer to them, in the thick of the debate, and trying to lead and influence the decision making. They are now our trading partners, and yet we're not even in the Euro-zone but still using our own currency. Human Rights Laws affect us all, how can we just rid of it ???. . .mad, isn't it ????


Page 15 of 20


More Politics stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.