Convicted child killer Peter Chester today takes his groundbreaking fight for the right to vote to the Court of Appeal.
The hearing comes the day after the Government admitted that it has no choice but to give "some prisoners" the vote because of a European court ruling.
There are suggestions, which are not confirmed, that the controversial move will be formally confirmed when a Government lawyer indicates in the appeal court that ministers no longer wish to fight Chester's test case challenge.
Furious MPs yesterday demanded to know whether ministers planned to give murderers, rapists and paedophiles the vote as a result of the European Court of Human Rights ruling in 2004 that the UK's blanket ban on sentenced prisoners voting was illegal.
Chester, 55, who is serving life for raping and strangling his seven-year-old niece, is appealing against a High Court rejection of his claim that he is entitled to the franchise.
At the High Court, his lawyers argued in a publicly-funded challenge that Jack Straw, then justice secretary, was breaching the European Convention on Human Rights by continuing to deny him the vote.
But Mr Justice Burton said in a ruling last October that Parliament was looking at the question of extending voting rights to prisoners, and it would be "wholly inappropriate" for the courts to interfere with the parliamentary process.
During the hearing, the judge had suggested that if Chester won his case it could lead to every murderer and dangerous criminal being given the vote.
Chester - also known as Peter Chester Speakman - was sentenced to life after killing his niece, Donna Marie Gillbanks, in Blackpool, Lancashire, in 1977.
He has served 33 years in jail, well in excess of the 20-year minimum imposed by the trial judge for retribution and deterrence.
Yesterday political reform minister Mark Harper told MPs that a change in the law "isn't a choice; it's a legal obligation".
Since the ECHR found in favour of convicted killer John Hirst, around 1,000 cases have been launched by prisoners demanding the vote, and taxpayers could be faced with litigation costs and compensation totalling millions of pounds if the Government continues to resist them, he told the Commons.
But he strongly hinted that the Government will exclude the worst offenders from taking part in ballots.
Chester was serving his sentence at Wakefield prison, West Yorkshire, when he launched his campaign for the franchise.
The electoral services officer at Wakefield Metropolitan District Council told the inmate in 2005 he could not be registered to vote.
Hugh Southey QC, appearing for Chester, argued in the High Court that the laws which prohibited serving prisoners voting - dating back to 1870 - must now be read and interpreted by judges in a way that is compatible with human rights laws generally.
Chester would be entitled to vote if out on licence, said Mr Southey. He had completed the punitive element of his sentence but was still detained on the grounds that he continued to pose a public risk.
Denying him the vote in those circumstances amounted to an unnecessary sanction with "no reasonable or objective justification".
Mr Justice Burton said the European court had ruled that the UK's blanket ban on all serving prisoners voting was a "blunt instrument" that contravened Article 3 of Protocol No 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
But the European judges left a "margin of appreciation" for the UK authorities to decide which categories of prisoners should be enfranchised, said the judge.
It was "plainly arguable" that lifers who had completed their tariff for retribution and deterrence should remain disenfranchised until it was considered they no longer posed a danger or risk to the public.
His sister and Donna's mother June Gillbanks, 57, of Blackpool, said: "Where are my daughter's human rights?
"To me criminals give up their rights when they commit their crimes.
"He chose to murder my seven-year-old daughter - what chance did she have against a 23-year-old?
"I feel very angry it's got to this court.
"Having the vote is part of being a civilised society but murderers are not part of a civilised society."Reuse content