UK breached prisoners’ rights over voting, EU judges say

Court rejects applications for compensation

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Indy Politics

Britain breached the human rights of more than 1,000 prisoners by preventing them from voting in elections, European judges have ruled.

Their judgement is a fresh blow for the policy which has been supported both by Labour and Conservative governments. David Cameron has said the thought of giving the vote to prison inmates makes him feel “physically ill”.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the ban violated the right to a free election under the European Convention on Human Rights.

It grouped together all 1,015 cases brought by offenders against Britain on the issue.

However, the court rejected an application by prisoners for compensation and their legal costs.

Former inmate John Hirst said: “It is a real shame compensation has not been awarded. While I can get some satisfaction from the ruling, the Government keeps ignoring what the ECHR is saying.

“It has been 10 years since my case and still nothing has changed. The only way I can see to force the issue is to impose some kind of financial penalty.”

Sean Humber, the lawyer representing 554 prisoners pressing for the right to vote, welcomed the ruling, but said compensation should have been awarded, particularly in light of the lack of action from successive governments.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The government has always been clear it believes prisoner voting is an issue that should ultimately be decided in the UK. However, we welcome the court’s decision to refuse convicted prisoners costs or damages.”