The Attorney General has reignited Tory tensions over the Human Rights Act by insisting it had been beneficial for Britain and condemning the "hysterical untruths" printed by newspapers about its perverse effects. Dominic Grieve was speaking after Theresa May, the Home Secretary, mounted an attack on the Act, telling the Manchester conference that a Bolivian immigrant had successfully resisted deportation because of his pet cat.
Her remarks were ridiculed by Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, and her version of events was disputed by the senior judiciary.
Mr Grieve, the Government's senior law officer, did not refer to the bizarre dispute over the cat and said he was "entirely comfortable" with the party's commitment to scrapping the Act and replacing it with a British bill of rights.
But he struck a very different note from Ms May on the subject at a fringe meeting organised by the campaign group Liberty. He said: "We need some rational discussion of the issues and not, I'm afraid, what we often see in certain pages of some newspapers, which is hysterical untruths being peddled over and over again. It's not very productive."
Mr Grieve told The Independent he had two reports in mind: a claim in The Sun that the serial killer Dennis Nilsen was allowed pornography in his cell because of the Act and reports in The Sun and The Daily Telegraph that police gave a suspected car thief trapped on a roof a fried chicken takeaway to ensure his human rights were respected.
He also cited reports claiming that printing pictures of offenders to "name and shame" offenders could be banned under human-rights legislation. He conceded the Act had "plenty of flaws" and he was critical of the operation of the European Court of Human Rights.
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