Dominic Raab said ‘I don’t support the Human Rights Act’ ahead of being put in charge of overhaul

Fears grow of more radical changes to landmark 1998 Act than planned by justice secretary’s sacked predecessor - after footage emerges

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 17 September 2021 12:12 BST
Dominic Raab says, 'I don’t support the Human Rights Act' in 2009 footage

Dominic Raab said “I don’t support the Human Rights Act”, it has been revealed, having now been handed control of an overhaul in Boris Johnson’s reshuffle.

Footage has emerged of the new justice secretary attacking the landmark Labour legislation as a backbench Conservative MP, in 2009.

Mr Raab now has responsibility for a review of the HRA and the requirement for it to weigh up judgments from the European Court of Human Rights, after being demoted from foreign secretary.

Back in 2009, he said: “I don’t support the Human Rights Act and I don’t believe in economic and social rights,” the clip unearthed by Labour shows.

And, in a book authored by Mr Raab in the same year, entitled ‘The Assault on Liberty: What Went Wrong’, he argued the 1998 legislation had led to a slew of new claims in the courts.

“The spread of rights has become contagious and, since the Human Rights Act, opened the door to vast new categories of claims, which can be judicially enforced against the government through the courts.

The Act had allowed UK law to be trumped by the European courts, Mr Raab claimed, while the boundaries between parliament, government and the judiciary had been blurred.

Both Labour and senior legal figures have raised fears that Mr Raab’s appointment is to allow him to drive through more dramatic changes to the HRA than planned by his sacked predecessor, Robert Buckland.

“We will do all we can to defend the fundamental rights the public depends on from attacks by the Conservatives,” said David Lammy, the shadow justice secretary.

The legal blogger David Allen Green said: “One would not be surprised that one stipulation made by Raab in accepting the position as lord chancellor is that he gets another crack at repealing the Human Rights Act.”

And Bob Neill, the Conservative chair of the justice select committee, criticised the way Mr Buckland had been sacked by the prime minister to “make way” for Mr Raab.

“The position of lord chancellor is crucial. It is not some sort of sweetie to be handed out by the PM,” Sir Bob said.

There has been criticism of the high turnover in the role of lord chancellor over such a turbulent period for the justice system, hit by huge spending cuts.

It was also reported that Mr Raab responded to Mr Buckland seeking views on the government’s proposals for the HRA shake-up, earlier this year.

His officials suggested that ministers should be “more ambitious”, a source told The Guardian.

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