Have we ever had an actual Bill of Rights in the UK ? well, no we haven`t, so it took European legislation to actually give us something similar to it, in the form of European Commission Human Rights Legislation (ECHR).
ECHR has been condemned much recently by politicians (when it suits them to do so), and by sections of the media ... but it is not the all conquering legislation that it is portayed to be.
Take for example ... the treatment of paying clients by the legal profession, or for that customers of Banks.
Write a letter to a Bank or a lawyer claiming they are breaching your ECHR rights by not addressing a complaint properly, by denying you a fair hearing in respect of your Article 6 rights ... and they will laugh at you.
Write a letter to the Law Society of Scotland when you are complaining about one of their crooked solicitors who has ripped you off - they will laugh at you too and they will make sure that every lawyer you use after that, will rip you off again and again and again - and nothing will ever be done about it - one of the reasons there are 5000 + complaints a year against Scottish lawyers.
In cases of complaints against lawyers which have been brought to my attention, I have seen letters written to the likes of Douglas Mill - the Law Society of Scotland Chief Executive, telling him that he and his colleagues are breaking the ECHR rights of clients.
How does Mill respond ? Usually, he writes an "I note your comments" letter, then writes internal memos to colleagues, has meetings - with the author of the letter as the subject - and at the end of it, the client who has complained against their solicitor gets the full force of hell against them ... while Mill and his pals have a jolly good laugh back at Drumsheugh Gardens.
Actually, in the case of Gordon Coutts Thompson, the famous lawyer from Edinburgh whom the Law Society hated so much, they got rid of his business which was conveniently taken over by Law Society favourites - Alex Morison & Co, now Morrisons Solicitors. According to memos and an account heard in Court over what happened, Mill actually invited out senior Law Society officials to drink to the success of the operation ... some way they treat their own then .. little wonder they throw clients to the dogs !
Okay, so we are back to what does all this have to do with ECHR. Well, a lot actually.
What you have read above, is how the Law Society of Scotland treat people, under the terms of ECHR.
Fair hearing ? No chance of that ... after all, you have already read in this blog and in the press how the Law Society of Scotland has treated me .. and remember ... not just me .. many thousands of other clients have fell the same way at the hands of the Law Society of Scotland when it comes to self-regulation of crooked Scottish lawyers.
Ah ... Peter Cherbi is nagging about lawyers again ... well, not actually .. care for another example ?
Complain against a Police raid in Scotland to your home or complain against the conduct by Police Officers, and say they violated your ECHR rights ... the Chief Constable will write back to you and say "I note your comments" ... try and get a lawyer to take the case on .. no chance .. and with the self-regulatory complaints procedure of the Police making sure you don`t actually get a fair hearing, then .. forget it .. ECHR flies right out the window again. Honestly, you`d be better taping and filming the Police presence, and getting the media to spread it across the papers and television ...and internet ... much more effective I think.
Plenty more examples I could think of ... Benefits Agency, Complaints against the Medical profession, Accountants, etc ....
Basically, any form of self-regulation, I think, from crooked lawyers, to bent cops, to bent Judges (who aren`t really regulated at all) .. is incompatible with ECHR and should be abolished .. after all, who ever gets a fair hearing when they complain against any of this lot ? Has anyone ever tried complaining about a Sheriff in the Scottish Courts ?
How far did they get ? ... I know of a few cases - and believe me, the complainer`s lives were made a living Hell after they had done so ...
So, would the Tories latest idea of a Bill of Rights do anything more for us than ECHR is already doing ? - Probably not.
I fear that if the Conservatives go ahead with their idea, there will be so many exclusions of the professions, corporations, vested interests, government agencies, etc in adherence to the suppsed "Bill of Rights", ... that any such Bill would be utterly useless when it comes to a member of the public trying to do something about they way they have been treated at the hands of any of the above - after all, it`s hard enough just now to actually get an ECHR case into the Courts on such a matter, unless it takes the interest of lawyers, the legal profession, and their own motives to actually progress the case to full court hearings .. so would a new UK Bill of Rights make any difference to matters as they currently stand ? I think not.
While reading through all the press attention on ECHR today, I was quite happy to see someone point out on the BBC`s Nick Robinson`s web blog, this little titbit of information :
Just had a look at the final section in the Human Rights Act. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1998/80042--j.htm. It basically says judges will have pension contribitions paid for by the Government. Why did the Government include this section? Were the judges "paid off" because they were going to object to problems the Act. Are all the failures of the Act down to a backroom deal between policians and judges?
Yes .. that`s correct - Judges get their pensions paid for them by Government.
What does that have to do with Human Rights ? .. not much really ... and you know, there have been many exemptions with regards to ECHR ... among a host of organisations who gained exemptions, the Law Society of Scotland sought and also won exemptions from the Act until late 2001 ... and of course as we all know, the Law Society and the legal profession in Scotland still don`t treat their fee paying clients with any respect for ECHR up to now ...
To add confusion to the Conservatives latest policy idea, David Cameron says he will be sticking with the European Convention (ECHR). So, why bother adding a UK Bill of Rights, which will only add confusion to the Courts in cases where the rights of the individual have come up for consideration ?
Maybe, as some suggest, it is simply to add another hoop to make people jump through, to prevarricate, delay, or impede a person`s ability to use the probably more effective ECHR European legislation to enforce their rights in Law, which is difficult enough at present, as I have already explained. Sadly, I would have to agree with those who claim this to be the case of this idea.
Read on for the article, from BBC News, at : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/5115912.stm
Tory Bill of Rights bid slammed
The Conservatives' plan to replace the Human Rights Act with a US-style Bill of Rights has been described as muddled and dangerous by the government.
Tory leader David Cameron says current legislation is inadequate and hinders the fight against crime and terrorism.
He believes a British Bill of Rights would strike a better balance between rights and responsibilities.
But the Lord Chancellor says Mr Cameron is trying to rewrite human rights because "they seem inconvenient".
In a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies in London, the Tory leader argued that the Human Rights Act had prevented Britain deporting suspected terrorists whatever the circumstances.
It was "practically an invitation for terrorists and would-be terrorists to come to Britain" he said.
The Human Rights Act has made it harder to protect our security and it's done little to protect some of our libertiesDavid Cameron
Q&A: Bill of Rights plan
They knew that whatever crime they had committed or if there was a suspicion they might be planning a terrorist attack in the UK or elsewhere, they would not be sent back to their country of origin "because the process is so complicated and time-consuming for the government".
"I believe it is wrong to undermine public safety, and indeed public confidence in the concept of human rights, by allowing highly dangerous criminals and terrorists to trump the rights of the people of Britain to live in security and peace," he said.
Mr Cameron said a "home grown" document would be based on British traditions, balancing rights with security.
People would still be able to pursue their claims in the European courts but judges would have a British Bill of Rights to base their rulings upon, he said.
Lawyers are locking horns over whether this would change anything
BBC political editor Nick Robinson
Read Nick's thoughts in full at : http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/2006/06/human_rights.html
He stressed he did not want to withdraw from the European convention and acknowledged it would be hugely complicated to draft a Bill of Rights.
He is appointing a panel of distinguished lawyers to unravel those challenges for him.
But Lord Falconer, the lord chancellor, dubbed Mr Cameron's plans as unworkable and "a recipe for confusion, not clarity".
"It is utter nonsense to say that you solve the problems about crime and terrorism by introducing an additional layer of rights undefined," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.
"David Cameron made absolutely clear he's sticking with the convention. That means he's going to comply with the convention."
Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said the Tory proposal was "muddled, misconceived and dangerous".
"I think it would lead to more, not less, confusion about the best way to strike the balance between protecting the public and individual liberties," he said.
And Human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC described the plan as "complete nonsense".
"How is it hindering the investigation and prosecution of crime? No examples whatsoever. It certainly isn't doing that in relation to terrorism or terrorist cases," he said.
"I'm afraid it's totally misconceived and it's tabloid driven."
Lib Dem peer Lord Carlile, the government's independent adviser on terrorist legislation, said he could not see any benefit coming from "these extraordinarily ill-thought out proposals".
The Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for a British Bill of Rights and a written British constitution.
But Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell told BBC Radio 4's World at One that the suggestion that the European convention had "stood in the way of dealing with terrorism is frankly unfounded".
Ex-Conservative chairman Lord Tebbit warned that any British Bill of Rights could be overridden in Strasbourg as long as the UK remains signed up to the European convention.
The Human Rights Act has come under repeated attack in recent years from critics who say it puts a "rights culture" ahead of a common sense view of cases.
The act came into force in 2000 to install the European Convention on Human Rights into British law so people did not have to take claims to the European courts in Strasbourg.
A US-style Bill of Rights would outline the rights of citizens, while the Human Rights Act incorporates European rules into British law.