MP hopeful Sir Keir Starmer defends Human Rights Act as ‘constitutional triumph not a burden’

Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

Human rights legislation is an “instrument of social cohesion” not a burden to be viewed suspiciously, according to former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer.

Sir Keir, a senior barrister who hopes to become a Labour MP in Holborn and St Pancras at this year’s general election, says there are strong moral arguments for the Human Rights Act.

He has argued the case for the 1998 act in an article in legal magazine Counsel.

“The Human Rights Act 1998 is a very simple statute,” wrote Sir Keir.

“It allows individuals in the UK to enforce their rights in local courts.

“It also requires public authorities to respect the rights of those they deal with.”

He added: “It is perhaps surprising that instead of being celebrated as a constitutional triumph, the fate of the Human Rights Act is up for grabs on May 7, 2015, the date of the next general election.”

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Sir Keir said Labour and the Liberal Democrats wanted to keep the act while the Conservatives wanted reform.

“The case for the Human Rights Act is a strong one,” he said.

“It is a moral case based not only on learning from history of some of the worst violations of human rights before and during the Second World War, but also on the here and now.”

He added: “It should not be viewed suspiciously as a burden but promoted as an instrument of social cohesion and public purpose.”