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'The Secret Policeman of post war Europe has been supplanted by the actions of the tabloid journalist.'-L. J. Sedley, Legal Action Group Lecture Oct 2003.

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Introduction

Public Law Assignment: Year Two Semester One: Question: 'The Secret Policeman of post war Europe has been supplanted by the actions of the tabloid journalist.'-L. J. Sedley, Legal Action Group Lecture Oct 2003. With reference to issues such as civil liberties, freedom of the individual, privacy and police powers, discuss the effectiveness of the human rights act as a means of protecting personal freedoms. Everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.1 Historically, the British Constitution did not contain any written declaration of the rights of individuals. In 1966, the U.K recognised the power of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to hear complaints from British citizen's and adjudicate in such matters. At the time, Britain did not incorporate the ECHR into British domestic law. In 1998 articles embodied in the Convention were incorporated into U.K law through statutory interpretation, by the Human rights Act, giving individuals rights which could be enforced by the courts which, means the Human Rights Act has proven to be successful in protecting personal freedoms of the individual. ...read more.

Middle

These cases illustrate how the Human Rights Act has helped to protect privacy in some cases, and freedom of the press, but it has also helped to protect other rights of the individual. In the case of Pretty v The United Kingdom, the defendant challenged many articles of the Convention, and shows how effective the Human Rights Act is in protecting the rights of the individuals in the U.K. Mrs Pretty wanted her husband to assist in her suicide as she was suffering from motor neurone disease. She fought in court for her husband not to be prosecuted, but the director of public prosecutions could not guarantee none prosecution for her husband, so the case was taken to the European Court of Human Rights in 2001. Mrs Pretty was claiming under articles two, three, eight, nine and fourteen. Although Mrs Pretty had a valid argument; the human rights act 1998 was not enough for her cause so she took it further and used the relevant articles to fight her claim and to make clear what she saw as the UK's obligation. In this case, the problem was that the E.U convention conflicted with U.K law. Although it is legal for her to take her own life, it is illegal under U.K law for a person to assist her and those who are unable to carry out the act of suicide themselves. ...read more.

Conclusion

In some respects, the Human Rights Act does protect the rights of individuals, but as we can see in the cases included in this assignment, it sometimes proves to be very difficult to protect both parties. For example, the Naomi Campbell case protects a persons right to privacy, but not the presses right to freedom of speech. The Human Rights Act also fails to protect society as a whole. By allowing criminals, in cases where it is a certainty that the accused have committed the crime, to use this act to free themselves, the act fails to give individuals the right to safety, and in this way the act fails on a grand scale. Yes, in some cases the Human Rights act does protect the rights and freedoms of the individual, whether it be at the cost of someone else's rights or not, and it succeeds in doing this, but it fails to give rights to society as a whole. In this respect, the act fails. Yes, the Human Rights Act may have been brought into existence to protect the rights of individuals, but with it needed to come some sense of responsibility for the consequences it would have. If it allows criminals to walk free, there needs to be a system in place to put limitations on this. ...read more.

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