KILLER Jeremy Bamber and two other murderers today continued their court battle against “whole-life” jail terms, which give prisoners no hope of release.
• London Court of Appeal upheld principle that whole-life sentences do not violate human rights as long as jail without possibility of release is ‘reserved for exceptionally serious offences’
• European Court of Human Rights narrowly backed the UK in declaring that it was not ‘grossly disproportionate’ for notorious criminals to be imprisoned indefinitely
Lawyers urged judges in Strasbourg to rule that UK law allowing the most dangerous offenders to be kept behind bars until they die breaches their human rights.
The European Court of Human Rights backed the UK last January in a narrow 4-3 majority vote declaring that it was not “grossly disproportionate” for the country’s notorious criminals to be imprisoned indefinitely.
And only last week, in a separate case, the London Court of Appeal upheld the principle that whole-life sentences do not violate human rights as long as jail without possibility of release is “reserved for the few exceptionally serious offences”.
In today’s last appeal to the 17-judge Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, lawyers called for a definitive ruling that whole-life jail amounts to “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” banned by the European Human Rights Convention.
Lawyers for the Government insisted that it was fully justified to maintain the option of the whole-life tariff for the most serious offenders, in line with the earlier human rights verdict last January.
The one-day hearing was an appeal into the cases of Douglas Vinter, convicted of stabbing his wife in February 2008, having already served nine years for stabbing to death a work colleague in 1996; Bamber, convicted of killing his adoptive parents, sister and her two young children in 1985; and Peter Moore, convicted of killing four gay men in 1995. Bamber has always maintained his innocence.