EU court ruling backs ban on prisoner voting

The EU has ruled that limiting the rights of inmates to vote in elections is 'proportionate'. Picture: PA
The EU has ruled that limiting the rights of inmates to vote in elections is 'proportionate'. Picture: PA
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A banon prisoners voting in elections will remain in place after an EU ruling that limiting the rights of inmates on the issue is “proportionate”.

Convicted murderer Thierry Delvigne had claimed that a French government ban on him voting violated his right enshrined in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.

But the European Court of Justice ruled that it was possible for member states to maintain a ban which precludes individuals convicted of serious crimes from voting in elections to the European Parliament.

The case was being closely followed in the UK where a blanket ban on prisoner voting exists in direct contravention to a series of rulings by European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Last year, Scottish murderers Leslie Moohan and Andrew Gillon failed in an attempt to vote in the independence referendum following a ruling by the UK Supreme Court. The ruling was welcomed by the Scottish Government.

Prime Minister David Cameron has previously said that the idea of allowing prisoners to vote made him “physically sick”.

Speaking shortly before yesterday’s judgment was announced, Mr Cameron said: “I haven’t changed my view at all.

“Our own law has been tested recently and our Supreme Court opined that our law was right and prisoners shouldn’t have the vote, and that’s my view.

“I’m very clear prisoners shouldn’t get the vote and it’s a matter for the British Parliament. The British Parliament has spoken and the Supreme Court in Britain has spoken so I’m content to leave it there.”

However, Ukip warned that while the ruling allowed member states to impose a partial ban on prisoner voting that is proportionate to the offences committed, it did not support Britain’s blanket ban.

Ukip justice and home affairs spokeswoman Diane James said: “A blanket ban on votes for prisoners is the expressed will of the British parliament. Why are we being subject to this European court at all? If we wish to make our own laws in our own parliament, we must vote to leave the EU.”

A UK government spokesman said: “The European Court has confirmed French restrictions on prisoner voting are lawful. The UK’s ban on prisoner voting stays in place and remains a matter for the UK Supreme Court and parliament to ­determine.”