Nicola Sturgeon to oppose ‘appalling’ HRA axe plan

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FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed the Scottish Government will oppose “appalling” plans to scrap the Human Rights Act.

Ms Sturgeon said Tory proposals that would see the legislation repealed and replaced with a new British Bill of Rights were “awful”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon poses for a photo with a group of nurses during a visit to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Picture: PA

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon poses for a photo with a group of nurses during a visit to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Picture: PA

New justice secretary Michael Gove has been charged with scrapping the act, which was introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1998.

Under the plans, the UK Government plans to “break the formal link” between the British courts and the European Court of Human Rights, and make the UK Supreme Court the “ultimate arbiter” of human rights matters.

The Scottish Government has long voiced its opposition to the move, with justice secretary Michael Matheson yesterday vowing to “robustly oppose” the plans.

But Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the move would apply to Scotland.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Scotland’s only Conservative MP said: “New legislation replaces existing legislation and therefore the new act will apply in Scotland.

“I think people in Scotland share the concerns that have been voiced across the United Kingdom - that we’ve got the balance wrong between rights and responsibilities.

“So, what the purpose of the act that we’ll be bringing forward is, is to not only enshrine rights but also enshrine responsibilities.”

But Ms Sturgeon said: “I oppose the repeal of the Human Rights Act, I think it’s an appalling thing to be doing.

“Human rights are there to protect all of us, for example it was the Human Rights Act that enabled people to go to court to object against the bedroom tax.

“The idea that we take away human rights, I think, is just an awful suggestion, so the Scottish Government will oppose that and work hard to make sure that in Scotland people still get vital human-rights protection.”

Respected human rights lawyer John Scott said the UK Government’s plans were “legal nonsense”.

He said: “I think it would be an act of incredible arrogance for the UK Government in the new dynamic to say it’s okay regardless of the implications for devolved assemblies to abolish the Human Rights Act.

“It’s terrible to think there’s a prime minister and a justice secretary who thinks this makes sense other than in winning votes.

It’s so stupid to pick a fight on this in the situation where there’s one Scottish (Tory) MP.”