Roger Smith seems perplexed by the correlation between the ECHR’s decision in Hirst v UK and demands to leave the institution.

The answer is that this is just the latest questionable decision by a court which continues to contrive its own unpopularity. It is another excuse for those in favour of withdrawal to bang the same drum. This is not ‘gross hyperbole’; it is based upon the ECHR’s track record of overstepping the mark, seemingly on a mission to render itself irrelevant.

If advocates of withdrawal are to be persuaded otherwise, we would do better to acknowledge their concerns rather than dismissing them as ‘dangerous humbug’.

Mr Smith makes a good point – prisoner voting is not such a big deal, especially in the context of countries where human rights activists have far bigger fish to fry. But does this not beg the question: why does the ECHR choose to dictate to national governments on such issues? It is not as if it can handle the workload. What we are left with is the perception of an unchecked, bureaucratic body that saps national sovereignty and dabs its paws at whatever it pleases.

If Mr Smith truly cares about outcomes, then how about some constructive criticism of the ECHR rather than the usual platitudes? When the ECHR finally alienates the UK, those who have purred at its every move may look back and wonder quite what they have achieved.

Richard Breeze, Poole