Ministers have condemned the decision by Strasbourg that whole life sentences breach human rights, suggesting that the role of the European Court of Human Rights should be ‘curtailed’.
The attack follows the final ruling of the court yesterday that whole life imprisonment of murderer Jeremy Bamber and two others breached their rights under article 3 of the European convention.
Justice secretary Chris Grayling (pictured) told ITV news the ruling ‘will simply underline my determination and the desire of people in this country to see real changes to our human rights laws and to see the role of the European court in the UK curtailed’.
Home secretary Theresa May told MPs the public would be dismayed.
On Monday May told MPs that withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights should be an issue in the next election: ‘I have made clear my view that in the end the Human Rights Act must be scrapped.’
A spokesman for David Cameron said he was: 'very, very disappointed' at the ruling, adding that he was a 'strong supporter of whole-life tariffs'.
From the Labour benches, former home secretary David Blunkett agreed with criticism of the ruling, defending his decision in 2003 to cancel the right to review after 25 years in order to ‘to make life mean life.’
However the current shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, made a more cautious statement: 'Those who brought the case were found guilty of some of the most heinous crimes possible and maintaining the public's safety has to be our number one priority. We will need to study this long ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in detail.
'Labour changed the law to ensure life means life for the most serious horrific and violent crimes and it is crucial for public safety that we maintain this power.'
Tory MP Priti Patel, whose constituency of Witham was where Bamber committed his crime, said: 'It is disgusting that the European Court of Human Rights believes that those responsible for the most vile and heinous crimes should have the prospect of release,’ reported the Mirror.
Solicitor and Conservative MP Dominic Raab said in a statement that the ruling revealed the 'warped moral compass of the Strasbourg Court'.
However, Simon Creighton, solicitor for Vinter, one of the three killers to bring the case, said the ruling could not be used as a ‘get-out-of-jail free’ excuse. 'It's very important that the court have recognised that no sentence should be once and for all and there should always be some right to look at some sentences again in the future,' reported The Times.