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Theresa May criticizes ‘activist left-wing human rights lawyers’ during closing speech at the Tory Party conference (17 October 2016)

Date: 17/10/2016
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, Theresa May criticizes ‘activist left-wing human rights lawyers’ during closing speech at the Tory Party conference

Prime Minister Theresa May has recently announced the move to opt out from parts of the European Convention on Human Rights, meaning troops fighting abroad in times of war will be protection from lawsuits and criminal prosecution upon their return.

During her closing speech at the Tory Party Conference, May said that the Tories were committed to a “strong national defence” and supporting the “finest armed forces known to man”. She referred to an “industry of vexation claims” after hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans saw legal claims against them amongst allegations of maltreatment. Three servicemen are reportedly facing prosecution for manslaughter over the death of an Iraqi teenager 13 years ago. Last month she raised concerns regarding the high number of claims lodged with the Iraq Historic allegations

Theresa May has been criticized by human rights lawyers for launching a “cheap shot” at their profession. Whilst May’s comment was specifically aimed at legal action against the armed forces, leading barristers have seen it as an attack on human rights practice generally.

Lewis Kett, Public Law Solicitor at Duncan Lewis and a specialist in judicial review claimant matters, states that: “British troops provide an enormous service to our country. However, they should not be beyond the law. The Ministry of Defence has already paid out millions of pounds in compensation across hundreds of victims of abuse in Iraq. This is clearly indicative of the genuineness of these claims. Scapegoating lawyers in the manner that we have seen is just a further part of this current government’s rhetoric to try limiting the remit of human rights law.”

May’s speech at the Tory conference and her actions to protect soldiers from legal cases has been condemned by Des James, father of an army recruit who died at Deepcut Barracks. For Des, who saw his daughter Cheryl James die during her Army training at Deepcut Barracks, profound faith in the legal process is the only consolation he has. Cheryl James’ body was discovered with a single bullet between her right eye and the bridge of her nose and a rifle at her side. The Army had insisted it was suicide – and subsequently recorded it as such in their files, ignoring the coroner - but they had not produced any corroborating evidence in court, such as her fingerprints on the gun. This week Prime Minister May has been accused of trying to cover-up war crimes and James said that the move to protect the armed forces from lawsuits make it easier for the Ministry of Defence to “cover up” future failings in the military.

Lewis Kett, specializes in Public Law Judicial Review Claimant matters at Duncan Lewis.

Duncan Lewis’ Public Law department is recommended by Legal 500 for its depth of experience in immigration and civil liberties challenges and is acknowledged as having a "stellar reputation in handling test cases". Duncan Lewis have experience in all aspects of judicial review claimant work, including obtaining emergency orders and other interim relief to prevent breaches of human rights, following up judicial reviews with actions for damages in both the County and High Court and successfully pursuing judicial review matters to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Duncan Lewis carry out both publicly and privately funded work.

To speak to a member of the Public Law Department call 03337720409.

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