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MP pleased with limit on prisoners’ right to vote

Saturday 22nd January 2011 (Andrew Griffiths)

A Government climb-down on plans to give prisoners the vote has been hailed as a ‘good day for British justice’ by Burton’s MP.

Following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, ministers proposed allowing anyone serving fewer than four years in prison the right to vote.

But reports now suggest only prisoners serving less than one year behind bars will actually get the chance.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths branded last year’s European court ruling a ‘ridiculous demand’.

He said: “This thing was forced upon us by the European courts, with prisoners claiming it was against their human rights to deny them the vote.

“I am glad that David Cameron has stood up to Europe and said we were not prepared to accept such an unpalatable ruling.”

When the Government announced last year it was set to give prisoners the vote, Mr Griffiths branded the decision ‘barking mad’.

This remark attracted criticism from John Hirst, the convicted killer and prisoners’ rights campaigner who took the case to Strasbourg in the first place.

However, Mr Griffiths was unrepentant and said: “There are times when diktats passed down from European courts and claims about human rights fly in the face of what the public believes to be morally right.

“If you commit a serious crime then you deserve to lose your rights and liberties, including the right to vote.”

“The overwhelming majority of the people in Burton would be appalled at the prospect of serious criminals such as rapists and murderers being involved in the process of picking a Member of Parliament.”

While any prisoner being given the vote is still unacceptable to Mr Griffiths, he accepts the need for compromise.

He said: “In an ideal world, I would like to see anyone who commits an imprisonable offence stripped of the right to vote.

“Clearly, crimes for which people receive sentences of fewer than 12 months are less serious.

“I think this is a reasonable compromise in the face of such a ridiculous demand from Europe.”

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