Prisoners lose bid for compensation

British prisoners who have been denied the vote should not be paid compensation, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled.

Judges in Strasbourg had been asked to reconsider the case of ten men from Scotland, who had been refused the right to take part in the European Elections of 2009.

On Tuesday, the court unanimously agreed that while the inmates’ human rights had been violated, they were not entitled to damages.

This will come as some relief to the Government, who could have been faced with making pay-outs in around 1000 similar cases if the court had ruled in favour of compensation. Some estimate that the cost would have run into millions.

However, many MPs will be less comfortable that the court has upheld its original ruling that a blanket ban on prisoner voting is unlawful.

There is no end in sight to the stand-off between Strasbourg and Westminster, which has been going on for a decade.

In 2004, the ECHR reached a verdict that preventing all prisoners from taking part in elections violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

But five years later, MPs voted by an overwhelming majority to defy the ruling.

In light of the latest developments, civil liberties charity Liberty has once again urged the Government to reconsider its position.


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