Home Secretary Theresa May was accused today of "populist politicking" after attacking judges for allegedly ignoring new rules aimed at deporting more foreign criminals.
Ms May wrote in the Mail of Sunday that judges were "subverting" British democracy and vowed to bring in a law to restrict offenders' human rights after claiming a minority of the judiciary had decided to "ignore Parliament's wishes."
But the delay in getting that legislation onto the statute books would inevitably mean "more victims of violent crimes committed by foreigners in this country" she said.
In July MPs approved new guidance for judges stating that the right to a family life - set out in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - was qualified.
At the time the Labour Party questioned if that was enough to override earlier case law and said it would back primary legislation.
Ms May pinned the blame squarely on judges who have "got it into their heads that Article Eight … is an absolute, unqualified right."
She added: "Unfortunately, some judges evidently do not regard a debate in Parliament on new immigration rules, followed by the unanimous adoption of those rules, as evidence that Parliament actually wants to see those new rules implemented.
"It is essential to democracy that the elected representatives of the people make the laws that govern this country - and not the judges."
But human rights lawyer and Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy described Ms May's position as a "populist bit of politicking."
On the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, she said the number of cases that would be affected by the new law was "minuscule."
"This depresses me," she said. "It's a common story with home secretaries that this is what they end up doing.
"We've got to remember that this is about the independence of the judiciary and why that's so important.
"It's absolutely imperative that judges are not under the thumb of home secretaries, and it can be frustrating for home secretaries of course, but it is not good to see this kind of vocal attack on the judges, and I am sad that she has done this."
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