Following an election pledge to scrap the existing Human Rights Act, proposals for a UK bill of rights have been much anticipated.
The Justice Secretary has now indicated that whilst such proposals may not end up derogating significantly from the European Convention on Human Rights, there are some areas in need of reform.
One of the suggestions made by Mr Gove is that none of the individual rights in the ECHR will be scrapped as part of any proposals for a UK bill of rights but that some rights will instead be given a different emphasis. Of the rights he has highlighted, the need for an enhanced protection for freedom of expression has been noted.
Traditionally, freedom of speech is balanced by the right to privacy. If these proposals go ahead, it will be interesting to see how, and to what extent, that will change.
“It’s broadly accepted that in Britain we have placed more of an emphasis on freedom of expression and slightly less on privacy rights,” Gove said. “We have seen that in data protection cases. It might be useful [to firm that up] a bit to protect journalists’s sources.” The bill of rights consultation will contain proposals about protecting freedom of speech, he added. “It’s not our intention to say that any individual rights within the convention no longer applies within the UK. We are going to investigate how those rights are are interpreted and weighed against one another.”