Convicted Prisoners

December 17th, 2014 by James Goudie KC

As is well known, Strasbourg case law establishes that a general and automatic prohibition that bars convicted prisoners from participating in general elections will contravene Article 3 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR (“A3P1”).  In Moohan v The Lord Advocate [2014] UKSC 67 the Supreme Court held (by a majority) that such a bar is not prohibited in the case of a referendum.  On the Supreme Court’s approach it is also the case that such a bar is not prohibited in the case of local elections, but is confined to elections to the legislature.  Lord Hodge said, at para 8, that the language of A3P1 does “not support a wider view that A3P1 was intended to cover any major political decision which was put to a popular vote, however important that decision might be”.  The Supreme Court applied the Strasbourg decision in McLean v UK which held that local authorities in the UK are not part of the legislature and that A3P1 did not apply to elections to them.

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