The Herald: Human Rights Act row that is shot full of contradictions


By David Torrance

THE European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) had three main authors, a Frenchman, a Belgian and a Scot. David Maxwell Fyfe was the last of that trio, the Edinburgh-born Conservative MP and, later, judge and Lord Chancellor.

And, as the legal scholar Neil Duxbury explores in his new biography of Lord Kilmuir (as he became), Maxwell Fyfe was a bit of a visionary, arguing (in 1948) that “the danger to human rights is almost never of a sudden onset”.

Rather it “comes gradually”, with people often failing to notice as rights disappeared. It was therefore essential, added Maxwell Fyfe, for the 1948 “Congress of Europe” to “place on record its determination that it will help in securing that these rights are promptly, full and explicitly expressed”.

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Picture courtesy of Justin Norman