igel Farage has been accused of “spreading disinformation” after he called on the UK to scrap the “EU Humans Right Act” – even though it doesn’t exist.
Law professors were among those who took the newly-formed Reform UK party leader to task over the error.
Mr Farage also declared that Brexit would be “complete” once the country “left the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR)”, despite the convention not being linked to the EU.
The UK Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporated the principles of the ECHR into UK law, was passed more than 20 years ago with cross-party support.
The ECHR is an agreement drafted largely by British lawyers and was championed by Winston Churchill. It is an international human rights treaty between the 47 states that are members of the Council of Europe, which is not the same as the European Union.
In a video entitled “Scrap EU Human Rights Act”, Mr Farage points to reports of criminals attempting to or claiming refugee status in the UK.
He asks: “What are we doing at our borders? How can we allow people to come to the country on three separate occasions?
“I’m hearing reports of van loads of people are coming into the UK 10-12 at a time… Quite why these numbers are coming now – I haven’t got the bottom of. But it does point to me the ‘laxitude’ of the whole thing.”
An asylum seeker is protected by international law in their right to enter a country by any means necessary in order to seek asylum. It is a fundamental part of refugee law, not related in any way shape or form to the UK’s membership of the EU.
Indeed, it was even the UK High Court which set down in case law. This again is also supported by international law and UN Guidance which says an asylum seeker may cross multiple countries without penalty until they reach one they feel safe in.
Mr Farage then rounded on asylum seekers complaining about conditions at the Napier Barracks in Kent, which has been used to accommodate hundreds of refugees since last September, despite the Home Office being warned by Public Health England that it was unsuitable.
More than 100 people tested positive for coronavirus at the barracks in January, with asylum seekers left “powerless to protect themselves” because of the Home Office’s failures to “prevent the spread of Covid-19”, the High Court heard on Tuesday.
Mr Farage added: “It almost beggars belief, these people came here illegally by boat have gone to court this morning their argument is… their conditions aren’t up to scratch with the European Convention of Human Rights.
“Yes we have Brexit and I’m delighted about that. When the Prime Minister says we have taken back control of our borders – well only up to a point – we haven’t left the European Convention of Human Right which is put into law by the Human Rights Act.”
He added: “It seems to me the rights of bad people are often superior to the rights of good people. These stories show our total level of impotence. We need to leave the European Convention of Human Rights and then Brexit will be complete.”
Lawyers and experts were quick to correct Mr Farage.
Professor Steve Peer, who specialises in Human Rights law, simply replied: “There is no ‘EU Human Rights Act’”
Human Rights barrister Adam Wagner said: “Thankfully Farage is largely an irrelevance now and the fact that despite being a former MEP he doesn’t know the HRA has nothing to do with the EU… well, let’s say my opinion of him hasn’t lowered.”
Labour MP David Lammy wrote: “There is no such thing. The Human Rights Act is British. It enshrines the values we hold dear – like dignity, fairness, equality, tolerance and respect.”
Karl Turner, also a Labour MP, wrote: “Human Rights Act is legislation passed in UK Parliament. The Act incorporated into UK law the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights since 1953, protecting human rights and political freedoms. Drafted largely by Brits in 1950.”