David Mellor, who served as the UK foreign minister under Margaret Thatcher, claimed the ECHR is still filled with “civil servants from communist regimes” and said it “is a joke” that Priti Patel felt the need to obey their notions of human rights. He claimed the court had “no direct application” in law in the UK and that the court was not created to deal “with countries like us” in the first place, rather it was designed to stop “other countries slipping back into fanaticism”.
Mr Mellor said: “What I don’t understand is why this was obeyed. I am insistent that they did not have to obey this because what the European Court of Human Rights says does not have direct application in law in this country.
“Although it’s not a European Union thing, it’s a Council of Europe thing, I was virulently opposed to it.
“Because in the old days, and I suppose there are still some of them left, the ECHR consisted of a lot of civil servants from communist regimes.
“And they suddenly sat in judgment over the human rights conditions of this country.
“I have to say, and it’s a terrible thing, it was never intended to deal with countries like us.
“What it was intended to do was to ensure that other countries did not slip back into some kind of Nazism or fanaticism.
“It’s really a classic clever kind that like a boomerang comes back to hit you in the mush.
“What is the point of having a supreme court when it is not supreme. It’s a joke!”
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Mr Mellor was speaking on the issue of the first migrant flight to Rwanda, which was due to set off last night from Boscombe Down military base in Wiltshire but was grounded at the last minute.
The flight reportedly held an Iraqi, an Iranian, a Vietnamese, and an Albanian who had sought residency in the UK.
The Iraqi man appealed to the ECHR in the afternoon and Strasbourg published a document at 6.25 pm stating that he would not be removed until three weeks after the High Court had ruled on the lawfulness of the Rwanda policy.
It is believed the other migrants then followed suit, sending off applications either to Strasbourg or judges in London that all came back successfully within the next four hours.
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Priti Patel, the home secretary, said she was “very surprised” by the ruling but insisted she would “not be deterred from doing the right thing” and pushing through another flight.
She added that “many of those removed from this flight will be placed on the next”.
A government source slammed the ECHR’s intervention for “overruling days of debate in the UK courts”.
They said: “Domestic courts including the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal have repeatedly said we can proceed, yet some foreign court has decided ‘No you can’t’.
“One out-of-hours European judge has overruled days and days of debate in the UK courts on the papers alone.”