Former Conservative MP — and critic of the ECHR — challenges UK’s handling of lobbying probe.
A former Conservative MP who repeatedly criticized the European Court of Human Rights is taking the U.K. government to… the European Court of Human Rights.
Owen Paterson stepped down from the U.K. parliament last year after a House of Commons probe found he broke its rules on paid lobbying. He has now lodged a complaint with the ECHR claiming that the investigation breached his right to a private life under the Convention’s Article 8.
Last year the U.K.’s parliamentary watchdog recommended Paterson face a 30-day ban from the House of Commons after it found he had “repeatedly” used his position as an MP “to promote the companies by whom he was paid.”
At the time Paterson strongly pushed back against the watchdog’s findings, claiming the methods used by the investigation “do not create a just and fair outcome.”
Paterson eventually resigned from parliament after a botched attempt by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson
to rally around the embattled MP.
In his application to the ECHR, summarized by the court, Paterson said the U.K. watchdog’s findings had “damaged his good reputation” and that the process by which the allegations against him were investigated was “not fair in many basic respects.”
Paterson has previously taken aim at the ECHR and the European Convention on Human Rights that underpins it, both frequent bugbears of Euroskeptics in the governing Tory Party.
In a speech to the campaign group Business for Britain in 2014, Paterson said it would be easier to stop EU migrants coming to the U.K. if Britain were to withdraw from the ECHR.
“Much of the problematical immigration into this country stems not just from the EU but from the European Court of Human Rights,” he said at the time. “This is exacerbated by the rulings of judges in the court at Strasbourg and by our own U.K. courts implementing the Human Rights Act.” He has also argued for the U.K. to adopt its own Bill of Rights to set the country “free from the ECHR.”
Paterson’s complaint is at what is known as the “communication stage,” meaning the ECHR has formally asked U.K. authorities to respond and may request more information. The complaint could still be dismissed by the court if it is not deemed admissible.
Paterson was approached for comment but had yet to respond at the time of publication.