THE UK Government has been warned it must not press ahead with plans for “regressive” reforms to laws on human rights without seeking consent from Holyrood.

Proposals to bring forward a new Bill of Rights were confirmed in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday, after a pledge to change human rights laws was included in the Tory manifesto in 2019.

But the Commons’ Joint Committee on Human Rights heard legal experts raise concerns over the plans to replace the Human Rights Act.

Barbara Bolton, head of legal and policy at the Scottish Human Rights Commission, told MPs that her organisation was “extremely concerned” about the proposals and the “severe negative impact” they would have on access to justice.

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She said the plans would mean separating from the European court, which currently provides an “anchor” and “clear and consistent” theory on laws.

“What that could do overall is bring us back to a situation where we were prior to the Human Rights Act, where individuals had to go all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in order to secure their remedies,” she said.

“The issue there is that very few people manage to do that – the barriers to access to justice are quite incredible for individuals as things stand, in terms of time, money, emotional resource.

“And it is the most marginalised and those most at risk who already find it more difficult to argue for, advocate for, and secure a remedy for a breach to their rights.”

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She added: “What this government is doing is instead of addressing those considerable issues, and making it easier for people to enforce their rights, to make it vastly harder and by introducing various hurdles that people would have the burden of overcoming before they could even present their case to a tribunal or a court.”

Bolton said the UK Government should not reform the Human Rights Act in relation to Scotland without seeking consent.

“One of the key ways in which we protect human rights in Scotland is through the Human Rights Act, and there is no appetite in Scotland for these regressive reforms – either in the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament or across civil society,” she added.

Scottish equalities minister Christina McKelvie has also said the government would “robustly oppose” any attempt to replace the Human Rights Act and warned the UK Government risks interfering with the devolution settlement.

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She said: “The Human Rights Act has successfully protected rights and freedoms across the whole of the UK for more than 20 years. We will continue to robustly oppose any attempt to replace it with a Bill of Rights.

“The safeguards provided by existing legislation protect every member of Scottish society. They are an essential feature of a democratic society founded on the rule of law.

“These rights are also at the heart of the devolution settlement. Changes must not be made without the explicit consent of the Scottish Parliament.”