Former Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC: ‘HS2 breaks European human rights convention'

Monday, 9th December 2013

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Published: 9 December, 2013
by TOM FOOT

THE government's plans to build the High Speed Two (HS2) rail link between Euston and Birmingham have breached the European Convention on Human Rights, according to the former Director of Public Prosecutions.

Keir Starmer, QC, said a consultation survey on compensation was unlawful because it did not make special consideration of residents and businesses around the Regent's Park Estate and Euston, which will be affected by demolition and construction work.

The Doughty Street barrister said “losses” caused by the £50billion project there will be “substantial and widespread” and, because of its special status, a detail “impact assessment” was required under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

He told the New Journal today (Monday): “The more complicated the damage, the greater the need for a detailed impact assessment. The impact is going to be great and varied in Euston in a way that is greater than anywhere else in the country. It follows that the assessment of compensation is more difficult than anywhere else in the country. This is what is lacking from the consultation.”

He added: “There needs to be real clarity. They need to look at what are the interests of business and how to just the real damage. The thrust of it is that the more complicated the calculations of damage – and Euston is complicated – the greater the need there is for an detailed impact assessment.”

Mr Starmer, who lives in Dartmouth Park, said the DfT was “duty bound to take into account” his argument after it was submitted before a deadline as part of an official response from the Euston HS2 Community Forum, which is chaired by Robert Latham.

It said: “Euston is the area in the country where the impact of HS2 will be greatest. Many residents and businesses will suffer substantial loss. Thus their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights are engaged. That puts an onus on HS2 and DfT to demonstrate that any interference with those rights is legitimate, fair and proportionate. That brings the question of compensation, and how it is to be determined, into sharp focus.

“The proposals set out in the consultation document do not provide a procedure for determining what compensation is fair and proportionate and they do not afford a proper opportunity to those affected to influence the final determination.”

Frank Dobson, Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras, said: “I really support this. It confirms our instinctive belief people in our area have been treated unfairly.”

But a DfT spokesman said: “Our proposals conform with the European Convention on Human Rights, previous practice and the long established statutory compensation code. We are currently considering responses to our compensation consultation and will announce decisions in due course.”

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