News story

Attorney General presents the Government’s case on whole life prison tariffs

The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP, has today appeared for the UK Government before the European Court of Human Rights in a case which looks at whether the UK sentencing system for whole life sentences gives an adequate mechanism for review of those sentences.


The case was brought by whole life prisoner Arthur Hutchinson, who was convicted of three counts of murder, one count of rape and one count of aggravated burglary.

Mr Wright told the Court that the UK’s arrangements for the award and administration of whole life sentences were compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Attorney General told the Strasbourg Court that the question had recently been put before the UK’s Court of Appeal who had confirmed that domestic law was clear and that the continuing award of whole life sentences was compatible with the Convention.

Speaking after the hearing the Attorney General said:

“Whilst it is right that the European Convention on Human Rights sets minimum standards in the field of criminal justice and sentencing, it is also right and proper that the UK should be able to set its own detailed rules in this area.

“This court has previously acknowledged that Council of Europe states set their own rules on whole life tariffs, as long as certain minimum standards are met, which I have argued today is clearly the case in the UK. In those circumstances there is no proper basis for the court in Strasbourg to interfere.”

The Court adjourned and judgment is not expected for several weeks.

Published 21 October 2015