Rapists, paedophiles and burglars get the vote as Government prepares to lift prisoners' election ban

Rapists, paedophiles, burglars and muggers could be among 28,800 prisoners handed the right to vote, it emerged last night.
Government is preparing to demolish 1,000 years of legal practice by proposing that inmates serving up to four years in jail will be allowed to help elect MPs and councillors.

Labour is implementing a verdict by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled five years ago that it was unfair to stop convicts casting their vote.

The case was brought by axe killer John Hirst, who became the self-styled ' jailhouse lawyer'.

The Strasbourg court said a blanket ban was illegal - but did not specify all prisoners must be entitled to vote. Discretion on how it should be implemented was left to ministers.

Last night, the scale of the revolution proposed by the Government caused shockwaves. With as many as 29,000 votes up for grabs, it raises the prospect of politicians having to canvass for votes inside prison.

Tory justice spokesman Dominic Grieve said: 'Many people will question whether this is a sensible development.

'The principle that those who are in custody after conviction should not have the opportunity to vote is a perfectly rational one.

'Civic rights go with civic responsibility, but these rights have been flagrantly violated by those who have committed imprisonable offences.

'The Government must allow a parliamentary debate which gives MPs the opportunity to insist on retaining our existing practice that convicted prisoners can't vote.'

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