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01 June 2011 1:52 PM

Clarke acts fast to avoid another Euro row

Ken Clarke must have choked on his cornflakes when he saw today's Daily Mail splash (assuming he reads the papers).

It said the Justice Secretary had approved a prisoner's demand for a test-tube baby with his partner - and worse, that it was all down to the Human Rights Act.

Not so, said Ken - quickly ordering an inquiry into how the application had been approved.

Just in the nick of time, too. Tory backbenchers hate the Human Rights Act and were champing at the bit to use this latest outrage as a stick to beat it with.

Elizabeth Truss, who sits on the justice committee, said MPs should repeat the trick they pulled over prisoner votes by debating the issue in the Commons.

"Parliament needs to send a signal to the European Court of Human Rights on this issue as we did on prisoner voting...it is blatantly unjust," she told me.

Dominic Raab joined in, saying: "This case highlights the perverse impact of, and the need to replace, the Human Rights Act."

And Mark Pritchard, secretary of the backbench 1922 committee, came up with a neat way of attacking the HRA while praising Ken - who has had a rough couple of weeks following his controversial rape comments.

“If there was ever a case for proving the Human Rights Act needed fundamental reform it is this case," he said.

“Ken Clarke is one of the smartest and wisest politicians in Whitehall. I am sure he will want to make the right decision over cases that are repugnant to victims and hard pressed taxpayers alike.”

Ordering the investigation, and insisting human rights had nothing to do with it, has taken the sting out of the issue. Exactly the kind of handling you'd expect from one of the "smartest and wisest politicians in Whitehall".

Craig Woodhouse
Follow me on Twitter @craigawoodhouse

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