Mark Stephens has said it would be illegal to take away the passports of casual drug users (Pictures: Getty/Shutterstock)
Boris Johnson’s grand 10-year plan to crack down on drug related crimes ‘is not compliant’ with human rights law, a legal expert has claimed.
Under new Government proposals, so-called ‘lifestyle’ users of class A drugs like cocaine would face having their passports and driving licences seized, night-time curfews and travel bans.
The £300-million investment has been hailed as the ‘biggest intervention in a generation’ – but a renowned UK lawyer has already claimed that the legislation would not pass.
Mark Stephens, who represented James Hewitt when allegations of his affair with Princess Diana emerged, has said it would be illegal to take away the passports of casual drug users.
In an interview with Vice, he said: ‘The problem, I think, is that this proposal falls foul of the Double Punishment rule.
‘If you have been convicted of a drugs offence, you will be sentenced by the criminal courts.
‘That is where you get your punishment, whether fine, imprisonment, community service or whatever it is.
Boris Johnson observed an early morning Merseyside Police raid on a home in Liverpool as part of ‘Operation Toxic’ to infiltrate County Lines drug dealings on December 6 (Picture: Getty)
The PM’s new strategy promises new investment to tackle drug gangs and dealers, and novel punishments to deter habitual users (Picture: Getty)
‘But if someone then seizes your passport or takes your driving license away, that’s a secondary punishment that I think amounts to double punishment and would therefore be susceptible to challenge.
‘When passing legislation of this kind, the minister has to sign a certificate to say it is compliant with human rights law. And it’s not, because you are not allowed to double punish.’
Mr Stephens pointed out that if someone’s passport is taken away, that does not mean they will lose their citizenship.
Recreational users could also face receiving warning text messages from police if their numbers are found on dealers’ phones.
The lawyer insisted this is legal and that police already have access to the numbers on a database.
He added: ‘I think there will be an upswing in burner phones but the police can also geo-locate the burner phones.
‘It’s not clear yet from the proposals whether it is intended merely as a disincentive or whether they are going to pursue users as well as dealers.’
Mr Stephens said the additional money to help people out of drug use is ‘welcome’, but branded the proposals as ‘ill-thought out and essentially political games-playing’.
This comes as traces of cocaine were discovered in 11 out of 12 bathrooms in Westminster, prompting calls for sniffer dogs to be deployed to parliament.
A number of British politicians, including the PM, have also previously admitted trying a substance that could have been cocaine.
The lawyer also addressed the recent allegations: ‘The question is, who is it that’s going to be the focus of this?
‘Is it going to be the toilets of 10 Downing Street or Parliament or your local hedge fund organisation or is it going to be people who are shoplifting to feed a habit?
‘That is the sort of question you are going to have to ask yourself and how it will impact on them.’
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