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ECtHR Backtrack On Whole Life Tariffs

European Court of Human Rights ruling varies from previous decision that whole life sentences for murderers and other heinous criminals are 'inhuman and degrading'

A triple killer has lost his appeal against a "whole life tariff" in the European Court of Human Rights, in a further sign that Strasbourg judges are stepped away from interfering in British laws.

The European ruling will be seen as a significant victory for Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, and an important boost for the Conservative party in the run-up to May's general election.

Strasbourg judges said they were "satisfied that the Justice Secretary's power to release a whole life prisoner was sufficient to comply with Article 3" of the European Convention on Human Rights, which bars "inhuman and degrading" treatment.

A ruling by the British Court of Appeal last year "provided a whole life prisoner hope and the possibility of release in the event of circumstances in which the punishment was no longer justified", the Strasbourg judges said.

The case was brought by Arthur Hutchinson, who is serving a "whole life" tariff for stabbing a wealthy couple to death after breaking into their home on the night of their daughter's wedding, then killing one of their sons and repeatedly raping another wedding guest.

Strasbourg judges ruled in July 2013that a tariff which forces murderers to die in jail was "inhuman and degrading" following an appeal by three killers including Jeremy Bamber, who shot dead five members of his family in 1985.

Currently about 50 inmates in England and Wales are serving whole life tariffs.
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