European Court gives lifers “right to hope”

n a landmark judgment today the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg has ruled by 16 votes to 1 that it is unlawful for Courts to impose “whole life” sentences without any possibility of parole. The case was brought by three lifers who had received such sentences in England, including Gary Vinter, sentenced after committing a second murder. Simon Creighton of Bhatt Murphy acted for Gary Vinter.

The judgment does not prevent “whole life” orders being made for the most heinous of crimes, but will require the UK to put in place a mechanism for review of such sentences at a later date to reflect the principle in international law that “all prisoners, including those serving life sentences, be offered the possibility of rehabilitation and the prospect of release if that rehabilitation is achieved.” One of the judges referred to this as “the right to hope”.

Read Bhatt Murphy's press release here. The Court’s press release can be read here.