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A Tale of Two Cities: Whole of Life Prison Sentences in Strasbourg and Westminster

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The recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Hutchinson v United Kingdom (2015) is the latest twist in the political legal struggle between Westminster and Strasbourg. Whilst the British government has made several successions to the ECtHR regarding the role of the executive in the imprisonment of lifers, the thorny issue of the whole of life tariff, and prospect of prisoner release under that tariff, has been an ongoing debate. Whilst the ECtHR appeared to directly challenge domestic policy in the preceding decision in Vinter and Others v United Kingdom this latest decision, the seeming retreat from Vinter, by the Fourth Section of the court, appears to be more of a response to hard line domestic politics than a continuation of holistic legal principle which the ECtHR has outwardly supported in the past.

Affiliations: 1: College of Law, Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Law and Criminology, University of Derby, Kedleston Road, Derby de22 1gb, UK,


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