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Prisoner Voting and Devolution: New Dimensions to an Old Dispute

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Colin MurrayORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Edinburgh University Press Ltd., 2021.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Between late 2017 and 2018 the United Kingdom and the Council of Europe called a truce over prisoner voting rights, and almost no one noticed. No bells rang out, no triumphal debate took place in Westminster. All protagonists had long since exhausted their energies or, at least, turned their attentions to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. This article evaluates the “Lidington Compromise”, by which the UK Government moved to enfranchise day-release prisoners, alongside Scottish and Welsh Parliaments opening up new aspects of the confrontation by moving to enfranchise some prisoners on the basis of sentence length. It assesses the significance of these moves in the context of devolution. It also examines how these different approaches to resolving the prisoner voting issue square with the Strasbourg Court’s jurisprudence and the extent to which different understandings of democratic rights now prevail across the United Kingdom.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Murray C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Edinburgh Law Review

Year: 2021

Volume: 25

Issue: 3

Pages: 291-314

Online publication date: 01/09/2021

Acceptance date: 31/03/2021

Date deposited: 22/04/2021

ISSN (print): 1364-9809

ISSN (electronic): 1755-1692

Publisher: Edinburgh University Press Ltd.


DOI: 10.3366/elr.2021.0713


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