My pal Sean Carey has been plugging away for ages for the rights of the dispossessed of the British colony of Chagos, off Mauritius who were elbowed aside by the UK government to set up the Diego Garcia military base some 40 years ago. Here’s his piece of just the other day in the New Statesman who have also bravely taken up this human rights issue. In it Sean asks “Is it justifiable for British citizens to be removed from a British overseas territory without consultation and against their wishes, to be thrown into abject poverty in the name of the defence interests of Britain and the United States?” Another big backer of the campiagn was ex-Labour leadership hopeful Bryan Gould who may be washed up in some respects but has powerfuly made the case for righting this wrong being an opportunity for Gordon Brown to demonstrate his seriousness about tackling inequality.

Now comes the news that the House of Lords has dismissed their claim. Sad news indeed and controversial in the extreme. In a dissenting judgement Lord Bingham is reported as declaring “The duty of protection cannot ordinarily be discharged by removing and excluding the citizen from his homeland.” The only option now is an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg but don’t hold your breath. Such a move would take a couple of years to get the process to kick off in all likeliehood.

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