Murderer loses right-to-vote appeal
A man serving a life sentence for raping and murdering his niece has lost his appeal over the right to vote while in jail.
Peter Chester went to the Court of Appeal, where three judges unanimously dismissed his case and refused permission to go to the Supreme Court, the highest in the land.
Chester, 55, is serving life for raping and strangling seven-year-old Donna Marie Gillbanks in Blackpool in 1977.
The appeal court hearing last month came the day after the Government admitted it had no choice but to give "some prisoners" the vote because of a European court ruling that the blanket ban on serving prisoners going to the polls was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Chester's lawyers argued at the Court of Appeal that the serious nature of his offence did not justify disenfranchising him and to do so was "disproportionate" and violated his human rights.
Chester, also known as Peter Chester Speakman, has served 33 years in jail.
The High Court rejected his claim over voting last year.
Lord Justice Laws, giving the appeal court ruling, said: "There are deep philosophical differences of view between reasonable people upon the question of prisoners' suffrage."
He said Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke had stated that those who commit offences with aggravating features which lead to a jail sentence and who have previous criminal records forfeit their right to have a say in the way the country is governed for that period.
"Opponents of this view would say, with some force, that it is unconstitutional to regard disfranchisement as part of a criminal's punishment."