A criminal lawyer and human rights champion has announced that he will be standing against Chris Grayling in the General Election to "save the world from a regression from international human rights and barbarity".

Lionel Blackman, 54, a criminal defence solicitor who has lived in Epsom for 45 years, has thrown his hat into the ring as an independent candidate for the May 7 vote.

He does not think he will win, but believes greater scrutiny must be brought to bear on Mr Grayling’s proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act (HRA) and leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

FROM OCTOBER, 6, 2014: 'UK will not turn into a totalitarian nation as result of human rights reforms', insists Chris Grayling

Mr Blackman, who contested the Esher and Walton constituency in 2010, was previously an Epsom borough Liberal Democrat councillor for Woodcote ward between 2005 to 2007.

He said: "The proposals to repeal the HRA represent a significant modern constitutional change that could have repercussions around the world.

"Many countries follow Britain’s lead and may follow its lead out of international human rights."

Mr Blackman said the answer is not for Britain to be "regressive" and leave the ECHR but renegotiate its relationship with it.

He said: "It’s that sense of universality which is being changed by an attitude that says we don’t like giving votes to prisoners - a relatively marginal issue - which will undermine the main conception and development of international human rights.

"If it is accepted the ECHR has gone too far, is the solution to walk out, as Grayling proposes, or is to negotiate with other members of states in the Council of Europe and ask ‘do you agree that this court is running away with itself?’"

Mr Blackman has undertaken many overseas missions funded by the British Foreign Office, the Department of International Development and human rights organisations.

These have included investigating the rights of a prisoner dying of cancer while on trial in Romania, discrimination against minority communities in Pakistan and the disbarment of Kurdish human rights lawyers in Syria.

"The missions have opened up my mind to there being international mechanisms and restraints on governments towards their citizens," Mr Blackman said.

"Liberty is Britain’s gift."

The ex-Sutton Grammar School and Nescot student believes he would be suited to the role as MP as "it’s what I’ve been doing for 30 years - seeking to solve local people’s local problems".

He added: "It would be good for Britain if Grayling’s majority could be cut down as that might save the HRA.

"It could save the world from a regression away from international human rights and ultimate barbarity.

"Human rights tend to come and go in history and we do have challenges - in the form of Isis and rising Islamic fundamentalism, a resurgent Russia becoming less and less tolerant to dissent.

"Things can change and we shouldn’t be doing anything to make that more likely."

Responding to Mr Blackman's intention to stand, Mr Grayling - who has been Epsom and Ewell's MP since 2001 - said he did not agree with the solicitor's take on the country's human rights law.

"In my experience, most people locally think that the way in which our human rights laws are now being used is wrong and needs to change," he said.

"We cannot go on with a situation where people who pose a real security threat to this country can claim that their human rights mean we cannot deport them, and yet the law seems to forget the human rights of the law abiding citizens of Britain.

"I strongly disagree with those who say our human rights laws are fine, and I think we should reform them."

Mr Blackman joins Conservative Mr Grayling in the race to Westminster for Epsom and Ewell, alongside Labour's Sheila Carlson, UKIP's Robert Leach, Susan McGrath for the Green party, and Liberal Democrat Steve Gee. 

For more information about Mr Blackman's campaign visit www.epsomindependent.com.

For more on the General Election battle in Epsom and Ewell visit www.epsomguardian.co.uk/generalelection2015