Human rights claims against undercover police to be heard in secret – Simon McKay

18 January 2013 by

Mark Kennedy

Mark Kennedy

AKJ & Ors v Commissioner of Police for the Metroplis & Ors [2013] EWHC 32 (QB) – Read judgment

The High Court has ruled that the Investigatory Powers Tribunal was the exclusive jurisdiction for Human Rights Act claims against the police as a result of the activities of undercover police officers, authorised as Covert Human Intelligence Sources, where such conduct was not a breach of a fundamental right. The Tribunal did not have jurisdiction to determine proceedings brought by Claimants at common law.  

The decision of AKJ and related litigation is the latest instalment of the fallout from the activities of undercover police officer or Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS) Mark Kennedy and another police officer.  Kennedy infiltrated environmental protest groups including those that resulted in convictions following events at Ratcliffe on Soar power station. The convictions were later quashed following revelations about Kennedy’s activities which included allegations he had engaged in sexual relationships with a number of female protestors and other prosecutorial impropriety: R v Barkshire [2011] EWCA Crim 1885 (UKHRB post). A number of those affected by Kennedy’s actions subsequently brought claims in tort (for example alleging deception) and under the Human Rights Act 1998.

This ruling by Mr Justice Tugendhat relates to which court or tribunal should hear the victims’ claims for compensation as a result of section 65 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (the 2000 Act) and the Supreme Court decision of R (on the application of A) v Director of Establishments of Security Service [2010] 2 AC 1 also referred to as A v B. The alternatives were the normal courts (in this case the High Court) or the highly secretive Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).

The background

The background to A v B is very interesting. A was an MI5 officer who wished to publish a book about his experiences with the organisation. He followed what was then the procedure laid down by the court in the David Shayler case which was by way of first asking the organisation to agree to publish and if they refused to bring a judicial review of the refusal. However, MI5 (the Security Service) argued that following the 2000 Act the procedure had changed. This argument appeared something of an afterthought at the time since the 2000 Act was in force by the time the Shayler case was decided but the Supreme Court dealt with this by stating somewhat unsatisfactorily that no one had referred them to the 2000 Act during the course of the proceedings.

In the event the Supreme Court held in A v B that in respect of challenges by members of the intelligence agencies (as opposed to the police) the IPT was the appropriate venue to determine the issue of whether permission should be given.

The questions the court was required to answer in AKJ v CMP were threefold:

1.              Did section 65 of the 2000 Act mean that the Claimants had to have their Human Rights Act claims decided by the IPT?

2.              Could the IPT hear the other claims brought in tort?

3.              If the IPT could hear the non-Human Rights Act claims what should happen to the proceedings issued in the High Court in the interim?

The Court dealt with the powers of the IPT at paragraphs 98 to 103 before addressing the three questions set out above.  Importantly section 65 of the 2000 Act states that the IPT is the exclusive tribunal for proceedings under section 7(1) (a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 (an act by a public authority incompatible with rights of the individual under the European Convention on Human Rights). This includes the acts of undercover police officers that take place in challengeable circumstances.

The focus of the Claimants’ arguments was that the sexual activities of Mark Kennedy fell outside those of an undercover officer that could be authorised for the purposes of the 2000 Act (and therefore the jurisdiction of the IPT).

Important ruling

In an important ruling in respect of the activities of undercover police officers and other Covert Human Intelligence Sources, Tugendhat J held that where these interfere with a fundamental right they cannot be authorised under the 2000 Act.  However where the conduct interferes with a right that is less than a fundamental right (such as the right to privacy, for example) this is capable of being authorised as part of the conduct engaged in when acting as a CHIS. The definition of a sexual relationship “is too broad and uncertain a concept for the whole range of such possible relationships to be characterised as degrading and so outside the scope of any possible authorisation” said the judge, an opinion that is likely to be controversial.

In terms of the questions the Court was asked to answer, unsurprisingly perhaps in light of Tugendhat J’s views on the scope of conduct capable of being covered by the 2000 Act, he was of the view that the IPT had exclusive jurisdiction.

As to the second question relating to non-Human Rights Act claims, the judge held that the IPT had no jurisdiction to hear these. Section 65 did not apply as the proceedings were not a complaint as they would be required to be under section 65(2) (b) and (4).

But what should the court do in respect of the common law proceedings issued pending the resolution of matters before the IPT? Counsel for the Police said they should be either struck out or stayed. In an interesting approach to this issue the Police argued that they could not have a fair trial in the High Court as it would undermine, amongst other things, the principle of neither confirming nor denying (NCND) an allegation which, if true, would relate to sensitive information or practices.

Counsel relied on the decision in Al Rawi v Security Service [2012] 1 AC 531 (UKHRB post) which held that secret hearings in civil proceedings were not permissible unless there was legislation permitting this (and hence the current Justice & Security Bill on the subject). This argument was rejected by Tugendhat J, who concluded there was no evidence that the Claimants’ rights to bring non-Human Rights Act claims “are outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that information about police operations are not disclosed to the public at large”.

Importantly the judge held that the policy of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ “does not give the equivalent of an immunity from claims in tort”. The proceedings were not an abuse of process in the circumstances and would not be struck out.  However, the interests of justice would be better served by hearing the IPT proceedings first and pending this, the proceedings would be stayed.

Simon McKay is a solicitor advocate at McKay Law Solicitors & Advocates and author of Covert Policing: Law & Practice (OUP, 2011)

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

Related posts:

7 comments


  1. kenneth burgoyne says:

    Amazing that there are those who think this case is about being lied to and/or that lie got a person to have a sexual realationship. Rachael and Fred have it nailed other answers prove the statement “At times there is nothing as stupid as a jury”

  2. Andrew says:

    If you think you are bedding a millionaire’s single nephew and heir and you find he’s a married pauper he has deceived you, but no action will lie. It’s just a bridge too far.

  3. rachel7878 says:

    The claimants did not know who they were forming relationships with – that’s why deceit is one of the common law torts. The police officers knew exactly what they were doing, hence the misfeasance in public office tort. The action is unprecedented but that doesn’t mean it has no validity.

  4. Andrew says:

    Novus actus interviens, if tht much Latin is still allowed. The Claimants decided to form the relationship. It takes two to tango.

    I’m not saying I like it – just that I see no cause of action.

  5. FredBloggs says:

    It’s not about someone telling lies to get another person into bed; it’s about the state creating fictional characters who are played by police officers, embed themselves in a person’s life for years, then disappear without trace inflicting serious psychological damage. Anyone who thinks this is about legal action against being lied to in a relationship, simply doesn’t get it.

  6. James Lawson says:

    I do not hold out much hope of our appellate courts being overly concerned with these ladies rights under Articles 6 and 13.

  7. Andrew says:

    I’m struggling with this case.

    It’s a dirty business, but I cannot see how a woman can sue anybody because she goes to bed with a man and then finds he is not what he seems. And however wide you put the scope of the men’s duties if they were authorised to bed the activists then I’m in the wrong job. Come off it.

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the UKHRB


This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.

Subscribe

Categories


Tags


7/7 Bombings 9/11 A1P1 Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Commission on a Bill of Rights common law communications competition confidentiality confiscation order conscientious objection consent conservation constitution contact order contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs costs budgets Court of Protection crime criminal law Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation DEFRA deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention Dignitas diplomacy disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Equality Act 2010 Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Facebook Family Fatal Accidents Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage gay rights Gaza Gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Gun Control Health HIV Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights conventions human rights damages Human Rights Day human rights decisions human rights news Human Rights Watch Huntington's Disease immigration Immigration/Extradition immunity India Indonesia Infrastructure Planning Committee Inhuman and degrading treatment injunction Inquest Inquests insurance intelligence services act intercept evidence interception interim remedies international international criminal court international law international treaty obligations internet internet service providers internship inuit investigation investigative duty Iran Iranian nuclear program Iraq Iraq War Ireland islam Israel Italy iTunes IVF ivory ban jackson reforms Janowiec and Others v Russia ( Japan Jason Smith Jeremy Corbyn jeremy hunt job Jogee John Hemming John Terry joint enterprise joint tenancy Jon Guant Joseph v Spiller journalism judaism Judges and Juries judging Judicial activism judicial brevity judicial deference judicial review Judicial Review reform judiciary Julian Assange jurisdiction jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Act Justice and Security Bill Justice and Security Green Paper Justice Human Rights Awards JUSTICE Human Rights Awards 2010 just satisfaction Katyn Massacre Kay v UK Ken Clarke Kerry McCarthy Kettling Kings College koran burning Labour Lady Hale LASPO Law Pod UK Law Society of Scotland legal aid legal aid cuts legal blogs Legal Certainty legal naughty step Legal Ombudsman legal representation legitimate expectation let as a dwelling Leveson Inquiry Levi Bellfield lewisham hospital closure lgbtq liability Libel libel reform Liberty library closures Libya licence conditions life sentence lisbon treaty Lithuania Litigation litvinenko live exports local authorities locked in syndrome London Legal Walk London Probation Trust Lord Bingham Lord Blair Lord Goldsmith lord irvine Lord Judge speech Lord Kerr Lord Lester Lord Neuberger Lord Phillips Lord Taylor luftur rahman MAGA Magna Carta Majority Verdict Malcolm Kennedy malice Margaret Thatcher Margin of Appreciation Maria Gallastegui marriage material support maternity pay Matthew Woods Mba v London Borough Of Merton McKenzie friend Media and Censorship Medical medical negligence medical records medicine mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Capacity Act 2005 Mental Health mental health act mental health advocacy mental health awareness Mental illness MGN v UK michael gove Midwives migrant crisis military Milly Dowler Ministry of Justice Ministry of Justice cuts misfeasance in public office modern slavery morality morocco mortuaries motherhood Moulton Mousa MP expenses Mr Gul Mr Justice Eady MS (Palestinian Territories) (FC) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department murder music Musician's Union Muslim NADA v. SWITZERLAND - 10593/08 - HEJUD [2012] ECHR 1691 naked rambler Naomi Campbell nationality National Pro Bono Week national security Natural England nature conservation naturism Nazi negligence Neuberger neuroscience news new Supreme Court President NHS NHS Risk Register Nicklinson Niqaab Noise Regulations 2005 Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance nursing nursing home Obituary Occupy London Offensive Speech oil spill olympics open justice oppress OPQ v BJM orchestra Osama Bin Laden paramountcy principle parental rights parenthood parliamentary expenses parliamentary expenses scandal Parliament square parole board pastor Terry Jones patents Pathway Students Patrick Quinn murder Pensions persecution Personal Injury personality rights perversity PF and EF v UK Phil Woolas phone hacking phone taps physical and mental disabilities physician assisted death Pinnock Piracy Plagiarism planning planning system plebgate POCA podcast points Poland Police police investigations police liability police powers police state police surveillance Policy Exchange report political judges Politics Politics/Public Order poor reporting Pope portal possession proceedings post office power of attorney PoW letters to ministers pre-nup pre-nuptial Pre-trial detention pregnancy press press briefing press freedom Prince Charles prince of wales princess caroline of monaco principle of subsidiarity prior restraint prison Prisoners prisoners rights prisoners voting prisoner vote prisoner votes Prisons prison vote privacy privacy injunction privacy law through the front door Private life private nuisance private use proceeds of crime Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecution Protection of Freedoms Act Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest protest camp protest rights Protocol 15 Public/Private public access publication public authorities Public Bodies Bill public inquiries public interest public interest environmental litigation public interest immunity Public Order Public Sector Equality Duty quango quantum quarantine Queen's Speech queer in the 21st century R (on the application of EH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 2569 (Admin) Rabone and another v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust [2012] UKSC 2 race relations Rachel Corrie Radicalisation Radmacher Ramsgate rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion resuscitation RightsInfo right to die right to family life right to life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials security services sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa south african constitution Spain special advocates spending cuts Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg sumption super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax Taxi technology Terrorism terrorism act tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe

Disclaimer


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: