Miranda Detention, Whole Life Tariffs and a Supreme Court ‘Holy Man’ – the Human Rights Roundup

25 February 2014 by

HRR MirandaWelcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your regular high water mark of human rights news and views.  The full list of links can be found here.  You can find previous roundups here.  Links compiled by Adam Wagner, post by Celia Rooney. 

This week, the detention of David Miranda (pictured) was declared lawful by the High Court, while, in other news, the Court of Appeal has thrown in its lot to the saga of the whole-life tariff and the Supreme Court considered the thorny issue of religion and law.

In the News

Religion v Law in the Supreme Court

On Wednesday and Thursday, in Khaira and others (Respondents) v. Shergill and others (Appellants) the Supreme Court considered again the controversial issue of religion and law. UKHRB editor Adam Wagner assisted two of the respondents in the case (trustees for the High Wycombe Gudwara), instructed by Bindmans.

The question for the Court was whether or not to overturn the Court of Appeal’s ruling staying a case involving the central question of whether or not a religious figure in India, who calls himself the ‘Third Holy Sant’, has powers effectively to take control of two Sikh Gudwaras (places of worship) in the UK.  The case was stayed by Lord Justice Mummery on the basis that it involved issues of faith which were ‘non-justiciable’.

David Hart QC’s post on the Court of Appeal case is here; for commentary on the current appeal see the Law and Religion UK blog.

Miranda Detention Ruled Lawful

This week, the High Court has ruled that the 9-hour detention at Heathrow Airport of David Miranda, the partner of ex-Guardian journalist, Glenn Greenwald, was lawful.  Mr Miranda had been carrying electronic documents on behalf of his partner who was, at the time, involved in a series of publications concerning information passed to him by US whistle-blower, Edward Snowden.  For more information, see the BBC website here.

Rosalind England has summarised the case on the UK Human Rights BlogOver at the Head of Legal Blog, Carl Gardner has drawn attention to key aspects of Laws LJ’s judgment.  Of note in this regard is his challenge to the characterisation of the issue as one involving a clash between a private right and a public interest.  The heightened protection that journalists may receive is not for their own benefit – but for the sake of the public.  Thus, Laws LJ suggests that this case involves the clash of two public interests.  Moreover, the court made it clear that the powers had been used proportionately in this case, without hindering freedom of expression unnecessarily.  In this regard, it was noted that the assessment of the risk involved in disclosure was for the government, and not Mr Miranda, to assess, in light of the fact that a journalist may not fully appreciate the significance of the material in his or her possession.

UK Courts and the Whole Life Tariff 

In another major judgment, the Court of Appeal added its voice to the on-going whole-life tariff debate this week in McLoughlin, R v [2014] EWCA Crim 188.  Distancing itself from the decision of the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights in Vinter & Ors v UK (Application No.s 66069/09, 130/10 and 3896/10), the 5-bench court suggested that the whole-life tariff regime in the UK is compatible with Article 3 (prohibition against torture) of the Convention.  The UK Human Rights Blog post on this case can be found here.

An interesting commentary on the likely implications of this judgment by Carl Gardner for the Head of Legal blog can be found here.  Gardner also suggests that this case is part of a growing trend where UK courts do not feel bound to follow Strasbourg authority but are, rather, willing to enter into a judicial dialogue with the courts to see who will ‘blink first’.  Lyndon Harris, however, writing for Halsbury’s Law Exchange blog, suggests that we should not be too quick to categorise this as a ‘win’ for the UK over Strasbourg – suggesting that the European Court wanted a review mechanism in whole-life tariffs, and the Court of Appeal simply found one.

Similarly, on Public Law for Everyone blog, Mark Elliott also makes it clear that we should take time to fully understand the diverging approaches of the Court of Appeal and the Court of Human Rights.  Interestingly, he notes that the UK court has not interpreted the Convention differently to the Strasbourg court.  Nor has it challenged Strasbourg’s conclusion on the implications of Article 3 on whole life tariffs.  Instead, he highlights that the UK court has differed in its interpretation of UK law – by finding that the limited possibility for release under s30 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 makes the British whole-life tariff regime Convention-compliant.  Under that provision the Secretary of State has the discretion to release prisoners in limited circumstances.  In light of the Human Rights Act, however, that power must be used so as not to violate the ECHR – effectively widening the circumstances under which he or she must consider release.  Dr Elliott thus concludes that the Court of Appeal has differed in its interpretation of UK law, but it has not defied Strasbourg.

In Others News

  • Five disabled tenants have lost their appeal against the ‘bedroom tax’ in the Court of Appeal this week.  The court made it clear that it would not intervene in what was a controversial matter of policy.
  • It has been announced that the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear the case of Delfi AS v Estonia, which will consider whether imposing liability on a company for comments posted on its Internet portal constitutes a proportionate restriction of freedom of expression.  For more information, see this post on the Inforrm blog.
  • Writing for the Law and Religion Blog, Frank Cranmer has considered the implications of the case of AN v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] UKAITUR DA013242013 for the veils in court debate.  In that case, the court called for imaginative responses to the issue, suggesting that the use of screens and video link evidence may sometimes be appropriate, and that we should perhaps consider limiting courtroom audiences. 

In the Courts

High Court rejects human rights challenge by man convicted of terrorism offences to his licence conditions

High Court: Detention of David Miranda for the purpose of determining whether he appears to be “concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism” was lawful

The Supreme Court overruled the finding of the Court of Appeal that only a systemic breach, rather than a mere breach, of an asylum seeker’s Article 3 rights would suffice to justify allowing the asylum seeker to remain in the UK, where the other country in question, Italy, was deemed a ‘safe country of origin’.  The correct question was whether there was a real possibility of treatment contrary to Article 3 in Italy.

Upcoming Events 

To add to this list, email Adam Wagner.  Please only send events which i) have their own webpage which can be linked to, and ii) are relevant to the topics covered by this blog.

UK Human Rights Blog Posts

1 comment;

  1. Tim says:

    “Five disabled tenants have lost their appeal against the ‘bedroom tax’ in the Court of Appeal this week. The court made it clear that it would not intervene in what was a controversial matter of policy.”

    Love how the word “controversial” is used to acceptable-ise the bullying of disabled people, contrary to, inrer alia, discrimination law. The UK is just like Nazi Germany.

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.




Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals Anne Sacoolas 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 care homes 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 consent conservation constitution contact order contact tracing 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 diplomatic relations 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 Facial Recognition 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 hague convention Harry Dunn Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Human Rights Watch Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests insurance international law internet inuit Iran Iraq Ireland islam Israel Italy IVF ivory ban Japan joint enterprise judaism judicial review Judicial Review reform Julian Assange jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legal aid cuts Leveson Inquiry lgbtq liability Libel Liberty Libya lisbon treaty Lithuania local authorities marriage Media and Censorship mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery morocco murder music Muslim nationality national security naturism neuroscience NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury physician assisted death Piracy Plagiarism planning planning system Poland Police Politics Pope press prison Prisoners prisoner votes Prisons privacy procurement Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecutions prostituton Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries quarantine Radicalisation refugee rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania round-up Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials sexual offence shamima begum Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance sweatshops Syria Tax technology Terrorism The Round Up tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal credit universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Weekly Round-up Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe


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: