Practice and Procedure

R (On the application of A) v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (2003)

PUBLISHED November 28, 2003

Article 10 European Convention on Human Rights was not violated by requirements for the monitoring of journalists' interviews with asylum seekers detained as suspected terrorists. The requirements were justified by the need to safeguard national security and to safeguard good order and discipline at the prisons where the suspected terrorists were held.Application for judicial review of the decision of the respondent ('the Home Secretary') permitting five of the six claimants to be interviewed by journalists only if the interviews were conducted within earshot of officials and were tape-recorded. The claimants were asylum seekers who were each the subject of certificates issued by the Home Secretary under s.21 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 on the basis that he suspected they were terrorists and believed that their presence in the United Kingdom was a risk to national security. Consequently each claimant was detained pursuant to the powers in the Immigration Act 1971 as modified by the 2001 Act. They were all classified as category A prisoners and held in prisons, with the exception of the sixth claimant who was a patient in Broadmoor Hospital, for which the interested party ('the trust') was responsible. The claimants alleged that the monitoring conditions breached Art.10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It was conceded that the monitoring would interfere with the right of the claimants to freedom of expression. However, the Home Secretary submitted that monitoring was necessary in a democratic society, within the meaning of Art.10(2), as it was required to safeguard national security and to safeguard good order and discipline at the prisons where the claimants were held. It was common ground that, if the sixth claimant wished to be interviewed and a journalist wanted to interview him, it was for the trust, in particular the responsible medical officer ('RMO'), to determine his application.HELD: (1) The application failed for the reasons given by the Home Secretary. (2) The claimants were justifiably suspected of being terrorists whose continued presence in the UK was a threat to national security. It was accepted that the claimants were properly detained in accommodation for category A prisoners. The maintenance of good order and discipline within prisons was normally held to require a degree of monitoring when prisoners in such accommodation were interviewed, and the additional dimension of national security provided ample justification for the extra measure proposed, namely tape-recording. The restrictions imposed fell within Art.10(2) of the Convention. The balance struck by the Home Secretary in determining the conditions was not one with which the court should interfere. (3) Even if the RMO was prepared to countenance an unmonitored interview, she/he could not be the final arbiter when issues arose in relation to national security. Thus the trust could impose conditions that the RMO might consider unnecessary. It would be unobjectionable for monitoring measures, of the same type as those decided on by the Home Secretary, to be applied to a patient in Broadmoor.Application dismissed.

[2003] EWHC 2846 (Admin)