Practice and Procedure

R (On the application of MELIA) v MERSEYSIDE POLICE (2003)

PUBLISHED April 11, 2003

There had been no breach of the applicant's rights under Art.3 and Art.6 European Convention on Human Rights by the refusal of permission for the applicant's solicitor to attend disciplinary proceedings against police officers.Application for judicial review of the decision on 18 March 2003 of the presiding officer of police disciplinary proceedings to refuse permission to allow the applicant's ('M') solicitor to be present with M at the proceedings. M had been arrested in connection with armed robbery. It was later alleged that the police officers who had arrested M permitted him to take heroin in order to encourage a confession. Disciplinary proceedings ('the proceedings') against the police officers were going to be held and M's criminal trial was to follow. M wished to be present at the proceedings and wished to be accompanied by his solicitor purportedly in the capacity of a friend. The presiding officer refused permission for M's solicitor to be present as the officers concerned had not consented. On the application M argued that: (i) reg.26(2) Police Conduct Regulations 1999 SI 1999/730 did not require the consent of the officers subject to proceedings; (ii) Art.3European Convention on Human Rights was engaged by the facts alleged against the officers in the proceedings; (iii) that it was a breach of Art.3 to refuse to allow M's solicitor to attend; and (iv) the absence of his solicitor at the proceedings adversely affected his future trial such that there was a breach of Art.6 of the Convention.HELD: (1) It was plain from the wording of the Regulations that the presiding officer had no discretion to allow the attendance of a proposed companion without the consent of those subject to the proceedings. (2) The presiding officer had been entitled to conclude that M's solicitor's proposed attendance was in his capacity as M's solicitor rather than as a friend. (3) Article 3 of the Convention was not engaged as the supply of heroin by police officers to a suspect did not constitute degrading treatment. (4) If Art.3 was engaged, there was no breach of it by a failure to allow M's solicitor to attend the proceedings. M's Art.3 rights were protected by the investigative process and criminal proceedings if necessary. There was no question of the investigative process in the present case being at fault. (5) There was no breach of Art.6 of the Convention as it was plain that the facility existed for the disclosure of a transcript of the proceedings so that M's rights in that regard were protected.Application refused.