West Law Report

Permitting collaboration is no breach of rights

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on November 9, 2008

From The Times
October 22, 2008
Permitting collaboration is no breach of rights

Queen’s Bench Division

Published October 22, 2008

Regina (Saunders) v Independent Police Complaints Commission and Another Regina (Tucker) v Same

Before Mr Justice Underhill

Judgment October 10, 2008

The Independent Police Complaints Commission did not act incompatibly with human rights in not giving a direction to chief officers to prohibit conferring among police officers following a fatal shooting by them.

Mr Justice Underhill so held in the Queen’s Bench Division when: (i) dismissing in part a claim for judicial review by Miss Charlotte Saunders of the way in which the investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the fatal shooting by police marksmen of her brother, Mark Saunders, was being conducted; and (ii) dismissing in its entirety a claim for judicial review by Miss Corinna Tucker of the way in which the investigation by the commission into the fatal shooting by police officers of her brother, Dayniel Tucker, was being conducted.

In both cases it was accepted that no steps had been taken, either by the police or by the commission staff, to prevent the officers who were most centrally involved in the incidents from speaking to one another before they gave their first accounts of what had happened; or, more particularly, to prevent them from collaborating in producing the notebook entries or statements which constituted those accounts. It was also accepted that the officers did in fact so collaborate.

Both claimants submitted that the defendants were in breach of their duty by failing to take adequate steps to minimise the risk of such conferring and collaboration.

The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and the Chief Constable of Kent were joined as defendants during the course of the hearing.

Mr Tim Owen, QC and Mr Hugh Southey for Miss Saunders; Ms Phillippa Kaufmann for Miss Tucker; Miss Dinah Rose, QC, Mr Tom Weisselberg and Mr Stephen Morley for the commission; Mr Edmund Lawson, QC and Mr Sam Grodzinski for the commissioner; Mr Richard Perks for the chief constable; Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC and Ms Clair Dobbin for the Association of Chief Police Officers, interested party; Mr Michael Egan, QC for the Police Federation of England and Wales, interested party.

MR JUSTICE UNDERHILL said that the relevant statements of principle emerging from Ramsahai v The Netherlands (Application No 52391/99) ((2005) 43 EHRR 823) were that there must in every case of a killing by state agents be an effective investigation, and that in order to be effective such an investigation must be both independent and adequate.

The commission was a public authority and the claimants’ only route to relief was via section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

It had been reasonable for the commission to judge that the giving of a direction under paragraph 14B(6) of Schedule 3 to the Police Reform Act 2002, as inserted by section 160 of, and paragraphs 1, 11 and 12 of Schedule 12 to the Serious Orgainsed Crime and Police Act 2005, to relevant chief officers to prohibit conferring, so far as possible, and in particular to countermand the guidance of the Association of Chief Police Officers and prevent officers collaborating in producing their first accounts, would be more likely to hinder than to promote an effective investigation, because of the risk that it would encourage noncooperation by officers.

In not giving a direction of the kind contended for by the claimants the commission had not acted incompatibly with their rights under article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

There was a discrete issue as to the construction of section 21 of the 2002 Act and the duty of the commission to keep interested people properly informed about the progress of the investigation.

It was part of the policy of the 2002 Act that the commission should be as open as was reasonably possible in the communication of information to interested persons.

The degree of information necessary to satisfy the commission’s obligation under section 21(6) inevitably required an exercise of judgment as to what was necessary to keep interested persons properly informed and as to what truly affected the process of the investigation.

The judgment of what information required to be disclosed could, in the nature of things, be made only by the body conducting the investigation, although of course it would be subject to the intervention of the court where that judgment was exercised irrationally or otherwise unlawfully.

Solicitors: Deighton Guedalla; Bhatt Murphy; Mr John Tate, Westminster; Mr Edward Solomons, Victoria; Ms Beverley Newman, Maidstone; Bircham Dyson Bell; Russell Jones & Walker.

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