UK Government reacts to European stop and search appeal rebuff (update with court’s letter)

July 1, 2010

Trafalgar Square protest imageIn January, thousands of UK photographers protested against police use of anti-terror stop and search – powers that officers are given under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. The Home Office today said it is considering the implications of the European appeal ruling rejection. The court had earlier ruled that Section 44 is unlawful

The Home Office has issued a statement following the European rejection of a UK Government appeal over the legality of Section 44 anti-terrorism stop-and search tactics.

Yesterday it emerged that the European Court of Human Rights had rejected the former Government’s appeal against a court ruling that police use of Section 44 stop-and-search powers is illegal.

The court has told Amateur Photographer that the ‘chamber judgement is now final’.

Despite this latest decision, it appears that police will continue to conduct Section 44 stops for the foreseeable future.

A Home Office spokesman told Amateur Photographer this morning: ‘The Government has already committed to reviewing counter-terrorism legislation which will include the operation of the Section 44 stop-and-search provisions.’

He added: ‘We are currently giving full consideration to the judgement and its implications.’

Police use of Section 44 stop-and-search anti-terrorism powers was ruled unlawful by the European Court of Human Rights in January.

The controversial law, which allows police officers to stop and search people without grounds for suspicion, has been heavily criticised by many, including photographers.

The case had involved Kevin Gillan and Pennie Quinton who were stopped outside the Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibition in London in 2003.

Quinton had been filming a protest outside the exhibition, which took place in Docklands.

The court had ruled that their rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated.

A spokesman for the European Court of Human Rights told us today: ‘I can confirm that the British Government’s request to have the case Gillan and Quinton referred to the Grand Chamber was rejected on 28 June 2010.’

Amateur Photographer has seen a copy of the court’s letter to the UK Government, rejecting the appeal. It was sent to the legal department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 29 June, and is reproduced below.

Meanwhile, rules on photography in public places have been spelled out in black and white on a photographers’ lens cloth set to be given away free with Amateur Photographer magazine’s 10 July issue. The magazine, with lens cloth attached, hits newsstands next Tuesday.

Appeal rejection letterThis is a copy of a letter sent by the European Court of Human Rights to the UK Government, rejecting the appeal. It was sent to the legal department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 29 June. It ratifies the court’s earlier decision that Section 44 stop-and-search is illegal.


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