Case of European Court of Human Rights, September 25, 2001 (case P.G. and J.H. v. the United Kingdom)

Resolution DateSeptember 25, 2001

Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 34

September 2001

P.G. and J.H. v. the United Kingdom - 44787/98

Judgment 25.9.2001 [Section III]

Article 6

Criminal proceedings

Article 6-1

Fair hearing

Non-disclosure, on ground of public interest immunity, of material held by prosecution: no violation

Use in criminal trial of evidence obtained in violation of the Convention: no violation

Article 8

Article 8-1

Respect for private life

Installation of covert listening device on private property: violation

Use of covert listening device in police station: violation

Acquisition by police of information relating to use of private telephone: no violation

Facts: Acting on information that an armed robbery was planned by the first applicant and B., the responsible police officer submitted a report to the Chief Constable in support of an application for authorisation to instal a covert listening device in B.'s flat. On 4 March 1995, the Chief Constable, who was on annual leave, gave oral authorisation to proceed. He did not provide written confirmation, as required by Home Office guidelines; the Deputy Chief Constable gave "retrospective" written authorisation four days later, by which time the device had been installed. Conversations at the flat were monitored and recorded until the device was discovered on 15 March and the premises were abandoned. The police also obtained from the telephone operator itemised billing in relation to the telephone in the flat. Although no robbery took place, the applicants were arrested and later charged with conspiracy to rob. On legal advice, they declined to comment and refused to provide speech samples. The police then obtained authorisation, in accordance with the guidelines, to instal covert listening devices in the applicants' cells and to attach such devices to the officers who were to be present when the applicants were charged. Samples of the applicants' speech were recorded without their knowledge and sent to an expert for comparison with the voices recorded at the flat. The applicants challenged the admissibility of evidence derived from the use of the listening device in the flat. The prosecution invoked public interest immunity in respect of certain documents which it did not wish to disclose to the defence, including the report submitted to the Chief Constable. The police officer concerned declined to answer questions put to him in cross-examination, on the ground that it might reveal sensitive material...

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