A v Secretary of State for the Home Department, and X v Secretary of State for the Home Department: HL 16 Dec 2004

The applicants had been imprisoned and held without trial, being suspected of international terrorism. No criminal charges were intended to be brought. They were foreigners and free to return home if they wished, but feared for their lives if they did. A British subject, who was suspected in the exact same way, and there were many such, could not be similarly held. The Government had derogated from their obligations under the Convention to allow such detentions.
Held: The holding of a person without trial must require the strongest justification. Article 5 does not permit internment on security grounds.
Other countries faced with similar threats had not issued derogations from the Convention. Derogating measures must go no further than is strictly required by the exigencies of the situation and the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of nationality or immigration status has not been the subject of derogation. The SIAC set too low a standard for the scrutiny that the national court must carry out in order to test the proposition that the derogation is strictly necessary. The derogation was not proportionate. ‘ There will be a quashing order in respect of the Human Rights Act 1998 (Designated Derogation) Order 2001. There will also be a declaration under section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998 that section 23 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 is incompatible with articles 5 and 14 of the European Convention insofar as it is disproportionate and permits detention of suspected international terrorists in a way that discriminates on the ground of nationality or immigration status. ‘
Lord Hoffmann said: ‘The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve. It is for Parliament to decide whether to give the terrorists such a victory.’
Lord Hope of Craighead: ‘the indefinite detention of foreign nationals without trial has not been shown to be strictly required, as the same threat from British nationals whom the government is unable or unwilling to prosecute is being met by other measures which do not require them to be detained indefinitely without trial. The distinction which the government seeks to draw between these two groups – British nationals and foreign nationals – raises an issue of discrimination. But, as the distinction is irrational, it goes to the heart of the issue about proportionality also. It proceeds on the misconception that it is a sufficient answer to the question whether the derogation is strictly required that the two groups have different rights in the immigration context. So they do. But the derogation is from the right to liberty. The right to liberty is the same for each group. If derogation is not strictly required in the case of one group, it cannot be strictly required in the case of the other group that presents the same threat.’
Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe (dissenting) said: ‘I maintain, a different opinion. I do so for three main reasons: (1) When this country is faced, as it is, with imminent threats from enemies who make use of secrecy, deception and surprise, the need for anti-terrorist measures to be ‘strictly necessary’ must be interpreted in accordance with the precautionary principle recognised by the Strasbourg Court in Ireland v United Kingdom. (2) I agree with the Court of Appeal, and very respectfully disagree with SIAC and the majority of the House, on the issue of discrimination. (3) SIAC is an independent and impartial tribunal of unquestioned standing and expertise. It carefully considers any appeal by a suspected terrorist, and periodically reviews any of its decisions which have been adverse to a detained suspect. I would in no way dissent from condemning the odiousness of indefinite detention at the will of the Executive, but such a description cannot be applied to detention under Part 4 of the 2001 Act without so much qualification as to amount almost to contradiction.’
Baroness Hale of Richmond said: ‘Democracy values each person equally. In most respects, this means that the will of the majority must prevail. But valuing each person equally also means that the will of the majority cannot prevail if it is inconsistent with the equal rights of minorities. As Thomas Jefferson said in his inaugural address: ‘Though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable . . The minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.’ No one has the right to be an international terrorist. But substitute ‘black’, ‘disabled’, ‘female’, ‘gay’, or any other similar adjective for ‘foreign’ before ‘suspected international terrorist’ and ask whether it would be justifiable to take power to lock up that group but not the ‘white’, ‘able-bodied’, ‘male’ or ‘straight’ suspected international terrorists. The answer is clear.’
Lord Bingham said in relation to the application of Article 15 ECHR and whether there was a public emergency threatening the life of the nation: ‘The more purely political (in a broad or narrow sense) a question is, the more appropriate it will be for political resolution and the less likely it is to be an appropriate matter for judicial decision. The smaller, therefore, will be the potential role of the court. It is the function of political and not judicial bodies to resolve political questions.’

Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Carswell
[2004] UKHL 56, Times 17-Dec-2004, [2005] 2 WLR 87, [2005] 2 AC 68, [2005] 3 All ER 169
House of Lords, Bailii
Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 21, Terrorism Act 2000, Human Rights Act 1998 (Designated Derogation) Order 2001 (SI 2001/3644), European Convention on Human Rights 5(1)(f)
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Governor of Durham Prison, ex parte Hardial Singh QBD 13-Dec-1983
Unlawful Detention pending Deportation
An offender had been recommended for deportation following conviction. He had served his sentence and would otherwise have been released on parole. He had no passport and no valid travel documents. He complained that the length of time for which he . .
CitedTan Te Lam v Superintendent of Tai A Chau Detention Centre PC 27-Mar-1996
(Hong Kong) Migrants from Vietnam of Chinese ethnic origin had landed in Hong Kong by boat, and been refused refugee status. They were detained for several years under section 13D of the Immigration Ordinance ‘pending . . removal from Hong Kong’. . .
Appeal fromA, X and Y, and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 25-Oct-2002
The applicant challenged regulations brought in by the respondent providing for foreigners suspected of terrorism to be detained where a British national suspect would not have been detained. The respondent had issued a derogation from the . .
CitedChahal v The United Kingdom ECHR 15-Nov-1996
Proper Reply Opportunity Required on Deportation
(Grand Chamber) The claimant was an Indian citizen who had been granted indefinite leave to remain in this country but whose activities as a Sikh separatist brought him to the notice of the authorities both in India and here. The Home Secretary of . .
CitedLawless v Ireland (No 3) ECHR 1-Jul-1961
The Irish Government derogated from article 5 in July 1957 in order to permit detention without charge or trial, and the applicant was detained between July and December 1957. He could have obtained his release by undertaking to observe the law and . .
CitedBrannigan and McBride v The United Kingdom ECHR 26-May-1993
(Plenary) The applicants who had been detained without trial, challenged the derogation for the Convention by the respondent in respect of terrorist associated activity in Northern Ireland and on the mainland.
Held: The derogation in respect . .
CitedGreek Case ECHR 1969
The Government of Greece sought to persuade the Commission that there had been a public emergency threatening the life of the nation such as would justify a derogation from the Convention.
Held: The contention was rejected. The Commission . .
CitedThe Republic of Ireland v The United Kingdom ECHR 18-Jan-1978
The UK lodged a derogation with the Court as regards its human rights obligations in Northern Ireland because of the need to control terroist activity. The Government of Ireland intervened. From August 1971 until December 1975 the UK authorities . .
CitedAksoy v Turkey ECHR 18-Dec-1996
In the context of Kurdish separatist terrorism which had claimed almost 8000 lives, the court accepted a derogation from the Convention because of a state of emergency. However the applicant had been detained, tortured and finally released without . .
CitedSecretary of State for the Home Department v Rehman HL 11-Oct-2001
The applicant, a Pakistani national had entered the UK to act as a Muslim priest. The Home Secretary was satisfied that he was associated with a Muslim terrorist organisation, and refused indefinite leave to remain. The Home Secretary provided both . .
CitedPadfield v Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food HL 14-Feb-1968
Exercise of Ministerial Discretion
The Minister had power to direct an investigation in respect of any complaint as to the operation of any marketing scheme for agricultural produce. Milk producers complained about the price paid by the milk marketing board for their milk when . .
CitedHatton and Others v United Kingdom ECHR 2-Oct-2001
The appellants claimed that the licence of over-flying from Heathrow at night, by making sleep difficult, infringed their rights to a family life. The times restricting over-flying had been restricted. The applicants’ complaints fell within a . .
CitedBrogan and Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 29-Nov-1988
ECHR Judgment (Merits) – Violation of Art. 5-3; Violation of Art. 5-5; No violation of Art. 5-1; No violation of Art. 5-4; Not necessary to examine Art. 13; Just satisfaction reserved.
The four applicants . .
CitedGarcia Alva v Germany ECHR 13-Feb-2001
The complainant had been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking and was detained on remand. When he brought an application for review of his detention his lawyers were not given access to a number of documents in the file, including the . .
CitedFox, Campbell and Hartley v The United Kingdom ECHR 30-Aug-1990
The court considered the required basis for a reasonable suspicion to found an arrest without a warrant: ‘The ‘reasonableness’ of the suspicion on which an arrest must be based forms an essential part of the safeguard against arbitrary arrest and . .
CitedRegina v Governor of Brixton Prison and Another Ex Parte Evans HL 22-Jul-1994
A defendant in extradition proceedings may not bring his own evidence. He can make representations only. ‘There are thus six steps in the extradition of a suspect from the United Kingdom. First, the foreign court must consider that a charge of . .
CitedDe Freitas v The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Lands and Housing and others PC 30-Jun-1998
(Antigua and Barbuda) The applicant was employed as a civil servant. He joined a demonstration alleging corruption in a minister. It was alleged he had infringed his duties as a civil servant, and he replied that the constitution allowed him to . .
CitedRe Wasfi Suleman Mahmod Admn 1995
The applicant was an Iraqi who had been granted asylum in Germany. On entering England as a visitor he was found in possession of opium and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment with a recommendation for deportation. He was served with a deportation . .
CitedKurt v Turkey ECHR 25-May-1998
The court referred to ‘the fundamental importance of the guarantees contained in Article 5 for securing the right of individuals in a democracy to be free from arbitrary detention at the hands of the authorities’ and to the need to interpret . .
CitedHandyside v The United Kingdom ECHR 7-Dec-1976
The appellant had published a ‘Little Red Schoolbook’. He was convicted under the 1959 and 1964 Acts on the basis that the book was obscene, it tending to deprave and corrupt its target audience, children. The book claimed that it was intended to . .
CitedMurray v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-Oct-1994
The Army’s powers of arrest in Northern Ireland, did not breach the European Convention on Human Rights. . .
CitedFrette v France ECHR 2002
There are certain grounds of factual difference which by common accord are not acceptable, without more, as a basis for different legal treatment, including sexual orientation: ‘. . the Contracting States enjoy a margin of appreciation in assessing . .
CitedIn re S-C (Mental Patient: Habeas Corpus) CA 22-Nov-1995
The Court of Appeal issued habeas corpus because the applicant was committed to a mental institution pursuant to an application which was made by somebody who lacked the statutory authority to make it. The right of personal freedom is fundamental. . .
CitedRegina v Director of Public Prosecutions, ex parte Kebilene and others HL 28-Oct-1999
(Orse Kebeline) The DPP’s appeal succeeded. A decision by the DPP to authorise a prosecution could not be judicially reviewed unless dishonesty, bad faith, or some other exceptional circumstance could be shown. A suggestion that the offence for . .
CitedSecretary of State for the Home Department v International Transport Roth Gmbh and others CA 22-Feb-2002
The Appellant had introduced a system of fining lorry drivers returning to the UK with illegal immigrants hiding away in their trucks. The rules had been found to be in breach of European law and an interference with their human rights. The . .
CitedRelating to certain aspects of the laws on the use of languages in education in Belgium (Belgian Linguistics) No 2 ECHR 9-Feb-1967
The applicants, parents of more than 800 Francophone children, living in certain (mostly Dutch-speaking) parts of Belgium, complained that their children were denied access to an education in French.
Held: In establishing a system or regime to . .
CitedS, Regina (on Application of) v South Yorkshire Police; Regina v Chief Constable of Yorkshire Police ex parte Marper HL 22-Jul-2004
Police Retention of Suspects DNA and Fingerprints
The claimants complained that their fingerprints and DNA records taken on arrest had been retained after discharge before trial, saying the retention of the samples infringed their right to private life.
Held: The parts of DNA used for testing . .
ApprovedCarson and Reynolds v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CA 17-Jun-2003
The claimant Reynolds challenged the differential treatment by age of jobseeker’s allowance. Carson complained that as a foreign resident pensioner, her benefits had not been uprated. The questions in each case were whether the benefit affected a . .
CitedRegina (Annette Carson) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Admn 22-May-2002
The claimant received a UK state pension. She lived in South Africa, and challenged the exclusion of foreign resident pensioners from the annual uprating of pension benefits. She asserted that the state pension, or its uprating, were pecuniary . .
CitedAgee v United Kingdom ECHR 1976
(Commission) The Convention does not create any civil right to nationality or to a right of residence. The Secretary of State had made a deportation order against the applicant, who was a United States citizen, on grounds which included that he had . .
CitedMichalak v London Borough of Wandsworth CA 6-Mar-2002
The appellant had occupied for a long time a room in a house let by the authority. After the death of the tenant, the appellant sought, but was refused, a statutory tenancy. He claimed to be a member of the tenant’s family, and that the list of . .
CitedMaaouia v France ECHR 5-Oct-2000
A deportation order, made against a Tunisian, was eventually quashed by the French Administrative Court and the Article 6 complaints related to the length of time taken in the proceedings. The Court’s reasoning why Article 6 does not apply to . .
CitedStubbings and Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 22-Oct-1996
There was no human rights breach where the victims of sex abuse had been refused a right to sue for damages out of time. The question is whether and to what extent differences in otherwise similar situations justify a different treatment in law: . .
CitedMoustaquim v Belgium ECHR 18-Feb-1991
The applicant was a Moroccan national who arrived in Belgium in 1965 when he was aged under 2. In 1984, nineteen years later, after a career of juvenile crime, he was deported, but the deportation order was suspended in 1989 and he returned to . .
CitedRegina v Immigration Officer at Prague Airport and another, ex parte European Roma Rights Centre and others HL 9-Dec-2004
Extension oh Human Rights Beyond Borders
The appellants complained that the system set up by the respondent where Home Office officers were placed in Prague airport to pre-vet applicants for asylum from Romania were dsicriminatory in that substantially more gypsies were refused entry than . .
CitedLeander v Sweden ECHR 26-Mar-1987
Mr Leander had been refused employment at a museum located on a naval base, having been assessed as a security risk on the basis of information stored on a register maintained by State security services that had not been disclosed him. Mr Leander . .
CitedChassagnou and Others v France ECHR 29-Apr-1999
A law permitted local authorities to oblige landowners to transfer hunting rights over private land to approved hunting associations. The landowners could not prevent hunting on their property. Landowners so affected were made members automatically . .
CitedMarshall v United Kingdom ECHR 10-Jul-2001
In 1998 the authorities in Northern Ireland continued to be confronted with the threat of terrorist violence, even although, by that time, its actual incidence had gone down. There had therefore been no return to normality and there was no basis for . .
CitedRegina v British Broadcasting Corporation ex parte Pro-life Alliance HL 15-May-2003
The Alliance was a political party seeking to air its party election broadcast. The appellant broadcasters declined to broadcast the film on the grounds that it was offensive, being a graphical discussion of the processes of abortion.
Held: . .
CitedGaygusuz v Austria ECHR 16-Sep-1996
The applicant was a Turkish national resident in Austria. While working there he had paid unemployment insurance contributions. At a stage when he was unemployed he applied for an advance on his pension in the form of emergency assistance. That was . .

Cited by:
CitedAlabaster v Barclays Bank Plc and Another CA 3-May-2005
The claimant sought increased maternity pay. Before beginning her maternity leave she had been awarded a pay increase, but it was not backdated so as to affect the period upon which the calculation of her average pay was based. The court made a . .
CitedOccidental Exploration and Production Company vRepublic of Ecuador CA 9-Sep-2005
The parties had arbitrated their dispute in London under a bilateral investment treaty between the US and Ecuador. The republic sought to appeal the arbitration. The applicant now appealed an order that the English High Court had jurisdiction to . .
CitedForbes v Secretary of State for the Home Department QBD 26-Jul-2005
The defendant argued that the 2003 Act was in breach of his article 8 rights. He had been registered as a sex offender, but the offence for which he had been convicted involved no proof of intention.
Held: The claimant having brought the . .
See AlsoA and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) HL 8-Dec-2005
The applicants had been detained following the issue of certificates issued by the respondent that they posed a terrorist threat. They challenged the decisions of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission saying that evidence underlying the . .
CitedGillan, Regina (on the Application of) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and Another HL 8-Mar-2006
The defendants said that the stop and search powers granted under the 2000 Act were too wide, and infringed their human rights. Each had been stopped when innocently attending demonstrations in London, and had been effectively detained for about . .
CitedSK, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 25-Jan-2008
The claimant was a Zimbabwean National who was to be removed from the country. He was unlawfully held in detention pending removal. He sought damages for false imprisonment. He had been held over a long period pending decisions in the courts on the . .
CitedCorner House Research and Campaign Against Arms Trade, Regina (on the Application of) v Director of the Serious Fraud Office and Another Admn 10-Apr-2008
The defendant had had responsibility to investigate and if necessary prosecute a company suspected of serious offences of bribery and corruption in the conduct of contract negotiations. The investigation had been stopped, alledgedly at the . .
CitedMurungaru v Secretary of State for the Home Department and others CA 12-Sep-2008
The claimant was a former Kenyan minister. He had been visiting the UK for medical treatment. His visas were cancelled on the basis that his presence was not conducive to the public good. Public Interest Immunity certificates had been issued to . .
CitedSK (Zimbabwe) v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 6-Nov-2008
Immigration detention proper after prison release
The Home Secretary appealed against a finding that he had unlawfully detained the applicant. The applicant had been detained on release from prison pending his return to Zimbabwe as recommended by the sentencing judge under section 6 of the 1971 . .
CitedRostami, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department QBD 7-Aug-2009
The claimant had been detained for nearly three years while his application for asylum was determined. He sought judicial review, saying that the detention was unlawful. Whilst in detention he had self harmed and said: ‘I will stay in detention for . .
CitedBank Mellat v Her Majesty’s Treasury CA 4-May-2010
The claimants sought damages after being made subject of orders under the 2009 Order. Both parties appealed against an order (partly closed) allowing some but restricting other disclosure and use against the claimants in court of evidence which they . .
CitedHXA v The Home Office QBD 21-May-2010
The claimant challenged as unlawful his administrative detention for 10 months pending deportation. . .
CitedKambadzi (previously referred to as SK (Zimbabwe)) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 25-May-2011
False Imprisonment Damages / Immigration Detention
The respondent had held the claimant in custody, but had failed to follow its own procedures. The claimant appealed against the rejection of his claim of false imprisonment. He had overstayed his immigration leave, and after convictions had served a . .
CitedBritish Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Ahmad Admn 11-Jan-2012
The BBC wished to interview the prisoner who had been detained pending extradition to the US since 2004, and now challenged decision to refuse the interview.
Held: The claim succeeded. The decision was quashed and must be retaken. If ever any . .
CitedNunn v Suffolk Constabulary and Another Admn 4-May-2012
The claimant had been convicted of murder and his appeal had failed. He now sought disclosure of the forensic material held by the police to his own legal team.
Held: Permission to apply for review was granted, but the claim failed. ‘It is . .
CitedBank Mellat v Her Majesty’s Treasury (No 2) SC 19-Jun-2013
The bank challenged measures taken by HM Treasury to restrict access to the United Kingdom’s financial markets by a major Iranian commercial bank, Bank Mellat, on the account of its alleged connection with Iran’s nuclear weapons and ballistic . .
CitedLord Carlile of Berriew QC, and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 12-Nov-2014
The claimant had supported the grant of a visa to a woman in order to speak to members of Parliament who was de facto leader of an Iranian organsation which had in the past supported terrorism and had been proscribed in the UK, but that proscription . .
CitedSteinfeld and Keidan, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for International Development (In Substitution for The Home Secretary and The Education Secretary) SC 27-Jun-2018
The applicants, an heterosexual couple wished to enter into a civil partnership under the 2004 Act, rather than a marriage. They complained that had they been a same sex couple they would have had that choice under the 2013 Act.
Held: The . .
CitedMiller, Regina (On the Application Of) v The Prime Minister QBD 11-Sep-2019
Prorogation request was non-justiciable
The claimant sought to challenge the prorogation of Parliament by the Queen at the request of the respondent.
Held: The claim failed: ‘the decision of the Prime Minister to advise Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue Parliament is not justiciable . .
CitedReprieve and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v The Prime Minister Admn 30-Jun-2020
Standing may not be enough for JR
The claimants sought judicial review of the defendant’s decision that it was no longer necessary to establish a public inquiry to investigate allegations of involvement of the United Kingdom intelligence services in torture, mistreatment and . .
CitedB (Algeria) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 8-Feb-2018
Bail conditions only after detention
B had been held under immigration detention, but released by SIAC, purportedly in conditional bail, after they found there was no realistic prospect of his deportation because he had not disclosed his true identity. The court was asked ‘whether . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Prisons

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.220326