Amin, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department: HL 16 Oct 2003

Prisoner’s death – need for full public enquiry

The deceased had been a young Asian prisoner. He was placed in a cell overnight with a prisoner known to be racist, extremely violent and mentally unstable. He was killed. The family sought an inquiry into the death.
Held: There had been a police investigation and trial where the cell-mate had been convicted of murder, an internal Prisons Service inquiry, and an enquiry by the Commission for Racial Equality. The coroner had not held an inquest. In none had the full range of issues been explored, or the family been involved in the investigation process. When taking a prisoner, the state assumed a high duty of care toward him and was to be accountable for failures in that care. That required greater involvement in the process than had been given to the family. Although the degree of public involvement might vary, that of the family cannot be minimised. A profound respect for the sanctity of human life underpins the common law as it underpins the jurisprudence under articles 1 and 2 of the Convention. The procedural obligation under Article 2 is comprehensively protected under our law. A public enquiry should be held.
Lord Bingham said that an investigation was required: ‘to ensure so far as possible that the full facts are brought to light; that culpable and discreditable conduct is exposed and brought to public notice; that suspicion of deliberate wrongdoing (if unjustified) is allayed; that dangerous practices and procedures are rectified; and that those who have lost their loved ones may at least have the satisfaction of knowing that lessons learned from his death may save the lives of others.’

Judges:

Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord Steyn, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Hutton

Citations:

[2003] UKHL 51, Times 17-Oct-2003, [2003] 3 WLR 1169, Gazette 20-Nov-2003, [2004] 1 AC 653, [2004] UKHRR 75, (2004) 76 BMLR 143, [2003] 4 All ER 1264, [2004] HRLR 3, 15 BHRC 362

Links:

House of Lords, Bailii

Statutes:

Coroners Act 1988 8(1)(c), European Convention on Human Rights 1 2(1)

Jurisdiction:

England and Wales

Citing:

Appeal fromRegina (Amin) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Regina (Middleton) v Coroner for West Somersetshire CA 27-Mar-2002
A prisoner had been killed in his cell by a cell-mate known to be unstable and racist. His family sought to be involved in the inquiry into the death within the prison system. A second prisoner hanged himself in his cell. His family alleged that he . .
CitedMcCann and Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 6-Oct-1995
Wrong assumptions made by police officers in the killing of terrorists amounted to a human rights breach, despite the existence of danger to the public of an imminent attack. Article 2(1) is ‘one of the most fundamental provisions in the . .
CitedSalman v Turkey ECHR 27-Jun-2000
Where someone dies or is injured whilst in custody the burden is on the state to provide a ‘satisfactory and convincing explanation’ of what has happened: ‘Persons in custody are in a vulnerable position and the authorities are under a duty to . .
CitedJordan v United Kingdom; McKerr v United Kingdom; similar ECHR 4-May-2001
Proper Investigation of Deaths with Army or Police
Claims were made as regards deaths of alleged terrorists in clashes with the UK armed forces and police. In some cases the investigations necessary to justify the taking of life had been inadequate. Statements made to the inquiry as to the . .
CitedYasa v Turkey ECHR 2-Sep-1998
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objection rejected (victim); Preliminary objection rejected (non-exhaustion); No violation of Art. 2; Violation of Art. 2 (effective investigation); . .
CitedOsman v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-Oct-1998
Police’s Complete Immunity was Too Wide
(Grand Chamber) A male teacher developed an obsession with a male pupil. He changed his name by deed poll to the pupil’s surname. He was required to teach at another school. The pupil’s family’s property was subjected to numerous acts of vandalism, . .
CitedEdwards v The United Kingdom ECHR 14-Mar-2002
The deceased, a young man of mixed race, had been placed in a cell with another prisoner who was known to be violent, racist, and mentally unstable. The staff knew that the panic button was defective. The deceased was murdered by his cell-mate. His . .
CitedMenson v United Kingdom ECHR 6-May-2003
There had been a racist attack. The victim was set on fire and killed in the street by assailants. His relatives sought compensation. However the assailants were not agents of the state and they were duly prosecuted, convicted and sentenced. No . .
CitedRegina (Wright) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 2001
A serving prisoner suffered a severe asthmatic attack in his cell and died. An inquest was held at which the family of the deceased were present, but unrepresented for want of legal aid. There was no inquiry into the quality of the medical treatment . .
CitedNilabati Behera v State of Orissa 24-Mar-1993
Supreme Court of India – The state owes a particular duty to those involuntarily in its custody. ‘There is a great responsibility on the police or prison authorities to ensure that the citizen in its custody is not deprived of his right to life’. . .
CitedCommissioner of Police for the Metropolis v Reeves (Joint Administratix of The Estate of Martin Lynch, Deceased) HL 15-Jul-1999
The deceased was a prisoner known to be at risk of committing suicide. Whilst in police custody he hanged himself in his prison cell. The Commissioner accepted that he was in breach of his duty of care to the deceased, but not that that breach was . .
CitedRegina (Wright) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 2001
A serving prisoner suffered a severe asthmatic attack in his cell and died. An inquest was held at which the family of the deceased were present, but unrepresented for want of legal aid. There was no inquiry into the quality of the medical treatment . .
ApprovedJohn v Rees and Others; Martin and Another v Davis and Others ChD 1969
The Court was asked as to the validity of proceedings at a meeting of the members of the local Labour Party which had broken up in disorder. The proceedings were instituted by the leader of one faction on behalf of himself and all other members of . .

Cited by:

Appealed toRegina (Amin) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Regina (Middleton) v Coroner for West Somersetshire CA 27-Mar-2002
A prisoner had been killed in his cell by a cell-mate known to be unstable and racist. His family sought to be involved in the inquiry into the death within the prison system. A second prisoner hanged himself in his cell. His family alleged that he . .
CitedIn re McKerr (Northern Ireland) HL 11-Mar-2004
The deceased had been shot by soldiers of the British Army whilst in a car in Northern Ireland. The car was alleged to have ‘run’ a checkpoint. The claimants said the investigation, now 20 years ago, had been inadequate. The claim was brought under . .
CitedSacker, Regina (on the Application of) v Coroner for the County of West Yorkshire HL 11-Mar-2004
The deceased committed suicide in prison. Her family sought to have added to the verdict the words ‘contributed by neglect’ and complained that the inquest had not provided a full and proper investigation of the death.
Held: The Act needed to . .
CitedThree Rivers District Council and others v Governor and Company of the Bank of England (No 6) HL 11-Nov-2004
The Bank anticipated criticism in an ad hoc enquiry which was called to investigate its handling of a matter involving the claimant. The claimant sought disclosure of the documents created when the solicitors advised employees of the Bank in . .
CitedBennett v Officers A and B and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis CA 2-Nov-2004
Police Officers had been involved in a shooting in which a man died. They were granted anonymity before the coroner’s court, on evidence suggesting they might be at risk. The family of the deceased appealed.
Held: The coroner misdirected . .
CitedD, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 28-Apr-2005
D was undergoing trial for offences and was held in prison. He self-harmed repeatedly, and was recorded to require extra vigilance. He attempted to hang himself. Prison staff saved his life, but he was left paraplegic, and was then detained under . .
CitedPlymouth City Council v HM Coroner for the County of Devon and Another Admn 27-May-2005
The local authority in whose care the deceased child had been held challenged a decision by the coroner not to limit his inquiry to the last few days of the child’s life. The coroner had decided that he had an obligation to conduct a wider enquiry . .
CitedTakoushis, Regina (on the Application of) v HM Coroner for Inner North London and others CA 30-Nov-2005
Relatives sought judicial review of the coroner’s decision not to allow a jury, and against allowance of an expert witness. The deceased had been a mental patient but had been arrested with a view to being hospitalised. He was taken first to the . .
CitedRegina (on the Application of Mazin Mumaa Galteh Al-Skeini and Others) v The Secretary of State for Defence CA 21-Dec-2005
The claimants were dependants of Iraqi nationals killed in Iraq.
Held: The Military Police were operating when Britain was an occupying power. The question in each case was whether the Human Rights Act applied to the acts of the defendant. The . .
CitedD, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Inquest Intervening) CA 28-Feb-2006
The respondent appealed from orders made as to the conduct of an investigation into an attempted suicide in prison. The judge had severely criticised the appellant’s treatment of the case.
Held: The appeal failed. The court recited the . .
CitedGentle and Others, Regina (on the Application of) v the Prime Minister and others Admn 20-Dec-2005
The applicants sought leave to bring judicial review of the decisions which led to the invasion of Iraq. They were relatives of servicemen who had died there.
Held: The court’s only duty at this stage was to ask whether there was an arguable . .
CitedScholes, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 16-Jan-2006
The deceased had committed suicide whilst in a Young Offenders Institute. The coroner had called for a further enquiry into the way he had been sentenced. The Home Office refused a public enquiry saying that the coroner’s inquest had satisfied its . .
CitedJL, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice; Regina (L (A Patient)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 26-Nov-2008
The prisoner was left with serious injury after attempting suicide in prison. He said that there was a human rights duty to hold an investigation into the circumstances leading up to this.
Held: There existed a similar duty to hold an enhanced . .
CitedSavage v South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MIND intervening) HL 10-Dec-2008
The deceased had committed suicide on escaping from a mental hospital. The Trust appealed against a refusal to strike out the claim that that they had been negligent in having inadequate security.
Held: The Trust’s appeal failed. The fact that . .
CitedPounder, Regina (on the Application of) v HM Coroner for the North and South Districts of Durham and Darlington and others Admn 22-Jan-2009
The deceased died aged 14 in a Secure Training Centre by hanging. He had complained of his treatment and restraint methods used. The mother sought judicial review of the conduct of the inquest, wanting the coroner not to have ruled on the legality . .
CitedReynolds, Regina (on the Application of) v Sussex Police and Another Admn 16-May-2008
The complainant’s brother had been arrested for being drunk. After a time in a cell, he was found unwell and fell into a coma. Complaints were made of his treatment. The Police Complaints Commission was to investigate the events after the arrest . .
CitedReynolds, Regina (on the Application of) v Independent Police Complaints Commission and Another CA 22-Oct-2008
The court was asked to consider whether the IPCC could investigate the circumstances leading to the arrest of a suspect who fell into a coma after being arrested for being drunk. The IPCC appealed, saying that it did not have jurisdiction to . .
CitedMitchell and Another v Glasgow City Council HL 18-Feb-2009
(Scotland) The pursuers were the widow and daughter of a tenant of the respondent who had been violently killed by his neighbour. They said that the respondent, knowing of the neighbour’s violent behaviours had a duty of care to the deceased and . .
AppliedP, Regina (On the Application of) v Secretary Of State for Justice CA 6-Jul-2009
P appealed against the refusal of a judicial review of a decision by the respondent not to hold an enquiry into the circumstances of P’s detention in Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution.
Held: The appeal failed. Before such an enquiry became . .
CitedMorrison v The Independent Police Complaints Commission and Others Admn 26-Oct-2009
The claimant made a complaint of a serious assault by the police, by the use of a Taser. The defendant had referred the complaint to the IPCC, who said that they should investigate it themselves. The claimant said that to accord with his human . .
CitedP, Regina (on The Application of) v HM Coroner for The District of Avon CA 18-Dec-2009
The deceased was found hanging in her prison cell. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, not being satisfied that she was not merely making a cry for help. The family appealed a finding that the inquest had satisfied the requirement for a . .
CitedMousa and Others v Secretary of State for Defence and Another Admn 16-Jul-2010
The claimants sought judicial review of the respondent in respect of alleged mistreatment when detained in Iraq. They sought a judicial inquiry. . .
CitedMousa, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Defence and Another CA 22-Nov-2011
The claimant sought a public inquiry into allegations of systematic ill treatment by UK soldiers in Iraq. He now appealed against refusal of an inquiry, the court having found it permissible for the Secretary of Styate to await the outcome of . .
CitedAM and Others, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and others CA 17-Mar-2009
The claimants complained of their detention after the disorder at Harmondsworth Immigration Detention Centre.
Held: The investigation of allegations of inhuman or degrading treatment related to those in the custody of the State, though it was . .
CitedMinistry of Defence v AB and Others SC 14-Mar-2012
The respondent Ministry had, in 1958, conducted experimental atmospheric explosions of atomic weapons. The claimants had been obliged as servicemen to observe the explosions, and appealed against dismissal of their claims for radiation sickness . .
CitedBirks, Regina (On the Application of) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis Admn 25-Sep-2014
The claimant police officer sought judicial review of a decision to continue his suspension. He had been investigated and cleared after a death in custody. He sought to join the Church of England Ministry and was offered a post. He was re-assured . .
CitedMR, Regina (on The Application of) v The Secretary of State for The Home Department Admn 10-Mar-2017
The claimant challenged the use of the Royal Prerogative to withdraw his passport. He had as a youth been involved with a terrorist organisation, but said that he now regretted that and was no longer so involved. He had sought to set up a business, . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Prisons, Administrative, Human Rights, Coroners

Leading Case

Updated: 24 April 2022; Ref: scu.186836