British Sky Broadcasting Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v The Commissioner of Police of The Metropolis: SC 12 Mar 2014

The court was asked as to the powers of Magistrates hearing an application for a search warrant to receive excluded or special procedure material which had not been disclosed to the respondent. The court had overturned an order made by the district judge. The police were investigating suspected leaks by armed forces officers of materials from the Cabinet Security Committee. The officers had now been cleared.
Held: The Commissioner’s appeal failed. In general, the court should not apply the Al Rawi principle to an application made by a party to litigation (or prospective litigation) to use the procedural powers of the court to obtain evidence for the purposes of the litigation from somebody who is not a party or intended party to the litigation. Such an application will not ordinarily involve the court deciding any question of substantive legal rights as between the applicant and the respondent. Rather it is an ancillary procedure designed to facilitate the attempt of one or other party to see that relevant evidence is made available to the court in determining the substantive dispute. Applications of this kind, such as an application for a witness summons in civil or criminal proceedings, are typically made ex parte.
An application for a production order creates a lis between the person making the application and the person against whom it is made, which may later arise between the police and the suspected person through a criminal charge. Equal treatment of the parties requires that each should know what material the other is asking the court to take into account in making its decision and should have a fair opportunity to respond to it. That is inherent in the concept of an ‘inter partes’ hearing. It was not permissible for the judge to adopt the course described.

Lady Hale, Deputy President, Lord Kerr, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes, Lord Toulson
[2014] UKSC 17, [2014] 2 All ER 705, [2014] EMLR 18, [2014] WLR(D) 123, [2014] 2 WLR 558, [2014] 1 AC 885, [2014] 2 All ER 705, [2014] Crim LR 620, UKSC 2012/0115
Bailii, Bailii Summary, WLRD, SC Summary, SC
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 8, Official Secrets Act 1989 1
England and Wales
Appeal fromBritish Sky Broadcasting Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v The Central Criminal Court and Another Admn 21-Dec-2011
The claimant challenged a production order made by the magistrates in respect of journalists’ material. They complained that the application had used secret evidence not disclosed to it, and that the judge had not given adequate reasons to support . .
CitedRegina v Leicester Crown Court ex parte DPP 1987
The police had applied for an order granting access to an accused’s bank account. The Judge ruled that the application should be made inter partes. The Director of Public Prosecutions sought judicial review of that ruling. By the time the case came . .
CitedRegina v Lewes Crown Court ex parte Hill 1991
Bingham LJ said: ‘The Police and Criminal Evidence Act governs a field in which there are two very obvious public interests. There is, first of all, a public interest in the effective investigation and prosecution of crime. Secondly, there is a . .
CitedRegina v Davis HL 18-Jun-2008
The defendant had been tried for the murder of two men by shooting them at a party. He was identified as the murderer by three witnesses who had been permitted to give evidence anonymously, from behind screens, because they had refused, out of fear, . .
CitedMalik v Manchester Crown Court and others; Re A Admn 19-Jun-2008
The claimant was a journalist writing about terrorism. He had interviewed a man with past connections with Al-Qaeda, and he now objected to a production order for documents obtained by him in connecion with his writings. The court had acted on . .
CitedAl Rawi and Others v The Security Service and Others SC 13-Jul-2011
The claimant pursued a civil claim for damages, alleging complicity of the respondent in his torture whilst in the custody of foreign powers. The respondent sought that certain materials be available to the court alone and not to the claimant or the . .

Cited by:
CitedHaralambous, Regina (on The Application of) v Crown Court at St Albans and Another SC 24-Jan-2018
The appellant challenged by review the use of closed material first in the issue of a search warrant, and subsequently to justify the retention of materials removed during the search.
Held: The appeal failed. No express statutory justification . .
CitedHaralambous v St Albans Crown Court and Another Admn 22-Apr-2016
This judicial review raised for express decision whether a person whose premises have been searched and whose property seized under a search warrant must have enough information grounding the warrant to judge its lawfulness and the retention of the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Magistrates, Natural Justice, Criminal Practice, Police

Leading Case

Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.522381