Doorson v The Netherlands: ECHR 26 Mar 1996

Evidence was given in criminal trials by anonymous witnesses and evidence was also read as a result of a witness having appeared at the trial but then absconded. The defendant was convicted of drug trafficking. As regards the anonymous witnesses, they were ultimately questioned at an appeal stage, in the presence of counsel, but not the defendant, and without the identity of the witnesses being revealed to counsel.
Held: Admissibility of evidence is primarily a matter of domestic law. The Convention does not guarantee a right to face to face confrontation. Even in the case of anonymous witnesses, the Court accepted that exceptions may be made, provided that sufficient steps are taken to counter-balance the handicaps under which the defence laboured and a conviction is not based solely or decisively on anonymous statements.
‘While it would clearly have been preferable for the applicant to attend the questioning of the witnesses, the court considers on balance that the Amsterdam Court of Appeal was entitled to consider that the interests of the applicant were in this respect outweighed by the need to ensure the safety of the witnesses.’ and ‘principles of fair trial also require that in appropriate cases the interests of the defence are balanced against those of witnesses or victims called upon to testify’
20524/92, (1996) 22 EHRR 330, [1996] ECHR 14
Worldlii, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights 6
Human Rights
Cited by:
CitedD (A Minor), Regina (on the Application of) v Camberwell Green Youth Court HL 27-Jan-2005
The defendant challenged the obligatory requirement that evidence given by a person under 17 in sex or violent offence cases must normally be given by video link.
Held: The purpose of the section was to improve the quality of the evidence . .
CitedClingham (formerly C (a minor)) v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; Regina v Crown Court at Manchester Ex parte McCann and Others HL 17-Oct-2002
The applicants had been made subject of anti-social behaviour orders. They challenged the basis upon which the orders had been made.
Held: The orders had no identifiable consequences which would make the process a criminal one. Civil standards . .
CitedRoberts v Parole Board HL 7-Jul-2005
Balancing Rights of Prisoner and Society
The appellant had been convicted of the murder of three police officers in 1966. His tariff of thirty years had now long expired. He complained that material put before the Parole Board reviewing has case had not been disclosed to him.
Held: . .
CitedKostovski v The Netherlands ECHR 20-Nov-1989
No Anonymity for Witnessses in Criminal Trial
K was convicted of armed robbery on the basis of statements of anonymous witnesses. He was unable to question those witnesses at any stage. Being unaware of the identity of the witnesses deprived K of the very particulars which would have enabled . .
CitedGrant v The Queen PC 16-Jan-2006
(Jamaica) The defendant appealed his conviction for murder saying that the admission of an unsworn statement by one witness and the non-admission of another similar statement who did not either attend court was unconstitutional. He shot the victim . .
CitedRegina v Davis (Iain); Regina v Ellis, Regina v Gregory, Regina v Simms, Regina v Martin CACD 19-May-2006
The several defendants complained at the use at their trials of evidence given anonymously. The perceived need for anonymity arose because, from intimidation, the witnesses would not be willing to give their evidence without it.
Held: The . .
CitedRe B (Disclosure to Other Parties) 2001
Witnesses and others involved in children proceedings have article 8 rights. . .
CitedBritish Broadcasting Corporation v CAFCASS Legal and others FD 30-Mar-2007
Parents of a child had resisted care proceedings, and now wished the BBC to be able to make a TV programme about their case. They applied to the court for the judgment to be released. Applications were also made to have a police officer’s and . .
CitedDowsett v Criminal Cases Review Commission Admn 8-Jun-2007
The claimant had been convicted in 1993 of involvement in a murder. He had complained that the police had failed to disclose material which would have been of assistance to him. He had requested the Commission to take examine and pursue his appeal. . .
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, . .
CitedAl-Khawaja v The United Kingdom; Tahery v The United Kingdom ECHR 20-Jan-2009
Each complainant said that in allowing hearsay evidence to be used against them at their trials, their article 6 human rights had been infringed. In the first case the complainant had died before trial but her statement was admitted.
Held: In . .
CitedHorncastle and Others, Regina v SC 9-Dec-2009
Each defendant said they had not received a fair trial in that the court had admitted written evidence of a witness he had not been allowed to challenge. The witnesses had been victims, two of whom had died before trial. It was suggested that the . .
CitedKennedy v United Kingdom ECHR 18-May-2010
The claimant complained that after alleging unlawful interception of his communications, the hearing before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal was not attended by appropriate safeguards. He had been a campaigner against police abuse. His requests to . .
CitedAdeojo and Another v Regina CACD 6-Feb-2013
The defendants appealed against their convictions for murder saying that the court should not have relied upon hearsay evidence. A witness had refused to give evidence, but his earlier evidnece was used.
Held: The appeals failed. The judge had . .
CitedA v British Broadcasting Corporation (Scotland) SC 8-May-2014
Anonymised Party to Proceedings
The BBC challenged an order made by the Court of Session in judicial review proceedings, permitting the applicant review to delete his name and address and substituting letters of the alphabet, in the exercise (or, as the BBC argues, purported . .
CitedPNM v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others SC 19-Jul-2017
No anonymity for investigation suspect
The claimant had been investigated on an allegation of historic sexual abuse. He had never been charged, but the investigation had continued with others being convicted in a high profile case. He appealed from refusal of orders restricting . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 06 January 2021; Ref: scu.165413