Gillan and Quinton v The United Kingdom: ECHR 12 Jan 2010

The claimants had been stopped by the police using powers in the 2000 Act. They were going to a demonstration outside an arms convention. There was no reason given for any suspicion that the searches were needed.
Held: The powers given to the police were too wide, provided inadequate protection against abuse, and violated the claimants’ article 8 rights: ‘the concept of ‘private life’ is a broad term not susceptible to exhaustive definition. It covers the physical and psychological integrity of a person. The notion of personal autonomy is an important principle underlying the interpretation of its guarantees’
The legislation envisaged authorisations for periods of 28 days over limited areas. Instead they had been renewed without interruption for the whole area, and the number of searches had risen to 117,000 a year, and ‘the possibility of bringing proceedings in the County Court to determine whether the power had been properly and lawfully used was a wholly inadequate safeguard against misuse and arbitrariness. The ex post facto review of the exercise of the power by the County Court in any individual’s case did not rectify the lack of legal certainty associated with the power.’
The powers to stop and search a person and his belongings were coercive. This was a public action and liable to cause humiliation.
There was no need for anyone to consider the search necessary, but only that it was expedient. There was a clear risk of the searches being arbitrary, and black and asian persons were subjected to these searches disproportionately, and of the power being used to interfere with the exercise of article 10 rights:’while arrests for other crimes had followed searches under section 44, none of the many thousands of searches had ever related to a terrorism offence; . . examples of poor and unnecessary use of section 44 abounded, there being evidence of cases where the person stopped was so obviously far from any known terrorism profile that, realistically, there was not the slightest possibility of him/her being a terrorist, and no other feature to justify the stop.’
The government argues that in certain circumstances a particularly intrusive search may amount to an interference with an individual’s art. 8 rights, as may a search which involves perusing an address book or diary or correspondence, but that a superficial search which does not involve the discovery of such items does not do so. The Court is unable to accept this view. Irrespective of whether in any particular case correspondence or diaries or other private documents are discovered and read or other intimate items are revealed in the search, the Court considers that the use of coercive powers conferred by the legislation to require an individual to submit to a detailed search of his person, his clothing and his personal belongings amounts to a clear interference with the right to respect for private life. Although the search is undertaken in public place, this does not mean that art. 8 is inapplicable. Indeed, in the Courts view, the public nature of the search may, in certain cases compound the seriousness of the interference because of an element of humiliation and embarrassment. Items such as bags, wallets, notebooks and diaries may, moreover, contain personal information which the owner may feel uncomfortable about having exposed to the view of his wider companions or the wider public.
The Court is also unpersuaded by the analogy drawn with the search of to which passengers uncomplainingly submit at airports or at the entrance of a public building. It does not need to decide whether the search of the person and of his bags in such circumstances amounts to an interference with an individual art.8 rights, albeit one which is clearly justified on security grounds, since for the reasons given by the applicants the situations cannot be compared. An air traveller may be seen as consenting to such a search by choosing to travel. He knows that he and his bags are liable to be searched before boarding the aeroplane and has a freedom of choice, since he can leave personal items behind and walk away without being subjected to a search. The search powers under s.44 are qualitatively different. The individual can be stopped anywhere and at any time, without notice and without any choice as to whether or not to submit to a search.’

Lech Garlicki, P, Nicolas Bratza, Giovanni Bonello, Ljiljana Mijovic, Paivi Hirvela, Ledi Bianku, Nebojsa Vucinic
[2010] ECHR 28, 4158/05, Times 15-Jan-2010, [2010] Crim LR 415, 28 BHRC 420, (2010) 50 EHRR 45
Terrorism Act 2000 44, European Convention on Human Rights 5 8 10
Human Rights
At First InstanceGillan and Another, Regina (on the Application of) v Commissioner of the Police for the Metropolis and Another Admn 31-Oct-2003
The applicants challenged by way of judicial review the way they had been stopped and searched under the Act. They attended a demonstration. The search revealed nothing suspicious. General authorisations for such searches had been issued under the . .
At Court of AppealGillan and Quinton, Regina (on the Application of) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and Another CA 29-Jul-2004
The appellants had challenged the lawfulness of being stopped and searched by police. The officers relied on an authorisation made under the 2000 Act. They had been on their way to attending an arms fair, intending to demonstrate.
Held: The . .
At House of LordsGillan, 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 . .
Question SetGillan and Quinton v The United Kingdom ECHR 10-Jun-2008
The court set the questions to be answered later in response to the complaint as to the use of stop and search powers by the British police. . .

Cited by:
CitedLumba (WL) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 23-Mar-2011
The claimants had been detained under the 1971 Act, after completing sentences of imprisonment pending their return to their home countries under deportations recommended by the judges at trial, or chosen by the respondent. They challenged as . .
CitedHowarth v Commissioner of Police of The Metropolis QBD 3-Nov-2011
The claimant sought judicial review of a decision to search him whilst travelling to a public protest in London. A previous demonstration involving this group had resulted in criminal damage, but neither the claimant nor his companions were found to . .
CitedNicklinson and Another, Regina (on The Application of) SC 25-Jun-2014
Criminality of Assisting Suicide not Infringing
The court was asked: ‘whether the present state of the law of England and Wales relating to assisting suicide infringes the European Convention on Human Rights, and whether the code published by the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to . .
CitedT and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department and Another SC 18-Jun-2014
T and JB, asserted that the reference in certificates issued by the state to cautions given to them violated their right to respect for their private life under article 8 of the Convention. T further claims that the obligation cast upon him to . .
CitedBeghal v Director of Public Prosecutions SC 22-Jul-2015
Questions on Entry must be answered
B was questioned at an airport under Schedule 7 to the 2000 Act, and required to answer questions asked by appropriate officers for the purpose set out. She refused to answer and was convicted of that refusal , contrary to paragraph 18 of that . .
CitedBeghal v Director of Public Prosecutions SC 22-Jul-2015
Questions on Entry must be answered
B was questioned at an airport under Schedule 7 to the 2000 Act, and required to answer questions asked by appropriate officers for the purpose set out. She refused to answer and was convicted of that refusal , contrary to paragraph 18 of that . .
CitedThe Christian Institute and Others v The Lord Advocate SC 28-Jul-2016
(Scotland) By the 2014 Act, the Scottish Parliament had provided that each child should have a named person to monitor that child’s needs, with information about him or her shared as necessary. The Institute objected that the imposed obligation to . .
CitedGallagher for Judicial Review (NI) SC 30-Jan-2019
Disclosure of older minor offences to employers 48 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Police, Torts – Other

Leading Case

Updated: 02 January 2022; Ref: scu.392847