Howarth 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 be in possession of any materials for causing damage. The claimant said that the officer had no proper grounds of suspicion to justify the search.
Held: The claim failed.
McCombe J said: ‘The rights of expression and of assembly protected by the Convention are indeed precious in a democratic society. However, there is a significant danger of the law becoming ‘over precious’, in a rather different sense, about minimal intrusions into privacy and alleged indirect infringements of the rights of privacy, assembly and expression which are the price today of participation in numerous lawful activities conducted in large groups of people. I do not forget that many such activities, such as travel and attendance at sporting and entertainment events are not rights protected by the Convention. I also note the point made by the European Court in Gillan that persons attending private events and those travelling by air can be taken to consent to such searches. Expression and assembly, like those other lawful activities, are nonetheless encouraged and fostered, rather than hindered, by sensible and good natured controls by the authorities and the sensible and good natured acceptance of such controls by members of the public.’

Hallett LJ, McCombe J
[2011] EWHC 2818 (QB)
European Convention on Human Rights 8 10 11, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 1(3)
England and Wales
CitedA (A juvenile) v The Queen 1978
Spitting on a police officer’s coat was held to be such a minor ‘damage’ to the coat as not to be criminal damage within the meaning of the 1971 Act at all. Though spitting on a raincoat which was likely to be cleaned easily with a damp cloth did . .
CitedCastorina v Chief Constable of Surrey CA 10-Jun-1988
Whether an officer had reasonable cause to arrest somebody without a warrant depended upon an objective assessment of the information available to him, and not upon his subjective beliefs. The court had three questions to ask (per Woolf LJ): ‘(a) . .
CitedO’Hara v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary HL 21-Nov-1996
Second Hand Knowledge Supports Resaobnable Belief
The plaintiff had been arrested on the basis of the 1984 Act. The officer had no particular knowledge of the plaintiff’s involvement, relying on a briefing which led to the arrest.
Held: A reasonable suspicion upon which an arrest was founded . .
CitedCommissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Raissi CA 12-Nov-2008
The Commissioner appealed against an award of damages for false imprisonment. The claimant had been arrested shortly after a terrorist attack. The judge had held that they had no reasonable belief of his involvement. The Commissioner did not now . .
CitedCumming and others v Chief Constable of Northumbria Police CA 17-Dec-2003
The six claimants sought damages for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment. Each had been arrested on an officer’s suspicion. They operated CCTV equipment, and it appeared that tapes showing the commission of an offence had been tampered with. Each . .
CitedKay and Another v London Borough of Lambeth and others; Leeds City Council v Price and others and others HL 8-Mar-2006
In each case the local authority sought to recover possession of its own land. In the Lambeth case, they asserted this right as against an overstaying former tenant, and in the Leeds case as against gypsies. In each case the occupiers said that the . .
CitedGillan 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 . .
CitedTabernacle v Secretary of State for Defence CA 5-Feb-2009
The claimant sought judicial review to test the validity of the bye-laws which prohibited them from camping on public land to support their demonstration.
Held: The bye-laws violated the claimant’s right to freedom of assembly and of . .
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 . .
CitedThe Sunday Times v The United Kingdom (No 2) ECHR 26-Nov-1991
Any prior restraint on freedom of expression calls for the most careful scrutiny. ‘Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society subject to paragraph (2) of Article 10. It is applicable not only to . .
CitedLaporte, Regina (on the application of ) v Chief Constable of Gloucestershire HL 13-Dec-2006
The claimants had been in coaches being driven to take part in a demonstration at an air base. The defendant police officers stopped the coaches en route, and, without allowing any number of the claimants to get off, returned the coaches to London. . .
CitedHashman and Harrup v The United Kingdom ECHR 25-Nov-1999
The defendants had been required to enter into a recognisance to be of good behaviour after disrupting a hunt by blowing of a hunting horn. They were found to have unlawfully caused danger to the dogs. Though there had been no breach of the peace, . .

Cited by:
CitedMarshall v Crown Prosecution Service Admn 17-Jun-2015
A car was seen speeding. Husband and wife each said that they did not know who was driving it in response to notices requiring that information. Mrs M now appealed against her conviction under section 172. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Police, Torts – Other

Updated: 12 January 2022; Ref: scu.448160