In re Officer L: HL 31 Jul 2007

Police officers appealed against refusal of orders protecting their anonymity when called to appear before the Robert Hamill Inquiry.
Held: ‘The tribunal accordingly approached the matter properly under article 2 in seeking to ascertain whether giving evidence would give rise to a materially increased risk to life. Having found that it did not, it did not require then to go on to consider whether such an increased risk, if found to exist, would come up to the threshold required of a real and immediate risk to life.’ and ‘the exercise to be carried out by the tribunal faced with a request for anonymity should be the application of the common law test, with an excursion, if the facts require it, into the territory of article 2. Such an excursion would only be necessary if the tribunal found that, viewed objectively, a risk to the witness’s life would be created or materially increased if they gave evidence without anonymity. If so, it should decide whether that increased risk would amount to a real and immediate risk to life. If it would, then the tribunal would ordinarily have little difficulty in determining that it would be reasonable in all the circumstances to give the witnesses a degree of anonymity.’


Lord Hoffmann, Lord Woolf, Lord Carswell, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, Lord Mance


[2007] UKHL 36, Times 01-Aug-2007, [2007] 1 WLR 2135, [2007] 4 All ER 965, 151 Sol Jo 1061, [2007] All ER (D) 484




European Convention on Human Rights 2


Northern Ireland


Appeal fromOfficer L, Re Application for Judicial Review CANI 5-Feb-2007
Police officers were to give evidence before the Hamill Inquiry into events in Northern Ireland, but feared that if they were assiociated through the inquiry with the events, they would be under a threat of terrorist reprisal. They therefore sought . .
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 . .
CitedW, Re an Application for Judicial Review QBNI 27-Oct-2004
The court considered what was meant by the phrase ‘a real risk’: ‘a real risk is one that is objectively verified and an immediate risk is one that is present and continuing.’ . .
CitedRegina (A and others) (Widgery Soldiers) v Lord Saville of Newdigate and Others CA 19-Dec-2001
The court would apply common sense in deciding whether soldier witnesses should be obliged to attend in person at an enquiry in Londonderry, where they claimed their lives would be at risk. It was not appropriate to seek to define what would be . .
CitedDonaghy, Re Application for Judicial Review 25(1) CANI 8-May-2002
. .
CitedDonaghy, Re Application for Judicial Review 25(2) CANI 8-May-2002
. .
CitedDonaghy, Re Application for Judicial Review 25(3) CANI 8-May-2002
. .
CitedMeehan, Re Application for Judicial Review CANI 26-Sep-2003
. .
CitedRegina v Reigate Justices ex parte Argus Newspapers and Larcombe 1983
The court considered an application by the defendant, a ‘supergrass’ for his trial to be held in camera.
Held: Such an order was possible but should only be made if it was the only way of protecting the defendant. . .
At first InstanceOfficer L and Others, Re Application for Judicial Review QBNI 3-Nov-2006
Police officers called to appear at a public inquiry objected to a decision against allowing them to do so anonymously. . .

Cited by:

CitedHertfordshire Police v Van Colle; Smith v Chief Constable of Sussex Police HL 30-Jul-2008
Police Obligations to Witnesses is Limited
A prosecution witness was murdered by the accused shortly before his trial. The parents of the deceased alleged that the failure of the police to protect their son was a breach of article 2.
Held: The House was asked ‘If the police are alerted . .
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, . .
CitedHaddock v MGN Ltd and others ChNI 17-Oct-2008
Application for injunction to prevent the defendant newspapers and television companies from publishing the plaintiff’s picture in the course of a forthcoming civil action. He was coming toward the end of a long term of imprisonment. Whilst on . .
CitedTimes Newspapers Ltd and others v Regina and others CMAC 24-Oct-2008
Anonymity not to be by secret trial
The newspaper appealed against an order for the defendant soldiers’ trial to be held in camera.
Held: Section 94(2) could not be used to provide anonymity. The court relied on its common law powers under which: ‘for us to be entitled to make . .
CitedRe E (A Child); E v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Another (Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and others intervening) HL 12-Nov-2008
(Northern Ireland) Children had been taken to school in the face of vehement protests from Loyalists. The parents complained that the police had failed to protect them properly, since the behaviour was so bad as to amount to inhuman or degrading . .
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 . .
CitedTimes Newspapers Ltd and others v Soldier B CACD 24-Oct-2008
(Court’s Martial Appeal Court) The newspaper appealed against an order under section 94 of the 1955 Act restricting the identification of the defendants. The judge had said there would be a threat to both the safety of the defendants and as to the . .
CitedQ, Regina (on The Application of) v Q Constabulary and Another Admn 17-Mar-2011
The claimant renewed his request for an order against the defendant that he should be given a place on a witness protection scheme. He had given evidence for the prosecution in a gangland murder trial. A risk assessment had identified a risk ‘real . .
CitedEquality and Human Rights Commission v Prime Minister and Others Admn 3-Oct-2011
The defendant had published a set of guidelines for intelligence officers called upon to detain and interrogate suspects. The defendant said that the guidelines could only be tested against individual real life cases, and that the court should not . .
CitedAssociated Newspapers Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v Rt Hon Lord Justice Leveson Admn 20-Jan-2012
The defendant was conducting a public enquiry into the culture, ethics and practices of national newspapers. The claimant and others objected to the admission of anonymous evidence from journalists afraid of career blight. The claimants complained . .
CitedRabone and Another v Pennine Care NHS Foundation SC 8-Feb-2012
The claimant’s daughter had committed suicide whilst on home leave from a hospital where she had stayed as a voluntary patient with depression. Her admission had followed a suicide attempt. The hospital admitted negligence but denied that it owed . .
CitedKent County Council, Regina (on The Application of) v HM Coroner for The County of Kent (North-West District) and Others Admn 15-Oct-2012
The council sought review of the coroner’s decision that the inquest would be an article 2 inquest and with a jury. The deceased was 14 years old and had taken methadone. In the months before his death, he had had involvement with the council’s . .
CitedH v A (No2) FD 17-Sep-2015
The court had previously published and then withdrawn its judgment after third parties had been able to identify those involved by pulling together media and internet reports with the judgment.
Held: The judgment case should be published in . .
CitedH v A (No2) FD 17-Sep-2015
The court had previously published and then withdrawn its judgment after third parties had been able to identify those involved by pulling together media and internet reports with the judgment.
Held: The judgment case should be published in . .
CitedXXX v Camden London Borough Council CA 11-Nov-2020
Anonymity in Court Proceedings – No two stage test
XXX appealed against the refusal to make orders anonymising her name and redacting certain details from published judgments. The appeal raised a point about the proper approach to applications for anonymisation under CPR 39.2. She brought . .
CitedImam, Regina (on The Application of) v The London Borough of Croydon (Anonymity request) Admn 26-Mar-2021
Anonymity Not Necessary under CPR 3.92.
Judgment on the Claimant’s application for an order under CPR 39.2(4) that her name be anonymised in these proceedings by the use of a cipher and that restrictions should be imposed on the reporting of her identity. She said that publication of her . .
CitedLu v Solicitors Regulation Authority Admn 6-Jul-2022
No Unmnecessary Anoniymity
The appellant, having been acquitted of misconduct, complained of the anonymisation of various partied by the SDT.
Held: The court was critical of the approach taken by the Tribunal. ‘I see no good reason why Ms Pearson, Ms Stone, Mr Ewing and . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Police, Media, Human Rights

Leading Case

Updated: 14 July 2022; Ref: scu.258518