Malone v The United Kingdom: ECHR 2 Aug 1984

The complainant asserted that his telephone conversation had been tapped on the authority of a warrant signed by the Secretary of State, but that there was no system to supervise such warrants, and that it was not therefore in ‘accordance with law’. The taps were based on a non-binding and unpublished directive from the Home Secretary to the Director-General of the Security Service. The directive did not have the force of the law, nor did its contents constitute legally enforceable rules governing the operation of the Security Service.
Held: The interception pursuant to such a warrant was an ‘interference by a public authority’ with the right to a private life. English law did not meet the requirement that any interference must be ‘in accordance with the law’. The law must indicate the scope of any such discretion conferred on the competent authorities and the manner of its exercise with sufficient clarity, having regard to the legitimate aim of the measure in question, to give the individual adequate protection against arbitrary interference. English law does not indicate with reasonable clarity the scope and manner of exercise of the relevant discretion conferred on the public authorities. To that extent, the minimum degree of legal protection to which citizens are entitled under the rule of law in a democratic society is lacking. ‘The Court would reiterate its opinion that the phrase ‘in accordance with the law’ does not merely refer back to domestic law but also relates to the quality of the law, requiring it to be compatible with the rule of law. . .’

8691/79, (1984) 7 EHRR 14, [1984] ECHR 10, [1985] ECHR 5
Worldlii, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights 8.1
Human Rights
Citing:
Appeal fromMalone v Commissioner of the Police for the Metropolis (No 2) ChD 28-Feb-1979
The court considered the lawfulness of telephone tapping. The issue arose following a trial in which the prosecution had admitted the interception of the plaintiff’s telephone conversations under a warrant issued by the Secretary of State. The . .

Cited by:
CitedW, Regina v (Attorney General’s reference no 5 of 2002) CACD 12-Jun-2003
Three serving police officers provided confidential information to a known criminal. The Chief Constable authorised interception of telephones at a police station, a private network. The court accepted that section 17 prevented the defence asserting . .
CitedHewitt and Harman v United Kingdom ECHR 1991
(Commission) When asking whether an action about which complaint is made is ‘according to law’, it is the quality of the law that matters rather than the form it takes which matters. As to the case of Malone, it ‘elucidated the concept of . .
CitedRegina v Ashworth Hospital Authority (Now Mersey Care National Health Service Trust) ex parte Munjaz HL 13-Oct-2005
The claimant was detained in a secure Mental Hospital. He complained at the seclusions policy applied by the hospital, saying that it departed from the Guidance issued for such policies by the Secretary of State under the Act.
Held: The House . .
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 . .
CitedMarper v United Kingdom; S v United Kingdom ECHR 4-Dec-2008
(Grand Chamber) The applicants complained that on being arrested on suspicion of offences, samples of their DNA had been taken, but then despite being released without conviction, the samples had retained on the Police database.
Held: . .
CitedMcE, Re; McE v Prison Service of Northern Ireland and Another HL 11-Mar-2009
Complaint was made that the prisoner’s privileged conversations with his solicitors had been intercepted by the police.
Held: The Act made explicit provisions allowing such interception and set out the appropriate safeguards. The interceptions . .
See AlsoMalone v The United Kingdom ECHR 26-Apr-1985
Hudoc Judgment (Just satisfaction) Struck out of the list (friendly settlement) . .
CitedEsbester v United Kingdom ECHR 2-Apr-1993
(Commission) The claimant had been refused employment within the Central Office of Information. He had been accepted subject to clearance, but that failed. He objected that he had been given no opportunity to object to the material oin which his . .
CitedHome Office v Tariq SC 13-Jul-2011
(JUSTICE intervening) The claimant pursued Employment Tribunal proceedings against the Immigration Service when his security clearance was withdrawn. The Tribunal allowed the respondent to use a closed material procedure under which it was provided . .
CitedKinloch v Her Majesty’s Advocate SC 19-Dec-2012
The appellant said that the police officers had acted unlawfully when collecting the evidence used against him, in that the information used to support the request for permission to undertake clandestine surveillance had been insufficiently . .
CitedRegina v Khan (Sultan) HL 2-Jul-1996
The police had obtained the evidence against the defendant by fixing a covert listening device at an apartment visited by the defendant, and by recording his conversations there. The defendant appealed, saying that the court should have regard to . .
CitedThe Public Law Project, Regina (on The Application of) v Lord Chancellor SC 13-Jul-2016
Proposed changes to the Legal Aid regulations were challenged as being invalid, for being discriminatory. If regulations are not authorised under statute, they will be invalid, even if they have been approved by resolutions of both Houses under the . .
CitedPrivacy International, Regina (on The Application of) v Investigatory Powers Tribunal and Others SC 15-May-2019
The Court was asked whether the actions of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal were amenable to judicial review: ‘what if any material difference to the court’s approach is made by any differences in context or wording, and more particularly the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Police

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.164936

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