Wrong assumptions made by police officers in the killing of terrorists amounted to a human rights breach, despite the existence of danger to the public of an imminent attack. Article 2(1) is ‘one of the most fundamental provisions in the Convention’. It would have been incumbent on the state to conduct a ‘thorough, impartial and careful examination of the circumstances surrounding the killing’ ‘It must also be borne in mind that, as a provision which not only safeguards the right to life but sets out the circumstances when the deprivation of life may be justified, Article 2 ranks as one of the most fundamental provisions in the Convention.
Together with Article 3 [‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’], it also enshrines one of the basic values of the democratic societies making up the Council of Europe.’
Article 2 creates not only a substantive obligation on the state not to kill people but, where there was an issue as to whether the state had broken this obligation, also a procedural obligation on the state to carry out an effective official investigation into the circumstances of the deaths.
Times 09-Oct-1995, Independent 06-Oct-1995, 18984/91, (1996) 21 EHRR 97, A324 (1995),  ECHR 31,  ECHR 31
European Convention on Human Rights 2(1)
Cited – Osman v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-Oct-1998
Police’s Complete Immunity was Too Wide
(Grand Chamber) A male teacher developed an obsession with a male pupil. He changed his name by deed poll to the pupil’s surname. He was required to teach at another school. The pupil’s family’s property was subjected to numerous acts of vandalism, . .
Cited – Amin, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 16-Oct-2003
Prisoner’s death – need for full public enquiry
The deceased had been a young Asian prisoner. He was placed in a cell overnight with a prisoner known to be racist, extremely violent and mentally unstable. He was killed. The family sought an inquiry into the death.
Held: There had been a . .
Cited – Regina v Police Complaints Authority ex parte Green HL 26-Feb-2004
Discovery was sought of statements created during the investigation of a complaint against a police officer. The claimant argued that a police officer had deliberately driven his car at him.
Held: The investigation by a separate police force . .
Cited – In re McKerr (Northern Ireland) HL 11-Mar-2004
The deceased had been shot by soldiers of the British Army whilst in a car in Northern Ireland. The car was alleged to have ‘run’ a checkpoint. The claimants said the investigation, now 20 years ago, had been inadequate. The claim was brought under . .
Cited – Middleton, Regina (on the Application of) v Coroner for the Western District of Somerset HL 11-Mar-2004
The deceased had committed suicide in prison. His family felt that the risk should have been known to the prison authorities, and that they had failed to guard against that risk. The coroner had requested an explanatory note from the jury.
Cited – In Re A (Minors) (Conjoined Twins: Medical Treatment); aka In re A (Children) (Conjoined Twins: Surgical Separation) CA 22-Sep-2000
Twins were conjoined (Siamese). Medically, both could not survive, and one was dependent upon the vital organs of the other. Doctors applied for permission to separate the twins which would be followed by the inevitable death of one of them. The . .
Cited – Van Colle v Hertfordshire Police QBD 10-Mar-2006
The claimants claimed for the estate of their murdered son. He had been waiting to give evidence in a criminal trial, and had asked the police for support having received threats. Other witnesses had also suffered intimidation including acts of . .
Cited – Van Colle and Another v Chief Constable of the Hertfordshire Police CA 24-Apr-2007
The deceased had acted as a witness in an intended prosecution. He had sought protection after being threatened. No effective protection was provided, and he was murdered. The chief constable appealed a finding of liability.
Held: The . .
Cited – Bennett, Regina (on the Application of) v HM Coroner for Inner South London and others CA 26-Jun-2007
The deceased had been shot by the police, who mistakenly believed him to be armed. Judicial review was sought saying that the coroner had wrongly refused to leave to the jury the possible verdict of unlawful killing.
Held: The appeal was . .
Cited – Hurst, Regina (on the Application of) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v London Northern District Coroner HL 28-Mar-2007
The claimant’s son had been stabbed to death. She challenged the refusal of the coroner to continue with the inquest with a view to examining the responsibility of any of the police in having failed to protect him.
Held: The question amounted . .
Cited – JL, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice; Regina (L (A Patient)) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 26-Nov-2008
The prisoner was left with serious injury after attempting suicide in prison. He said that there was a human rights duty to hold an investigation into the circumstances leading up to this.
Held: There existed a similar duty to hold an enhanced . .
Cited – Smith, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Defence and Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner (Equality and Human Rights Commission intervening) SC 30-Jun-2010
The deceased soldier died of heat exhaustion whilst on active service in Iraq. It was said that he was owed a duty under human rights laws, and that any coroner’s inquest should be a fuller one to satisfy the state’s duty under Article 2.
Cited – McCaughey and Another, Re Application forJudicial Review SC 18-May-2011
The claimants sought a fuller inquest into deaths at the hands of the British Army in 1990 in Northern Ireland. On opening the inquest, the coroner had declined to undertake to hold a hearing compliant with article 2, and it had not made progress. . .
Cited – Kent 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 . .
Cited – Finucane, Re Application for Judicial Review SC 27-Feb-2019
(Northern Ireland) The deceased solicitor was murdered in his home in 1989, allegedly by loyalists. They had never been identified, though collusion between security forces and a loyalist paramilitary was established. The ECHR and a judge led . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Police, Human Rights
Updated: 16 January 2022; Ref: scu.83503