McE, 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 were lawful. It was significant that a code of practice had been issued making detailed provision for the authorisation of monitoring legally privileged communications, thereby demonstrating that such interference with a fundamental right had been specifically in the contemplation of Parliament when enacting RIPA.
Lord Hope said that section 27(1) is expressed in clear and simple language and it must be taken to mean what it says (i.e. that conduct to which Part II applies shall be lawful ‘for all purposes’). He continued: ‘It does not refer to legal privilege or to any other kind of right or privilege or special relationship which would otherwise be infringed by the conduct that it refers to. But the generality of the phrase ‘for all purposes’ is unqualified. The whole point of the system of authorisation that the statute lays down is to interfere with fundamental rights and to render this invasion of a person’s private life unlawful. To achieve this result it must be able to meet any objections that may be raised on the ground of privilege. I would hold therefore that, provided the conditions in section 27(1) which render it lawful for all purposes are satisfied, intrusive surveillance of a detainee’s consultation with his solicitor cannot be said to be unlawful because it interferes with common law legal privilege. It seems to me that the phrase ‘for all purposes’ which section 27(1) uses is a clear indication that this was Parliament’s intention.’

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Lord Hope of Craighead, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Carswell and Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
[2009] UKHL 15, Times 12-Mar-2009, [2009] 2 Cr App R 1, [2009] 1 AC 908, [2009] Crim LR 525, [2009] HRLR 20, [2009] EMLR 19, [2009] 2 WLR 782
Bailii, HL
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Cox and Railton 1884
(Court for Crown Cases Reserved) The defendants were charged with conspiracy to defraud a judgment creditor of the fruits of a judgment by dishonestly backdating a dissolution of their partnership to a date prior to a bill of sale given by Railton . .
CitedDeutsche Morgan Grenfell Group Plc v Inland Revenue and Another HL 25-Oct-2006
The tax payer had overpaid Advance Corporation Tax under an error of law. It sought repayment. The revenue contended that the claim was time barred.
Held: The claim was in restitution, and the limitation period began to run from the date when . .
CitedCalcraft v Guest CA 1898
A trial had taken place in which the principal issue was the upper boundary of the plaintiff’s fishery. On appeal the defendant proposed to rely on new evidence discovered among the papers in another action tried over a hundred years before. The . .
CitedThree Rivers District Council and others v Governor and Company of the Bank of England (No 6) HL 11-Nov-2004
The Bank anticipated criticism in an ad hoc enquiry which was called to investigate its handling of a matter involving the claimant. The claimant sought disclosure of the documents created when the solicitors advised employees of the Bank in . .
CitedCullen v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (Northern Ireland) HL 10-Jul-2003
The claimant had been arrested. He had been refused access to a solicitor whilst detaiined, but, in breach of statutory duty, he had not been given reasons as to why access was denied. He sought damages for that failure.
Held: If damages were . .
CitedParry-Jones v The Law Society CA 1969
The Society had, for regulatory purposes, exercised a power under the 1957 Act to call upon the plaintiff, a solicitor, to produce for inspection accounts and other information relating to the conduct of his clients’ affairs. He sought an injunction . .
CitedKhan v The United Kingdom ECHR 12-May-2000
Evidence was acknowledged to have been obtained unlawfully and in breach of another article of the Convention. The police had installed covert listening devices on private property without the knowledge or consent of the owner. UK national law did . .
CitedButler v Board of Trade ChD 1970
Goff J discussed the criterion for admissibility of evidence:’If one rejects the bare relevance test, as I have done, then what has to be shown prima facie is not merely that there is a bona fide and reasonably tenable charge of crime or fraud but a . .
CitedRegina v Tompkins CACD 1977
. .
CitedMalone 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’. . .

Cited by:
CitedAJA and Others v Commissioner of Police for The Metropolis and Others CA 5-Nov-2013
The Court was asked whether the Investigatory Powers Tribunal had the power to investigate whether police officers acrting as undercover agents, and having sexual relations with those they were themselves investigating had infringed the human rights . .
CitedBrown, Regina v CACD 29-Jul-2015
The claimant, a patient hld at Rampton Hospital faced charges of attempted murder of two nurses. His lwayers had asked for the right to see their client in private, but eth Hospital objected, insisting on the presence of two nurses at all times. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Northern Ireland, Legal Professions, Police, Human Rights

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.317965