Mohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 4): Admn 4 Feb 2009

In an earlier judgment, redactions had been made relating to reports by the US government of its treatment of the claimant when held by them at Guantanamo bay. The claimant said he had been tortured and sought the documents to support his defence of his case in the US. The remaining issue was as to whether the earlier judgment should now be made available without redactions.
Held: An allegation of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment was to be treated on the same basis as torture in the circumstances of the present case, and a claim to conceal evidence of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or torture under the guise of public interest immunity could not be countenanced as it was incompatible with international law and values. ‘It is the upholding of the rule of law . . that is a factor of the greatest public interest in this case, given the allegations against officials of the United States Government and the role of officials of the Government of the United Kingdom in facilitating what is alleged.’ The requirements of open justice, the rule of law and democratic accountability demonstrate the very considerable public interest in making the redacted paragraphs public, particularly given the constitutional importance of the prohibition against torture and its historic link from the seventeenth century in this jurisdiction to the necessity of open justice. Nevertheless the US had threatened that disclosure would undermine the intelligence relationship with the UK. The alternatives were not adequate. The court could not go behind the Foreign Secretary’s assertion that disclosure would undermine the ability of the state to protect its citizens. The details would not be disclosed. If they are to be disclosed it must be by the US government.
The court identified four questions for redaction:- a) Is there a public interest in bringing the redacted paragraph into the public domain? b) Will disclosure bring about a real risk of serious harm to an important public interest, and if so, which interest? c) Can the real risk of serious harm to national security be protected by other methods or more limited disclosure? d) If the alternatives are insufficient, where does the balance of the public interest lie?

Thomas LJ, Lloyd Jones J
[2009] EWHC 152 (Admin)
England and Wales
See AlsoMohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 1) Admn 21-Aug-2008
The claimant had been detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay suspected of terrorist involvement. He sought to support his defence documents from the respondent which showed that the evidence to be relied on in the US courts had been obtained by . .
See AlsoMohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) Admn 29-Aug-2008
The claimant sought release of documents so that he could defend himself in a tribunal in the US. He said the documents would support his assertion that he had been subject to extraordinary rendition and had ‘disappeared’ for two years. Redactions . .
See AlsoMohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Admn 22-Oct-2008
The claimant was held by the US. He claimed he had been tortured by them, and sought release of dicuments which allow him to present his case. The respondent sought to prevent disclosure using Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificates.
Held: . .
CitedNorwich Pharmacal Co and others v Customs and Excise Commissioners HL 26-Jun-1973
Innocent third Party May still have duty to assist
The plaintiffs sought discovery from the defendants of documents received by them innocently in the exercise of their statutory functions. They sought to identify people who had been importing drugs unlawfully manufactured in breach of their . .
CitedAttorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd (No 2) (‘Spycatcher’) HL 13-Oct-1988
Loss of Confidentiality Protection – public domain
A retired secret service employee sought to publish his memoirs from Australia. The British government sought to restrain publication there, and the defendants sought to report those proceedings, which would involve publication of the allegations . .
Citedex parte Guardian Newspapers Ltd CACD 30-Sep-1998
The defendants purported to serve a notice under Rule 24A(1) of the Crown Court Rules 1982 of an intention to apply for a hearing in camera of their application that the trial be stopped as an abuse of process.
Held: Where an application was . .
CitedC v Crown Prosecution Service Admn 8-Feb-2008
The court considered the practice of hearing submissions from the media in relation to reporting restrictions.
Held: Thomas LJ rejected the submission that, in conducting the Re S balancing exercise the Court should have regard to the public . .
CitedSecretary of State for the Home Department v MB; Same v AF HL 31-Oct-2007
Non-derogating control orders – HR Compliant
MB and AF challenged non-derogating control orders made under the 2005 Act, saying that they were incompatible with their human rights. AF was subject to a curfew of 14 hours a day, wore an electronic tag at all times, could not leave a nine square . .
CitedWilliams v Home Office (No 2) 2-Jan-1981
The plaintiff prisoner had been transferred from ordinary prison to a special control unit which had been established at the prison as a means of containing and controlling prisoners who were considered to be troublemakers and inducing them to . .
CitedRegina v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police Ex Parte Wiley; Other Similar HL 14-Jul-1994
Statements made to the police to support a complaint against the police, were not part of the class of statements which could attract public interest immunity, and were therefore liable to disclosure.
Lord Woolf said: ‘The recognition of a new . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for The Home Department Ex Parte Simms HL 8-Jul-1999
Ban on Prisoners talking to Journalists unlawful
The two prisoners, serving life sentences for murder, had had their appeals rejected. They continued to protest innocence, and sought to bring their campaigns to public attention through the press, having oral interviews with journalists without . .
CitedScott v Scott HL 5-May-1913
Presumption in Favour of Open Proceedings
There had been an unauthorised dissemination by the petitioner to third parties of the official shorthand writer’s notes of a nullity suit which had been heard in camera. An application was made for a committal for contempt.
Held: The House . .
CitedRegina v Keane CACD 15-Mar-1994
Public Interest Immunity Certificates for the protection of informants must be used only carefully. The Crown must specify the purpose of the public interest immunity certificate. The principles on disclosure in Ward are not limited to scientific . .
CitedRegina v Horseferry Road Magistrates’ Court, ex Parte Bennett (No 1) HL 24-Jun-1993
The defendant had been brought to the UK in a manner which was in breach of extradition law. He had, in effect, been kidnapped by the authorities.
Held: The High Court may look at how an accused person was brought within the jurisdiction when . .
CitedDerbyshire County Council v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others HL 18-Feb-1993
Local Council may not Sue in Defamation
Local Authorities must be open to criticism as political and administrative bodies, and so cannot be allowed to sue in defamation. Such a right would operate as ‘a chill factor’ on free speech. Freedom of speech was the underlying value which . .
CitedConway v Rimmer HL 28-Feb-1968
Crown Privilege for Documents held by the Polie
The plaintiff probationary police constable had been investigated, prosecuted and cleared of an allegation of theft. He now claimed damages for malicious prosecution, and in the course of the action, sought disclosure of five documents, but these . .
CitedRegina v British Broadcasting Corporation ex parte Pro-life Alliance HL 15-May-2003
The Alliance was a political party seeking to air its party election broadcast. The appellant broadcasters declined to broadcast the film on the grounds that it was offensive, being a graphical discussion of the processes of abortion.
Held: . .
CitedRegina v Shayler HL 21-Mar-2002
The defendant had been a member of the security services. On becoming employed, and upon leaving, he had agreed to keep secret those matters disclosed to him. He had broken those agreements and was being prosecuted. He sought a decision that the . .
CitedMcCartan Turkington Breen (A Firm) v Times Newspapers Limited HL 2-Nov-2000
(Northern Ireland) The defendant reported a press conference at which the claims denying the criminal responsibility of an army private were made. The report was severely critical of the claimants, who then sued in defamation. The defendants claimed . .
CitedAttorney-General v Leveller Magazine Ltd HL 1-Feb-1979
The appellants were magazines and journalists who published, after committal proceedings, the name of a witness, a member of the security services, who had been referred to as Colonel B during the hearing. An order had been made for his name not to . .
CitedCastells v Spain ECHR 23-Apr-1992
The conviction of the applicant for publishing in a weekly magazine an article which insulted the government with the penalty of disqualification from public office, violated the applicants freedom of expression within the meaning of Article 10. ‘ . .
CitedObserver and Guardian v The United Kingdom ECHR 26-Nov-1991
The newspapers challenged orders preventing their publication of extracts of the ‘Spycatcher’ book.
Held: The dangers inherent in prior restraints are such that they call for the most careful scrutiny on the part of the court. This is . .
CitedPretto And Others v Italy ECHR 8-Dec-1983
The court considered the value of court proceedings being public: ‘The public character of proceedings before the judicial bodies referred to in Article 6(1) protects litigants against the administration of justice in secret with no public scrutiny; . .
CitedCampbell and Fell v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-Jun-1984
Campbell and others had been involved in conduct within the prison leading to charges against them of mutiny and of striking an officer with a broom handle. The nature of the conduct in question was plainly susceptible of giving rise to criminal . .
CitedHector v Attorney General of Antigua PC 1990
Lord Bridge of Harwich said that: ‘In a free democratic society it is almost too obvious to need stating that those who hold office in government and who are responsible for public administration must always be open to criticism. Any attempt to . .
CitedRegina v Felixstowe Justices ex parte Leigh CA 1987
The court considered the importance of the role played by the media in attending and reporting court proceedings. Watkins LJ said: ‘The role of the journalist and his importance for the public interest in the administration of justice has been . .
CitedAssenov and Others v Bulgaria ECHR 28-Oct-1998
An allegation of violence by a police officer did require a thorough, impartial and careful investigation by a suitable and independent state authority: ‘The court considers that in these circumstances, where an individual raises an arguable claim . .
CitedCorner House Research and Others, Regina (on the Application of) v The Serious Fraud Office HL 30-Jul-2008
SFO Director’s decisions reviewable
The director succeeded on his appeal against an order declaring unlawful his decision to discontinue investigations into allegations of bribery. The Attorney-General had supervisory duties as to the exercise of the duties by the Director. It had . .
CitedSecretary of State for the Home Department v Rehman HL 11-Oct-2001
The applicant, a Pakistani national had entered the UK to act as a Muslim priest. The Home Secretary was satisfied that he was associated with a Muslim terrorist organisation, and refused indefinite leave to remain. The Home Secretary provided both . .
CitedTweed v Parades Commission for Northern Ireland HL 13-Dec-2006
(Northern Ireland) The applicant sought judicial review of a decision not to disclose documents held by the respondent to him saying that the refusal was disproportionate and infringed his human rights. The respondents said that the documents were . .

Cited by:
CitedAl-Sweady and Others, Regina (On the Application of) v Secretary Of State for Defence (PII) Admn 10-Jul-2009
The claimants alleged murder and ill-treatment by the British Armed forces in Iraq. The defendant had failed repeatedly to comply with disclosure orders and an indemnity costs award had been made against him. The defendant had in particular . .
See AlsoMohamed, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 5) Admn 16-Oct-2009
The claimant sought to assert that he had been tortured whilst held by the US Authorities. He sought publication of an unredacted report supplied by the US security services to the respondent. The respondent argued that the full publication was . .
See AlsoMohamed, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (60 Admn 19-Nov-2009
The respondent had over time refused to allow publication of parts of a document disclosed to him by US security services. The court had previously delivered redacted judgments, and now asked whether and to what extent the redacted parts should be . .
See AlsoMohamed, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs CA 10-Feb-2010
The claimant had sought discovery and publication of materials supplied to the defendant by US security services which, he said, would support his allegations that he had been tortured by the US and that this had been known to the defendant.
See AlsoBinyan Mohamed, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs CA 26-Feb-2010
The claimant had sought public disclosure of documents supplied to the defendant by US security services which might support his claim that he had been tortured by the US, and that the defendant knew of it. The draft judgment was to be handed down . .

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Administrative, Human Rights, Constitutional, Media

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.282626