PG and JH v The United Kingdom: ECHR 25 Sep 2001

The use of covert listening devices within a police station was an infringement of the right to privacy, since there was no system of law regulating such practices. That need not affect the right to a fair trial. The prosecution had a duty to disclose all relevant evidence to the defence. In this case the material which the prosecution sought to keep secret had not been relied upon in evidence, and the witness whom the defence had wished to cross examine had been examined by the judge in private. Voice samples which had been obtained without consent and were used to link recordings were to be treated in ways similar to other samples such as blood and hair and other objective physical samples.
‘The Court also notes that the material which was not disclosed in the present case formed no part of the prosecution case whatever, and was never put to the jury. The fact that the need for disclosure was at all times under assessment by the trial judge provided a further, important safeguard in that it was his duty to monitor throughout the trial the fairness or otherwise of the evidence being withheld. It has not been suggested that the judge was not independent and impartial within the meaning of Article 6-1. He was fully versed in all the evidence and issues in the case and in a position to monitor the relevance to the defence of the withheld information both before and during the trial’.
As to the scope of Article 8: ‘Private life is a broad term not susceptible to exhaustive definition. The Court has already held that elements such as gender identification, name and sexual orientation and sexual life are important elements of the personal sphere protected by Article 8. The Article also protects a right to identity and personal development, and the right to establish relationships with other human beings and the outside world . . There is, therefore, a zone of interaction of a person with others, even in a public context, which may fall within the scope of ‘private life.’ There are a number of elements relevant to a consideration of whether a person’s private life is concerned in measures effected outside a person’s home or private premises. Since there are occasions when people knowingly or intentionally involve themselves in activities which are or may be recorded or reported in a public manner, a person’s reasonable expectations as to privacy may be a significant, though not necessarily conclusive, factor. A person who walks down the street will, inevitably, be visible to any member of the public who is also present. Monitoring by technological means of the same public scene (for example a security guard viewing through closed circuit television) is of a similar character. Private-life considerations may arise, however, once any systematic or permanent record comes into existence of such material from the public domain. It is for this reason that files gathered by security services on a particular individual fall within the scope of article 8, even where the information has not been gathered by any intrusive or covert method.’


J-P Costa, President, and Judges W. Fuhrmann, P. Kuris, F. Tulkens, K. Jungwiert, Sir Nicolas Bratza and K. Traja Section Registrar S. Doll


[2001] Po LR 325, [2002] Crim LR 308, (2008) 46 EHRR 51, Times 19-Oct-2001, 44787/98, [2001] ECHR 550, [2001] ECHR 44787/98, ECHR 2001 IX


Worldlii, Bailii


European Convention on Human Rights 6 8


Human Rights

Cited by:

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Use of Special Counsel as Last Resort Only
The accused faced charges of conspiring to supply Class A drugs. The prosecution had sought public interest immunity certificates. Special counsel had been appointed by the court to represent the defendants’ interests at the applications.
CitedCampbell v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd (MGN) (No 1) HL 6-May-2004
The claimant appealed against the denial of her claim that the defendant had infringed her right to respect for her private life. She was a model who had proclaimed publicly that she did not take drugs, but the defendant had published a story . .
CitedX v Y (Employment: Sex Offender) CA 28-May-2004
The claimant had been dismissed after it was discovered he had been cautioned for a public homosexual act. He appealed dismissal of his claim saying that the standard of fairness applied was inappropriate with regard to the Human Rights Act, and . .
CitedCountryside Alliance and others v HM Attorney General and others Admn 29-Jul-2005
The various claimants sought to challenge the 2004 Act by way of judicial review on the grounds that it was ‘a disproportionate, unnecessary and illegitimate interference with their rights to choose how they conduct their lives, and with market . .
CitedMcKennitt and others v Ash and Another QBD 21-Dec-2005
The claimant sought to restrain publication by the defendant of a book recounting very personal events in her life. She claimed privacy and a right of confidence. The defendant argued that there was a public interest in the disclosures.
Held: . .
CitedDr D, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Health CA 19-Jul-2006
The doctor complained of the use of Alert letters where he was suspected of sexual abuse of patients, but the allegations were unsubstantiated. He complained particularly that he had been acquitted in a criminal court and then also by the . .
CitedWood v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis Admn 22-May-2008
The claimant challenged the right of police officers to take his photograph as he attended an annual general meeting of Reed Elsevier Plc. He was a campaigner against the arms trade, but had always acted lawfully. The company noted the purchase of . .
CitedMosley v News Group Newspapers Ltd QBD 24-Jul-2008
The defendant published a film showing the claimant involved in sex acts with prostitutes. It characterised them as ‘Nazi’ style. He was the son of a fascist leader, and a chairman of an international sporting body. He denied any nazi element, and . .
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: . .
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 . .
CitedCatt and T, Regina (on The Applications of) v Commissioner of Police of The Metropolis SC 4-Mar-2015
Police Data Retention Justifiable
The appellants challenged the collection of data by the police, alleging that its retention interfered with their Article 8 rights. C complained of the retention of records of his lawful activities attending political demonstrations, and T . .
CitedJR38, Re Application for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland) SC 1-Jul-2015
The appellant was now 18 years old. In July 2010 two newspapers published an image of him. He was at that time barely 14 years old. These photographs had been published by the newspapers at the request of the police. The publication of the . .
CitedZXC v Bloomberg Lp CA 15-May-2020
Privacy Expecation during police investigations
Appeal from a judgment finding that the Defendant had breached the Claimant’s privacy rights. He made an award of damages for the infraction of those rights and granted an injunction restraining Bloomberg from publishing information which further . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Police

Updated: 23 November 2022; Ref: scu.166627