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
Bailii, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights 6 8
Human Rights
Cited by:
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mosley_newsgroupQBD2008
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CitedZXC v Bloomberg Lp CA 15-May-2020
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These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 08 May 2021; Ref: scu.166627