The Supreme Court ruling yesterday that the taking and retention of the personal data of John Catt was lawful may have significant consequences for the surveillance of political activism.
The judgment grants extensive discretion to the police in the operation of police databases, and in the collection of intelligence related to ‘domestic extremism’ or other protest activity. It is, in short, judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK political activism.
The effect of the judgment will mean that it will not be necessary for the police to justify the collection and retention of data on a case-by-case basis, but that any information obtained through ‘overt’ means may be recorded and made available for further processing by police forces without the need for additional regulation or oversight. The Supreme Court found not only that the retention of John Catt’s data was necessary and proportionate, but also that the legal framework provided by the Data Protection Act 1998 (along with published guidance) was sufficient to meet ECHR requirements that the measure must be ‘in accordance with law’. Read more
This morning the UK Supreme Court delivered a ruling that amounts to what Netpol describes as “judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements”.
This decision is the result of an appeal by the Metropolitan Police against a decision in March 2013 that its secretive ‘domestic extremist’ surveillance unit had unlawfully recorded the political activities of Brighton peace campaigner John Catt. Read more
Today was the third and final day of legal argument at the Supreme Court in the attempt by the Metropolitan Police to overturn a Court of Appeal decision on its ‘domestic extremism’ database. Judgement has been deferred to a later date.
John Catt’s case at the Supreme Court concluded today, but not before submissions by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and closing remarks from the Metropolitan Police. Read more
Today was the second of three days of legal argument at the Supreme Court in the attempt by the Metropolitan Police to overturn a Court of Appeal decision on its ‘domestic extremism’ database. Today’s submissions were made by Tim Owen QC, representing the campaigner John Catt.
A summary from day 1 of the Supreme Court hearings is available here
The barrister Tim Owen QC, counsel for peace campaigner John Catt, was today faced with the task of convincing the Supreme Court that the actions of the police in retaining his client’s personal data on the ‘domestic extremism’ database had a “chilling effect” on protest and breached his fundamental human rights. At times this seemed like an uphill struggle. Read more
Today was the first of three days of legal argument in an attempt by the Metropolitan Police to overturn an earlier Court of Appeal decision that found the retention of a protester’s data was disproportionate and a breach of human rights legislation.
The case had originally been brought by Brighton peace campaigner John Catt, who has argued that police actions in taking notes on his attendance at political demonstrations and retaining them on a ‘domestic extremism’ database were a breach of his Article 8 right to respect for his private life. In May 2012, the High Court ruled against him, but this was reversed by the Court of Appeal in March 2013.
The Metropolitan Police argued in the Supreme Court today that officers should be free to collect and retain the personal data of people engaged in protest whenever they considered it necessary and legitimate to do so, and that the ‘mere’ retention of data did not breach privacy rights. Read more
By Susannah Mengesha
This month I was thrilled to receive successful decision on my judicial review case against the Police Commissioner regarding the police use of Kettling for indiscriminate intelligence gathering purposes.
The court held that the police must not demand protesters to give their name, address and date of birth, and demand that they be filmed, as the price for leaving a kettle. Read more
Repost from the Guardian, written by Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
The high court has ruled that 15 pre-emptive arrests were not unlawful, as the criminalisation of protest continues
On the day of the royal wedding I was arrested for a fictional breach of the peace. This week the high court has ruled that there was nothing unlawful about the police’s actions.
I was in fancy dress on the day. That was it. One minute I was in a Starbucks near Soho Square with four other people who’d come for a zombie flashmob. Four hours later I emerged from a police cell with handcuff marks still visible on my wrists. If it can happen to a boring, middle-class white girl like me, it can happen to anyone.
The Metropolitan police decided the gathering (an alternative celebration organised by Queer Resistance) was a demonstration against the royal family – therefore we were arrested. I had come to Soho Square to report on the flashmob for a friend’s zombie blog. I had no political aims whatsoever – but it seems the police’s assumptions about my politics were grounds enough to arrest and detain me until the public celebrations were over. Read more