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Stop-and-search terror powers declared illegal by human rights court


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Stop-and-search terror powers declared illegal by human rights court



By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 2:53 PM on 12th January 2010




Police stop and search powers under UK terrorism laws were declared illegal by human rights judges today.

The right to question people without grounds for suspicion - granted by the Terrorism Act of 2000 - violates the Human Rights Convention, said the European Court of Human Rights.

The ruling came in a case brought by two Londoners who were stopped and questioned by police near an arms fair in the city in 2003.


article-0-043739CF000005DC-180_468x339.jpg 'Violates human rights': European judges said police officers can no longer stop and search members of the public (above) without grounds for suspicion



Kevin Gillan and Pennie Quinton were both searched on the same day in the area of the Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibition at the Excel Centre in Docklands, where there had already been protests and demonstrations.

Nothing incriminating was found on either of them and they went to court questioning the legality of stop and search powers.

The High Court and the Court of Appeal said the powers were legitimate given the risk of terrorism in London.

But the human rights court disagreed.







The judgment said: ‘The (human rights) court considers that the powers of authorisation and confirmation as well as those of stop and search under sections 44 and 45 of the 2000 Act are neither sufficiently circumscribed nor subject to adequate legal safeguards against abuse.

‘They are not, therefore, “in accordance with the law” and it follows that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention.’

Article 8 says ‘everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life’.

It adds: ‘There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security... or the prevention of disorder or crime... or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.’

Today the human rights judges said that, although Mr Gillan and Ms Quinton were each stopped and searched for less than 30 minutes, they were ‘entirely deprived of any freedom of movement’ for the duration.

The judgment said: ‘They were obliged to remain where they were and submit to the search and if they had refused they would have been liable to arrest, detention at a police station and criminal charges. This element of coercion is indicative of a deprivation of liberty.’

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