Govt stop-and-search appeal rejected

A policeman watches a demonstrator
A policeman watches a demonstrator

By Ian Dunt

The European court of human rights has rejected an attempt by the UK government to appeal a judgment over its stop-and-search powers.

The decision means that a January 2010 court judgement which found section 44 of the Terrorism Act to be illegal is final.

"This appeal was always doomed," said Isabella Sankey, director of policy for Liberty.

"The objectionable policy of broad stop and search without suspicion was wrong in principle and has proven divisive and counterproductive in practice."

The original court judgement in the case of Gillan and Quinton v the United Kingdom found that section 44 violated the right to respect for private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights.

In April 2010 the government requested that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber - a request which was roundly rejected today.

Campaigners are hoping that the coalition government will use the judgement to repeal the law.

"The 'great repeal bill' promised by the new government provides the perfect opportunity for the UK finally to comply with this common sense judgment," Ms Sankey said.

The case originally arose when Pennie Quinton and Kevin Gillanwere were subjected to stop-and-search and prevented from attending a protest against an arms fair in the Excel centre of London's Docklands in 2003.

Media interest and parliamentary questions eventually revealed that the whole of Central London had been secretly designated a stop-and-search area since 2001.

The designation allows police to search members of the public without any suspicion that they intend to engage in illegal activities.