Wood v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, Court of Appeal - Civil Division, May 21, 2009, [2009] EWCA Civ 414

Resolution Date:May 21, 2009
Issuing Organization:Civil Division
Actores:Wood v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis

Neutral Citation Number: [2009] EWCA Civ 414Case No: C1/2008/1466 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURECOURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICEADMINISTRATIVE COURTThe Hon Mr Justice McCombe Royal Courts of JusticeStrand, London, WC2A 2LLDate: 21/05/2009Before :LORD JUSTICE LAWSLORD JUSTICE DYSONandLORD COLLINS OF MAPESBURY- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Between :- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -(Transcript of the Handed Down Judgment ofWordWave International LimitedA Merrill Communications Company165 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2DYTel No: 020 7404 1400, Fax No: 020 7404 1424Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Mr Martin Westgate (instructed by Liberty) for the AppellantMr Sam Grodzinski (instructed by The Metropolitan Police Service) for the RespondentHearing dates : 28 & 29 January 2009- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -JudgmentLORD JUSTICE LAWS:INTRODUCTION 1. This is an appeal against the judgment of McCombe J ([2008] EWHC Admin 1105) given in the Administrative Court on 22 May 2008 by which he dismissed the appellant's application for judicial review. The appellant's complaint was and is that officers of the respondent Commissioner's police force had taken and retained photographs of him in central London in the context of a meeting on 27 April 2005 in Grosvenor Square, and that these actions were unlawful and in violation of his rights guaranteed by Articles 8, 10, 11 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Permission to appeal was granted by the learned judge below. THE FACTSThe Judge's Account2. The following account, taken from the judge's judgment, gives the primary facts. After setting it out I must address certain further matters which are of some importance.``3. At the relevant time the Claimant was a media co-ordinator employed by an unincorporated association known as Campaign against Arms Trade (`CAAT'). CAAT's name clearly indicates its objects. The Claimant had and has no criminal convictions and has never been arrested as a result of any campaigning activities or otherwise. 4. Reed Elsevier PLC (`Reed') was the parent company of Spearhead Exhibitions Limited (`Spearhead') which is concerned in the organisation of trade fairs for various industries, including the arms industry. One of the events with which it has been concerned is an exhibition held every other year in London called Defence Systems and Equipment International (`DSEi'). Because of the association with Spearhead, Reed's offices in this country had been subjected to demonstrations, some involving criminal damage. Other damage had been caused to Reed's premises in the Netherlands. 5. Prior to Reed's Annual General Meeting on 27 April 2005 (due to take place at an hotel in Grosvenor Square in London) the police were contacted by a member of Spearhead staff explaining that the company had recently noted the purchase of single shares entitling the new holders to attend the forthcoming AGM. Some five or six share transactions were said to have involved members of CAAT. One individual known to hold a proxy for a shareholder was a woman, called in this case `EA', a member of CAAT until 2003, who had a history of unlawful activity against organisations involved in the defence industry and had been convicted of a number of offences in that context. 6. The Defendant took the view that there was a real possibility of demonstration at the AGM and that unlawful activity might occur. He (or his senior officers) therefore decided to deploy a number of officers around the hotel where the meeting was to be held. One inspector, three sergeants and 21 constables were so allocated. In addition, two `Forward Intelligence Teams' (`FITs') of three and two officers respectively and an `Evidence Gathering (`EG') Team' of three officers and a civilian photographer were engaged. These officers were in uniform and the photographer, although a civilian, wore a uniform identifying him as engaged with the police. 7. The EG team gathers intelligence by taking photographs and making notes of significant events which may be thought to be of potential evidential value; the FIT teams are used to monitor people's movements at events of the kind in question to assist in the efficient deployment of resources. 8. Before the meeting a CAAT member (`KB') approached the officer in charge and asked to hand out leaflets at the hotel entrance to those attending the AGM. The officer agreed to this on the understanding that no obstruction would be caused and KB would be acting alone. KB did carry on her leafleting activity without problems arising. 9. The Claimant attended the AGM having previously bought a share in Reed. He attended with about six other CAAT members, but entered the meeting with only one other. He states that his purpose was to learn more about Reed's involvement with Spearhead and to ask appropriate questions. 10. At the meeting two people, EA (already mentioned) and one RH, were ejected by private security staff, apparently after chanting slogans. There is no suggestion that the Claimant was in any way involved in this activity. His participation appears to have been confined to asking one unobjectionable question. There appears to have been no other disturbance at the meeting. 11. The Claimant left the meeting as soon as formal business was over, without staying for the social reception held thereafter for which other shareholders did stay. He left the hotel in the company of another CAAT employee, a Mr. Ian Prichard. They spoke to KB and, while they were doing so, a man (whom the Claimant believed to be a police officer, but who was in fact the civilian photographer already mentioned) got out of a police vehicle and began to take photographs. There is a dispute as to how many photographs were taken but the Claimant's evidence is that the photographer was working continuously for some time and approached to within two metres of the Claimant and Mr. Prichard. The photographer says that he customarily tries to keep a safe distance from subjects in order not to invade their `personal space' and for his own safety and the safety of his equipment. In evidence, seven images have been produced of which only two show the Claimant clearly. 12. The Claimant complains that he was not told the reason why the photographs were being taken. On the other hand, it appears that he did not ask the officers for the reason either. 13. The Defendant's evidence is that, after eviction from the meeting, EA joined KB outside the hotel. It is stated that the Claimant and Mr. Prichard stopped to speak to KB (as they accept) and that they were joined by EA. The Claimant says that he cannot recall EA joining the group. In his evidence, a sergeant from the EG team states that he decided that it was appropriate to photograph the Claimant and to try to establish his identity. His reasons for doing so were the sighting of the Claimant in a group with EA and the possibility that unlawful activity in the meeting, from which EA had been ejected, might later come to light. Other officers also give evidence of having seen the Claimant with EA at this time. 14. The Claimant and Mr. Prichard walked away from the hotel towards an Underground railway station. They were followed by officers from the EG team. The Claimant says that a police vehicle pulled up near to him and Mr. Prichard and about four officers came and stood near to them. The Claimant was asked for his identity, as was Mr. Prichard. Mr. Prichard identified himself, but the Claimant asked whether he was obliged to do so and, on being told he was not, declined to answer. They both refused to answer questions about the AGM. They were told that they were free to leave the scene and that they were not being detained, although two officers then followed them to the station, trying at one stage to get the assistance of railway staff to obtain the Claimant's identity from the Claimant's travel document. The Defendant's evidence is that the two men were followed in order to see whether they were truly leaving the area or whether they might return to the venue of the AGM or become involved with a different demonstration which was thought by the police to be occurring in St. James's Square. There is no evidence to suggest that the exchanges between the police on the one hand and the Claimant and Mr. Prichard on the other hand were other than polite on each side. 15. The Defendant has adduced detailed evidence as to retention of photographs taken in such circumstances as these. It appears that they are retained subject to strict controls. Usually they are kept only for use by officers of the Public Order branch of the force. Copies are not permitted to be taken outside the offices of that branch. The one exception to this is that at future public events where there is a potential need to identify persons involved in unlawful activity, who may have participated in similar events previously, a sheet of relevant images may be given to a limited number of EG and/or FIT team members. However, the images do not identify the names of those depicted, each image merely being allocated a code. The sheets are returned after the event and are then destroyed. 16. It seems that, in this case, the police did subsequently find out the Claimant's identity. They apparently found from company records the names of the new shareholders in Reed. They were able to ascertain the identities of all others, apart from the Claimant, and by process of elimination worked out that the person photographed in the company of Mr. Prichard and others was the Claimant. 17. The perceived need for photographs generally in the present case appears to have been because of police fears of unlawful activity at the DSEi event to be held in September 2005, after the disturbances at Reed's premises in this country and in the Netherlands, and the association...

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