Lords allows landmark intervention by Liberty in breach of privacy appeal

IN A landmark judgment the House of Lords has allowed the human rights organisation Liberty to intervene in a case.

This is believed to be the first time written third-party intervention has been allowed in a criminal case before the Lords and could set a precedent for similar interventions.

The appeal concerned evidence obtained by police on bugging devices, which the appellant argued was inadmissible because it constituted a breach of privacy and because there was no legal framework regulating police bugging.

Although they dismissed the appeal, the Lords referred extensively to Liberty's submission on the law of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lords Slynn and Nolan called for the Government to regulate police bugging. The case will now be considered by the European Commission of Human Rights.

Philip Leach, legal officer at Liberty, said: “Clearly the judges found Liberty's intervention helpful. This case sets a precedent for the rights of third party intervention.” John Wadham, director of Liberty, said it demonstrated the need for the European Convention to be incorporated into UK law as there was no domestic right of privacy in the UK.

But this proposition was firmly rejected by the Lord Chancellor last week. Lord Mackay said it would “draw judges into making decisions of a political nature…which is and has been accepted by the judiciary to be properly the preserve of Parliament”.