Judges demand Euro data protection accord

Judges and eminent legal figures across Europe are set to launch a steering group to harmonise data protection for criminal proceedings.

The decision to set up the group came out of the Council of Europe Seminar on Data Protection in Criminal Proceedings held in Strasbourg.

Procedural law professor Angeles Gutierrez Zarza of Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) in Spain called for the move in front of judges from seven European states, as well as Russia.

The UK was represented by recorder Bernard Thorogood of No5 Chambers after he was appointed by the information commissioner Richard Thomas, the former director of public policy at Clifford Chance.

Thorogood said the move to launch a steering group was a step in the right direction, as data protection within criminal proceedings needs to be more uniform across Europe.

“Although all the member states all get their data protection from the same European directives, each interprets them differently,” said Thorogood.

“Different countries put different emphasis on areas of data protections: one state may put focus on protecting the privacy of the individual above the protection of the public. It’s these discrepancies that we want to iron out.

“Unless the EU states can develop smooth procedures for the cross-border flow of information, organised crime will have an easier life.”

It is expected that Thorogood will be appointed as the UK’s representative on the steering group, alongside appointments from Europol and Eurojust.