There has been a great deal of press since Sunday regarding the detention of David Miranda on Sunday at Heathrow airport. David Miranda was travelling from Germany to Rio de Janerio where he lives with his partner, Glenn Greenwald, a journalist and author.
In June of this year a series of articles written by Mr Greenwald regarding British and American mass surveillance programmes were published by The Guardian. The articles featured information taken from Edward Snowden who was previously employed by the Central Intelligence Office.
Mr Miranda was detained for a period of 9 hours under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Items, which were suggested to be journalistic, were subsequently seized including a laptop, mobile telephone, memory sticks and a games console.
Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 deals with Border and Port Controls. The schedule permits an examining officer, being either a police constable, customs officer or immigration officer, to not only seize property but to detain any persons for a period of up to 9 hours to determine if that person falls within Section 40 1(b) of the Terrorism Act 2000. The schedule goes on further to state that:
(4) An examining officer may exercise his powers under this paragraph whether or not he has grounds for suspecting that a person falls within section 40(1)(b).
Section 40 provides a definition for the meaning “terrorist’. Whereas Section 40 1 (a) is concerned with persons who have committed offences under the act, Section 40 1 (b) provides a definition of a terrorist who “is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism’.
In summary Schedule 7 permits the detention of a person for up to 9 hours to determine if that person is concerned in acts of terrorism whether or not the examining officer actually has grounds to suspect that he or she does so. Effectively the officer does not need to have reasonable suspicion.
Since the case was reported, there has been outrage from some sectors of the public, with many querying the use of the powers in cases where an officer does not reasonably suspect that a person is involved in acts of terrorism. In fact, so much so that Miranda’s lawyers have claimed that his detention was in fact ‘unlawful’, with them calling for a “quashing order” and all of Miranda’s property, data and any copies to be destroyed.
Following concerns as to the Schedule 7 powers, a number of reforms are currently being considered by Parliament. The detention periods permitted and access to legal representation are but two of the aspects of the schedule under review.
If you have been detained under these powers or indeed under the Terrorism Act 2000, it is vital that you obtain legal advice to discuss your rights discuss your rights at the earliest opportunity. Our specialist solicitors at Farleys we have a wealth of experience in this area and would be happy to advise you.
By Sian Hall, Serious Crime Defence Solicitor