Operation - List of judgments

The Tribunal is required by law (RIPA section 69(6)(b)) not to disclose material provided to it which would threaten the national interest, national security, operations against serious crime or any functions of the intelligence agencies. However, it has concluded that publication of a ruling on a point of law or on the basis of assumed facts does not compromise these areas or the ‘neither confirm nor deny’ principle by which the intelligence agencies operate. It seeks where possible to publish its judgments. It also publishes its judgments where a determination of unlawful conduct is made.

Hearing date

IPT case reference

Parties or title




IPT/01/62 & 77

Kennedy and Other Ruling

A defining ruling in the early history of the IPT, which set out in detail the jurisdiction, powers, procedure, national security context and the public interest.



Short summary of the above ruling



Kennedy v Security Services, GCHQ and The Met

This Complaint and Human Rights Act Claim related to interception of communications. The hearing considered legal arguments from both sides.


(Application no. 26839/05)

Case of Kennedy v. the United Kingdom

Mr Kennedy took his case to the ECHR which subsequently led to confirmation in Strasbourg that IPT procedures did not violate the right to a fair trial



The British-Irish Rights Watch and others v Security Service, GCHQ and the SIS

This complaint related to telephone calls made from the UK to overseas telephones which the Tribunal concluded was in accordance with the law.



B. vs. Security Service

The ruling refers to an oral hearing held by the Tribunal on two preliminary issues of law, with regards to alleged conduct by the Security Service which is alleged to have been incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Complainant was a Member of Parliament, who believed that the Security Service held files on him containing personal data relating to his activities with ecological groups some time in the past. The Tribunal ruled on whether or not the NCND principle was valid if personal data were or were not held by the public authority



Mr & Mrs H v The Police Federation of Great Britain

The Tribunal found that a police force’s use of covert surveillance against a police officer breached his Article 8 rights as it had no lawful authority for the surveillance activities it undertook (but its decision is overtaken by C v The Police (IPT/03/32) in 2006)

13 & 14/07/06


C. vs. The Police

This ruling relates to an open hearing held to determine whether the Tribunal had jurisdiction under RIPA to determine a claim made by a retired police officer against his former police force. The claim was for unlawful covert surveillance in breach of his right to respect for his private and family life and his home under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention) and section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (the 1998 Act). The Tribunal ruled that, as the case related to the use of Private Investigators to undertake directed surveillance in relation to an employment dispute, no public interest would be served by giving the Tribunal exclusive jurisdiction over such a case. Therefore the Tribunal concluded this was not a case of directed surveillance within RIPA. It therefore fell outside the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.



A & Others v The Metropolitan Police Service

The Tribunal examined whether alleged interception could have been made lawful by authorisation under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act or the Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) Regulations 2000.

21/09/07 & 05/02/08


Frank-Steiner vs. Data Controller SIS

This unusual case refers to the Complainant wishing to know if his uncle by marriage, deceased in 1963, had worked for the SIS in World War 2. The Tribunal ruled that the Neither Confirm nor Deny policy applied in this case.



Gibbon v Rugby Borough Council

The Tribunal made a determination in favour of this Complainant having found that the Respondent had carried out unauthorised surveillance on the Complainant’s home property by walking onto his shared driveway during the course of ongoing investigation which included some earlier directed surveillance. The Respondent failed to provide any satisfactory reason for this so the Tribunal had no hesitation in concluding that this was unauthorised surveillance. £2,500 compensation was awarded.



X v Local Authority

The Tribunal examined whether a council’s use of covert CCTV trained on a communal area to detect persistent dog fouling constituted directed surveillance against an individual for which an authorisation under RIPA should have been obtained. It upheld the case against the council, concluding that the facts of that particular case, including the positioning of the covert camera, showed that the activity had breached the Complainant’s Article 8 rights.

05 & 06/11/09


Ms. Jenny Paton and others vs. Poole Borough Council

Commonly known as the ‘Poole’ judgment, the ruling details the Tribunal’s finding that it was not necessary nor proportionate for Poole Borough Council to undertake surveillance on a family in relation to school catchment areas.



N v The Police

This Ruling found that there was an interference with privacy contrary to Article 8 in respect of the use of directed surveillance by using existing public CCTV. The decision to authorise surveillance had taken place after the Crown Prosecution Service had taken the decision not to prosecute the Complainant. The subsequent decision on remedies ordered that the CCTV recording should be destroyed and a declaration should be made that there was a breach of the Complainant’s Article 8 rights.



W vs. Public Authority

The Tribunal’s ruling deals with the issue of costs in a case where, although the Complainant withdrew their application, the Respondent (a public authority) sought cost recovery.




Mr & Mrs B v Department for Social Development

In July 2010 the IPT made a finding in favour in this case of a husband and wife joint complaint against the Northern Ireland DSD. The DSD did not dispute that they mistakenly authorised surveillance to allow DSD officers to enter the complainants’ property posing as prospective house purchasers. This is the Tribunal’s decision on remedies. They ordered the quashing of the authorisation and for notes of the surveillance to be destroyed and then stated that the surveillance was a breach of the Complainants’ Article 8 rights but made no order for compensation.



Mr Vaughan v South Oxfordshire District Council

This case raises an important point of principle as to whether council tax home inspections constitute surveillance. After examining the definition of 'surveillance' and 'covert' the Tribunal concluded that there was no surveillance within the meaning of the legislation. It was therefore concluded that covert surveillance was not conducted by the Council.



BA and others v Cleveland Police

In this case the Tribunal examined the conduct of the Police in placing a covert device into the house of a vulnerable adult with her consent which resulted in the arrest of one of her carers. The Tribunal was satisfied that, although the conduct was not protected by a surveillance authorisation, there was no unlawful activity or breach of Article 8.



A Complaint of Surveillance

In order to investigate a complaint of unlawful surveillance the Tribunal held a hearing in open court regarding paragraph 2.29 of the Surveillance Code of Practice. The Tribunal has declared that the covert making of a recording of a “voluntary declared interview” in the course of an investigation or operation is not “surveillance” within the meaning of Part II of the RIPA.

30/01/14 (handed down 07/02/14)


Belhadj & Others vs. the Security Service, SIS, GCHQ, Home Office and FCO

The Tribunal considered the Complainants’ application for interim relief in their case before it in the light of undertakings given by the Respondents. It also gave preliminary consideration to appropriate practice to be followed in the event a Closed hearing was requested by the Respondents.

06/11/14 (handed down 18/11/14)


Belhadj & Others vs. the Security Service, SIS, GCHQ, Home Office and FCO

The Tribunal considered the Complainants’ requests for the form in which information should be disclosed by the Respondents on the legal and policy regime relating to the handing of legally privileged information.

26/02/15 IPT/13/132-9/H Belhadj & Others vs. the Security Service, SIS, GCHQ, Home Office and FCO  Order
05/12/14 IPT/13/77/H

Liberty & Others vs. the Security Service, SIS, GCHQ.

The Tribunal considered the Complainants' requests to review the legality of and policy regime relating to, the "Prism programme" and the lawfulness of interception by the security services pursuant to warrants under section 8(4). The Tribunal made subject to certain outstanding matters;


  1. A declaration that the regime governing the soliciting, receiving, storing and transmitting by UK authorities of private communications of individuals located in the UK which have been obtained by US authorities pursuant to Prism and/or Upstream does not contravene Articles 8 or 10 ECHR
  2. A declaration that the regime in respect of interception under ss8(4), 15 and 16 of the Regulation of investigatory Powers Act 2000 does not contravene Articles 8 or 10 ECHR and does not give rise to unlawful discrimination contrary to Article 14, read together with Articles 8 and/or 10 of the ECHR.
 06/02/15  IPT/13/77/H  Liberty & Others vs. the Security Service, SIS, GCHQ.

In considering the outstanding matter of legality the Tribunal declares:

  1. THAT prior to the disclosures made and referred to in the First Judgment and the Second Judgment, the regime governing the soliciting, receiving, storing and transmitting by UK authorities of private communications of individuals located in the UK, which have been obtained by US authorities pursuant to Prism and/or (on the Claimants’ case) Upstream, contravened Articles 8 or 10 ECHR, but
  2. THAT it now complies with the said Articles.

 29/04/15  IPT/13/132-9/H Belhadj & Others vs. the Security Service, SIS, GCHQ, Home Office and FCO

The Tribunal considered the Complainants' submission that their legally privileged information had been unlawfully intercepted/obtained.

  1. No determination has been made in favour of the First, Second or Fourth to Ninth Claimants inclusive.
  2. A determination has been made in favour of the Third Claimant, Sami Al Saadi.

On the basis of the declaration made on 26 February 2015 the Tribunal has determined that there was an infringement of Article 8 in respect only of the legally privileged information of the Third Claimant contained in two documents held by GCHQ.

22/06/2015 IPT/13/77/H Liberty & Others vs. the Security Service, SIS, GCHQ

The Tribunal has addressed the matters left after the resolution of the issues in the Liberty proceedings by its Judgments of 5 December 2014 (“the December Judgment”) and of 6 February 2015.

  1. In IPT/13/77/H (Liberty), no determination is made in the Claimant’s favour.
  2. In IPT/13/92/CH (Privacy International) no determination is made in the Claimant’s favour. 
  3. In IPT/13/168-173CH (Organisations affiliated or associated with Liberty), no determination is made in favour of the First Claimant (the American Civil Liberties Union), the Second Claimant (the Canadian Civil Liberties Union), the Fourth Claimant (the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union) or the Fifth Claimant (the Irish Council for Civil Liberties).
  4. In the same proceedings, the Tribunal makes a determination in favour of the Sixth Claimant (the Legal Resources Centre).
  5. In IPT/13/194/CH (Amnesty International Ltd), the Tribunal makes a determination in the Claimant’s favour.
  6. In IPT/13/204/CH (Bytes for All), no determination is made in the Claimant’s favour.
20/07/2015 IPT/15/84/88/CH Chatwani & Others vs. the National Crime Agency

The Complainants, members of the Chatwani and Tailor families, sought a declaration that an authorisation for property interference and for the installation of covert listening devices at the headquarters of companies owned and/or controlled by the Complainants, was unlawfully obtained.

The Tribunal finds in favour of the Complainants in this regard and Orders that the Property Interference Authorisation be quashed.

14/10/2015 IPT/14/79/CH
Caroline Lucas MP, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb AM, George Galloway vs. the Security Service, SIS, GCHQ The Tribunal heard and resolved issues relating to the status, meaning and effect of what has been called the Harold Wilson Doctrine, or the Wilson Doctrine, originating in the statement in the House of Commons on 17 November 1966 by the Rt Hon Harold Wilson, the then Prime Minister.  The Tribunal made declarations that the Wilson Doctrine applies only to targeted, and not incidental, interception of Parliamentary communications, but that it has no legal effect, save that in practice the Security and Intelligence Agencies must comply with their own Guidance, which has now been disclosed in the Judgment
17/12/15 IPT/14/176/H News Group Newspapers Limited and Others v.v. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis This claim is brought against the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis by News Group Newspapers and three journalists employed by The Sun newspaper.
The Tribunal finds the 2007 Code did not provide effective safeguards in a case in which the purpose of an authorisation made under s 22 of RIPA was to obtain disclosure of the identity of a journalist’s source. Accordingly the authorisations were not compatible with the Convention rights of the Complainants under Article 10.
Applying s 6 of the HRA we decide that the Respondent did not act unlawfully in making the First, Second and Fourth Authorisations under s 22 of RIPA. The Third Authorisation was not, under s 22 of RIPA, necessary nor proportionate to the legitimate aim which it pursued. There was thus an infringement of the Convention rights of the Fourth Complainant, in that the interference with Article 10 rights was not in accordance with the law.
04/02/2016 IPT/14/176/H News Group Newspapers Limited and Others v.v. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

By the Tribunal's Judgment dated 17 December 2015, which should be read together with this Judgment, the Tribunal made findings of fact and determinations as to liability. No remedy was  granted to the first three Complainants by virtue of the terms of s 6(2(b) of the HRA. Applying the principles of the  ECtHR, and the Tribunal's jurisprudence, the Tribunal  was  satisfied that, within the terms of s.8(4) of the HRA, an award of damages or compensation is not "necessary to afford just satisfaction to the person in whose favour it is made". Just satisfaction is provided by the declaration as to the infringement of Mr Woodhouse's rights, and the destruction in the same terms as that agreed by the Respondent in respect of the other Complainants.

12/02/16  IPT 14/85/CH
Privacy International and Greennet & Others v.s (1) The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (2) The Government Communications Headquarters

This was a hearing in respect of a claim by Privacy International, and seven IPSs, of which Greennet Limited carries on operations in this country and the other Claimants have customers in this country. The use of CNE by GCHQ, now avowed, has raised a number of serious questions. The Tribunal is satisfied that with the new EI Code, and whatever the outcome of Parliamentary consideration of the IP Bill, a proper balance is being struck in regard to the matters it has been asked to consider.

16/05/16 IPT/15/165/CH, IPT/15/166/CH,
IPT/15/167/CH, IPT/15/168/CH,
IPT/15/169/CH, IPT/15/172/CH,
IPT/15/173/CH, IPT/15/174/CH,
IPT/15/175/CH, IPT/15/176/CH

This is a judgment of preliminary issues in respect of the complaints by ten Claimants, including Human Rights Watch ("the Ten").  It arises out of a worldwide campaign by Privacy International. The Tribunal ruled on issues including jurisdiction which will be applied to all remaining campaign related complaints. 

In respect of any asserted belief that any conduct falling within s.68(5) of RIPA has been carried out by or on behalf of any of the Intelligence Services, a complainant must show that there is a basis for such belief, so that he may show that he is potentially at risk of being subjected to such conduct.  Further such a claimant must show in respect of such a complaint that he is or was at a material time present in the United Kingdom. 

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