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Key IPT Rulings

One of the most informative ways to learn about the Tribunal is through reading rulings published in the grid below, alongside their summaries. Although Rule 6 of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal Rules (Statutory Instrument 2000 No. 2665) dictates that no document or information nor the fact that any document or information has been provided can be disclosed, in the case of Kennedy (IPT/01/62) and other Parties (IPT/01/77) the Tribunal has decided that the Rules do not, subject to the general duty imposed by Rule 6(1), prevent the Tribunal from notifying and publishing their rulings of law on a complaint. That procedure runs no risk of disclosure of any information to any extent, or in any manner, that is contrary to or prejudicial to the matters referred to in section 69(6)(b) of RIPA and rule 6(1) or to the 'Neither Confirm nor Deny' Policy.

IPT case reference Hearing date Parties or title Summary Download
IPT/01/62 & 77
23/01/03 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
IPT/01/62   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
IPT/01/77   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. 

IPT/03/01 31/03/04 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
28/02/05 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)
IPT/03/32 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.
02/11/06 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.


IPT/06/31/CH 14/08/08 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.
IPT/06/81/CH 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.
N v The Police This Ruling found that there was an interference with privacy contrary to Article 8 in respect of the use 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.

IPT/09/01 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.
IPT/09/11/C 29/07/11 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.
25/08/08 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.
IPT/09/134 01/02/11 W vs. Public Authority The ruling published deals with the issue of costs. In summary, the judgment rules in anonymized form on a case whereby a complainant received a no determination outcome. However, upon subsequent withdrawal of the complaint, the Tribunal was asked to consider the recovery of costs borne by the Respondent, a public authority.


IPT/12/28/C 04/07/12 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.  
IPT/11/129/CH 05/07/12 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.  
IPT/A1/2013 14/01/13 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.  


ImageKey IPT Rulings

One of the most informative ways to learn about the Tribunal is through reading rulings published in the grid below,.... (14 Mar 14)