Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott has welcomed the UK Supreme Court judgement that a Londonderry teenager suspected of involvement in rioting at a sectarian interface did not have his right to privacy breached when the Police published his photograph in a bid to identify suspects.
Mr Elliott said;
“Lawyers for the young man involved – he was 14 at the time – tried to claim that his human right to privacy was breached by the publication of photographs of people suspected of involvement in rioting in 2010.
“Common sense would dictate that whilst in certain situations the Police may not be able to make arrests at the time an offence is committed, in such circumstances they must be entitled to take photographs of anyone in a public place who they reasonably suspect may be involved in illegal activity as a legitimate means of gathering evidence. If someone does come to the attention of the Police in such a manner, then no reasonable person would claim that individual had a right to privacy that should take precedence over the administration of justice. Fortunately common sense prevailed and the UK Supreme Court backed the PSNI.
“The young man’s solicitors are now seeking to take this case to Europe on privacy grounds. I wonder how much this case has cost the public so far! I can think of better ways to spend public money within the hard pressed resources of the Northern Ireland Executive. I noted that one of his solicitors is quoted as saying ‘our duty as a society is to safeguard children and to promote their best interests.’
“I would have thought that ensuring young people do not attend sectarian interfaces whilst rioting is taking place would be a good starting point. Society also has a right to be protected from those who choose to engage in illegal activity and people have a right to walk streets free from the fear of rioters appearing round the next corner. Young people also need to learn the valuable lesson that actions have consequences and criminal actions will bring them to the attention of the Police and courts, where punishment will result.
“If this case does make it to the European Courts I sincerely hope they throw it out. If not it will provide further ammunition for those who believe that a UK Bill of Rights that is not subservient to Europe, is urgently required.”