All the King's Men, Police Powers and the Reining in of Liberty

AuthorLuke Marsh
Published date01 August 2014
Date01 August 2014
Subject MatterComment
All the King’s Men, Police Powers and the
Reining in of Liberty
Luke Marsh*
Keywords Suspect’s rights; Civil liberties; National security; Freedom of
expression; Statutory construction
David Miranda (the claimant and a Brazilian citizen) was spouse to
journalist Glenn Greenwald, who wrote for a UK newspaper and who had
been provided with encrypted data by Edward Snowden following an
initial meeting in late 2012. The data which were stolen from the American
National Security Agency (NSA), included intelligence pertaining to the
UK, of which some had been leaked in Greenwald’s newspaper on several
occasions in 2013. In August 2013, Miranda, who had travelled from
Brazil to Germany carrying encrypted material, met with a further
journalist from whom additional data were received. It was understood
that the additional material would also be used to assist Miranda’s partner
in furtherance of journalistic activity. While transiting through Heathrow
Airport on his return to Brazil in August 2013, Miranda was stopped by
police ofcers.
Counter-terrorism police had been provided with a number of Port
Circulation Sheets (PCS) which authorise the use of police power to stop
a named individual at a ports stop, in this instance, because Miranda was
‘likely to be involved in espionage activity which has the potential to act
against the interests of UK national security’.1The police were therefore
requested to ascertain the risk he posed and detained him in that process
for approximately nine hours (the maximum allowed under Sched. 7 to
the Terrorism Act 2000). Among Miranda’s possessions was an external
hard drive containing some 58,000 highly classied (many ‘top secret’ or
‘secret’) les pertaining to UK intelligence, which were cloned as a
consequence of his detention.
Judicial review proceedings were initiated. Following a series of various
interlocutory hearings, the High Court dealt with the substantive hearing.
In Miranda vSecretary of State for the Home Department and the Commissioner
of the Police of the Metropolis,2the High Court extraordinarily held that the
Security Service’s detention of a journalist’s partner, not suspected of
involvement in terrorism, under legislation designed to combat terrorism was
lawful, proportionate and did not breach European human rights
protections of freedom of expression.
* Assistant Professor, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; e-mail:
1Miranda vSecretary of State for the Home Department and the Commissioner of the Police of the
Metropolis [2014] EWHC 255 at [9].
2 [2014] EWHC 255.
300 The Journal of Criminal Law (2014) 78 JCL 300–308

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