Bubbins v United Kingdom: Civil Remedies and the Right to Life

Publication Date01 Mar 2006
AuthorNeil Martin
Bubbins vUnited Kingdom: Civil Remedies and
the Right to Life
Neil Martin
This analysis considers the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in Bubbins v
In this case the Court examined the shooting by the police of an unarmed indi-
vidual.The Court had to address two issues.Firstly,did the act of shooting the individual, and the
conduct of the police operationwhich culminated in the shooting, amount to a breach of Art.2?
Secondly, in this s ituation,was the compensatory system in place i n the UK su⁄cient to meet the
requirements of Art.13?Th is case revealssomething of the relationship between Art.2 and Art.13,
and is relevant to analysis of the parasitic nature of Art.13.
The applicant’s brother, Mr Michael Fitzgerald, was shot dead byan armed police
o⁄cer during a siege at his home on 26 February 1998.The siege arose after Mr
Fitzgerald’s girlfriend, Melanie Joy, saw a person entering Mr Fitzgeralds £at.
Believing a burglary to be taking place, Miss Joy called the police. On investigat-
ing the premises, one of the police o⁄cers saw a man in the £at pointing what
appeared to be a gun at him through a window. The police did not discover that
this man was Mr Fitzgerald until after he had been shot. Matters escalated, armed
o⁄cers were called to the scene, and a siege situation developed. Attempts were
made to negotiate with Mr Fitzgerald. Eventually, less than two hours after the
police ¢rstarrived, Mr Fitzgerald came toan upstairs window, and seemed to aim
a gun at some of the police o⁄cers on the scene. After shoutinga warning which
went unheeded, one of the police o⁄cers opened ¢re, killing Mr Fitzgerald. It
was later discovered that Mr Fitzgerald, whowas extremelydrunk at the time of
the incident, was carrying onlyan imitation weapon.
The matter was referred to the Police Complaints Authorit y for investigation. It
concluded that the armed police o⁄cer who shot Mr Fitzgerald had not com-
mitted a criminal o¡ence. The Director of Public Prosecutions found that there
was no evidence to justify any criminal proceedings.
Barrister, 25 BedfordRow
1 AppNo. 50196/99, judgement of17 March, 2005.For a case commentary on the admissibility deci-
sion made on November27, 2003 see [2004] EHRLR214.
rThe Modern LawReview Limited 2006
Published by BlackwellPublishing, 9600 Garsington Road,Oxford OX4 2DQ,UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA
(2006) 69(2)MLR 242^261

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