McKee v Chief Constable for Northern Ireland

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLord Scarman,Lord Elwyn-Jones,Lord Diplock,Lord Roskill,Lord Brightman
Judgment Date22 November 1984
Judgment citation (vLex)[1984] UKHL J1122-1
Date22 November 1984
CourtHouse of Lords

[1984] UKHL J1122-1

House of Lords

Lord Scarman

Lord Elwyn-Jones

Lord Diplock

Lord Roskill

Lord Brightman

McKee
(Respondent)
and
Chief Constable for Northern Ireland
(Appellant)
(Northern Ireland)
Lord Scarman

My Lords,

1

I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech to be delivered by my noble and learned friend, Lord Roskill. I agree with it, and for the reasons he gives I would allow the appeal and restore the order of MacDermott J.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords,

2

I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech of my noble and learned friend, Lord Roskill. For the reasons he has given I would allow this appeal and restore the order of MacDermott J. dismissing this action.

Lord Diplock

My Lords,

3

I have had the advantage of reading in draft the speech of my noble and learned friend, Lord Roskill. For the reasons he has given I too would allow this appeal and restore the order of MacDermott J. dismissing this action.

Lord Roskill

My Lords,

4

Early in the morning of the 8 September 1981 Constable Graham of the Royal Ulster Constabulary was sent with another police officer and a soldier to the respondent's home in TheodoreStreet in Belfast. Graham's instructions, given earlier that night by his superior officer, Sergeant Jackson, were to arrest the respondent as a "suspected terrorist." Graham's evidence, which the learned trial judge, MacDermott J., accepted in preference to that of the respondent was that Jackson had told him that the respondent "was a suspect terrorist and from what he told me about that person I was firmly convinced that this was correct." Graham also said that when he arrested the respondent he told him "I am arresting you under section 11 of the Emergency Powers Act 1978 and am taking you to Castlereagh. Just then he said —'What for?' I told him it was as a suspect terrorist." The respondent having been so arrested was detained and questioned. At about 10.00 p.m. on the same day he was released, having been in custody for some 18 hours. The respondent then sued the appellant as the police authority responsible for the actions of Graham and others for damages for trespass, arrest and unlawful arrest and imprisonment. The appellant by way of defence relied on section 11 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. Section 11(1) of that statute reads: "Any constable may arrest without warrant any person whom he suspects of being a terrorist."

5

Section 31(1) defines "terrorism" and "terrorist" in the following terms. "'Terrorism' means the use of violence for political ends and includes any use of violence for the purpose of putting the public or any section of the public in fear. 'Terrorist' means a person who is or has been concerned in the commission or attempted commission of any act of terrorism or in directing, organising or training persons for the purpose of terrorism."

6

MacDermott J. dismissed the respondent's action. Two findings of the learned judge's judgment are crucial. First:

"I am satisfied … that the constable when he went to Theodore Street was convinced in his own mind that the [respondent] was suspected of being a terrorist and that he himself suspected him of being a terrorist."

7

Second:

"… I accept that Constable Graham genuinely suspected that the [respondent] was a terrorist. As can be seen from the definition, 'terrorist' and 'terrorism' are defined in wide terms. In my judgment the arresting constable does not have to know or even suspect the nature of the involvement in terrorism which his superior attributes to the person who is being arrested."

8

It was for this reason that the learned trial judge held that the respondent's arrest was lawful and dismissed the action.

9

The respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal, Jones L.J. O'Donnell L.J. and Kelly J. as he then was. The Court of Appeal on 5 December 1983 by a majority, Jones L.J. dissenting, allowed the appeal, held the arrest unlawful and awarded the respondent £500 damages against the appellant. By the same majority leave to appeal to this House was refused but subsequently your Lordships granted leave to appeal. The reasoning of Jones L.J. was in substance that of the learned trial judge. But the majorityin the judgment given by Kelly J. thought otherwise. After stating that the statute "required a suspicion of being a terrorist in narrower terms than popular usage of the word terrorist might connote to a...

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9 cases
  • R (Raissi) v Secretary of State for the Home Department
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 14 February 2008
  • Raissi v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 12 November 2008
    ...held that it was not. In support of the proposition that it was, the Chief Constable relied upon the decision of the House in McKee v Chief Constable for Northern Ireland [1984] 1 WLR 1358. However, the statutory provision being considered there was section 11(1) of the Northern Ireland (Em......
  • O'Hara v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 12 December 1996
    ...necessary to examine the point in some detail. 6 Counsel for the respondent relied on the decision of the House of Lords McKee v. Chief Constable for Northern Ireland [1984] 1 W.L.R. 1358 in support of his submission on the point of principle. The issue was the lawfulness of the arrest of a......
  • Boney v The Attorney General
    • Trinidad & Tobago
    • High Court (Trinidad and Tobago)
    • 13 April 2017
    ...Claimant is about to act in a manner prejudicial to public safety or to public order. See Mc Kee v Chief Constable of Northern Ireland [1984] 1 WLR 1358. Regulation 16 and the requirement of “suspicion” lies in contrast to “reasonable suspicion” used by the drafters of the statutes in the s......
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1 books & journal articles
  • The Bombs in Omagh and their Aftermath: The Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998
    • United Kingdom
    • Wiley The Modern Law Review No. 62-6, November 1999
    • 1 November 1999
    ...person belonged to the specifiedorganisation, whether he had it under his possession or control at the time of his75 (1983) 11 NIJB.76 [1984] 1 WLR 1358, 1361. See C. Walker, ‘Emergency arrest powers’ (1985) 36 NILQ 145.77 Review of the Operation of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Pr......

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