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Gaughran v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland
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1 User Commentary

Melanie Davidson (In-house lawyer) 28 September 2015

Case Digest: Gaughran v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland [2015] UKSC 29

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Whether a police force could retain personal information and data after a suspect’s arrest

The Supreme Court handed down judgment on 13th May in the appeal of Gaughran v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland [2015] UKSC 29. The appellant had been arrested and convicted of driving with excess alcohol. Following his arrest, personal data and information were taken from the appellant by the respondent police force. He claimed the retention of his data was unlawful in the light of the ECHR decision in S & Marper v UK [2008] 1 Pol LR 403 (“Marper”).

The High Court of Northern Ireland had held that the retention of the data was prima facie in breach of his art 8 Convention rights, but that the breach in pursuance of a legitimate aim. He now appealed on the point of whether the retention was proportionate.

Lord Clarke gave the leading judgment, from which Lord Kerr only dissented. Lord Clarke stated that whilst the Marper cases concerned suspects, the current case was in relation to the retention of data from convicted individuals. Nonetheless, the criticisms in Marper of the then policy on retention of data were not automatically irrelevant. In the instant case, having considered the factors and the margin of appreciation according to states, the Court was satisfied that the interference with the appellant’s art 8 right was proportionate.

Lord Kerr would have allowed the appeal, and suggested a much more nuanced and balanced policy was possible. This would have been less intrusive.

The appeal would therefore be dismissed. 


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