Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 July 2015
THE tension between the competing values of security and human rights in the fight against terrorism was the subject of the ECtHR (Fourth Section) decision of Ibrahim v Others v the United Kingdom (Application nos. 50541/08, 50571/08, 50573/08, and 40351/09), 16 December 2014. Two weeks after the London bombings of 7 July 2005, bombs were detonated on the London transport system but failed to explode. After the first three applicants were arrested on suspicion of detonating the bombs, they underwent “safety interviews” which are conducted urgently for the purpose of protecting life and preventing serious damage to property, without any solicitor present and before the suspect can seek legal advice, as authorized under the Terrorism Act 2000. At the start of the “safety interviews”, instead of the “old-style” caution which reminds the suspect of his right to silence and informs him that anything said may be given in evidence, the police wrongly issued the “new-style” caution, which reminds the suspect of his right to silence and informs him that the court can draw adverse inferences at trial from his silence. This was contrary to s. 34(2A) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which states that adverse inferences cannot be drawn at trial if the defendant did not have the opportunity to consult with a solicitor prior to questioning. During the “safety interviews”, the first three applicants denied any involvement in or knowledge of the detonation, but, at trial, they acknowledged their involvement in the detonation yet claimed that the bombs had been a hoax and were never intended to explode. The statements taken at their “safety interviews” were admitted at trial. The fourth applicant, Abdurahman, was initially interviewed by the police as a witness. When he started to incriminate himself by discussing the assistance he provided to one of the suspects, the police did not, at that stage, arrest him and inform him of his rights to silence and to legal inform as required under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Code of Practice C; they only did so after having further questioned him as a witness and having taken a written statement from him. His written statement was admitted at trial.