Catt and T: Supreme Court judgment on retention of policing information


he Supreme Court has this week allowed appeals by the Metropolitan Police in R (Catt) and R (T) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and Others [2015] UKSC 9. Its judgment is important on the application of Article 8 ECHR to the retention of information on non-offenders by the police, as well as on the role of the Data Protection Act 1998 in ensuring the lawfulness of the regimes governing the retention of such information.

In the Catt appeal, the Court held (by a 4-1 majority) that the Police were entitled to retain on the Domestic Extremism Database certain records of Mr Catt’s attendance at occasionally violent protests, notwithstanding that he had never been accused of any criminality. In the T appeal, the Court held (unanimously) that the Police were entitled to retain on file a letter which it had sent to Ms T about an alleged homophobic incident. In both cases, the retention of the information interfered with the individuals’ privacy rights under Article 8(1) ECHR, but that interference was justified.

Jason Coppel KC and Robin Hopkins appeared for the Home Secretary, intervening in support of the Police.