QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF WILLIAM MELIA||(CLAIMANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR JOHN BASSETT (instructed by The Force Solicitor, Merseyside Police) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
"Subject to regulation 25 and paragraphs (2) and (3), the hearing shall be in private: Provided that it shall be within the discretion of the presiding officer to allow any solicitor or any such other persons as he considers desirable to attend the whole or such part of the hearing as he may think fit, subject to the consent of all parties to the hearing."
The parties to the hearing, particularly the police officers accused, refused their consent. In those circumstances, consent for the solicitor to attend was refused. This refusal raises issues, so it is contended, under Article 3 and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But it is plain, so far as the Regulations are concerned, that the presiding officer had no discretion to allow the solicitor to attend.
"This is a case of a sensitive and delicate nature ... Mr Melia was a principal prosecution witness for Merseyside Police Operation Care ... his evidence led to the conviction, and sentence to 12 years, of an abuser who was investigated by the officers ... "
The letter then goes on to say:
" ... as a result of the disturbance caused to him by that whole process he started to use heroin. We now represent him in his consequent claim for damages for the abuse that he suffered and are in possession of detailed psychological and medical reports on him. Furthermore he recently agreed to assist those officers, and did so, by wearing a wire, following an illegal approach to him to retract his evidence in the Court of Appeal ...
"Clearly it would not be appropriate for any other friend or relative to be present.
"I would add that I have known Mr Melia since he was 13 years old."
The officer reading that letter says in a statement that, despite an opportunity for further information, none had been provided. He concluded that there was no room for expansion and that the solicitor was not a friend.
"25(1) This regulation shall apply where there has been a complaint against the member concerned.
"(2) Notwithstanding anything in regulation 26(1), but subject to paragraphs (3) and (5), the complainant shall be allowed to attend the hearing while witnesses are being examined, or cross-examined, and may at the discretion of the presiding officer be accompanied by a friend or relative.
"(3) Where the complainant or any person allowed to accompany him is to be called as a witness at the hearing, he and any person allowed to accompany him shall not be allowed to attend before he gives his evidence."
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
The Strasbourg Court has recently, an in authority that has not been provided to me in this case, emphasised the minimum threshold of treatment which must be attained before it can come within the scope of Article 3. That there is such a minimum threshold and that the treatment must be of a high degree of severity is emphasised by the fact that Article 3 contains no qualification whatsoever. It is an absolute obligation of the State. I am quite unable to accept that the supply of heroin falls within treatment under Article 3, reprehensible though it would be should it be performed by any agent of the State or with the connivance or consent of any agent of the State.