QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
B e f o r e :
(Vice President of the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division)
MR JUSTICE HENRIQUES
|HER MAJESTY'S CORONER NORTHERN DISTRICT OF LONDON||(DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
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(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MISS A HEWITT (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
MR J BEER appeared on behalf of the FIRST INTERESTED PARTY
MR R BHOSE appeared on behalf of the SECOND INTERESTED PARTY
Crown Copyright ©
Friday, 4th July 2003
"(1) The proceedings and evidence at an inquest shall be directed solely to ascertaining the following matters, namely --
(a) who the deceased was;
(b) how, when and where the deceased came by his death;
(c) the particulars for the time being required by the Registration Acts to be registered concerning the death.
(2) Neither the Coroner nor the jury shall express any opinion on any other matters".
"A coroner who believes that action should be taken to prevent the recurrence of fatalities similar to that in respect of which the inquest is being held may announce at the inquest that he is reporting the matter in writing to the person or authority who may have power to take such action and he may report the matter accordingly".
"The Court notes that the first sentence of Article 2(1) enjoins the State not only to refrain from the intentional and unlawful taking of life, but also to take appropriate steps to safeguard the lives of those within its jurisdiction. It is common ground that the State's obligation in this respect extends beyond its primary duty to secure the right to life by putting in place effective criminal provisions to deter the commission of offences against the person backed up by law-enforcement machinery for the prevention, suppression and sanctioning of breaches of such provisions ... Article 2 of the Convention may also imply in certain well-defined circumstances a positive obligation on the authorities to take preventive operational measures to protect an individual whose life is at risk from the criminal acts of another individual ...
116. For the Court, and bearing in mind the difficulties involved in policing modern societies, the unpredictability of human conduct and the operational choices which must be made in terms of priorities and resources, such an obligation must be interpreted in a way which does not impose an impossible or disproportionate burden on the authorities. Accordingly, not every claimed risk to life can entail for the authorities a Convention requirement to take operational measures to prevent that risk from materialising ...
It must be established to its satisfaction that the authorities knew or ought to have known at the time of the existence of a real and immediate risk to the life of an identified individual or individuals from the criminal acts of a third party and that they failed to take measures within the scope of their powers which, judged reasonably, might have been expected to avoid that risk".
"One class is that of allegations of deliberate killing -- murder -- by servants of the state. A second is that of allegations of killing by gross negligence -- manslaughter -- by servants of the state. A third is that of plain negligence by servants of the state, leading to a death or allowing it to happen. In the context of any of these classes, there exists the lamentable possibility that the state has concealed or is concealing its responsibility for the death. That possibility gives rise to the paradigm case of the duty to investigate. The duty is in every instance fashioned to support and make good the substantive article 2 rights".
"The article 2 duty is primarily that of the state; any shortcomings in the jurisdiction of a coroner's inquest have to be made good by the state. However, coroners are themselves public authorities for the purposes of section 6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998 and are therefore now required under domestic law not to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right subject to section 6(2). The effect of section 6(2)(b) is that a coroner can only rely on the Coroners Rules to excuse his not acting in accordance with the Convention rights if the relevant rule cannot be read or given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights. In a situation where a coroner knows that it is the inquest which is in practice the way the state is fulfilling the adjectival obligation under article 2, it is for the coroner to construe the rules in a manner required by section 6(2)(b)".
"(d) The state's duty to investigate the circumstances of the deceased's death is adjectival and that means that it flows from it and is dependent on, as well as being subsidiary to, the primary duty in a particular case to protect life.
(e) No claim could be based on the express obligation under Article 2 (namely to protect life) if the death occurred before 2nd October 2000 and.
(f) Indeed the duty to investigate is in essence a remedy to support the right to protect life under Article 2 and there is no reason why the adjectival duty or remedy should come into force before the main right on which it is based.
98. Thus it follows that the duty to investigate in Article 2 is not an independent duty but is dependent on the main duties expressly stated in Article 2 arising. Consequently, like Scott Baker J in the Howard case, I am driven to the conclusion if a death occurred before 2nd October 2000, then Article 2 is not engaged and so its adjectival duty to investigate does not arise by necessary implication or at all".
"If the applicant is to have an effective remedy against a decision which is flawed because the decision-maker has misdirected himself on the Convention which he himself says he took into account, it must surely be right to examine the substance of the argument".
"The Convention exerted the persuasive and pervasive influence on judicial decision-making in this country guiding the exercise of discretions bearing on the development of the common law".
"A finding of neglect can bring home to the relevant authority the need for action to be taken to change the system, and thus contribute to the avoidance of suicides in the future. The inability to bring in a verdict of neglect (without identifying any individuals being involved) in our judgment significantly detracts, in some cases, from the capacity of the investigation to meet the obligations arising under Article 2".
"The degree of risk described as 'real and immediate' in Osman ... as used in that case, was a very high degree of risk calling for positive action from the authorities to protect life. It was 'a real and immediate risk to the life of an identified individual or individuals from the criminal acts of a third party' which was, or ought to have been, known to the authorities".
"If there are any calls to his address exercise CAUTION as it looks like he's causing problems with neighbours".
"I AM EXTREMELY CONCERNED THAT REID WILL SOONER OR LATER INJURE OR KILL SOMEONE, AND I PERSONALLY BELIEVE HIM TO BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS".
"No matter what happens ... REMEMBER OFFICER SAFETY when dealing with this deranged male".
"Reid gave the impression that if we didn't deal with the matter he was complaining about in general, he would deal with the matter himself.
... I was concerned that there was a risk he would cause injury to other residents and advised Miss Lam to inform the police".
"This subject has come to the notice of police on numerous occasions for threatening and assaulting his neighbours. He is very violent powerfully built and suffers from paranoia".
"I am extremely concerned re his latest threat as I believe that this man is extremely dangerous and has the potential to seriously injury or kill".
"Should it go in Barnet's favour, Albert Reid has threatened to get even with the people who give evidence against him.
Those of you who know Albert will know that he is very capable of carrying out this threat".
"It is apparent that Reid is a dangerous individual and if approached by officers would not hesitate to use violence".
"He wanted to know who was complaining against him and he also strongly denied harassing any of the residents on the estate. He stated that the council were taking sides against him ... He asked me if the complainants were either the man who lived downstairs from him or a lady who lived across the road. I told him, 'no'".
"He was more suspicious, boarding [sic] on being paranoid".
"Male concerned ... has now returned and threatened to shoot the informant. No weapon seen. Suspect lives at 102 Cromwell Road N10 and it is believed he has now returned there. If ... Trojan Firearms Unit required please [get in touch with] CAD [Computer Aided Despatch] direct".
"In the normal course of events a suspect with a firearm would generate an immediate police response. However as I had been told by the two officers that the male had not been armed on the initial call and that the suspect had already left the scene, I decided that the response was not immediately required".
"Mr Hurst sounded calm and reasonable, not distressed ... I introduced myself and told him that I didn't have an officer to attend at that moment. He said it was not necessary as he had already gone home. I asked him if he had seen any weapons and Mr Hurst said, 'No'. I recall him saying that they had locked themselves in the address and were not going to open the door. I told Mr Hurst that he should dial 999 if the male returned and he agreed to do this. The view I took on the call was that all Mr Hurst wanted was for the call to be logged and for the reporting officers to be made aware of the incident. At no time did Mr Hurst ask for police attendance, nor did he sound frightened or upset regarding the incident".