Boy wins right to challenge police over use of photo
Human rights groups have welcomed a High Court decision to permit a 14-year-old boy to challenge the PSNI over the publication of his photograph as part of a probe into street violence.
A judge ruled yesterday there was an arguable case that using his image in the media and leaflets breached his right to privacy.
The case will now proceed to a full application for judicial review set to be heard in December.
Lawyers for the teenager are also to seek an undertaking from the PSNI that the disputed Operation Exposure will be put on hold until the challenge is decided.
The initiative involves publication of photos of those suspected of involvement in sectarian clashes in Londonderry.
Koulla Yiasouma, director of voluntary organisation Include Youth, welcomed the court’s decision and looked forward to a full debate being aired in court.
“Include Youth is thoroughly opposed to the publication and distribution of any photographs of children who are alleged to have committed a crime or anti-social behaviour — it is a breach of their rights and thwarts due process.”
Policing Board member Martina Anderson said she believes the project “had implications for civil and human rights of children, some as young as 11”.
At yesterday’s hearing a barrister for the youth questioned both the decision to publish the photos and lawfulness of the operation.
The court heard the youth had already made admissions after being arrested in connection with violent outbreaks in June.
His lawyer claimed there should now be an inquiry into why a decision was taken to publish his image over a separate alleged incident for which he wasn’t charged. It was claimed the tactic should only be used as a last resort because it contravened privacy.
The judge hearing the case was told it was a flawed and irrational “naming and shaming” tactic.
It was also also pointed out that the boy was not in Derry around July 12, a period under scrutiny in the operation.
But counsel for the Chief Constable said police would use a briefing system to try to identify suspects internally before any decision was taken to publish.
He asked what was unlawful about exhibiting pictures of somebody in a public place during an outbreak of public disorder.
Delivering judgment yesterday on the application for leave to seek a judicial review, Mr Justice Treacy ruled there was an arguable case on one ground alleging a breach of the teenager's right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights.
He said: “Given the importance of the case I think we should try and have it heard before Christmas.”