Belfast Telegraph

Man stopped and searched more than 150 times suffered breach of human rights, court told

By Alan Erwin

A Derry man allegedly stopped and searched under anti-terrorism legislation more than 150 times has suffered a breach of his human rights, the High Court heard today.

Lawyers for Steven Ramsey also claimed a code of practice failed to safeguard him from arbitrary police detentions.

In a challenge against the Chief Constable and Secretary of State, the former member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement is seeking to have the actions declared unlawful.

Mr Ramsey has stated that he does not belong to any illegal organisation or political party and has no convictions for paramilitary activity.

His case centres on stop and search actions carried out under the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007.

He claimed he was subjected to 35 searches in 2009, 37 in 2010, another 23 in 2011, 31 in 2012 and a further 30 up to August 2013.

Notes from some of the searches indicated that he was stopped due to "suspected dissident republican links" or "as a result of confidential briefings".

The applicant, from Derry's Creggan area, is contesting the power to detain him on the basis that it breaches his privacy entitlements under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

His action is focused on incidents since a code of practice was introduced in May 2013.

Although a High Court judge dismissed the original challenge to the legality of the powers, the case was remitted to him on appeal for a fresh hearing.

In court today Karen Quinlivan QC, for Mr Ramsey, said: "The legal framework is not in accordance with the law because it doesn't have sufficient protection to prevent against arbitrariness.

"It is a breach of Article 8."

She contended that the code of practice does not go far enough to ensure monitoring of PSNI searches in different communities.

Unlike in England and Wales where there is a requirement to set out ethnic backgrounds of those being stopped, Ms Quinlivan argued that the same statistical obligations are not in place in Northern Ireland.

The case continues.

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