Case summary

Fox, Campbell and Hartley v. the United Kingdom


European Court of Human Rights
30 August 1990

Facts
The applicants, Mr Fox, Mrs Campbell and Mr Hartley, were arrested by police as suspected terrorists. No charges were brought against them. They were interrogated and the first two applicants were released approximately after 44 hours in detention and the third applicant after 30 hours in detention. 

Complaint
Applicants argued that they had not been arrested and detained on ‘reasonable suspicion’ of having committed an offence. Therefore, their arrest and detention were not justified under Article 5(1) of the Convention. 

Court’s ruling

General principles:

The Court stated that having a ‘reasonable suspicion’ presupposes the existence of facts or information, which would satisfy an objective observer that the person concerned may have committed the offence. What may be regarded as ‘reasonable’ depends upon all the circumstances of the case. 

In the present case:

The Court held that the fact that Mr Fox and Mrs Campbell both have previous convictions for acts of terrorism and that all the applicants, during their detention, were questioned about specific terrorist acts are insufficient to support the conclusion that there was a ‘reasonable suspicion’. The Court accordingly found that there was a breach of Article 5(1). 

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