Court of Appeal rules manual handling of claimant on aircraft by officers during removal from UK is lawful


Re: R (FI) v SSHD [2014] EWCA Civ 1272

This case was an appeal against the decision of Foskett J in the case of  R (Z) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 498 (Admin). The claimant had been subject to restraint by a number of officers within an aircraft when the SSHD unsuccessfully attempted to remove her from the UK. She sought to challenge the lawfulness of the manual detailing the techniques for restraint and control given to officers when removing individuals from the UK on aircraft.

The Court dismissed the claim, and maintained the decision of the QBD (Admin) Court.

The claimant complained that the manual used by officers was designed to be used in prisons and the techniques described were unsuitable to be used on an aircraft and therefore the current techniques used amounted to a breach of ECHR, arts 2 and 3. The SSHD accepted the need for a bespoke techniques for use on individuals on an aircraft, particularly after the death of M due to asphyxia on an aircraft. However, the Court accepted that the current techniques used by officers were assessed by the National Offender Management Service and were found not be fundamentally dangerous. Further the death of M was an isolated incident and there was no evidence of systematic problems in the control and restraint techniques as currently applied on aircrafts.

Therefore the Court concluded that the current manual was ECHR compliant, even if a bespoke manual was desirable and would amount to an improvement on current practice. It also followed from this conclusion that the delay in creating a bespoke manual was not sufficient for finding a breach of the ECHR.

Hugh Southey QC was involved in this case.