High Court rules that hearing does not breach Article 6 right of suspected Al-Qaeda affiliate


Re: QX v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWHC 2508 (Admin)

The High Court has decided that a review under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 s.11(2)(d) of “permitted obligations” imposed on a British citizen under a Temporary Exclusion Order (‘TEO’) after his return to the UK from Turkey does not breach that citizen’s Article 6(1) right to a fair trial.

This judgment follows on from an earlier preliminary judgment by the same court in May 2020 ([2020] EWHC 1221 (Admin)) which decided that the right to a fair trial under Article 6 does apply to these review proceedings. Please click here to read the Matrix Judgment post.

In 2018 the claimant, QX, was deported from Turkey on national security grounds as he is believed to have travelled to Syria, become radicalised, and held a “significant leadership role” in a group linked to Al-Qaeda. Upon the claimant’s return to the UK, a TEO was imposed on him at the request of the Secretary of State, obliging the claimant to (1) report daily to a named police station within specified hours, and (2) attend a two-hour appointment with a Home Office mentor and a two-hour appointment with a theologian each week. The claimant seeks to review the imposition of these powers.

Regarding Article 6, the claimant contended that it was impossible for him to respond to the Secretary of State’s allegation that he continued to engage in activities which risked national security since returning to the UK. Specifically, the allegation was too broad and vague to allow him to give effective instructions, contrary to the test in AF (No 3), and so the Secretary of State’s case was bound to fail. By contrast, the Secretary of State contended that it had complied with the court’s orders made as a result of the disclosure process; thus, the claimant had been provided with sufficient material for Article 6 purposes.

Held: the High Court decided in favour of the Secretary of State, that the determination of the issues in the case will be fair and compatible with the claimant’s Article 6 rights. Even taking the allegation about UK activities out of the equation, the Court concluded that Secretary of State still has a strong case against the claimant based on, inter alia, his significant leadership role in Syria. The Secretary of State is entitled to put such a case, and the claimant is able to give effective instructions and order to answer and refute it: hence there is no breach of Article 6.

Joanna Buckley and Dan Squires QC were involved in this case.