Reference: (2003) 36 EHRR 41;  EMLR 287
Court: European Court of Human Rights
Date of judgment: 28 Jan 2003
Summary: Human Rights - Privacy - Article 8 - respect for private life - interference - in accordance with the law - legitimate aim - necessary in a democratic society - Article 13 - right to an effective remedy- Article 41 - damages, costs and expenses
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The applicant was filmed by a CCTV camera operated by Brentwood Borough Council in a public street moments after he had attempted to commit suicide by slashing his wrists with a kitchen knife. Some months later, the Council issued two photographs taken from the CCTV footage for publication in an article about the preventative benefits of CCTV. The applicant’s face was not specifically masked. Extracts from the CCTV footage were also shown on regional television in which the applicant’s face had been masked at the Council’s request. The Applicant sought judicial review of the Council’s decision to release the CCTV footage. His application was rejected and confirmed by the Court of Appeal. He applied to the ECHR.
(1) Whether the circumstances relating to the publication of the pictures of the applicant constitued an interference with his right to respect for private life under Article 8 and whether any such interference was proportionate to the legtimate aims of public safety, the prevention of disorder or crime and protection of the rights of others.
(2) Whether the domestic remedies available to the applicant for an arguable breach of Article 8 were effective as required under Article 13
(3) The amount of damages and costs under Article 41 in the event of a violation being found.
(1) Following the disclosure of the CCTV footage, the applicant’s actions were seen to an extent which far exceeded any exposure to a passer-by or to a security observation and to a degree surpassing that which the applicant could possibly have foreseen. The disclosure by the Council therefore constituted a serious interference with his right to respect for private life. There were not relevant or sufficient reasons to justify the disclosure by the Council without obtaining the applicant’s consent or ensuring as far as possible that his identity was masked. The applicant’s subsequent media appearances did not diminish the serious nature of the interference. Accordingly, the disclosures by the Council were not accompanied by sufficient safeguards and they therefore constitued a disproportionate interference with the applicant’s rights under Article 8.
The ECHR’s acceptance that certain incidents which take place in public can still fall within someone’s private life and for which they can have a reasonable expectation of privacy. See also von Hannover v Germany.