Wainwright declared admissible

European Court to review controversial strip-searching case

The European Court of Human Rights has declared admissible the applications brought by Mary and Alan Wainwright under articles 3, 8 and 13 of the Convention concerning the circumstances in which they were strip-searched on a visit to a relative in prison in 1997.


Their case hit the headlines in 2003 when the House of Lords ruled that, by requiring them to submit to a strip-search as a condition of entry to the prison, the prison officers did not commit any tort known to English law, save for a battery on Alan Wainwright who had been touched in the process.  The Law Lords upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision that there was no general right to privacy which could provide a remedy and cast doubt on whether any redress would have been available under the Human Rights Act had the events occured after 2 October 2000 (Wainwright v Home Office).


In their appeal to the ECHR, the Wainwrights allege that their treatment was degrading contrary to Article 3, that there was a lack of respect to their right to private and family life contrary to Article 8 and that they did not have an effective remedy before a national authority contrary to Article 13 of the Convention.  The European Court said that the applications raise ‘serious questions’ of fact and law under each article and will now proceed to consider the case on its merits. The judgment of the Court is expected later this year.


Click here for the Court’s decision on admissibility.


5RB‘s Iain Christie represented the Wainwrights in the House of Lords and acts for them in the proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights.