Andrew Ward successfully defends the Ministry of Justice against Human Rights Act claim by the liquid bomb plot terrorist

July 2, 2015

Abdula Ahmed Ali is a Category “A” prisoner who is serving a life sentence of imprisonment with a tariff of forty years following his conviction for conspiracy to murder arising from the 2006 liquid bomb plot. The aim of the plot was to smuggle home-made hydrogen peroxide bombs through UK airport security disguised as soft drinks and to assemble the bombs on board aircraft bound for North America.

Between September and October 2013, Mr. Ali was transferred from H.M.P. Frankland to H.M.P. Whitemoor. In civil proceedings against the Ministry of Justice, he alleged that two of his boxes of possessions containing privileged correspondence with his lawyers had been opened and searched in his absence whilst being transferred between the prisons. He alleged that this breached his right to privacy in his correspondence pursuant to Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights as enshrined in English law by the Human Rights Act 1998. He also alleged a breach of Rule 39 of the Prison Service Rules.

Mr. Ali’s claim was dismissed at the County Court at Cambridge on 29th June 2015. The Court heard that Mr. Ali’s boxes of possessions were x-rayed at the external Security Control and Despatch Unit  at H.M.P. Whitemoor. Two of his boxes were opened because the x-ray operators were not content from a security perspective with the images. The boxes were searched for illicit material. The Court heard evidence from prison officers that any correspondence within the boxes was not itself opened or read and that the boxes were re-sealed after being searched.

Andrew Ward of Exchange Chambers represented the Ministry of Justice. The Court accepted Andrew’s argument that the search did not amount to “opening, reading or stopping” Mr. Ali’s privileged legal correspondence such that Rule 39 of the Prison Service Rules and Article 8 of the ECHR were neither engaged nor breached.

Andrew said that: “The fact that Mr. Ali was entitled to bring this Human Rights Act challenge reflects the strength of the rule of law in England and Wales in seeking to uphold the right to privacy in privileged legal correspondence. It is pleasing that the Court concluded that Mr. Ali’s human rights had not been infringed and dismissed his claim”.

Andrew Ward is recommended in the Legal 500 (2014 Edition) as “a strong team player who represents claimants and defendants”.