Malone v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1976) 1 WLR 979

Human Right Law feature, Human Rights Law, Malone v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1976) 1 WLR 979

Malone v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1976) 1 WLR 979 is a Human Rights Law case concerning Article 8 ECHR. 

Facts: 

In Malone v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1976), the claimant argued that telephone tapping by a government body is unlawful.  Moreover, Malone wanted to rely on ECHR prior to the implementation of the Human Rights Act 1998.  

Issue: 

Whether the telephone tapping by a government body is considered as unlawful.  

Held: 

In conclusion, in the High Court, Sir Robert Megarry held that there was no law against telephone tapping. Moreover, he stated: “Any regulation of so complex a matter as telephone tapping is essentially a matter for Parliament, not the courts; and neither the Convention nor the Klass case can, I think, play any proper part in deciding the issue before me.”

However, the European Court of Human Rights held that telephone tapping was in breach of the UK’s obligations under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.   

References:

(1976) 1 WLR 979, [1979] CLY 2098, [1979] 1 Ch 344, [1980] QB 49, [1979] 2 All ER 620

Read our notes and our cases on Article 8 ECHR and Human Rights Law for more information.