A political campaigner has won a legal battle to have his details removed from a police extremism database. John Catt, 88, from Brighton, took his case to the Court of Appeal claiming the retention of data was unlawful. Peace protester Mr Catt has taken part in a number of campaigns, but has not engaged in any criminality. High Court judges last year ruled against his plea to have details of his activities removed from the National Domestic Extremism Database.
They dismissed his judicial review claim, ruling that his right to privacy
under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights was not
infringed. But now, following a hearing at the Court of Appeal in January, Master of the
Rolls Lord Dyson, Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Lord Justice McCombe, have allowed
Mr Catt's appeal against the earlier decision. The judges said the inclusion of personal information relating to Mr Catt on the
database "does involve an interference with his right to respect for his private
life which requires justification".
The campaigner was stopped and searched under the Terrorism Act while wearing
an anti-Tony Blair T-shirt during a Labour Party conference in Brighton in 2005,
was not present in court for Thursday's ruling. In a statement he said: "I hope this judgment will bring an end to the
abusive and intimidatory monitoring of peaceful protesters by police forces
nationwide. Police surveillance of this kind only serves to undermine our democracy and
deter lawful protest." His lawyer Shamik Dutta, of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, said the judgment "acts
as a safeguard against the creeping criminalisation of peaceful protest".
James Welch, legal director for Liberty, said after the ruling:
"Intelligence-gathering is a key tool of modern policing but peaceful protest is
crucial to our democracy and must be protected. The court rightly recognised that the routine retention of personal
information about a committed but always peaceful protester was a clear breach
of his privacy and of no identifiable use in terms of intelligence. As such it simply cannot be justified."
There's a video from 2010 where John Catt and his daughter, Linda, tell their story here.