Defendants in Thai death penalty trial refused access to personal data

26 Aug 2015

In a judgment on 25 August 2015 the High Court refused subject access claims brought under the Data Protection Act 1998 by two Burmese migrant workers facing capital charges in Thailand.

The two men are accused of killing two British tourists on a Thai island in 2014. They maintain their innocence and have raised concerns about the fairness of the proceedings and forced confessions allegedly obtained from them under torture. The Prosecution is seeking a death sentence if the men are convicted.

The Claimants sought access to a report prepared by the Metropolitan Police in respect of the investigation by the Thai authorities. The Metropolitan Police resisted disclosure on the basis that it had been required to give an assurance of confidentiality to the Royal Thai Police and had duly done so.

Mr Justice Green accepted the Claimants’ argument that determining the application under the Data Protection Act required him to balance the Claimants’ interests, including the right to life and the right to a fair trial, against the interests of the Metropolitan Police to maintain confidentiality in their cooperation with the Thai police. He held that he had to apply anxious scrutiny to this proportionality exercise but ultimately refused to order disclosure on the basis that there is nothing in the personal data – which only the Judge and the Metropolitan Police have seen – that would be of any real value to the Claimants in their ongoing criminal trial in Thailand.

Gerry Facenna, Julianne Kerr Morrison and Nikolaus Grubeck acted for the Claimants.
The judgment is available here.

Media coverage includes: BBC, The Guardian, Reuters.