Supreme Court upholds ban on providing information to the ECtHR

21 Dec 2015

The Chinese dissident Wang Yam was jailed for life for the murder of the reclusive author Allan Chappelow. In the criminal trial, for unspecified national security and witness protection reasons, the trial judge ordered that the defence case should be heard in secret.

Mr Yam subsequently applied to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (“ECtHR”), arguing that the secret trial constituted a breach of his right to a fair trial under Article 6 ECHR. By an order of the English court, however, Mr Yam was prevented from disclosing any information regarding the secret aspects of his trial, or the reasons for the secrecy, to the ECtHR.

On appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the order, concluding that it was within the power of the lower court to prevent an applicant from placing material before the ECtHR. It held that it was for the ECtHR to decide whether such disclosure was really required and that, in any event, there was a common law power pursuant to which an order for non-disclosure to the ECtHR could be made. The case in the ECtHR remains ongoing.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.

Nikolaus Grubeck, led by Lord Pannick QC and Kirsty Brimelow QC, acted for the Appellant.

Press coverage includes: BBC, The Guardian, London Review of Books.