Tariq v UK: Lack of Gist in Closed Proceedings Not Unfair

24 May 2018

Gulamhussein and Tariq v United Kingdom, application nos. 46538/11 and 3960/12

The recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Tariq v UK has significant implications for the use of closed material procedures in civil proceedings in which article 6 ECHR is engaged.

Mr Tariq was employed by the Home Office as an immigration officer. In 2006, his security clearance was revoked due to his “close association with individuals suspected of involvement in plans to mount terrorist attacks” and he was dismissed from his job. Mr Tariq attempted to challenge the decision in the Employment Tribunal but the Home Office refused to disclose the evidence supporting its revocation of his clearance. A special advocate was appointed to represent him in closed proceedings but Mr Tariq complained that he was not provided with a gist of the accusations contrary to the principle identified by the ECtHR in A and others v United Kingdom (2009) 49 EHRR 29. In Mr Tariq’s appeal in 2011, however, the Supreme Court held that the principle in A and others did not require a gist to be provided in every case in which article 6 ECHR was engaged.

In Tariq, the First Section agreed with the Supreme Court, noting that article 6 ECHR did not mean that it was “invariably essential for someone to know the “gist” of the case against them” (para 84). It also noted that, despite the lack of disclosure, the special advocate had been able to make submissions on Mr Tariq’s behalf and the resort to closed proceedings had not been arbitrary or manifestly unreasonable.

Eric Metcalfe acted for the human rights organisation JUSTICE as third-party intervener, led by John Howell QC.

A copy of the Court’s judgment is available here.