Skip to content


30 October 2013

Open justice versus secret evidence - Miranda hearing today

4 mins

At 10.30am today, a three-judge Divisional Court will hear the Government’s application to keep significant parts of the evidence in Mr Miranda’s case secret. They will also consider Mr Miranda’s applications for specific information.

The Home Office’s application – to withhold information on the basis of public interest immunity – is ultimately a matter for the court. However, in order for there to be fair hearing of the claim, Mr Miranda needs to understand the arguments that are being made against him and he needs to see all of the relevant material. To date, and despite repeated requests for disclosure, the Government has not provided sufficient evidence to support its broad assertions, and has not properly explained how the decision to detain and search Mr Miranda was made. It has also refused to put forward any witnesses for cross-examination.

In response to the formal application for disclosure that Mr Miranda filed last week, the Police and Home Office have provided some of the materials Mr Miranda has been seeking since August. However, contrary to the Government’s claims that they have provided all of the relevant documents, key information is still missing and the picture as to who made the decision to stop Mr Miranda and why remains unclear. Today, he will therefore seek further disclosure from the court and permission to crossexamine the Government’s witnesses, so as to understand what really happened in the lead up to 18 August 2013.

This application will be heard today at 10.30am in Court 27 at the Royal Courts of Justice.

The main judicial review hearing is listed for 6 and 7 November. Information about the court listing can be found the day before the hearing using the case reference number CO/11732/2013.

See Bindmans microsite for updates and background

Mr Miranda is also represented by Matthew Ryder QC, Eddie Craven and Raj Desai of Matrix Chambers (

Background notes
On 18 August 2013 at London’s Heathrow airport, Metropolitan police officers used controversial counter-terrorism powers to detain David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald. He was held and
questioned for nine hours under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (under which it is a criminal offence not to answer questions). The material he was carrying was seized and retained, material which included sensitive journalistic documents held in confidence.

Greenwald described his partner’s detention as “clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ”.

On 21 August, David Miranda launched judicial review proceedings against the police and Home Office challenging the use of Schedule 7 powers against him. That legal case asserts that the Government
circumvented the proper procedures in order to obtain materials which might have been denied to them by a court, and it says that the legislation itself must be reviewed.

The legal challenge will also focus on the disproportionate interference with freedom of expression rights engaged in this case. Freedom of expression is a multifaceted right, encompassing both freedom to
communicate and freedom to receive. Further, the protection of journalism is always justified by reference to the public’s right to receive information. In other words freedom of expression is not simply
a right exercised and enjoyed by individuals; it is also a collective right enjoyed by society as a whole. The court will be asked to analyse the arguments through this prism.

The court has given permission to the following leading NGOs and media organisations to intervene in the case: Liberty, Article 19, English PEN, The Media Legal Defence Initiative, and a coalition of the
NUJ, Mirror Group News Limited, Independent Print Limited, Index on Censorship, the International Federation of Journalists and the Media Law Resource Centre.

The detention of David Miranda sparked and continues to generate fierce debate in the UK and around the world about the use of antiterror legislation, the role of the state, surveillance and privacy, and
the freedom of expression of journalists and others working with them. 


How can we help you?

We are here to help. If you have any questions for us, please get in touch below.