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Allan v. United-Kingdom, (48539/99) [2002] ECHR 697 (5 November 2002)
The text of this case can be found on the European Court of Human Rights' HUDOC database, available here.

Facts: In the police interviews which followed his arrestfor murder, the applicant availed himself of his right to remain silent. Duringhis detention, a police informant was placed in his cell for the purpose ofeliciting information from him. The informer declared, in his witnessstatement, that the applicant admitted his presence at the murder scene. Thisasserted admission was not part of the recorded interview and was disputed. Theapplicant was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Heappealed unsuccessfully.

Complaint: The applicant complained of the use of covert audio and video surveillancewithin his cell, the prison visiting area and upon a fellow prisoner and of theuse of materials gained by these means at his trial. He relied on Articles 6(right to a fair trial), 8 (right to respect for private life) and 13 (right toan effective remedy).

Holding: The ECHR declared that the use of evidence illicitly obtained by the policewhile a suspect availed of his right to silence during police interviewconstitutes a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention.

Reasoning: The Court considered that the applicant would have been subject topsychological pressures which impinged on the "voluntariness" of thedisclosures. The information gained by the use of the informer have beenobtained in defiance of the will of the applicant and its use at trial impingedon the applicant's right to silence and privilege against self-incrimination. Theserights protect against improper compulsion by the authorities and the obtainingof evidence through methods of coercion or oppression in defiance of the willof the accused. The Court also stated that the scope of this right is notlimited to cases where duress has been used against the accused or where thewill of the accused has been directly overborne in some way. It also underlinedthat the right to silence is part of a fair procedure, and serves to protectthe liberty of a suspected individual to choose whether he speaks or remainssilent during the police questioning.

 

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