David Miranda has retained Bindmans LLP, an intimidating firm of UK lawyers, to send a letter to the British government regarding his nine-hour detention in Heathrow and the confiscation of his electronics and data, apparently in a misguided attempt to intimidate the journalist Glenn Greenwald. It's quite a remarkable letter, demanding the return of Miranda's goods, a full accounting as to what has happened to his data, and a declaration that his search was unlawful.
8. By way of remedy, we seek a quashing order, and a declaration that
the decisions to detain our client, question him under pain of criminal
sanction, and seize his property under Schedule 7 were wholly
unlawful. We will also seek a mandatory order that all data seized
and all copies be destroyed, and recalled if transferred to third
parties. We will argue that the decisions were unlawful for the
i. The Schedule 7 powers were utilised in relation to our
client who was merely in transit in the UK. The
Defendant is required to justify the use of Schedule 7
powers in relation to a person in such circumstances.
ii. The decision to detain and question our client and to
seize his property pursuant to the powers in Schedule 7
amounted to a frustration of the legislative policy and
objects of the Terrorism Act 2000 Schedule 7 power
and/or was for an improper purpose, and was therefore
iii. The decisions to use Schedule 7 powers in our client's
case amounted to a grave and manifestly
disproportionate interference with the Claimant's
rights under Articles 5,6,8 and 10 ECHR.
iv. Further, or alternatively the powers under Schedule 7
are incompatible with Articles 5,6,8 and 10 ECHR.
9. Given the urgency of the matter, this letter is sent to outline our
grounds and put the Defendants on notice of the claim. However, as
further details emerge, we reserve the right to amend our grounds.
10. We are aware that there are a number of cases in which Schedule 7
powers are in the process of being challenged. However, the use of
Schedule 7 powers in relation to our client in order to obtain access
to journalistic material is of exceptional and grave concern.
11. We hope that the misuse of this power in these circumstances will be
clear, and that we can reach agreement on the legality of our client's
search, given the facts of the case. However, insofar as our client's
claim also makes a wider challenge to the compatibility of Schedule 7
with fundamental rights and seeks declaratory relief, it appears to us
that this will require Parliamentary action if the court agrees with the
Claimant. Therefore, it will be incumbent upon us to issue
proceedings, in any event.
For that reason, we consider it
appropriate to abridge the time of service for the detailed protocol
response to 7 days. If you disagree, please let us know by return and
set out your proposed timetable. We stress, however, that we seek
the undertakings set out above on a more urgent timetable.