Muslim woman loses legal challenge over airport interrogation

Sylvie Beghal was prosecuted after objecting behing questioned under anti-terrorism laws at East Midlands Airport 2011

The Muslim wife of a convicted terrorist prosecuted after refusing to submit to a police airport interrogation has lost a High Court human rights fight.

Sylvie Beghal - whose husband Djamel Beghal is in prison in France - wanted a declaration that her rights had been violated when she was prosecuted after objecting to being questioned under anti-terrorism legislation following her arrival at East Midlands Airport in January 2011.

Three judges today ruled against her at a hearing in London - but they suggested that there might be “room for improvement” to anti-terror legislation which gives police the power to “stop, question and detain” people entering or leaving the UK.

Judges urged ministers to consider a “legislative amendment” barring the use of admissions made by people questioned by officers using those powers at any subsequent criminal trials.

Mrs Beghal's lawyers said later that she aimed to take her case to the Supreme Court - the highest in the UK.

They said the case was the first in which the High Court had considered whether stop and question powers granted under Schedule 7 of the 2000 Terrorism Act were compatible with “fundamental” human rights.

Judges were told that Mrs Beghal, who is French, had returned after visiting her husband with her three children when she was stopped at around 8pm on January 4 2011.

She was not "suspected" of being a terrorist but police said they needed to speak to her regarding "possible involvement" in terrorism, judges heard.

Mrs Beghal argued that the process of stopping and questioning "without reasonable suspicion" breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Crown Prosecution Service disputed Mrs Beghal's claim and argued that her rights had not been breached.

Prosecutors said Mrs Beghal had pleaded guilty to wilfully failing to comply with a duty to answer questions when she appeared at Leicester Magistrates' Court and was given a 12-month conditional discharge.

Lawyers for Mrs Beghal said after today's hearing that thousands of people were stopped and questioned under Schedule 7 every year without needing to be suspected of an offence and had "no right to silence".

Solicitor Natalia Garcia, of law firm Abrahams Law, added: "This is the first case in which the question of whether Schedule 7 is compatible with fundamental rights has been considered.

"Mrs Beghal is disappointed that the court found no incompatibility and will be appealing to the Supreme Court."

She added: "It is clear from the fact that the court has recommended a change to the legislation to bar admission made under Schedule 7 from criminal trials that it considers the current legislation to be unsatisfactory."

Lord Justice Gross, who sat with Mrs Justice Swift and Mr Justice Foskett, said the case gave rise to the question of "where the balance is to be struck between the rights of the individual and the public interest in safeguarding the country from terrorism".

"The central ... issue on this appeal concerns the compatibility of the powers to 'stop, question and detain' contained in Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000," said Lord Justice Gross.

"This is a challenging area for the law, requiring vigilance as to individual liberties while retaining a firm grasp of the practical needs of national security."

But he said judges had concluded that Schedule 7 powers were not "unfettered".

"The underlying purpose of the Schedule 7 powers is to protect the public from terrorism, having regard to its international character," he said.

"However, the exercise of Schedule 7 powers is subject to cumulative statutory limitations."

He added: "The absence of a requirement of reasonable suspicion is both explicable and justifiable ... We are not persuaded that these are unfettered powers."

Lord Justice Gross said "inhibiting" the travel of terrorists served "a manifestly rational purpose" and he said "the ability to question widely" was necessary.

"Given that Mrs Beghal was returning to the United Kingdom following a visit to her husband, imprisoned in France for terrorism offences, the obvious inference is that she was not stopped and examined on a random basis," he said.

"While the questions asked of her were wide-ranging, they are eminently understandable once regard is had to the factual context. They were, moreover, rationally connected to the statutory purpose and in no way disproportionate."

He added: "As a general matter, the Schedule 7 powers are neither arbitrary nor disproportionate."


Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreEXCLUSIVE The Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor