LETTER: Passport over-control

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The Independent Online
HUGH O'Shaughnessy may not be surprised to hear that the UK courts are unlikely to vindicate him if he were to complain about his troubles at the hands of London City Airport's immigration officials ("Hoping for a British defeat at the borders of insanity", 17 September).

In May 1993, Donald Flynntook a day trip from Dover to Calais. On his return he refused to produce his passport and was only admitted after being held for 40 minutes. He argued that Article 7a of the EC Treaty required member states of the European Union to abolish all frontier controls by the end of 1992 on the achievement of the internal market. This was rejected by the High Court in March and by the Court of Appeal which decided that Article 7a did not have "direct effect" and could not therefore be invoked by individuals.

The extent of the rights created by Article 8a of the EC Treaty, which provides every EU citizen with the right to move and reside freely within member states, was one of the questions referred by the High Court to the European Court of Justice in the case concerning the Home Secretary's exclusion of Gerry Adams from the UK. Following the revocation of the ban the case did not proceed, and the rights are still to be clarified.

Hugh O'Shaughnessy found trading rights to take precedence over the rights of ordinary citizens. The European Convention on Human Rights protects the rights to freedom of movement of some Europeans, but the UK government has failed to ratify the provisions upholding those rights. It has, however, ratified the right to "peaceful enjoyment of one's possessions".

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also provides for a right of freedom of movement, but the UK still shies away from incorporating this into our law. The government was criticised for this by the UN Human Rights Committee.

Philip Leach

Liberty, London SE1