Two Burmese men accused of murder in Thailand have been refused access to police reports
The High Court has handed down its judgment in a case concerning two Burmese migrants on trial for their life in Thailand.
The two men had requested copies from the Metropolitan Police of all personal data held about them. The Police refused.
The two men are accused of murdering British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, and are currently facing trial in Thailand.
There has been worldwide media interest in the case and migrants have accused the Thai police of torture.
Both men were said to have initially confessed, but this confession was retracted as they later stated they had been beaten and threatened with death by their interrogators.
The High Court judge, Mr Justice Green, refused their applications for their personal data on the basis that the information, which only he and the Metropolitan Police have seen, is not relevant to their ongoing trial.
He accepted that he had to balance the claimants' interests, including the right to life and the right to a fair trial, against the interests of the Metropolitan Police to maintain confidentiality in their cooperation with the Thai police.
He held that he had to apply anxious scrutiny to this proportionality exercise. He also expressed his unease that the procedural limitations of these claims meant that the claimants had to make their submissions blind.
Given the judge’s finding that the actual content of the confidential information is not relevant, both men have decided not to appeal.
Rosa Curling of Leigh Day solicitors said:
"Our clients are disappointed not to be able to verify their data themselves. But they are reassured that at least a British judge has now looked at the information held by the Metropolitan Police, applying anxious scrutiny, and determined that it was not relevant to their ongoing proceedings in Thailand."
Zoe Bedford of Reprieve said:
"It is disappointing that the Metropolitan Police continues to withhold information regarding their investigations in Thailand from the defence team.
Concerns about the conduct of the Thai investigation and the safety of any convictions resulting have been raised from the very beginning of this case, including by the Foreign Office. If justice is to be done, it is essential that the UK authorities do everything in their powers to ensure that these men have a fair trial – including disclosing all material that could be of relevance to the case.
The defence team has not seen the information in the Metropolitan Police’s possession – only the defence lawyers in Thailand are in a position to judge whether the information could be of assistance. It is disappointing that they have been denied this opportunity."