Suspect terrorist granted continued anonimity while on bail

The UK Supreme Court ruled that a suspect terrorist (known as ‘AP’), who had been subject to a control order and who now continued to live at the same address under bail pending a deportation decision on grounds of national security, was entitled to continuing anonymity because of the risks he faced if his identity were revealed.

An anonymity order had been made at the outset of the proceedings in the Administrative Court and had been in force ever since.

Both sides argued for the continuation of the anonymity order. The Secretary of State argued that an anonymity order allowed the police and the other officials to carry out their duties without attracting significant attention or any possible hostility from the local community, thus more effectively.

This argument, together with the consideration that the knowledge that the appellant was subject to a Control Order might make him attractive to extremists, and the appellant’s submissions that there had been strong local opposition to the Muslim community in the town where he lived, convinced the Court that it was in the public interest to maintain the anonimity order.

Rosalind English, writing for the UK Human Rights Blog, observes that these submissions were made in the absence of any submissions on behalf of the media, hence the Court was not aware of any “special circumstances” which might point to a particular public interest in publishing a report of the proceedings which identified the appellant.

However – particularly in the absence of any media arguments to the contrary – Lord Rodgers was at pains to emphasise that the judgment should not be regarded as laying down any general rule as to the way that applications for anonymity orders should be determined in control order cases.

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