UK appeals court rules terror suspects may sue over wrongful control orders

The UK Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that two terrorism suspects can sue the government for damages over wrongfully imposed control orders. The appellants, known only as AF and AE due to the sensitive nature of the intelligence related to their cases, have been fighting their control orders, which confine them essentially to house-arrest conditions, for nearly two years. Last year, the UK House of Lords ruled that the Home Secretary had to provide the suspects with more information about the evidence against them to satisfy the European Convention of Human Rights. When the Secretary refused to adduce further evidence on the grounds that it would compromise counter-terrorism operations, the administrative division of the England and Wales High Court quashed the control orders for failure to meet evidentiary requirements.

Upholding that ruling, the Court of Appeal declared the control orders invalid from the moment of their inception:

[I]n my judgment, the appropriate remedy in all these cases is one of quashing ab initio … I agree with the submission made on behalf of the controlees that, if the appropriate remedy were merely revocation, there is a risk that a breach of Convention rights would go substantially unremedied … I would dismiss the appeal of the Secretary of State in AF and AE.

The government plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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