A circa-2000 United Kingdom anti-terrorism law that gives police broad powers to search citizens without cause has been challenged by the European Court of Human Rights.
Kevin Gillan and Pennie Quinton, two protesters outside the 2003 Defence Systems and Equipment International show, were separately searched by police officers citing article 44 of the 2000 Terrorism Act, which allows random searches under certain conditions. In striking down the law (I think)*, the court awarded Quinton and Gillan 33,850 euros in legal costs.
Voltaire Net describes objections to the law:
The decision of a police officer to stop and search a person is based solely on a "feeling" or "professional intuition". Not only is there no requirement to demonstrate the existence of a reasonable motive for suspecting an offence but the officer is not even obliged to have the least subjective suspicion with regard to the person who is the object of the questioning and search. The only condition is that the search should be aimed at finding objects whose nature could serve terrorist purposes, which constitutes a very broad category covering numerous objects that anyone in the street could have in his possession. Yet, to stop and question someone, the police officer need not have any particular reason to suspect the presence of such objects if the intention is to search for them.
In the Daily Mail, Stephen Robinson asks, "Why did it take foreign judges to stand up for our liberties?"
* If some Daniel Hannan fan or other expert could explain to what degree the UK is subject to European super-government and what it means when the European court "condemns" a law that has been upheld by the British High Court and the House of Lordlings, that would be very appreciated. Comments are open.
Courtesy of Will Wilkinson's Friendfeed, um, feed.