A CRIMINAL investigation has been launched over data seized from an investigative journalist’s partner who was detained for nine hours under anti-terror laws.
Judges at the High Court heard that Metropolitan Police had taken possession of tens of thousands of pages of material from David Miranda’s electronic equipment after he was held without charge for the maximum time permitted at Heathrow Airport as he changed planes on a journey from Berlin to his home in Brazil on Sunday.
The Brazilian is the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has worked with US whistleblower Edward Snowden on a series of security services exposés.
Lawyers for Mr Miranda yesterday sought an application for an interim injunction to prevent the Government, its agencies and the police from any more inspecting, copying or sharing of the material until London’s High Court can hear his challenge to the legality of the seizures.
Mr Miranda’s lawyers said nine items, including his laptop, mobile phone, memory cards and DVDs, were seized.
His lawyers are seeking judicial review, arguing his detention was a misuse of the Terrorism Act 2000 and breached his human rights.
Lord Justice Beatson and Mr Justice Kenneth Parker adjourned Mr Miranda’s injunction application until Friday, August 30. In the meantime they made orders the seized data could continue to be examined – but only for national security purposes and the protection of the public.
Gwendolen Morgan, of law firm Bindmans, who was acting for Mr Miranda, argued in a witness statement that Schedule 7 was used “for an improper purpose and was therefore unlawful” – which has been denied by the Government.
She said it “amounted to a grave and manifestly disproportionate interference” with Mr Miranda’s human rights and was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Jonathan Laidlaw QC, appearing for the Metropolitan Police, said: “That which has been inspected contains in the view of the police highly sensitive material disclosure of which would be gravely injurious to public safety.
“Thus the police have now initiated a criminal investigation.”
Home Secretary Theresa May said before the hearing that the police were right to act if they believed Mr Miranda was in possession of material that he was carrying for Mr Greenwald that could be useful to terrorists.
In court, her QC, Steven Kovats, said: “Material taken from the claimant includes material the unauthorised disclosure of which would endanger national security of the UK and put lives at risk.”
Mr Kovats argued it was necessary for the national security of the UK for the Government and its agencies to have access to that data and examine it.
Scotland Yard has said the detention under anti-terror legislation was “legally and procedurally sound” but that is disputed by Mr Miranda’s lawyers and has also been questioned by a former Lord Chancellor.
Lord Falconer, who helped to introduce the law, has insisted the powers are designed to be used against those suspected to be terrorists.
The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson, has announced he will examine the use of the anti-terror powers to detain Mr Miranda.
Mr Anderson has written to Mrs May explaining he wanted to establish if the power – contained in Section 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 – was “lawfully, appropriately and humanely used”.
The Home Office said in a statement it was “right” for Mr Anderson to undertake such a review.