Legal Case Summary
Malone v Metropolitan Police Commissioner  Ch 344
Telephone tapping – Unlawful interception
Malone (M) was charged with handling stolen property. During the Crown Court prosecution of M, the prosecution admitted that the Post Office (P) had intercepted M’s telephone conversations under the authority of the Secretary of State for use by the police. M sought declarations against the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that such conduct was unlawful and for an injunction against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner (D) to restrain interception of his telephone conversations.
The issue in question was whether the telephone tapping by P by means of recording telephone conversations from wires which, though connected to the subscriber’s premises, are not on them, is unlawful under English law.
Decision / Outcome
There was no right of property in words transmitted over a telephone apart from copyright, nor was there a right to privacy on the telephone in English law. The court also found that P was not contractually bound to confidentiality. Moreover, it was not D, the defendant, who had intercepted the conversations, it was P, and no unlawful conduct could be established as there was no law against the Post Office tapping telephones by means of recording from wires which were not on the subscriber’s premises. M’s declaration was refused. This case later came before the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Malone v. The United Kingdom (1984) 7 EHRR 14 which held that the interception was an ‘interference by a public authority’ with the right to private life, the scope and clarity of the exercise of this power being unclear under English law.
Cite This Work
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:
Related ServicesView all
Related ContentJurisdictions / Tags
Content relating to: "EU Law"
EU law, or European Union law, is a system of law that is specific to the 28 members of the European Union. This system overrules the national law of each member country if there is a conflict between the national law and the EU law.
Legal Advice on Exports to EC Countries
Article 28 EC quantitative restrictions on imports and all measures having equivalent effect shall be prohibited between Member States....
In Case 152/84 Marshall v Southampton and South-West Hampshire Area Health Authority (Teaching)  ECR 723, the Court of Justice created an artificial and arbitrary barrier to the horizontal enforcement of directives....