Police Surveillance Footage Disclosure

Posted: 15th October 2012

Security CameraIn the context of a public inquiry into the shooting of a suspect by police, the High Court has directed limited disclosure of aerial surveillance footage of the incident despite public interest immunity objections put forward by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Azelle Rodney was shot and killed in 2005 when a car in which he was a passenger was ‘hard stopped’ by police officers who had received intelligence that the occupants of the vehicle were in possession of a number of firearms, including automatic weapons.

A public inquiry into the incident commenced in September 2012 but was adjourned pending the High Court’s determination of an appeal by the MPS against the inquiry chairman’s decision to order disclosure of film footage, taken by a ‘covert air surveillance platform’, of Mr Rodney’s movements prior to the shooting.

Lawyers for the MPS argued that disclosure of the footage was not necessary for the purposes of the public inquiry and would jeopardise the success of future police operations by revealing the existence of the covert platform and providing a clue as to its technological capabilities.

However, dismissing the challenge, Lord Justice Pitchford, sitting with Mr Justice Foskett and Judge Thornton QC, said that the inquiry chairman was entitled to conclude that the footage was ‘not irrelevant’ and that its disclosure to lawyers representing Mr Rodney’s mother at the inquiry was justified.

R on the application of the Metropolitan Police Service v The Chairman of the Inquiry into the Death of Azelle Rodney. Case Number: CO/10626/2012