Bohm Presentation at SFS 3.5

Nicholas Bohm Speech Notes, SFS 3.5


The following are the notes created by Nicholas Bohm for his presentation to Scrambling for Safety 3.5 on September 23, 1999.

11:30 "Law enforcement access to keys - legal and human rights issues"

Nicholas Bohm (Law Society)

European Convention on Human Rights Article 6

Right to a fair trial, includes right not to be compelled to incriminate oneself.

"Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law."

Complainant of breach of Convention must show there has been a breach. Respondent State must justify reliance on any exception. The necessity for any restriction of Convention rights "must be convincingly established."

Barthold v Germany (1985) 7 EHRR 383, 403

Draft Electronic Communications Bill


Presumption of innocence

English law on presumption of innocence

Other laws on presumption of innocence


Possession of a key (or relevant information) is a central element of the offence, and transferring the burden to the accused leaves mere formalities (service of notice) to be proved by prosecution. Proof of a negative is impossible, and transferring the burden is grossly unreasonable.

Likewise: in prosecuting a third party for tipping off, their knowledge of requirement of secrecy is the central element in the offence, and proof of ignorance is impossible.


Clauses 12 and 13 will involve serious contraventions of the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998.

-- Nicholas Bohm, September 23, 1999.


The Foundation for Information Policy Research is registered in England and Wales under the Companies Act 1985 as a private company limited by guarantee (No.3574631). Application for charitable status is in progress.

Last updated October 8, 1999.