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Right to respect for family and private life trumps freedom of expression in ˜harassment by protest case

In The Wife and Children of Omar Othman v English National Resistance & Others the High Court ruled that an injunction preventing protest within the vicinity of a family home and the release of personal information relating to the family did not breach the freedom of expression enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In Othman the applicant wife and children of alleged hate-preacher Omar Othman (also known by the name Abu Qatada) applied for the continuation of anti-harassment and privacy injunctions preventing the respondents from protesting within 500 meters of their home and disclosing information concerning their identity and address. Regular protests outside their home were said to have been causing the applicants extreme distress, with the publication of their identity and address being used to recruit further protestors. The respondents, who included a number of action groups as well as persons unknown intending to assemble outside the address, argued that the injunctions were a breach of their Convention rights, principally their right to freedom of expression under Article 10. Mr Justice silber held that the Convention rights relied upon were qualified rights and, in the instance case, were trumped by the provisions of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the familys right to respect for family and private life enshrined by Article 8 of the Convention.


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