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Halford v. United Kingdom , (20605/92) [1997] ECHR 32 (25 June 1997)

Facts: Ms Halford was appointed to the rank of Assistant Chief Constable with the Merseyside Police. Following a refusal to promote her, Ms Halford commenced proceedings in the Industrial Tribunal claiming that she had been discriminated against on grounds of sex. Ms Halford alleges that certain members of the Merseyside Police Authority launched a 'campaign' against her in response to her complaint to the Industrial Tribunal. This took the form of leaks to the press and interception of her telephone calls.

Complaints: She alleges that calls made from her home and her office telephones were intercepted for the purposes of obtaining information to be used against her in the discrimination proceedings. She claims a breach of Article 8 of the Convention.

Holding: The ECHR held that conversations made on the telephones in Ms Halford's office at Merseyside Police Headquarters fell within the scope of "private life" and "correspondence" in Article 8 1, since the Court in its case-law had adopted a broad construction of these expressions (see Niemietz v. F.R.G and Chappell v. U.K). However it did not find a violation of Article 8.

Reasoning: With respect to Article 8 the Court observed that telephone calls made from business premises may be covered by notions of 'private life' and 'correspondence'. The telephone conversations made by Ms Halford on her office telephones fell within the scope of the notions of 'private life' and 'correspondence' and that Article 8 was therefore applicable to this part of the complaint. The Court did not find that there was an interference with Ms Halford's rights to respect for her private life and correspondence in relation to her home telephone. Accordingly, the Court did not find a violation of Article 8 of the Convention with regard to telephone calls made from Ms Halford's home.


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