The Divisional Court has handed down its judgment in R (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis) v Crown Court at Kingston-Upon-Thames and Trevor Scott (Interested Party)  EWHC 1938 (Admin). The case concerns the power of the Crown Court to hold a Closed Material Proceeding (“CMP”) in the context of firearms appeals brought pursuant to s.44 of the Firearms Act 1968.
In a significant judgment, the Divisional Court concluded that s.44, when read alongside the relevant Statutory Guidance, permits the Crown Court to conduct a CMP – notwithstanding that s.44 does not explicitly authorise such a procedure. This means that when chief officers defend firearms appeals they may rely (in appropriate, albeit rare, cases) on relevant, but sensitive, material which cannot be disclosed to the appellant without causing damage to the public interest (e.g. material obtained from covert sources/methods). The Divisional Court set out the procedural steps which should ordinarily be followed in such cases including as to the potential appointment of a special advocate.
The case builds upon the Supreme Court’s decisions in Al Rawi and others v Security Service and others  1 AC 531, Bank Mellat v HM Treasury (No 2) 2014] AC 700 and R(Haralambous) v St Albans Crown Court  AC 236 as well as the Court of Appeal’s decision in Competition and Markets Authority v Concordia International RX  1 All ER 69 and is essential reading for practitioners who deal with cases involving PII material which may require consideration of a CMP. The Divisional Court’s judgment reiterates the need, in such circumstances, to find within the applicable statutory scheme a basis for inferring parliamentary intention that a CMP should be available: it is not enough simply to demonstrate that a CMP is sensible or desirable for practical reasons or because an issue of grave public interest is at stake.
Charlotte Ventham is a leading specialist police practitioner who has considerable experience of cases involving PII and CMPs, having acted in many significant cases for the police and government involving issues of the utmost sensitivity. She contributed towards ‘National Security Law’ (OUP, 2021).
Conor Monighan has acted in a very large number of firearms appeals on behalf of forces across the country. He also has experience of PII and CMP issues, having been instructed to advise on, and apply for, the same in a variety of cases (including in a counter-terrorism context).