Conor Monighan Succeeds in the First Public Interest Immunity/ Closed Material Proceedings Firearms Appeal

21 June 2024

Last week the court gave judgment in Mr R v the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. The case arose because the Commissioner had refused the Appellant’s application for a shotgun licence. On appeal the Commissioner alleged that the Appellant had repeatedly been linked to dangerous criminals – including members of Organised Crime Groups.

As part of the appeal, the Commissioner made an application for Public Interest Immunity (“PII”) as a precursor to Closed Material Proceedings (“CMP”). This is essentially an application to withhold relevant, but sensitive, information from the Appellant and the public.

In support of the application the Commissioner cited Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Kingston-Upon-Thames Crown Court [2023] EWHC 1938 (Admin), a judicial review in which the Divisional Court held it permissible to conduct a CMP as part of a firearms/ shotgun appeal by virtue of s.44 of the Firearms Act 1968. (Charlotte Ventham KC and Conor Monighan represented the Commissioner).

In Mr R the court granted the Commissioner’s application for PII/ a CMP, meaning the Commissioner could rely upon the sensitive material without disclosing it. The court subsequently refused the Appellant’s appeal and awarded costs in the Commissioner’s favour.

Comment

This case is believed to be the first PII/ CMP application granted in the country following the Kingston case. In light of the Kingston judgment, it is likely that more PII/ CMP applications will be made within weapon licensing appeals in order to protect sensitive information which is relevant to the decision. Forces are under an obligation to provide the court with all relevant material, yet are also under a duty to preserve the confidentiality of certain material.

As stated in Kingston, PII/ CMP applications are exceptional. It is strongly advisable to seek legal advice at an early stage given the importance of this specialist area of law and the duties placed upon representatives who act within it.

Conor Monighan is a specialist public law and firearms/ shotgun licensing barrister, with particular expertise in sensitive matters (including those requiring a PII/ CMP application).


Authors

Conor Monighan

Call 2019

Related areas

Police Law

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