Data retention of an unconvicted elderly activist violates his right to privacy: Catt v. United Kingdom (2019)
In a fairly recent judgment of Catt v. United Kingdom (2019), the European Court ruled that the retention of personal data relating
to an elderly activist, who was never been convicted of any offense, though being twice arrested within demonstrations, violated his
right to privacy. The elderly plaintiff, John Catt, found out that a police register contained a substantial set of personal records of him
participating in peaceful demonstrations and thus desired to have his all data expunged. His ordeal failed in the national courts, but he
managed to prevail in his respective action at the European Court of Human Rights. In this case note we’ll discuss the circumstances
of the case, the judgment and the general background of the Court’s case-law in respect with criminal records expungement. The issue
of a person’s right to have his criminal record expunged counts over a century in both common-law and civil law states, but the novelty
of the judgment consists in the issue of expungement of police records of an unconvicted plaintiff with no criminal record existing.
Most of the current ECtHR jurisprudence on the subject involves convicted plaintiffs (the triad of cases against France in 2006, Khelili
c. Suisse and Aycaguer v. France), or were suspected ones (S. & Marper v. United Kingdom), or plaintiff with a caution (M.M. v. United
Kindgom), whilst plaintiff in the commented case had no criminal record. The given judgment will surely impact the future of the European
Court’s jurisprudence in respect with both right to privacy in general and the issue of criminal record expungement.