Telephone-Tap Evidence and Administrative Detention in the UK

  • John R. Spencer


In the UK, it is currently the law that the contents of intercepted telephone calls, or letters intercepted by transmission in the post, are generally inadmissible as evidence in civil or criminal proceedings; and this so, whether the interception was carried out legally or illegally. This is, of course, in sharp contrast to position everywhere else in the world, including the rest of the common law world, where (broadly speaking) the rule is that the intercepts are admissible, provided they were obtained legally. It is also counterintuitive to the point where even intelligent people with legal training sometimes find it hard to grasp. (When setting examination papers in evidence for law students, I regularly include, as a trap to the unwary, a problem where a piece of damning evidence against the defendant is an intercepted phone-call: and although the class has heard the rule explained in lectures, at least a third invariably tells me, wrongly, that the intercept is admissible, provided it was lawfully obtained.)


Criminal Proceeding Criminal Court Criminal Procedure Telephone Conversation Control Order 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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