Court finds no violation of Norman Lowell's human rights
A court said today that the human rights of far-right activist Norman Lowell were not violated when he was interrogated without the presence of a lawyer, since a subsequent conviction of inciting racial hatred was not based on his statements to the police.
Mr Justice Anthony Ellul, presiding the First Hall of the Civil Court (in its Constitutional Jurisdiction) delivered the judgement following a constitutional reference made by the Court of Criminal Appeal which is hearing Mr Lowell's appeal from his conviction.
Mr Lowell was charged on May 26, 2006 with having incited racial hatred in two public meetings. He was also accused of having committed the same offence by means of an article. The Magistrates' Court found Mr Lowell guilty of all charges in March 2008 and sentenced him to two years imprisonment, suspended for four years and to a fine of €500.
Mr Lowell appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal.
In the course of the appeal proceedings Mr Lowell claimed that he had not been assisted by a lawyer during his interrogation by the police and that this was in violation of his human rights.
The Court of Criminal Appeal referred this claim to the First Hall of the Civil Court for a ruling.
Mr Justice Ellul heard that Mr Lowell had given two statements to the police when he was arrested. He had not been assisted by a lawyer because the law in 2006 did not provide for such a right.
Mr Lowell had refused to sign his statements to the police, but the Civil Court concluded that the conviction by the Magistrates Court was not based on the statements, made without legal assistance.
The Magistrates Court had based its decisions on the transcripts of the words used by Mr Lowell in his meetings and on the contents of his article. That court had concluded that a person of ordinary understanding would find those words offensive and tantamount to racial abuse and hatred.
The First Hall of the Civil Court therefore concluded that no violation of Mr Lowell's human rights had occurred.