In R v Hertfordshire County Council, ex parte Green
Environmental Industries Ltd and Another, the House of Lords
dismissed the appeals of Green Environmental Industries Ltd and its
director against a decision of the Court of Appeal that a request
for information under s71(2) of the Environmental Protection Act
(EPA) 1990 did not offend against the right to silence and the
privilege against self-incrimination.
An inspector for the council found over 100 tonnes
of clinical waste stored at unlicensed sites near Hertford. The
sites were found to be leased to Green Environmental Industries Ltd
(Green) to whom the council wrote saying there had been a breach of
s33 of the EPA 1990. The council also served a request for
information under s71(2) of EPA 1990, asking Green for particulars,
including details of all those who had supplied clinical waste to
Green. Green's solicitor asked for confirmation that the answers
would not be used against the company in a subsequent criminal
prosecution, but the council refused. Green applied for judicial
review which was refused, they then went to the Court of Appeal,
arguing that they accepted that the terms of s71(20 impliedly
excluded self-incrimination as an excuse for refusing to provide
information, they should be entitled to rely on Article 6(1) of the
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms 1953.
Lord Hoffman held that Article 6(1) was firmly
anchored in the fairness of trial and was not concerned with
extra-judicial inquiries. The trial judge should be left to
exercise his discretion to exclude potentially self-incriminating
answers as evidence at trial under s78 of the Police and Criminal
Evidence Act 1984.
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