• Robert Spicer

Human Rights: An Extreme Example

An example of extreme individualism as opposed to the protection and enforcement of collective rights is the case of two English motorists, Francis and O’Halloran, who complained to the European Court of Human Rights in 2007 that their right to silence, and not to incriminate themselves, had been violated. Francis had been photographed by a speed camera driving at 47 mph in a 30 zone. O’Halloran was photographed doing 69 mph in a 40 zone on the M4. English law requires car owners to disclose the identity of drivers whose vehicles have been photographed exceeding speed limits.

O’Halloran admitted being the driver but later revoked this confession on the grounds of the right to silence and not to incriminate himself. Francis refused to state whether he had been the driver. Both were convicted and complained to the European Court of Human Rights.

That court rejected the complaints. It ruled that the protection against self-incrimination was not absolute. Drivers of motor vehicles accept responsibilities and obligations. In the United Kingdom, these obligations include informing the authorities about the identity of the driver.

Francis and O’Halloran were supported by Liberty. That organisation later accepted that its commitment of resources in this case had been a serious mistake.

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