Halford v. the United Kingdom

European Court of Human Rights
25 June 1997


The applicant Ms.Halford was working for the police. Following a refusal to promote her, she started proceedings in the Industrial Tribunal claiming that she had been discriminated on the ground of gender. Ms.Halford alleged that certain members of the police intercepted her telephone calls made from her office for the purposes of obtaining information to use against her in the proceedings.


Ms.Halford claimed that the interception of her telephone calls at her workplace violated her right to private life.

Court's ruling

The Court ruled that as there was no law allowing and regulating interceptions of calls made on internal telecommunications systems outside the public network, the right to private life of Ms.Halford had been violated.

The Court found that Ms.Halford had reasonable expectations of privacy for calls made from her office telephone considering that:

As Assistant Chief Constable she had a sole use of her office where one of the telephones was specifically designated for her private usage.

The applicant was not warned that her telephone conversations might be intercepted at the workplace.

The applicant had been given an assurance that she could use her office telephones for the purposes of her gender-discrimination case.

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Last updated 08/11/2023