Sutherland v Her Majesty's Advocate  UKSC 32.
The legal issue was whether prosecutions based on the covert sting operations of "paedophile
hunters" are compatible with the right to private life and correspondence - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
According to the court's website - "Paedophile hunters" are "self-appointed vigilantes who impersonate children in order to expose people who they consider to
be sexual predators. Some of these groups
have attracted substantial
online followings and debate in mainstream media.
In 2018 Mr Sutherland matched on a dating app with somebody who, when
he communicated with them, claimed to be a 13-year old child. He sent
sexual messages and images to that person, and they eventually arranged
to meet at Partick station. In fact, he was speaking to an adult member
of a "paedophile hunter" group. Members of that group confronted Mr
Sutherland at the meeting point at the arranged time. They broadcast the
encounter on social media and handed the evidence to the police. Mr
Sutherland was convicted of attempting to communicate indecently with an
older child and related offences. He appealed against his conviction on
the basis that the covert investigation (and the use of the resulting
evidence by the prosecuting authorities) breached his right to respect
for his private life and correspondence under ECHR Article 8.
The court (Lords Reed, Hodge, Lloyd-Jones, Sales and Leggatt) unanimously dismissed Sutherland's appeal for reasons set out in the Judgment (PDF) and summarised in the Press summary (PDF)
There was no interference with the
appellant’s right to respect for his private life and correspondence
under article 8(1) by reason of the use by the respondent of the
evidence obtained from the decoy in the public prosecution of the
appellant - (the 1st compatibility issue).
There was no incompatibility between the obligation on the state
to protect rights arising under article 8 and the use by the respondent
in this case of the evidence provided by the decoy in support of the
prosecution of the appellant - (the 2nd compatibility issue). The relevant positive obligation on the respondent was
to ensure that the criminal law could be applied effectively to deter
sexual offences against children. Article 8 has the effect that the
respondent should be entitled to, and might indeed be obliged to, make
use of the evidence in bringing a prosecution against him.