Brighton activist asks High Court to delete records

John Catt
Image caption One entry said John Catt used a pad to "sketch a picture of the protest and the police presence"

An 87-year old man from Brighton has asked the High Court in London to order the removal of records of his political activities from a police database.

John Catt has spent years protesting in support of various causes, details of which are held on the National Domestic Extremism Database.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has refused to delete all the data retained about Mr Catt.

The judgement on his application has been reserved for judicial review.

'A domestic extremist'

Tim Owen QC, appearing for Mr Catt, told the court he was "passionate" about protesting and regularly took part, entirely peacefully, in demonstrations.

He said Mr Catt had come to court to fight for "a citizen's right lawfully to manifest his political views without being labelled a domestic extremist subject to a special and apparently arbitrary form of state surveillance".

According to Mr Owen, there were 66 written entries on the database referring to demonstrations Mr Catt had attended between March 2005 and October 2009, plus others relating to his daughter, Linda.

Jeremy Johnson QC, representing both Acpo and the Met, told the court: "Where you engage in public activity [demonstrations] you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy."

He said the police were obliged to record who they saw at protests and what they did, even if they were not involved in unlawful activity.

Mr Johnson also said if Mr Catt won the case the police would be prevented from recording and retaining important intelligence information that might help prevent crime.

Lord Justice Gross, sitting with Mr Justice Irwin, reserved judgment on Mr Catt's application for judicial review which is expected to be handed down in the next few weeks.

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