Benjamin Waidhofer

Benjamin Waidhofer successfully challenges, by Judicial Review, Metropolitan Police Service entry and seizure of multiple items

At around 11:00 on 25 June 2021, dozens of Metropolitan Police Service officers forcibly secured entry upon the premises of Antipavilion Ltd, registered at Laburnum Wharves in East London.  In the course of forcing entry, officers of the Metropolitan Police Service caused damage to the property.

Having secured entry to the premises, officers of the Metropolitan Police spent hours upon the premises, seizing and uplifting a vast amount of material including artwork based upon ‘tensegrity’ structural principles and various computer devices.

The entry and subsequent search by officers of the Metropolitan Police Service was purportedly justified by the fact that an individual, seen frequenting the premises of Antepavilion Ltd – but not in any way said to be the legal owner of the premises or acting under the directions of the owner – had been arrested some hours earlier by the very same police force.

Benjamin Waidhofer was instructed by Gary Rubin of Blackfords LLP to advise upon and subsequently conduct Judicial Review proceedings of the decision of the Metropolitan Police Service to enter the premises in question and – once within the premises – to seize and uplift the material it had taken away.

The application for Judicial Review was contested by the Metropolitan Police Service but permission to proceed with the claim was granted in June 2022.

In January 2023, the Metropolitan Police Service settled the claim on the basis of a Consent Order which contained two specific High Court declarations, namely that:

  1. The entry of the Claimants’ premises was unlawful; and
  2. The uplifting of material from the Claimants’ premises was unlawful.

A series of ancillary orders were also made as a result of the declarations made by the High Court including an order that the Metropolitan Police Service indemnify those affected by their actions for damage caused to the premises and that the Metropolitan Police Service indemnify losses caused by the decision of its officers to uplift the material in question.

The power to search premises following an arrest is contained within section 18 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.  Practitioners may find that police are increasingly using powers upon arrest to search premises rather than pursue the more stringent formalities required for the obtaining of a search warrant.

Benjamin specialises in this niche area of challenging the legality of investigative searches including the obtaining of warrants ex parte, and the subsequent execution of such orders at the High Court.  He is regularly instructed both by private individuals and corporations in order to challenge orders obtained by – and subsequent conduct of – agencies including the Serious Fraud Office, the National Crime Agency and HMRC.