Leon-Issa’s privacy fight to continue
Amoi Leon-Issa’s fight for privacy did not end on Friday with her compliance with a Supreme Court order to give the police access to her phone as they probe the 2022 murder of her son, nine-year-old Gabriel King. King, who was developmentally...
Amoi Leon-Issa’s fight for privacy did not end on Friday with her compliance with a Supreme Court order to give the police access to her phone as they probe the 2022 murder of her son, nine-year-old Gabriel King.
King, who was developmentally challenged, was abducted from his mother along the Tucker main road on January 13, 2022, and found hours later with his throat slashed.
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered Leon-Issa to hand over her phone’s password to the police investigators by 4 p.m.
“My client has complied with the court order as no stay was issued. We have an opportunity to view the judgment, and in light of that, we have received instructions to pursue an appeal because at all material time, she was concerned with her right to privacy and the impact it would have not only on her but Jamaica citizens at large,” her attorney-at-law, Chukwuemeka Cameron, told The Gleaner.
“So notwithstanding handing over her password, she is still pursuing her right ‘cause it has never been about hiding any information. It has always been and remains about her right to privacy,” he added.
Cameron said his client’s insistence on this right is grounded in a declaration from Chief Justice Bryan Sykes in his ruling in the NIDS matter that Jamaicans have a right to information of privacy.
“She has always maintained from day one that her life is on the phone and that life she now has rights over it and she will be going to the Court of Appeal to make a determination as to whether or she has any control over that any at all, asking the court,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senior Puisne Judge Lorna Shelly Williams, in handing down Friday’s ruling, dismissed a claim by Leon-Issa seeking to quash a production order in relation to the iPhone on the basis that the search by the police would breach her right to privacy.
The court said the benefits gained from granting the production order “far outweigh the breach of privacy of the claimant”.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY
But Leon-Issa has maintained that the State breached her rights to privacy when a parish court judge granted permission to the police a year ago to search her cellular phone as they investigate King’s murder.
St James Parish Judge Sasha Marie Ashley first granted the police a production order in September last year compelling Leon-Issa to turn over communication and other data from her iPhone within 48 hours.
Leon-Issa challenged the order in court a month later.
As a result, it was varied to block her from being present while police investigators accessed the phone, but allowed her attorney and a computer expert of her choice to “observe” the process.
In February this year, Leon-Issa went back to court to seek judicial review of the revised production.
But Justice Shelly Williams ruled then that the production order was not ultra vires and ordered that the businesswoman comply with the order.
Justice Shelly Williams, in refusing the application, noted that the amended production order had several orders that provide safeguards and protect information concerning third parties not associated with the investigations.
The judge also noted that the law puts safeguards in place that allow for cops to be charged and placed before the court if any information extracted from the device is disclosed to the public.
According to the police, Leon-Issa reported that she was slapped in the face and dragged from her vehicle by two men after she slowed down to navigate a pothole-riddled corridor while driving along the Tucker main road towards downtown Montego Bay about 9:30 a.m. on the fateful day.
The men sped off in the vehicle with Gabriel still on the back seat.
The vehicle was found abandoned on the Fairfield main road several hours later with the body of the nine-year-old boy soaked in blood.
A bloody knife that was found beside Gabriel’s body was confirmed to be the murder weapon, said investigators, citing DNA analysis of the blood sample.