Who? Philip Leach, 48, solicitor and professor of human rights law at Middlesex University, where he also runs the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC).
Why is he in the news? He is acting in the European Court of Human Rights for Russian journalist Roman Zakharov who is challenging the ‘very broad surveillance powers’ of Russia’s security service.
Zakharov complains that Russian law requires mobile phone operators to install equipment that enables remote interception of phone calls by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB. This breaches his article 8 right to respect for privacy, he claims.
He further complains that parts of this law are secret and unpublished, depriving him of his article 13 right to an effective domestic remedy.
Thoughts on the case: ‘The FSB’s very broad surveillance powers are simply not subject to adequate controls. There is no proper judicial authorisation procedure, no independent scrutiny and no legal redress for victims. The system needs to be completely overhauled.
‘Our challenge, if successful, will force a change to the law, which is why – in common with all cases that could result in a country’s national law being changed – it is to be heard by a panel of 17 judges sitting in the Grand Chamber.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘An interest in human rights and access to justice.’
Career high: ‘Last year, celebrating a decade of EHRAC defending human rights in Europe.’
Career low: ‘When I worked in the City, going before the master in the High Court to ask for an extension to a time summons. It’s a necessary part of the litigation process, but intimidating.’