The Problem of 'Relevance': Intelligence to Evidence Lessons from UK Terrorism Prosecutions

56 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2018 Last revised: 21 Oct 2018

See all articles by Leah West

Leah West

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2017


As of November 2017, 60 known foreign terrorist fighters have been permitted to return and live in Canada without criminal consequence. The reason for this, according to the Minister of Public Safety, is the problem of using information collected for intelligence purposes as evidence in criminal proceedings. Often referred to as the “intelligence to evidence” (I2E) dilemma, this challenge has plagued Canada’s terrorism prosecutions since the Air India bombing in 1985. Yet, not all countries struggle to bring terrorist to justice. Canada’s prosecution statistics pale in comparison to the United Kingdom. In a democracy committed to upholding the rule of law and respecting human rights, prosecuting terrorists is the strongest and most transparent deterrent to this threat. This paper argues that as the threat of terrorism grows both domestically and abroad, Canada must learn from the UK’s experience and reform the rules of evidence to ensure that criminal charges are pursued. This paper will outline and compare the relevant Canadian and UK rules of evidence and assess their practical implications for national security prosecutions in light of primary research conducted in London in the fall of 2017. It concludes with a series of legislative and organizational reforms to improve the efficiency of Canadian terrorism trials.

Keywords: Terrorist, intelligence, evidence, relevance, disclosure, terrorism trial, counter-terrorism, foreign fighter, criminal prosecution, national security

Suggested Citation

West, Leah, The Problem of 'Relevance': Intelligence to Evidence Lessons from UK Terrorism Prosecutions (December 1, 2017). Manitoba Law Journal 41(4) 2018: Criminal Law (Robson Crim). Available at SSRN:

Leah West (Contact Author)

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law ( email )

Falconer Hall
84 Queens Part
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics