A French court ruled that the police did not “intercept” the messages obtained by hacking the phones.
Interception evidence cannot be used as evidence in court under British law.
Criminals used EncroChat mainly to trade drugs and guns, according to the National Crime Agency.
Cases against suspected organized criminals throughout the country will be impacted by the ruling.
Suspects sent the messages unaware they were being monitored, and the messages contain images and videos of alleged drug deals and murder plots.
There are now many cases based on “Encro” evidence that are going to court, and if this judgment had ruled the messages could not be used, some trials might have been abandoned.
As a result of longstanding British law, designed to protect intelligence techniques from scrutiny and make criminal trials more manageable, intercepted evidence cannot be used in court.
As part of a massive overhaul of surveillance law, Parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Act in 2016. Under the act, interception warrants must be approved by a judge and authorised by the secretary of state.