This is a Media Law Update covering the last week prepared by the Legal Information Team at Matrix Chambers, which they have kindly agreed to make available to readers of Inforrm.
Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police v Information Commissioner  EWHC 44 (Admin) – 21 Jan 2011. The issue to be determined was whether, when estimating the costs of complying with a request for information, a public authority could take into account, for the purposes of the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, SI 2004/3244, reg 4(3)(d), the time spent in redacting exempt information from any document in which the information which it proposed to disclose in compliance with that request was contained. Held that the appellant police force could not include time spent redacting information which was exempt from disclosure. Reg 4 applied only to those tasks that were specifically listed in reg 4(3), which did not include redaction. It was established law that redaction was the process of editing the requested information to remove exempt material whereas extraction was the process by which information included in the request was separated from other information in the same document. The words ‘extracting the information from a document containing it’ in reg 4(3)(d) could only refer to extracting the information which had been requested from a document which contained the information which had been requested, thereby distinguishing it from the information in the document that had not been requested. There is a WLR Case Note here.
Masri v Consolidated Contractors International Company SAL & Anor  EWCA Civ 21 – 21 Jan 2011. An issue arose as to whether the claimant should disclose certain information in relation to the activities of enquiry agents. Held that in the circumstances of the instant case the claimant had to identify the source of information concerning enquiry agents’ activities in gathering documents capable of undermining contempt proceedings. The aim of CPR Pt 32, PD, para 4.2(1) and (2) was to ensure that a person against whom serious allegations were being made could identify the source of any information or belief that was not within the deponents own knowledge so that the facts deposed to on the basis of information or belief could be investigated. Save in exceptional circumstances, the deponent had to identify the source of the relevant information or belief. If the source was a person, that person had to be identified with sufficient certainty to enable the person against whom the affidavit was directed to investigate the information or belief in accordance with the rules of the court or other relevant legal principles.
Shergill v Purewal  EWHC 3610 (QB) – 15 Dec 2010. Libel claim concerning articles in “Panjab Times” stayed by Sir Charles Gray on the ground that it raised non-justiciable issues of religious doctrine.
Latest Regulatory Decisions
Latest decisions of the First-tier Tribunal, General Regulatory Chamber [Information Rights]
- Peter Dun v IC EA/2010/0060: FOI Act 2000, s 40 (personal data).
Sentencing statements: HMA v Sheridan, Scottish Judiciary Website. At the High Court in Glasgow Lord Bracadale sentenced Thomas Sheridan to three years imprisonment after he was found guilty of perjury in defamation proceedings. His comments on sentencing are here.
Libel threatens to stifle debate about factory farming. Rosalind English. UK Human Rights Blog – 25 Jan 2011. Notes that in the last week The Guardian reported that libel lawyers Carter and Ruck have written to the Soil Association threatening legal action if they failed to withdraw allegations underlying their objection to a planning application for one of the country’s largest pig units.
Honeymoon killing extradition judge allows tweets. PA Media Lawyer. Press Gazette – 24 Jan 2011. Notes that Julian Knowles, representing the man suspected of killing his new wife while on Honeymoon in South Africa, has tried to stop reporters using Twitter in court, saying it could “undermine the solemnity” of proceedings. He made the submission at an extradition hearing for Shrien Dewani. But District Judge Howard Riddle, sitting at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court last week, rejected his arguments and allowed tweeting, provided that it was accurate and unobtrusive.
Jon Gaunt wins right to appeal ‘Nazi’ jibe ruling. Oliver Luft. Press Gazette – 24 Jan 2011. Explains that a radio presenter who called a councillor a “Nazi” live on air has won the right to appeal a High Court decision which branded his interview offensive and abusive. Jon Gaunt launched the appeal after an earlier judicial review failed to overturn a decision made by Ofcom that he had breached the broadcasting code. For news story, please visit:
Intelligence agencies go to supreme court over ruling on secret evidence. Richard Norton-Taylor. The Guardian – 23 Jan 2011. Reports that MI5 and MI6 will argue in a test case before the Supreme Court that in future “no intelligence gathered abroad, even if initially obtained through torture, should ever be disclosed in a British court”. The case is hearing Al Rawi & Ors v The Security Service & Ors. The Supreme Court Case details are here.
Data Protection Reform Strategy: EDPS sets out his vision for the new framework. European Data Protection Supervisor. Press Release – 18 Jan 2011. Notes that the EDPS issued an opinion on the Commission’s Communication on the review of the EU legal framework for data protection. The EDPS welcomed the Commission’s intention to reform the legal framework, arguing that the current legislative arrangements for data protection would not provide for sufficient effective protection in the longer term in a further developing information society and globalised world. The opinion sets out the EDPS vision for the future framework and proposes a set of recommendations. The EDPS supports the main issues and challenges identified by the Commission, but asks for more ambitious solutions to make the system more effective and give citizens better control over their personal data.
Articles and Discussion
Personal data of whistleblowing civil servants: redaction and fairness, Robin Hopkins, Panopticon Blog – 24 Jan 2011. Suggests that “those considering the disclosure of personal data in a civil service context will wish to pay close attention” to the decision in Dun v IC and National Audit Office EA/2010/0060. This is the latest Tribunal exercise in forensic scrutiny of fairness under the “personal information” exemption at section 40 (applied in tandem with the first data protection principle under the DPA).
Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (2010) (Commencement No. 4 and Saving Provision) Order 2011. SI 2011/46. Enabling power: the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, s 52(2), (4). Brings into force provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 which amend provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 concerning information which relates to communications with the Sovereign, the Royal Family and the Royal Household. All the provisions brought into force by this Order come into force on 19 Jan 2011.