Privacy and the Prince: A Government of Laws Not Men? Evans v. (1) Information Commissioner (2) Seven Government Departments (2012) UKUT 313 (AAC)
Draft manuscript which formed basis of piece in Law Quarterly Review (April 2013, pp. 172-176).
4 Pages Posted: 15 May 2015
Date Written: January 1, 2013
This short piece discusses the litigation by Rob Evans and the Guardian for release of Prince Charles' correspondence with Government Ministers under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations. It argues that throughout this process there was a failure by both the Government and the ICO to argue that the sensitive personal data rules within the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 were engaged. This is puzzling since the fact that the correspondence involved "advocacy" of particular views on policy necessarily means that it included Prince Charles' "political opinions" which are intrinsically sensitive personal data under section 2 of the DPA 1998. Moreover, as a result of the very onerous conditions set out in and under Schedule 3 of the DPA 1998 the Government was not only almost certainly able, but if so was legally mandated, to refuse release of these documents. In sum, this debacle provides a vivid indication of the problematic interface between freedom of information and data protection and, at least in this case, the serious gap between the law on the books and the law as applied.
Keywords: Data Protection, Environmental Information Regulations, Freedom of Information, Public Interest, Sensitive Personal Data
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