A former Royal Navy captain, who was “removed from his command” following “bullying” complaints, is suing the Ministry of Defence after a story about his verbal abuse was leaked by a press officer to The Sun.
According to The Mail on Sunday, David Axon is suing the MoD for £300,000 after a press officer allegedly sold the story for £5,000 in December 2004. He claimed that as a result of the leak his “reputation [was] sullied in the national press”.
Axon was reportedly told his position was “untenable” after complaints and was given a desk job.
Media lawyer David Banks believes the case “would seem to open a real can of worms”, saying it could lead to others who were subject to leaks suing organisations.
The paper reports the High Court claim form as saying that a “handful of senior naval figures knew about what had happened and all MoD employees ‘had a duty to keep the information confidential’”.
The claim form also reportedly said: “In corruptly disclosing the claimant’s [Mr Axon’s] information to The Sun newspaper, Ms Jordan-Barber was acting in the course of her employment with the defendant [the MoD] and the defendant is vicariously liable for her wrongdoing.”
It said this was because the information had been obtained from the MoD’s employees, computers or filing systems.
It reportedly said: “The wrongful conduct was, in all the circumstances, so closely connected with acts which Ms Jordan-Barber was authorised to carry out that the wrongful conduct could fairly and properly be regarded as being in the ordinary course of her employment.”
The Mail on Sunday reports that Axon discovered what had happened after being contacted by police investigating The Sun.
Banks is reported as saying: “This case is the trigger for others in this situation to take action. Even a criminal who has information leaked by a prison officer about them could say it is a breach of confidence.”