View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Media Law
March 26, 2014updated 27 Mar 2014 1:52pm

Supreme Court ruling could give journalists common law right to information outside of FoI

By Press Gazette

Times investigations editor Dominic Kennedy explains why this judgment could 'blow open' the Freedom of Information Act

Media lawyers have welcomed an "important development" in the right to access information from public authorities, after a seven-year legal battle by a Times journalist.
A ruling today by the Supreme Court suggests that journalists seeking documents from a public authority have a common law right to information which runs separately from the Freedom of Information Act.
It means that if an FoI request is refused, citing one of the law's various exemptions, the requester could apply for a judicial review under common law instead of lodging a complaint with the Information Commissioner.
The Times's Dominic Kennedy had tried since 2007 to obtain information relating to three Charity Commission inquiries into the Mariam Appeal, which was founded by MP George Galloway.
The Commission had refused to disclose any information under the Freedom of Information Act, citing an absolute exemption for information gathered as part of a statutory inquiry.
Kennedy took the case as far as the Supreme Court, arguing that the exemption ended when the inquiry concluded – not 30 years later as had been claimed. He referred to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, on the freedom to receive and impart information.
The Supreme Court said the absolute exemption under the FoI law was valid beyond the length of the inquiry, but it ruled that Kennedy had a common law right to access the information as there was a "genuine public interest" for it to be disclosed.
Kennedy was represented by the law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite. BWB partner Rupert Earle, said: "This judgment is an important development in ensuring that those exercising power, particularly quasi-judicial power, may be held to account, and is a tribute to Mr Kennedy’s dogged determination in pursuing his request for (so far) nearly seven years."
A summary of the ruling can be found here.

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

Topics in this article : ,

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network