Information - 1996
Information Law, including Data Protection, Confidence and cinfidentiality, disclosure etc.
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This page lists 3 cases, and was prepared on 06 June 2013. These case are being transferred one by one to the main swarb.co.uk site which presents them better, with links to full text where we have it, and much improved cross referencing.
|Elliott -v- Chief Constable of Wiltshire and Others  TLR 693|
|20 Nov 1996
ChDSir Richard Scott, V-C
|Information, Police, Torts - Other
|Sir Richard Scott discussed the tort of misfeasance in public office as described in Calveley: “I would agree that the tort of misfeasance in public office does require that the misconduct complained of should be sufficiently connected with the public office that has allegedly been abused. A police officer may, out of hours and not in uniform, commit an assault. In doing so, he does not abuse his office as a police officer, notwithstanding that he will of course be liable for damages for assault and may have committed a criminal offence. On the other hand, a police officer who, as a police officer, affects an arrest but does so unlawfully, either without reasonable cause or with excessive violence, and with a malicious motive – for example, with the intention of revenging himself against an individual against whom he has a grudge – does, I would have thought, clearly abuse his office. Both cases involve unlawful assault, but the latter involves also, as the former does not, an abuse of office. |
I have taken the example of assault for the purpose of making the point which I think underlies Mr Rubin’s submissions. The distinction is no different if the injury caused by the conduct complained of is economic, as in the present case, rather than physical, as in my examples. Nor, in my view, does it matter whether the conduct complained of is physical or consists, as it does in the present case, of the giving of information. In either case there must, in my view, be a connection between the misconduct complained of and the office of which the misconduct is an alleged abuse. I express no view as to whether a mere omission could ever suffice.
In the present case, on the pleadings, there is, in my opinion, the requisite connection. The senior police officer, who provided the information to the news editor, was, it is to be inferred, in possession of the information about the convictions, or at least that part of the information that was true, because he was a police officer. The inference is that either he, or some subordinate acting on his instructions, had obtained information about the plaintiff from the National Police Computer. So the police officer came into possession of that information in his capacity as, and because of his office of, police officer. Second, the senior police officer in giving the information to the news editor was purporting to act in his capacity as a police officer. That that is so is to be inferred from paragraph 9 of the statement of claim. It appears from paragraph 9 that the individual identified himself to the news editor as a senior police officer. Among other things, he said to the news editor, “We do not want him down here.” “We”, in that context, must have meant the police. He said that if there were a robbery or rape, the police would “pull in” the plaintiff for questioning. That, too, is an indication that the individual, in supplying the information to the news editor, was speaking as a police officer.
Police officers have a status at common law, and perhaps at statute as well, which is both a privilege and the source of powers and duties. If in the apparent performance of functions pertaining to their office police officers commit misconduct, then if the other ingredients of the tort of misfeasance in public office, and in particular the requisite intention to injure and resulting damage, are present the tort of misfeasance in public office is, in my opinion, made out.”
|Data Protection Act 1984 28|