The Data Brief

A monthly data protection bulletin from the barristers at 5 Essex Chambers

Forget me not

14 December 2022

ABC v Tony Palmer [2022] EWHC 3128 (KB)

Following a hearing with no advocates, Griffiths J gave a detailed judgment in a case brought by an anonymised claimant who in 2015 had been convicted on her guilty plea of 9 counts of fraud. A freelance journalist, the defendant, reported shortly afterwards on an online blog.

The Judge found as fact that the journalist personally attended the hearing and took a note of what was said. His very full, but not verbatim, note included submissions made on behalf of the claimant in the criminal proceedings. These submissions, found the Judge, included statements that “she does have OCD, mental health issues” and “she’s rated at high end of disability”.

The Judge held that the journalist’s reporting was honest and accurate, including when he had referred to the claimant as a “benefit cheat”, those words not being used in the criminal hearing itself.

After the claimant’s convictions became spent, in April 2020 the claimant asked the journalist to take down the blog post. The journalist did temporarily take it offline, but put it back online in June 2020, before taking it down again in May 2021.

The instant claim is that the journalist’s reporting of the case amounted to a misuse of private information, a breach of the accuracy provisions of the GDPR and the 1998 Act and a breach of the Article 17 right to be forgotten. The Judge dismissed the claim, making the following important findings:

  • Matters which had been aired in open court were not private for the tort of misuse of private information, particularly where the publication was only days after the public hearing.
  • Where submissions had been made in open court on behalf of the claimant, this amounted to the data being manifestly made public by her, for the purposes of Schedule 1, Part 3, para 32 of the DPA 2018. This disentitled her from bringing the present claims, at least before the convictions became spent.
  • It was relevant to the claimant’s exercise of her right to be forgotten that she now denies her guilt, and that the journalist’s blog helped to refute this;
  • The fact that convictions were spent was not enough on its own to compel the deletion of the blog post.

Judgment: click here

The Data Brief

A monthly data protection bulletin from the barristers at 5 Essex Chambers

The Data Brief is edited by Francesca Whitelaw KC, Aaron Moss and John Goss, barristers at 5 Essex Chambers, with contributions from the whole information law, data protection and AI Team.

Visit the Information Law, Data Protection and AI area

Search The Data Brief

Portfolio Builder

Select the practice areas that you would like to download or add to the portfolio

Download    Add to portfolio   
Title Type CV Email

Remove All


Click here to share this shortlist.
(It will expire after 30 days.)