Media & Entertainment Law - Freedom Information Act 2000 - Data Protection - Public Body

Media & Entertainment Law - Freedom Information Act 2000 - Data Protection - Public Body

The case at the British Broadcasting Corporation against Sugar and Another [2007] and R (on application by) The British Broadcasting Corporation against the Information Tribunal and others. [2007] applied to the Information Freedom Act 2000 - a number of acts should be mentioned to assist in the interpretation of these cases.

The complainant in the case, British Broadcasting Corporation ("BBC"), asked B to advise on BBC coverage in the Middle East issues. In 2004, B, as an experienced journalist, made an internal written report on the subject. The report was reviewed by the BBC's Journalism Board. Since 2005, a panel was appointed to provide an external independent review of the BBC's Middle East reporting. The second report was never published.

The defendant, S, wanted to see the second report. He considered that he was entitled to see it under the provisions of the 2000 Information Act (2000 Act). He therefore made a written request to the BBC, the answer was that the report directly affected BBC's reporting of major world events and so the 2000 law did not apply to it. S was dissatisfied with that response and then complained to the information commissioner.

The commissioner answered quite a bit with S and separately with the BBC. In a detailed letter, the Commissioner posed his preliminary opinion that the report was held for journalism, art or literature and, in such circumstances, the BBC was not considered to be a public authority under the 2000 Ss Request Act, and was therefore not obliged to release the content of the report.

We did not want to leave any further comments to the Commissioner, who confirmed his final decision that the report was incomplete and informed S of his right to seek judicial review of the decision. S appealed to the Information Court because of the provisions of Section 50 of the 2000 Act. The position of the Commissioner and the BBC was then:

  • We had no right to appeal under p. 50;
  • The Commissioner had not given a decision that could be appealed. and
  • That the court did not have jurisdiction to maintain such an appeal.

The Court of First Instance held that it was in fact entitled to review the appeal. The Commissioner terminated the dispute regarding jurisdiction. The Tribunal argued that it had jurisdiction to hear Ss's appeal and then continued to hear it. It was argued that the report at the time of Ss request for a copy of the report was held for purposes other than journalism, art or literature.

Thereafter, the BBC appealed to the jurisdiction decision and the journalist decision and to face a point of lack of jurisdiction, the BBC tried to challenge the court's decision by simultaneous trial.

We, with time, issued its own judicial review procedure challenging the original decision of the commissioner. It was considered that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to uphold the alleged appeal and that its cure had been asked to request judicial review of the Commission's initial decision. In addition to this, it was considered that despite the first impression that could otherwise be obtained from p.3 and Schedule 1 of the 2000 Law, p. 7, it was found that the application of parts I to V was used for information, instead of to claim that the circumstances in which a body was or would not be treated as a public authority.

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