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How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court?

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How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court?

Postby general_questions » Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:01 pm

An individual writes to a council in England.

The council then reveals what's in that private correspondence to a third party without the consent of the individual concerned.

Council then writes to individual stating that, based on the information it's revealed to the third party, the individual is harassing that third party.

Individual has no contact with third party.

How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court?
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Re: How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:35 pm

You don't give us nearly enough information to go on. It depends on numerous variables.

It is not impossible, however: A could (for example) harass B by making numerous complaints about B to the authorities, without ever having direct contact with B.
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Re: How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court

Postby Maz JP » Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:56 am

Smouldering Stoat wrote:You don't give us nearly enough information to go on. It depends on numerous variables.

It is not impossible, however: A could (for example) harass B by making numerous complaints about B to the authorities, without ever having direct contact with B.

I'm sure you're right on this. Harassment can be indirect as well as direct.
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Re: How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court

Postby general_questions » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:21 pm

What law, if any, is being broken by the council in revealing private and confidential information to a third party without the express written consent of the party who imparted that information in the first place?
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Re: How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:17 pm

general_questions wrote:What law, if any, is being broken by the council in revealing private and confidential information to a third party without the express written consent of the party who imparted that information in the first place?

That would depend upon why they have that information, and the purposes of the disclosure.
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Re: How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:22 pm

Agreed, again there's not enough information to give a proper answer. It may be an actionable breach of confidence, or a breach of the Data Protection Act. Equally, it may not be unlawful at all, or it may be something that the Council is legally required to do. And consent need not be express or in writing; it could given orally or implied.
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Re: How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court

Postby Spankymonkey » Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:12 pm

Smouldering Stoat wrote:It may be an actionable breach of confidence, or a breach of the Data Protection Act."


It's not likely to be either. What's more likely is that the contents were intended to harass those named within it, and the council would be protected by qualified privilege to share the information with those it refers too. Something all public authorities should be encouraged to do, as every person in this country should be entitled to answer allegations made against them.

Besides which, if the contents of the OPs letter were true, the subject would have no defence and would be forced to answer the allegations, so the intended purpose of sending the letter would be served. Assuming the allegations made were of misconduct. If the allegations were of a criminal nature then the council would not have been the appropriate body to send them to in the first place.
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Re: How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court

Postby dls » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:41 am

A letter to a council is not easily characterised as private and confidential. Freedom of Information law starts with the opposite assumption, and provides only limited exceptions.
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Re: How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court

Postby atticus » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:52 am

Indeed. A council is a public authority.
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Re: How could the council's claim possibly stand up in court

Postby general_questions » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:34 pm

dls wrote:A letter to a council is not easily characterised as private and confidential. Freedom of Information law starts with the opposite assumption, and provides only limited exceptions.

Let me put the issue another way then: an individual sends a computer file containing data to a council. The council then communicates some of the the data contained in that computer file to a third party without the express written consent of the party who sent the computer file, containing the data, in the first place.

What law, if any, has been broken?
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