Attorney General v BBC: national security case to be partly in public

An attempt by the Government to exclude the public from the hearing of its claim for an injunction against the BBC has failed.

The Attorney General has applied for an injunction to prevent the BBC from broadcasting a programme which identifies an individual known as “X” on the grounds that, amongst other things, publication would damage national security.

The hearing of the application is listed to take place on 1 and 2 March 2022.

Today Chamberlain J rejected the Attorney’s application that the open part of the March hearing be heard in private. He said that “The Attorney has not convinced me that there is a sufficiently compelling reason for departing from the principle that OPEN proceedings take place in public (the “open justice principle”). This means that, when the hearing takes place, the public will be informed about many of the important aspects of this case, apart from the identity of X”.

The public summary of Chamberlain J’s judgment is available here. The whole of Chamberlain J’s ruling is due to be made public on Thursday 24 February 2022.

Part of the March hearing will be in closed court pursuant to the ‘Closed Material Procedure’ under the Justice and Security Act 2013. This closed part of the hearing will be conducted in the absence of the BBC or its legal team, and the BBC’s interests will instead be represented by Special Advocates.

The BBC was represented today by 5RB’s Adam Wolanski QC and Hope Williams.