High Court allows appeal on abuse of process in data protection claim

The High Court today allowed the appeal brought by the Chief Constable of Kent Police in Lee McLoughlin v Chief Constable of Kent Police.

Mr McLoughlin pleaded guilty in 2016 to nine charges of possessing indecent images of children. In 2022, he brought a claim against the Chief Constable of Kent Police, alleging that one section of a police officer’s witness statement which had been relied upon in the 2016 criminal proceedings, was inaccurate personal data under the Data Protection Act 2018. The Chief Constable of Kent Police applied to strike out the claim and/or for summary judgment. In May 2023, that application was dismissed by His Honour Judge Parker in Canterbury County Court, and directions were given for the claim to proceed to trial. The Chief Constable of Kent Police appealed that decision to the High Court.

In the High Court, Kerr J allowed the first ground of appeal. He held that the claim was an abuse of process on the basis that it amounted to an attempt to re-litigate issues previously determined and to undermine the claimant’s convictions in the criminal proceedings. The judge did not allow the second ground of appeal, in relation to meaning and alleged inaccuracy of the personal data, but the success of the first ground of the appeal was fatal to the claim.

The judgment is available here. A 5RB case report will follow.

Gemma McNeil-Walsh appeared for the Appellant, instructed by Clyde & Co.