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June 16, 2009

The Times free to identify blog author

Category: News

Court refuses interim confidence and privacy injunction applications


Mr Justice Eady today gave his written reasons for declining to grant a pseudonymous blogger an injunction preventing the Times from publishing his identity.

The blogger, a serving police officer who recently won the Orwell Prize for political writing for his “Night Jack” blog, wished to keep his identity secret for fear of disciplinary measures by his Police Authority, and in any event that disclosure of his identity may compromise his police work. The blog consisted of accounts of the blogger’s work as a detective constable and his opinions on a number of social and political issues relating to the police and the administration of justice. It expressed strong opinions, including on subjects of political controversy, and in relation to the criticism of a number of government ministers.

The court however found that the blogger had no legally enforceable right to maintain his anonymity, in circumstances where a journalist for the Times had deduced it from his own detective work, mainly using information from the Internet. Further, it was right in the light of the content of the blog that in order for the public to make its own judgment about the matters disclosed there, and the appropriateness of a serving police officer writing the blog, the newspaper should be free to disclose the blogger’s identity.

5RB‘s Jonathan Barnes (instructed by Alastair Brett of the Times Legal Department) was junior counsel for the Times.

Click here for the 5RB case report and full judgment.

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