Information Commissioner criticises press

Chris Graham, the Information Commissioner appeared on Radio 4 and denounced the failure to clamp down on ‘blagging’, as former NoTW Executive arrested.

In view of the recent NoTW developments, the ICO intervention as it’s annual report was published was timely.

Chris Graham spoke on the Today programme of the impasse between the Press and policitians for failing to enact s77 Criminal Justice Act 2007 which would allow the imprisonment of those found guilty of illegally obtaining confidential data contrary to s55 Data Protection Act 1998.

Interestingly, the use of ‘blagging’  which was revealed to have been used to target Gordon Brown, had also been a technique deployed by NoTW ‘operatives’, such as Jonathan Rees who in March was cleared of allegations of the murder of Daniel Morgan dating back to 1987. The Guardian had reported that Rees had regularly paid police for information in the late 90s.

The DPA (and s78 CJA 2007) provide for a public interest defence to allegations of illegally obtaining confidential data, however, the ICO complained that the failure to enact s77 left the law toothless as the only penalty was a fine. It is clear that many ‘blaggers’ would regard that as a risk worth running.

The link to phone hacking is interesting, as is the apparent overlap between ‘blaggers’, ‘hackers’ and corrupt police officers. The stand-off has developed into an all out attack on the NoTW as yet another arrest was made today.