Information watchdog reviews data complaint from striking barristers
THE UK’s data protection watchdog is reviewing a complaint that argues justice secretary Dominic Raab could have breached privacy laws, after he allegedly requested that the names of striking barristers be collected and handed over to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
London law firm Mishcon de Reya, acting on behalf of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), wrote to the head of the Information Commissioner’s Office, John Edwards, in July, calling for him to investigate Raab’s actions.
Lawyers from Mishcon argue that Raab’s alleged request was intended to intimidate striking barristers, after the Lord Chief Justice warned that barristers who fail to appear in court could be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
“We are aware of this matter and are considering information submitted to us, in addition to making our own enquiries,” an ICO spokesperson told City A.M.
A spokesperson for the MoJ firmly denied that either Raab or the MoJ requested the names of any striking barristers, stating that any such claims are “categorically untrue”.
In June, the Law Gazette reported that the MoJ instructed court staff to file information by 2pm each day on those barristers’ failing to attend court.
The MoJ reportedly said in an email, that “the data from the forms is going to the Deputy Prime Minister”.
Following the report, an MoJ spokesperson told The Times in July that the email to court staff, requesting striking barristers’ names, “used confusing language and was potentially sent by mistake.”
City A.M. understands that while Raab asked for data on the number of barristers going on strike in order to monitor court disruption levels, he did not ask for names.
Commenting on the news that the ICO were reviewing the complaint, Kirsty Brimelow, Chair of the CBA, said: “It would have been a better discharge of ministerial duties for the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary to meet with the CBA and resolve the ongoing barrister action.”