British Broadcasting Corporation v Sugar and Another: Admn 27 Apr 2007

The applicant sought publication of a report prepared for the respondent as to the even handedness of its reporting of matters in the middle east. The BBC had refused saying that the release of the report would have direct impact on its ability to report crucial world events and was exempt. The tribunal had decided that once the report came to be used by the BBC Board, it was no longer being used for journalistic purposes and was not exempt. The BBC sought judicial review, saying it was not a public authority when looked at for information held for journalistic, artistic or literary purposes.
Held: The BBC was only a public body in the context of other purposes. In this case, the Tribunal had no jurisdiction. As to what were journalistic purposes: ‘The phrase ‘for purposes other than those of journalism’ has to be looked at compendiously. The word ‘journalism’ no doubt does have, if taken on its own, a reasonably clear meaning, even if any one definition may be elusive. Journalism extends to (journalistic) activity as well as (journalistic) product. In my view, journalism at least extends to the processes of collecting, analysing, editing and communicating news. That, moreover, at least in the context of considering what is ‘for the purposes of journalism’, is not necessarily – though sometimes it may be – distinct from assessment, quality control or management processes, whether concurrent or subsequent, directly relating to the collecting, analysing, editing, and communicating of such news. . . the words ‘for the purposes of’ are words, in my view, capable of having a wide import. Moreover those words connote at least some subjective element on the part of the holder of the information: even if the ultimate assessment of whether or not information is held for the purposes of journalism (or, more accurately, ‘held for purposes other than those of journalism . . ‘) is an objective exercise in itself.


Davies J


[2007] EWHC 905 (Admin), Times 22-May-2007, [2007] 4 All ER 518, [2007] 1 WLR 2583




Freedom of Information Act 2000


CitedRegina v Leyland Justices, Ex parte Hawthorn QBD 1979
A motorist successfully challenged his conviction for careless driving because of a failure by the prosecutor, in breach of a duty owed to the court and the defence, to disclose the existence of witnesses who could have given evidence favourable to . .
CitedLegal and General Assurance Society Ltd v Pensions Ombudsman and Others; Regina v Pensions Ombudsman, ex parte Legal and General Assurance Society Ltd ChD 3-Nov-1999
There is no facility to appeal against an interim decision or determination of the Pensions Ombudsman, on a point of law, to the High Court. The appeal is purely statutory, and since no express capacity for such an appeal is provided, none exists. . .
CitedRegina v Lancashire County Council, ex parte Huddlestone CA 25-Apr-1986
Sir John Donaldson described judicial review: ‘Certainly it is for the applicant to satisfy the Court of his entitlement to judicial review and it is for the respondent to resist his application, if it considers it to be unjustified. But it is a . .
CitedRegina v Monopolies and Mergers Commission, ex parte South Yorkshire Transport Ltd HL 1993
One bus company took over another, giving it an effective monopoly within the region. The Commission considered that the area involved was sufficiently substantial to cause concern that it may operate against the public interest. At first instance . .
CitedE v Secretary of State for the Home Department etc CA 2-Feb-2004
The court was asked as to the extent of the power of the IAT and Court of Appeal to reconsider a decision which it later appeared was based upon an error of fact, and the extent to which new evidence to demonstrate such an error could be admitted. . .
See AlsoSugar v Information Commissioner IT 29-Aug-2006
IT At this preliminary hearing the Tribunal finds that at the time of the request made by Mr Sugar to the BBC for a copy of the Balen Report it was held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or . .
See AlsoSugar v Information Commissioner IT 29-Aug-2006
The Preliminary Issue before the Information Tribunal
The Tribunal decided on 2 March 2006, under its rule 10 procedure (summary disposal of appeals – The Information Tribunal (Enforcement Appeals) Rules 2005 (the Rules), in the absence of the . .

Cited by:

Appeal fromSugar and Another v British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) CA 25-Jan-2008
The court upheld Davis J’s decision that neither the Commissioner nor the Tribunal had had any jurisdiction to entertain Mr Sugar’s challenges to the BBC’s refusal to disclose the Balen report. . .
At First InstanceSugar v British Broadcasting Corporation and Another HL 11-Feb-2009
The Corporation had commissioned a report as to its coverage of Middle East issues. The claimant requested a copy, and the BBC refused saying that the report having been obtained for its own journalistic purposes, and that it was not covered by the . .
See AlsoBritish Broadcasting Corporation v Sugar and Another Admn 2-Oct-2009
Disclosure was sought of a report prepared by the BBC to assess the balance of its coverage of middle east affairs. The BBC said that the information was not held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature. One issue was whether . .
See AlsoSugar v Information Commissioner IT 14-May-2009
. .
See AlsoSugar v The British Broadcasting Commission and Another (No 2) CA 23-Jun-2010
The respondent had had prepared a report as to the balance of its reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier proceedings had established that the purposes of the holding of the reporting included jurnalism. The claimant now appealed . .
At First InstanceSugar v British Broadcasting Corporation and Another (2) SC 15-Feb-2012
The claimant sought release of a report prepared by the respondent as to its coverage of the Arab/Israel conflict partly for journalistic purposes, and partly for compliance.
Held: The appeal failed. Where the report was prepared even if only . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Information, Media

Updated: 10 July 2022; Ref: scu.251534