D v National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children: HL 2 Feb 1977

Immunity from disclosure of their identity should be given to those who gave information about neglect or ill treatment of children to a local authority or the NSPCC similar to that which the law allowed to police informers.
Lord Simon of Glaisdale said: ‘I cannot leave this particular class of relevant evidence withheld from the court without noting, in view of an argument for the respondent, that the rule can operate to the advantage of the untruthful or malicious or revengeful or self-interested or even demented police informant as much as of one who brings information from a high-minded sense of civic duty. Experience seems to have shown that though the resulting immunity from disclosure can be abused the balance of public advantage lies in generally respecting it.’
Lord Diplock explained the rationale of the rule in Marks v Beyfus as being plain: if the identity of informers were too readily liable to be disclosed in a court of law the sources of information would dry up and the police would be hindered in their duty of preventing and detecting crime.
Lord Hailsham of St. Marylebone said: ‘The categories of public interest are not closed, and must alter from time to time whether by restriction or extension as social conditions and social legislation develop’.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale, Lord Diplock, Lord Hailsham of St. Marylebone
[1978] AC 171, [1977] 2 WLR 201, [1977] 1 All ER 589, [1977] UKHL 1
England and Wales
ExplainedMarks v Beyfus 1890
The plaintiff claimed damages for malicious prosecution. He called the Director of Public Prosecutions as a witness, who refused to identify the name of the person who had given him the information on which he had acted against the plaintiff.
CitedAttorney-General v Mulholland CA 1963
The court rejected a claim for protection from disclosure of matters passing between journalists and their sources: ‘it is said that however these questions were and however proper to be answered for the purpose of this inquiry, a journalist has a . .

Cited by:
CitedThe Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police v McNally CA 25-Jan-2002
The claimant sought damages against the police for malicious prosecution and otherwise. He sought disclosure of whether a party referred to in the case as X, had at any time been a paid informer. The police appealed an order to disclose this. . .
CitedTaylor and Others v Director of The Serious Fraud Office and Others HL 29-Oct-1998
The defendant had requested the Isle of Man authorities to investigate the part if any taken by the plaintiff in a major fraud. No charges were brought against the plaintiff, but the documents showing suspicion came to be disclosed in the later . .
CitedHome Office v Hariette Harman HL 11-Feb-1982
The defendant had permitted a journalist to see documents revealed to her as in her capacity as a solicitor in the course of proceedings.
Held: The documents were disclosed under an obligation to use them for the instant case only. That rule . .
CitedAshworth Security Hospital v MGN Limited HL 27-Jun-2002
Order for Journalist to Disclose Sources
The newspaper published details of the medical records of Ian Brady, a prisoner and patient of the applicant. The applicant sought an order requiring the defendant newspaper to disclose the identity of the source of material which appeared to have . .
CitedRegina v Davis (Iain); Regina v Ellis, Regina v Gregory, Regina v Simms, Regina v Martin CACD 19-May-2006
The several defendants complained at the use at their trials of evidence given anonymously. The perceived need for anonymity arose because, from intimidation, the witnesses would not be willing to give their evidence without it.
Held: The . .
CitedAmwell View School v Dogherty EAT 15-Sep-2006
The claimant had secretly recorded the disciplinary hearings and also the deliberations of the disciplinary panel after their retirement. The tribunal had at a case management hearing admitted the recordings as evidence, and the defendant appealed, . .
CitedBrown v Rice and Another ChD 14-Mar-2007
The parties, the bankrupt and her trustee, had engaged in a mediation which failed at first, but applicant said an agreement was concluded on the day following. The defendants denied this, and the court as asked to determine whether a settlement had . .
CitedWestcott v Westcott CA 15-Jul-2008
The defendant was the claimant’s daughter in law. In the course of a bitter divorce she made allegations to the police which were investigated but did not lead to a prosecution. The claimant appealed dismissal of his claim for defamation on the . .
CitedRegina v Inland Revenue Commissioners ex parte Rossminster Ltd HL 13-Dec-1979
The House considered the power of an officer of the Board of Inland Revenue to seize and remove materials found on premises which a warrant obtained on application to the Common Serjeant authorised him to enter and search; but where the source of . .
CitedWhite v Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust and Another QBD 1-Apr-2011
The claimant doctor sued in defamation for letters written by the defendants to the Fitness to Practice Directorate. She now sought to appeal against a finding that she could not rely upon one letter which had come to her attention through . .
CitedArias and Others v Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police and Another CA 1-Aug-1984
A police officer searched premises under a warrant seizing documents of a trust corporation managed by the occupier. The trustees sought return of the documents or, alternatively, copies of them. The police believed that the documents were evidence . .
CitedAndrew v News Group Newspapers Ltd and Commissioner of the Police for the Metropolis ChD 18-Mar-2011
The claimant sought unredacted disclosure of documents by the second defendant so that he could pursue an action against the first, who, he said, were thought to have intercepted his mobile phone messages, and where the second defendant had . .
CitedPowell v Chief Constable of North Wales Constabulary CA 16-Dec-1999
Roch LJ said: ‘When an issue of public interest immunity is raised, the court’s first duty is to weigh the public interest in preserving the immunity against the public interest that all relevant information which might assist a court to ascertain . .
CitedIn re A (A Child) SC 12-Dec-2012
A woman, X, had made an allegation in confidence she had been sexually assaulted as a child. The court was asked whether that confidence could be overriden to allow an investigation to protect if necessary a child still living with the man. Evidence . .
CitedPrudential Plc and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax and Another SC 23-Jan-2013
The appellants resisted disclosure to the revenue of advice it had received. It claimed legal advice privilege (LAP), though the advice was from its accountants.
Held: (Lords Sumption and Clarke dissenting) LAP applies to all communications . .
CitedFarm Assist Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (No 2) TCC 19-May-2009
The mediator who had acted in attempting to resolve the dispute between the parties sought to have set aside a witness summons issued by the claimant who sought to have the mediated agreement set aside for economic duress.
Held: In this case . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Defamation, Litigation Practice

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.181202