Frankson and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Johns v Same: CA 8 May 2003

The claimants sought damages for injuries alleged to have been received at the hands of prison officers whilst in prison. They now sought disclosure by the police of statements made to the police during the course of their investigation.
Held: The court ordered the police to disclose witness statements obtained during a criminal investigation, because that was necessary in order to dispose fairly of a civil action about the same subject matter.
Disclosure against third parties should be regarded as the exception rather than the rule and not simply ordered by way of routine. the balance was between the confidence that existed in statements made to the police for the purposes of an investigation on the one hand and disclosure necessary to dispose fairly of a civil action against the Home Office in respect of alleged assaults on prisoners on the other hand. In this case the balance fell in favour of disclosure.
Scott Baker LJ said: ‘The court has in cases such as the present a difficult balancing exercise to perform between the two conflicting public interests. For my part I would not put interviews under caution of suspects into any special category. It seems to me all who make statements to or answer questions by the police do so in the expectation that confidence will be maintained unless (1) they agree to waive it, or (2) it is overridden by some greater public interest. The weigh to be attached to the confidence will vary according to the particular circumstances with which the court is dealing. In the present case the countervailing public interest is one which in my judgment is of very great weight and one which outweighs the desirability of maintaining confidentiality. In conducting the balancing exercise the judge had clearly in mind the need to maintain the confidences so far as it was possible to do so. To that end he imposed stringent conditions on the extent and manner of disclosure. This is in my view a course which should always be followed in similar cases where the court decides that disclosure is required.’


Pill LJ, Scott Baker LJ, Wilson J


Times 12-May-2003, [2003] 1 WLR 1952, [2003] EWCA Civ 655


Civil Procedure Rules 31.17


England and Wales


AppliedWoolgar v Chief Constable of Sussex Police and UKCC CA 26-May-1999
The issue was the potential disclosure by the police to the nurses’ regulatory body of confidential information concerning the plaintiff, the matron of a nursing home. There had been insufficient evidence to charge the plaintiff with a criminal . .
CitedAttorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd (No 2) (‘Spycatcher’) HL 13-Oct-1988
Loss of Confidentiality Protection – public domain
A retired secret service employee sought to publish his memoirs from Australia. The British government sought to restrain publication there, and the defendants sought to report those proceedings, which would involve publication of the allegations . .

Cited by:

CitedBanks and Another v Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Admn 15-Mar-2004
The claimant sought a review of the respondent’s failure to deal fairly with him by not making proper disclosure of information upon which it had relied in making a movement restriction notice as regarded the claimant’s herd of beef cattle. Trading . .
CitedFlood v Times Newspapers Ltd and others QBD 5-Mar-2009
The claimant police officer complained of an alleged defamation in an article published by the defendant. The defendant wished to obtain information from the IPCC to show that they were investigating the matter as a credible issue. The court . .
CitedPhillips v Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd and Others ChD 17-Nov-2010
The claimant had been assistant to a well known publicist. The defendant had settled an action brought by her principal for hacking his mobile telephone, in the course of which it appeared that the claimant’s phone had also been hacked. She now . .
CitedClifford v NGN Ltd and Mulcaire ChD 3-Feb-2010
There are three steps in every case where a party seeks disclosure from a third party: ‘(1) First it has to be shown that the documentation is likely to support the case of the applicant or adversely affect the case of the respondent. The word . .
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 . .
CitedTchenguiz v Director of The Serious Fraud Office and Others CA 31-Oct-2014
The appellant challenged an order of the Commercial Court refusing permission for documents disclosed in English litigation to be used in litigation proceedings in Guernsey. The principal issue is whether the judge correctly weighed up the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Civil Procedure Rules, Police

Updated: 08 May 2022; Ref: scu.182171