Lord Ashcroft v Attorney General and Department for International Development: QBD 31 May 2002

The claimant was the subject of confidential reports prepared by the defendants which were leaked to newspapers causing him damage. He sought leave to amend his claim to add claims for breach of the Data Protection Act and for public misfeasance. Under the Civil Procedure Rules a new claim should be allowed if it is arguable. It was claimed that the failure to investigate the leak by the public authority itself amounted to an infringement of the claimant’s human rights. However an investigation into the investigation of the source of the leak would be an improper diversion of the case. A case of misfeasance required the clearest of proof. There was none against the third named defendant, and the associated claim would not be allowed. Lateness is not to be a ground for refusing a claim for aggravated damages. Derogatory statements by third parties could not be relied upon to found a claim for aggravated damages.
DPA 1998 s4(4) creates free-standing duty on data processors to comply with principles in Sch 1 Part I. Commissioner enforces compliance with principles, but his jurisdiction is non-exclusive so far as claims for damages by data subjects are concerned
Gray J held it arguable that ostensibly innocent words might convey a secondary, inferential meaning which embodied sensitive personal data about an individual to the effect that he was involved in money laundering.


The Hon Mr Justice Gray


[2002] EWHC 1122 (QB)




Data Protection Act 1984, Data Protection Act 1998 4(4), Civil Procedure Rules 17.3.5


England and Wales


CitedX (Minors) v Bedfordshire County Council; M (A Minor) and Another v Newham London Borough Council; Etc HL 29-Jun-1995
Liability in Damages on Statute Breach to be Clear
Damages were to be awarded against a Local Authority for breach of statutory duty in a care case only if the statute was clear that damages were capable of being awarded. in the ordinary case a breach of statutory duty does not, by itself, give rise . .
CitedThree Rivers District Council and Others v Governor and Company of The Bank of England (No 3) HL 22-Mar-2001
Misfeasance in Public Office – Recklessness
The bank sought to strike out the claim alleging misfeasance in public office in having failed to regulate the failed bank, BCCI.
Held: Misfeasance in public office might occur not only when a company officer acted to injure a party, but also . .

Cited by:

CitedNT 1 and NT 2 v Google Llc QBD 13-Apr-2018
Right to be Forgotten is not absolute
The two claimants separately had criminal convictions from years before. They objected to the defendant indexing third party web pages which included personal data in the form of information about those convictions, which were now spent. The claims . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Information, Torts – Other, Civil Procedure Rules, Human Rights

Updated: 25 October 2022; Ref: scu.172269