Woolgar 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 offence. The regulatory body wished to consider disciplinary proceedings. The plaintiff unsuccessfully sought an injunction to restrain the disclosure.
Held: A countervailing public interest prevailed. The police investigating serious allegations were entitled to reveal the results to a professional regulatory body supervising the suspect. Such information is received by the police in confidence, and remains subject to the same limitations. However: ‘In order to safeguard the interests of the individual, it is . . desirable that, where the police are minded to disclose, they should, as in this case, inform the person affected of what they propose to do in such time as to enable that person, if so advised, to seek assistance from the court. In some cases, that may not be practicable or desirable, but in most cases that seems to . . be the course that should be followed.’ and ‘In my view, the guiding principles from the exercise of the power to disclose . . are those ennunciated in ex parte Thorpe. Each of the Respondent authorities had to consider the case on its own facts. A blanket approach was impermissible. Having regard to the sensitivity of the issues raised by the allegations of sexual impropriety made against LM, disclosure should only be made if there is a ‘pressing need’. Disclosure should be the exception and not the rule. That is because the consequences of disclosure of such information for the subject of the allegations can be very damaging indeed. The facts of this case show that disclosure can lead to loss of employment and social ostracism, if not worse. Disclosure should, therefore, only be made if there is a pressing need for it.’


Kennedy, Otton, Waller LjJ


Times 28-May-1999, Gazette 09-Jun-1999, [1999] EWCA Civ 1497, [2000] 1 WLR 25, [1999] 3 All ER 604, [1999] Lloyds Rep Med 335, (2000) 2 LGLR 340, (1999) 50 BMLR 296




England and Wales

Cited by:

AppliedFrankson 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: . .
CitedKent Pharmaceuticals Ltd, (Regina on the Application of ) v Serious Fraud Office and Another Admn 17-Dec-2003
The claimant sought judicial review of the decision of the respondent to disclose documents obtained by it from them during an investigation.
Held: The decisions to disclose material to the DoH were ‘in accordance with law’ within the meaning . .
CitedRegina (Kent Pharmaceuticals Ltd) v Serious Fraud Office CA 11-Nov-2004
In 2002 the SFO was investigating allegations that drug companies were selling generic drugs, including penicillin-based antibiotics and warfarin, to the National Health Service at artificially sustained prices. To further the investigation the SFO . .
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 . .
CitedA, Regina (on The Application of) v B Admn 21-Jul-2010
The police intended to disclose the claimant’s sexual history to possible sexual partners, saying that his behaviour was putting them at risk of infection. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property, Police

Updated: 30 May 2022; Ref: scu.146412