Elliot Gold and Aaron Rathmell appear in successful Court of Appeal police data protection case
27th January 2021
Elliot Gold, leading Aaron Rathmell, appeared for the Chief Constable of Sussex in the Court of Appeal to defend the lawfulness of a data sharing agreement between the Chief Constable of Sussex and the Brighton & Hove Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) and individual disclosures of information.
In R (M by her litigation friend) v Chief Constable of Sussex  EWHC 975 (Admin), the Claimant, who was under eighteen, brought an action against the Chief Constable, stating that a data sharing agreement between the Chief Constable and the BCRP failed to satisfy the requirements of the Data Protection Acts 1998 and 2018, and that individual disclosures of her data were unlawful.
The High Court found the data sharing agreement satisfied the requirements of the Data Protection Acts 1998 and 2018, and that the Chief Constable had acted lawfully in sharing with the Claimant’s photograph, bail conditions and information of her criminal activities, with the BCRP. However, it found that a disclosure to the BCRP that the Claimant was at risk of child sexual exploitation fell within the sensitive data category of “sex life” and was unlawful. It awarded £500 in damages.
The Claimant appealed the High Court’s decision on the lawfulness of the data sharing agreement, the sharing of her bail conditions and the award of damages. The Chief Constable cross-appealed against the finding that it had disclosed information falling within the meaning of “sex life”.
The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the High Court that the data sharing agreement satisfied the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018, and that the disclosure of her bail conditions to the BCRP was lawful and not to the “public” or “section of the public”.
The Court then allowed Chief Constable’s cross-appeal, holding that the disclosure of the Claimant’s being at risk of child sexual exploitation fell outside the meaning of “sex life” and was not sensitive data. Had it not so found, the Court would have dismissed the appeal against the level of damages.
The judgment is available on Bailii here
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