10 September 2013
Following questions asked in the States Assembly this morning (10 September 2013), the Chief Minister has issued the following statement, relating to a judgment issued by the Royal Court on a case brought by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner:
“In pursuing this case, I am confident that the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner acted in accordance with its statutory powers, as decided by the States Assembly when the Data Protection Law was adopted. The law is there to protect ordinary people from damage and distress. In this case the court said ‘we are satisfied that the distress and damage suffered by each of the four representors are substantial’
“It is the job of the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner to respond, without fear or favour, to complaints from individuals who feel that their rights, as set out in the Law, may have been abused.
“The Data Protection Law must be enforced independently and impartially and should not become a political football for those with sympathies on either side of a particular case. If our legal system did not uphold the laws that have been decided by the States Assembly, it would be failing in its duty.
“While costs for individual court cases are not normally disclosed, in view of the interest in this case, I have decided to disclose the cost to the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner of bringing this case.
“Over a period of six years - from the start of the complaints in 2008, to the issuing of the judgment in September 2013 - the legal costs for the Data Protection Office were just over £387,000.
“This figure includes legal advice to the Data Commissioner’s Office, as well as to a number of individuals seeking the protection of the Law and legal representation during the court hearings.
“The court judgment pointed out that because the defendant deliberately adopted a policy of obstruction - failing to comply with numerous orders of the court; failing to engage with the litigation and repeatedly breaching the order – the representors were put to unnecessary expense.”