January 23, 2010

CPS refuses to reveal details of Nick Griffin's race hate trial

Prosecutors claim releasing information about 1998 case would breach BNP leader's data protection rights

The Crown Prosecution Service is blocking attempts to disclose details about the prosecution of Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National party, for race hate crimes, claiming that to do so would breach his data protection rights.

Griffin was given a suspended prison sentence in 1998 after being convicted of "publishing or distributing racially inflammatory written material", an offence under the 1986 Public Order Act. The following year he was elected leader of the BNP.

The prosecution centred on a magazine edited by Griffin called the Rune, in which he dismissed the Holocaust as a hoax. At the trial he sacked his legal team and, conducting his own defence, attempted to justify the material he had published.

Griffin has been widely reported as dismissing the Holocaust as an "extremely profitable lie" when he gave evidence at Harrow crown court. But no transcript of the hearing was made and the only records about the case are held by the CPS.

Although the trial was heard in open court and ended in Griffin's conviction, the CPS has rejected an request made under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) for disclosure of information in its files on the grounds that it is "sensitive personal data" that is protected by the Data Protection Act.

In a letter to the Guardian, which submitted the request almost four months ago, the CPS said: "The majority of the information contained in the case papers is personal data.

"A large proportion of this personal data is sensitive personal data because it consists of information as to the commission of an offence and Mr Griffin's political opinions."

On appeal, the CPS last week reiterated its view that Griffin's rights are not outweighed by the public interest in the disclosure of the information.

Only last month the government announced fresh guidelines intended to give the public more information about criminal prosecutions.

Unveiling the guidelines, Alan Johnson, the home secretary, said they were intended "to set straight the misconception that human rights and data protection laws prevent criminals and their punishments from being exposed".

The Guardian is now lodging a complaint with the Information ­Commissioner's Office, which is responsible for final decisions on FoI requests.

The Guardian


Anonymous said...

Gri££in has friends in high places

Anonymous said...

With the Geert Wilders case going on at the moment, Mr Cyclops would be hoping Wilders isnt convicted, otherwise he would be next in line...

Anonymous said...

what happened to his co defendant Paul Ballad? The Ronnie Corbett Timmy of the far right world?

Guess theyre not best buds no more

Anonymous said...

Very odd indeed, I always thought that all transcripts or recordings of every court case were held in the library of the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, as they are needed for research, historical value, if somebody makes an appeal, or for legal precedence use?

Anonymous said...

I agree that it is strange that there is no public record of the transcript of the trail, or that no transcript was made. I also thought that it was a requirement for such records to be kept.
However, what was said, and by whom, was reported quite widely at the time, so there is unlikely to be anything of real interest there.
The Guardian has asked for ALL the files held by the CPS and I for one think that a popint-blank refusal is the correct, in fact the only possible, response.
Not to defened Herr Griffins privacy, but everyoe elses. 99% of the files kept by the CPS will be confidential, giving opinions and personal data. release Griffin's CPS file and a precident is set for everyone who has ever been in court, regardless of reason or result, having their personal details (home address, family details, telephone numbers, work details, medical history and so forth) available for the asking.
Do we really want every anti-fascist ever to have been in court having such details sent to Redwatch for the price of a stamp and a begging letter to the FOI office?