The applicants of the judicial review are challenging the decision by the Government not to proceed with Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry before its Terms of Reference have been investigated.
What is a judicial review?
Judicial reviews are a mechanism by which the legal system can scrutinise decisions made by public bodies and the government (including Secretaries of State) to ensure the lawfulness of a decision. Rather than review the rights and wrongs of the decision made, the Court’s role is to ensure that the decision has been made reasonably and following due procedure, in short that it was made in the ‘right way’.
In this case the claimants (Christopher Jefferies, Kate and Gerry McCann, Jacqui Hames and Byline) have applied for a review of a decision made by the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
A judicial review can only be brought by those who have the necessary ‘standing’ to challenge the decision. The standing in this case is made out by a number of the claimants being victims of press intrusion and misconduct. As such, the decision not to proceed with the second part of the Leveson Inquiry satisfies the ‘sufficient interest’ test. This is to say they have “sufficient interest in the matter to which the application relates”.
What are the grounds of the judicial review?
In order to be successful in an application, the applicants must provide grounds for their argument. The judicial review of the decision to cancel the second part of the Inquiry has been sought under several grounds. In summary:
Firstly that the decision not to continue with Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry was unlawful, irrational and unfair.
It was contrary to a substantive legitimate expectation enjoyed by the claimants. This includes such evidence as the then Prime Minister making a commitment to the second part of the Inquiry taking place on the day the Leveson Report was published. Also, it was irrational to reject the views of the Chairman of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Leveson who expressed a clear view that the Inquiry should continue.
Secondly that the Secretaries of States’ treatment of the Leveson public consultation responses was unfair and irrational.
Finally, that the Conservative Manifesto promise that there would not be a second part of the Inquiry gave rise to a “closed mind” when it came to consider the consultation and making the decision.
What stage is the judicial review at?
The claimants have been granted permission to proceed with their claim for judicial review of the decision not to proceed with Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry.
The court will now proceed with a substantive hearing of the claim in October. The date is yet to be announced.
Section 40 Crime and Courts Act 2013
The claimants also challenge the decision made by the Secretary of State for Digital Culture Media and Sport not to bring into force section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. By this section Parliament provided for two mechanisms to enable persons of modest means to have access to justice in case of libel, intrusion or other unlawful media activity. In the initial stage of considering the application for judicial review a judge has refused permission to have this decision reviewed at a substantive hearing. The claimants have sought reconsideration of this decision at an oral hearing.
The decision to cancel this inquiry into press criminality & corruption isn’t just disgraceful, we think it is illegal. Press abuse victims have a powerful case, but court is expensive – please donate to our crowdfund to help them challenge this betrayal.