Skip to main content

Privacy, Probity and Public Interest

In Britain there is currently a battle engaged around the point at which freedom of information and expression meet the right to the protection of private life. Yet neither ‘private life’ nor ‘public interest’ are immutable. There have been significant changes in how both have been perceived and defined over time.

This report aims to address some of the questions over the changing nature of privacy, which private matters can be revealed by journalists in the public interest and whether the increasing use of the Human Rights Act to safeguard an individual’s privacy is creating a ‘chilling’ effect on journalism. We have interviewed lawyers, academics, journalists, bloggers and those who have found their privacy invaded by the media - as well as those who have invaded it themselves.

"Privacy, Probity and Public Interest shows how privacy has come to be both better protected by the courts and more widely ignored: big questions, riveting examples and sharp analysis."

            - Baroness Onora O'Neill, President of the British Academy and Professor of Philosophy, Cambridge University

"This report is from the frontline. Although it contains an admirable survey of the law and the stance of the regulators, it does much more.  It gives interested parties a voice.  The authors provide their own thoughtful commentary; they do not shirk the difficult questions.  Everyone should be interested in this debate, and I wholeheartedly commend this report to anyone who is."

            - Andrew Caldecott QC, Specialist in Media Law  

"An erudite and compelling exposition of one of the most important ethical dilemmas facing British Journalism in the internet era.  The authors identify a route towards a new journalism that can respect privacy without compromising its democratic obligation to hold power to account."

            - Tim Luckhurst, Professor of Journalism, University of Kent

Read a report of Privacy, probity and public interest at the European Journalism Observatory here  

A hard copy of this publication can be purchased from the University of Oxford Online Store or Amazon