Define “In the Public Interest” versus “Of interest to the Public”

It has been misused by the Press for decades – "in the public interest" has been deliberately used when "of interest to the public" (gossip) is for more accurate. Newspaper editors misuse this inappropriate and misleading blurring to justify press intrusion, and have so far evaded Privacy Laws by agreeing to (but breaking) their own so-called Codes of Conduct.

Reporting dangerous prisoners on the run, outbreaks of new diseases, notifying people about the recall of faulty products – that's in the public interest. Publishing topless photos of some holidaying Soap Opera star isn't, and neither is what goes on in people's private lives, unless they break the law. Lives and careers are ruined by voracious and uncaring reporters whose much-vaunted morals run as deep as a cigarette paper's thickness.

Give us a legal definition of  In The Public Interest and we will finally have legal recourse against Press Intrusion.

Why is this idea important?

It has been misused by the Press for decades – "in the public interest" has been deliberately used when "of interest to the public" (gossip) is for more accurate. Newspaper editors misuse this inappropriate and misleading blurring to justify press intrusion, and have so far evaded Privacy Laws by agreeing to (but breaking) their own so-called Codes of Conduct.

Reporting dangerous prisoners on the run, outbreaks of new diseases, notifying people about the recall of faulty products – that's in the public interest. Publishing topless photos of some holidaying Soap Opera star isn't, and neither is what goes on in people's private lives, unless they break the law. Lives and careers are ruined by voracious and uncaring reporters whose much-vaunted morals run as deep as a cigarette paper's thickness.

Give us a legal definition of  In The Public Interest and we will finally have legal recourse against Press Intrusion.

Repealing the law related to the use of the term” Against Public Interest”

I am not a lawyer or have any association with the legal profession. I am a Chartered Civil Engineer (retired) who has been involved in a very unfortunate case where a large financial institution used its mussles and showed its contempt to the country,the rule of law,the justice system ,courts and government and the people.I now speak of my personal experience as we have gone through the sufferring for the last 13 years and yet no light in the tunnel.

I propose that the term "Against Public Interest" is removed and allow justice to prevail by taking action against the Bank regardless of such action may cause damage to the bank. There should be no protection to the banks if they resort to fraud.What is the point in allowing people to sue banks if at the end they are protected to such degree.No one from Secretary of state or any institution should have power to impose such restriction and protection. The public Interest should be with the victims.

Why is this idea important?

I am not a lawyer or have any association with the legal profession. I am a Chartered Civil Engineer (retired) who has been involved in a very unfortunate case where a large financial institution used its mussles and showed its contempt to the country,the rule of law,the justice system ,courts and government and the people.I now speak of my personal experience as we have gone through the sufferring for the last 13 years and yet no light in the tunnel.

I propose that the term "Against Public Interest" is removed and allow justice to prevail by taking action against the Bank regardless of such action may cause damage to the bank. There should be no protection to the banks if they resort to fraud.What is the point in allowing people to sue banks if at the end they are protected to such degree.No one from Secretary of state or any institution should have power to impose such restriction and protection. The public Interest should be with the victims.

Repeal all laws that are specifically written by MPs for MPs and Peers

MPs should have no legal priveleges that the average citizen of Britain does not have.Therefore all the special laws applying to MPs and Peers must be be repealed.

Why is this idea important?

MPs should have no legal priveleges that the average citizen of Britain does not have.Therefore all the special laws applying to MPs and Peers must be be repealed.

Modify the Protection from Harassment Act include a Public Interest Defence

Currrently, it is possible to prosecute someone for harassment for expressing ideas or information that merely 'embarrasses' an individual or group of individuals, even where such ideas/information are demonstrably true and even when the individuals are public officials.  This prosecutable expression can even take place without communicating directly with the individual(s) i.e. via a website that requires a deliberate act to view.

There are many instances where public officials or organisations have engaged in improper acts, such as fraud, deception, bullying, or other improprieties.  A perfect example of abuse of public office involves the recent MP expenses scandals. 

Under current law, the PHA allows an individual to be prosecuted for "pursuing a course of conduct" that the alleged victim perceives as "harassment", even if that conduct amounts to nothing more than publishing highly embarrassing but non-personal details of the public official/organsation's conduct in their professional life.

The case of R v Fredrics illustrates this precise set of circumstances, where a former lecturer at a UK university allegedly published a website containing information and documentary evidence of conduct by public officials, including a tape recording of senior staff pressurising students into falsifying responses to the National Student Survey, and email evidence of the pressurising an External Examiner into changing a critical report.  Both issues resulted in findings and sanctions by UK quangos against the involved individuals and institution.  Yet the VC of this university filed a criminal complaint that resulted in charges against the lecturer and a conviction, that has thus far been set aside, but which has been re-filed by the CPS and is awaiting trial, notwithstanding a police report that found no evidence of harassment in the content of the website.

The PHA requires amending to provide for a Public Interest defence, where it can be shown that the disclosure of this information is a matter of public interest, where the alleged harassment consists of information or comments that are of a professional rather than personal nature, and where there has been no attempt at direct contect of the alleged victim by the alleged perpetrator.

(see http://www.sirpeterscott.com)

Why is this idea important?

Currrently, it is possible to prosecute someone for harassment for expressing ideas or information that merely 'embarrasses' an individual or group of individuals, even where such ideas/information are demonstrably true and even when the individuals are public officials.  This prosecutable expression can even take place without communicating directly with the individual(s) i.e. via a website that requires a deliberate act to view.

There are many instances where public officials or organisations have engaged in improper acts, such as fraud, deception, bullying, or other improprieties.  A perfect example of abuse of public office involves the recent MP expenses scandals. 

Under current law, the PHA allows an individual to be prosecuted for "pursuing a course of conduct" that the alleged victim perceives as "harassment", even if that conduct amounts to nothing more than publishing highly embarrassing but non-personal details of the public official/organsation's conduct in their professional life.

The case of R v Fredrics illustrates this precise set of circumstances, where a former lecturer at a UK university allegedly published a website containing information and documentary evidence of conduct by public officials, including a tape recording of senior staff pressurising students into falsifying responses to the National Student Survey, and email evidence of the pressurising an External Examiner into changing a critical report.  Both issues resulted in findings and sanctions by UK quangos against the involved individuals and institution.  Yet the VC of this university filed a criminal complaint that resulted in charges against the lecturer and a conviction, that has thus far been set aside, but which has been re-filed by the CPS and is awaiting trial, notwithstanding a police report that found no evidence of harassment in the content of the website.

The PHA requires amending to provide for a Public Interest defence, where it can be shown that the disclosure of this information is a matter of public interest, where the alleged harassment consists of information or comments that are of a professional rather than personal nature, and where there has been no attempt at direct contect of the alleged victim by the alleged perpetrator.

(see http://www.sirpeterscott.com)