Jeremy Hunt and Ken Clarke set out remit for privacy committee
The two ministers have agreed on terms of reference for the committee of MPs and peers – and want parliament to see how "issues relating to determining the balance between privacy and freedom of expression" could "best be decided".
That gives the committee a broad remit to make recommendations as to whether the law could be altered or whether new guidance could be given to judges to change the way they have been interpreting the Human Rights Act which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.
David Cameron asked that the parliamentary committee be set up last month, at the height of the Ryan Giggs furore – in which the footballer tried and ultimately failed to prevent himself being publicly linked to Imogen Thomas, the former Big Brother contestant with whom he allegedly had an extra-marital relationship.
Parliament will also examine the role of Twitter – which was used widely to circulate Giggs's name in defiance of court orders – and whether it is appropriate for MPs to use parliamentary privilege to name individuals such as the Manchester United footballer to help get their names into the public domain.
The Press Complaints Commission will also come under scrutiny, as regards its role in "privacy matters", to see whether it has been at all effective in this area. Baroness Buscombe, who chairs the PCC, has claimed it would have stopped the Sun from publishing the original Giggs story without the need to go to law.
The exact membership of the committee is currently being hammered out by the whips' offices of the three main parties – and the body is expected to begin its inquiry later this month. Those expecting to become members have indicated they expect to call a wide range of witnesses including Paul Dacre and other newspaper editors, executives from Twitter and Google, as well as senior judges.
The full terms of referenceTo consider the operation of the current law in relation to privacy and the use of anonymity injunctions and superinjunctions and to advise the government on any improvements that should be made.
In particular, to consider:
• How the current law, both statutory and common, has operated in practice.
• How issues relating to determining the balance between privacy and freedom of expression, including particularly determining whether there is a public interest in material concerning peoples private and family life, could best be decided.
• Issues relating to the enforcement of anonymity injunctions and superinjunctions, including in relation to publication on the internet, parliamentary privilege and the rule of law.
• The role of the press and issues relating to press complaints and self-regulation in the context of privacy matters, including the role of the Press Complaints Commission and Ofcom.