Skip to main content

Private emails, public accountability?

Government Ministers have been using private email accounts to conduct official business. This was the case throughout the pandemic, when Boris Johnson and others were making important, costly decisions. So far our legal action to challenge the practice hasn’t succeeded, but we’re not giving up. We’re now seeking an appeal hearing in the Supreme Court.

The use of private communications has not only put our national security at risk, but led to the deletion of crucial records and information that should be available for public scrutiny. We don’t just think this situation is wrong, we believe it’s unlawful. This is why we are taking legal action against the Government to try to force it to put in place proper policies to close this accountability gap for good.

The Government does have a policy in place about the use of private emails and messaging, but it is not fit for purpose – not least because it fails to set out when and why it would ever be acceptable for politicians to use their own accounts. 

This is why we were disappointed that in the course of our legal action so far, the High Court and Court of Appeal have both ruled in favour of the Government. If left unchallenged, these decisions will give the green light to Ministers and their advisors to continue using personal phones, private emails and instant messaging services (with messages auto-deleted after 24 hours as standard) to conduct official business.

But this is a matter of upholding transparency and accountability in public life and we are not giving up. We have recently submitted our grounds to the Supreme Court for an appeal hearing, so please watch this space.

Why we need your support

Good Law Project only exists thanks to donations from people across the UK. We are incredibly grateful to all of our supporters, without whom our work would not be possible.

Every single penny that we receive makes a huge difference to our ability to hold those in power to account and demand a better, fairer future.

If you’re in a position to support our work, you can do so here. Thank you

Support us now