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Can a political party rule its legal letters are confidential and bound by copyright? The Tories want to keep what they really think under wraps.
At Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this week, Rishi Sunak responded – smirking – to Dawn Butler’s question about whether, in light of our legal challenge to the Tories’ data grab, he was confident that they were acting lawfully: “Of course our party follows all laws.”
But when his party replied last night to the first formal step in our legal claim against it, it also insisted that we can’t publish its response. The Conservative Party threatens us with legal action if we do. It claims the response is “confidential” and “the intellectual property of the Conservative Party” and that for us to publish would be “an infringement of copyright”.
This is an odd stance to take for a party that is confident of its legal position before the courts. It’s unusual for a Government that believes in transparency and accountability to threaten to silence its critics in the courts. And to say publicly “Our party follows all laws” and to say privately “Here’s what we really think, but if you tell anyone we may well sue you” is very alarming indeed.
We will take advice from our lawyers – and report back promptly. But we won’t be deterred.