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Case Update

We are back in court to challenge the Government’s use of private emails and WhatsApps

11th November 2022

Good Law Project will be in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th November to challenge the High Court’s decision to allow the Government’s wide-scale use of private emails and messaging apps to conduct official business.

The saga of the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman’s, leaking of sensitive documents through her private email, resignation and subsequent Lazarus-like return to the Cabinet, has been all over the press in the last week.

But Good Law Project has been ringing alarm bells about Ministers evading scrutiny ever since it emerged that some had been using their personal accounts to discuss issues of national importance – from Covid contracts to life and death policy decisions during the pandemic.

In July 2021, we took legal action to uncover the scale of the Government’s reliance on private emails, WhatsApp and its auto-delete functions which means that Ministers could be avoiding proper transparency and accountability. And as has been laid bare by the Truss and Braverman sagas, it also poses a serious threat to national security.

As the scandals and evidence mounted, we took the issue to the High Court. In April 2022, it concluded that:

“some Ministers, civil servants and unpaid Government advisors have: (1) used private email accounts for communications that relate to Government business; (2) used instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp for such communications; and (3) made use of auto-delete functions.”

But Ministers – including the former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson – argued that there was no legal duty on them to avoid that use and that the Government has a wide discretion when it comes to making arrangements for preserving records. And the High Court agreed.

We want the court to make clear that the Government’s own policies – which limit the use of private communication systems to provide for future scrutiny and protect against cyber attacks – should actually be followed.

But to close this gap in accountability, we need your help. If you are able to, please consider making a donation to support our legal appeal.

Case

This article is part of our Private emails case

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