Clarkslegal LLP - Solicitors in Reading and London

Legal Updates

“Private investigation” limits data privacy award

21 October 2016 #Employment

A county court judge has rejected comparisons with phone hacking when setting a level for a data privacy award against the Metropolitan and Greater Manchester Police.

The case of Brown v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis concerned a disciplinary investigation into Ms Brown, an officer of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). Ms Brown had taken an overseas holiday whilst off sick without notifying her line manager which was in breach of the police service’s absence management procedure. The MPS sought information held by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) about the flights taken by Ms Brown. GMP subsequently provided, not just the information requested but, further details about previous flights Ms Brown had taken with family members. The MPS then requested further details from the airline concerned.

In court neither force could offer any defence for their actions leaving the judge to decide only on remedy. He rejected Ms Brown’s comparisons with phone hacking cases, which were seen as an invasion of privacy for the broadcasting of private information rather than an internal workplace investigation. The subsequent award was set at £9,000, just below the £10,000 minimum set as a precedent for phone hacking.

Besides giving guidance for awards in data privacy claims the case reminds employers to ensure they only use their powers for the correct purposes. 

For further information or support with avoiding, controlling, or dealing with data privacy claims please feel free to contact our employment law team on 

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Read more articles

Louise Keenan

Louise Keenan

T: 0118 960 4614
M: 0779 900 7325


Employment team
+44 (0)118 958 5321