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Report No. 93

4.13. Granada case-Discovery of confidential information.-

In this context, mention must be made of the Granada case, which illustrates several facets of the position. Granada Television, (in a television interview), published confidential and secret material which dealt, inter alia, with relations between the Management of the British Steel Corporation and the Government. The information and documents emanated from a very highly placed source within the British Steel Management. British Steel issued a writ claiming an injunction and seeking delivery of the documents; in due course, the documents were delivered, but someone had tampered with the documents to ensure that the identity of the source remained protected.

The Vice-Chancellor ordered Granada Television to serve, on the British Steel Corporation, an affidavit setting out the name of the person responsible for supplying the information. Granada Television appealed. It was held that there was clear authority that the Court should balance the private right to confidentiality against the public good of press investigation of possible wrong-doing. In a proper case, the court would protect the press from any compulsion to name a source, but such immunity depended upon the publisher acting with a due sense of responsibility. In the present case, Granada Television had not acted with such responsibility and had abused their power. They had behaved so badly as to forfeit their right to immunity.1

1. British Steel Corp. v. Granada Television, (1980) 3 WLR 774 (HL).

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