Right to Privacy versus Free Speech and Democracy
In another blow to free speech from the office of the UK Information Commissioner and the courts, we have been forbidden from knowing the names of two Bolton councillors (one Labour and one Conservative) who have not paid their council tax.
The council sought to conceal the identities of the councillors on data protection grounds and their case was supported by the Information Commissioner. This has been upheld by a tribunal headed by Robin Callender Smith which ruled that the circumstances of their cases 'placed the individuals in a position where they could significantly and legitimately have expected not to be named' and added that “Such publication would be contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.'
This is a serious blow not only to freedom of speech but also to democracy. Who would knowingly vote for a councillor who does not pay his council tax? And yet the electors of Bolton are not allowed to know who they are and cannot, therefore, exercise their democratic right to remove them from office at the next election. And all this is done in the name of Human Rights. Surely we have a right to informed democracy?