Former Met Police officer wins human rights and data protection case

A former Met Police officer who sued the force for wrongly using its powers to investigate her has won a case over a breach of human rights and misuse of private information. The case arose after Andrea Brown, a detective constable, was quizzed after going on holiday with her daughter while on sick leave.

While on sick leave in 2011, Ms Brown took her mother and 14-year-old daughter to visit their wider family in Barbados for two weeks. She told her Police Federation representative about the trip, but not her line manager. Her failure to do so amounted to a minor disciplinary matter, but senior officers at Sutton police station in south London used powers designed to investigate crime to obtain personal data on their colleague.

Detective Inspector Sarah Rees approached the National Border Targeting Centre (NBTC), a division of the UK Border Force operated by Greater Manchester Police. She also approved an application to Virgin Atlantic to obtain details of Ms Brown's air travel, which cited the non-existent Police Act 2007.

Ms Brown sued the Met Police and Greater Manchester Police for breach of data protection, human rights, and misuse of personal information. Shortly before the hearing both forces admitting breaching the Data Protection Act and Ms Brown's right to respect for her family and private life under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. In July, the court ruled both forces had misused private information, although a claim for misfeasance in public office failed. 

In a statement, the Met Police confirmed the court decision but highlighted the fact it had successfully defended Ms Brown's civil claim for misfeasance in a public office.  A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “We acknowledge the findings of the court.”

Direct Access Barrister - myBarrister