15 Int'l Legal Prac. 72 (1990)
The Calcutt Report of the Committee on Privacy and Related Matters

handle is hein.journals/ilp15 and id is 78 raw text is: MEDIA LAW

The Calcutt Report of the
Committee on Privacy and
Related Matters
Peter F Carter-Ruck
Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners, London

he report of the Committee
appointed by the Home
Secretary, in light uf public
concern about intrusions into the
private lives of individuals by certain
sections of the press in England and
Wales, has not been well received by the
national, provincial and professional
press in the United Kingdom. The terms
of reference related both to England and
Wales and to Scotland and, in
examining privacy and related matters,
were appointed to take into account
existing remedies, including the law of
defamation and breach of confidence.
There were, it is considered, three
reasons for the report receiving a mixed
First, whilst a number of countries
have found no difficulty in developing
and operating a law of infringement of
privacy, for example in the United States
since 1890 and in a number of European
countries, facing up to its adoption in
the United Kingdom has once more
been evaded. This is notwithstanding
that the United Kingdom is a party to
Article 8 of the European Convention
on Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms. No recommendation has been
made which would give the private
citizen a remedy for intrusion into a
private domain, whether by actual
trespass or by the use of photography or
electronic means, other than by
injunction, unless there has been
publication 'obtained by means of any of
the criminal offences proposed to be
introduced'. This is notwithstanding the
fact that within the last decade two Acts

of Parliament have been successfully
passed in at least two Commonwealth
countries providing for such protection
and no fewer than three draft privacy
bills (never passed into law) have been
presented to Parliament in England
during the past 20 years.
Secondly, great emphasis was placed by
the Calcutt Committee upon setting up
a Press Complaints Commission,
coupled with a recommendation that the
Press Council should be disbanded, as
the alternative remedy to meet the
problem of unwarranted press intrusion.
Thirdly, it was recommended that, if
the United Kingdom press did not put
its house in order, the new criminal
offences should be introduced (as if there
were nor enough statutory restrictions on
the press already). This led to such
headlines as 'No censorship board
needed' (Spectator), 'Editors beware the
nascent lion' (The Times), 'Birth of Big
Brother' (Daily Mail), 'Calcutt plan will
lead to political control' (UK Press
The Law of Privacy which has evolved
in the United States from the Warren
and Brandeis article, 'The Right to
Privacy', published in 1890, covers four
different rights generally accepted to
embrace the bounds of the concept of
privacy both in the United States and in
a number of European countries:
(1) the right to prevent appropriation
of one's likeness or name for commercial
(2) the right to prevent intrusion into
one's private domain (to embrace

temporary and quasi-permanent
(3) the right to prevent public
disclosure of private facts; and
(4) the right to prevent a person being
placed in a false light to a public
These four rights under English law
may be contended to be close to the
boundaries respectively of the law of
passing off, the law of trespass, the law of
breach of confidence and the law of
injurious falsehood.
The Calcutt Committee has made no
recommendation for alleviation by civil
remedy of infringement of privacy by
intrusion or abuse which could be said
to bring the United Kingdom fully under
the umbrella of Article 8 of the
European Convention on Human
Rights, which provides that 'Everyone
has the right to respect for his private
and family life, his home and his
The Committee have recommended,
however, that the criminal law should be
extended by the creation of three new
criminal offences:
(1) The entering of private property
without the consent of the lawful
occupant with intent to obtain personal
information with a view to its publication;
(2) The placing of a surveillance
device on private property without the
consent of the lawful occupant with
intent to obtain personal information with a
view to its publication; and
(3) The taking of photographs or
recording the voice of an individual who
is on private property without his


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