The PCC has this week issued a guidance note on the Data Protection Act (DPA) as it affects journalists under the PCC code. Too late for the police in their Soham murder investigation and following confusion in the courts over how the DPA interfaces with to privacy and confidentiality actions, this note provides a useful interpretation that could offer guidance on journalist's complinace with the DPA in future legal actions where DAP infringement is alleged (as was the case in Douglas v Hello and similar actions).
Exemptions from liability include:
that the publication/disclosure 'was necessary for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime'
OR 'was justified as being in the public interest'.
In either case a court would have to decide whether, in the circumstances, obtaining the information without the agreement of the organisation or individual concerned (the data controller) was of sufficient importance to override the protection afforded by the Act.
PCC Guidance Note HERE