By Robert Gibson
Gallery News – 16 May 2008
High Court judges could be forced to publish their homes addresses under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Conservative Shadow Defence Minister, Julian Lewis, is writing to Justice Secretary Jack Straw – in the wake of the High Court decision to force MPs to publish their home addresses (see earlier Gallery News story) - asking for the publication of the judges' addresses.
Dr Lewis told Gallery News:
"It will be fascinating to see if the judges are as keen to expose their families to the same risk and harassment, threats and risk of even assault that they are content to impose on MPs.
"I do not have an issue about the publication of expenses but I do on the issue about the publication of addresses and that people of ill-intent may present a grave risk to MPs and their families in their own homes.
"It makes security arrangements at the House of Commons meaningless. Why would someone bother sending a noxious substance through the post to the House of Commons when they have every MP's home address?
"Even the Information Commissioner admits that individual MPs who are being stalked or face specific threats should have their addresses withheld. But what if their address is revealed one year and the threat arises the next year. Do they claw the address back or move house?
"It is quite astonishing that, in the present security environment, any responsible public body is seriously contemplating for one moment that MPs’ private addresses should be disclosed simply to make it a little easier to check that that they are not fiddling their Additional Costs Allowances.”
Dr Lewis' letter in full:
As you may know I am strongly opposed, purely on security grounds, to the mass publication of MPs' home addresses. I am not rehearsing the arguments here, although I know they have been singularly under-reported in the media; but, given that the High Court in its wisdom has said that
'an individual who is determined to discover the residential address of an adult, law-abiding citizen is likely to be able to do so by one legal means or another',
'and where the person concerned is a holder of public office and in the public eye, an inquiry is likely to be easier',
I should like you to regard this letter as a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act for the home addresses of all High Court judges to be published simultaneously with those of MPs.
I should add that I am submitting this FOIA request in my personal capacity and not as a member of my party's front bench team.