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12 Feb 20 Back to Listing

Alan Payne QC acts in landmark appeal on Parliamentary Privilege

Alan Payne QC acted for Sasha Wass QC in Gannon & Warsama v Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Sasha Wass QC [2020] EWCA Civ 142, which concerned a challenge to the report of a non-statutory inquiry, chaired by Sasha Wass QC, into allegations of child sexual abuse on the island of St Helena.

The challenge was brought by two social workers who are heavily criticised in the report for their role in making serious allegations of abuse. They brought a claim under Article 8 ECHR on the grounds that the Inquiry had been unfairly conducted and the trenchant criticisms in the report meant that they would never work again. The principle basis upon which the claim was defended was on the grounds that Sasha Wass QC’s report, having been presented to the House of Commons by way of a motion for an unopposed return, was subject to Parliamentary privilege, as conferred by Article IX of the Bill of Rights 1689. That defence was upheld by the Court of Appeal, the Lord Chief Justice presiding, and the claims were struck out.

The judgment contains a detailed analysis of the scope of Article IX, the definition of a ‘proceeding in Parliament’, the meaning of ‘public authority’ for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the causation test to be applied in determining claims brought under the HRA.

Judgment available here.