Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Locker

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
CourtEmployment Appeal Tribunal
Judgment Date10 Mar 1993

Employment Appeal Tribunal

Before Mr Justice Knox, Miss C Holroyd and Mr P Smith

Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
and
Locker

Discovery of documents - public interest immunity - police grievance procedure documents

Police grievance procedure documents not protected

Public interest immunity did not attach to statements made during the course of the Metropolitan Police grievance procedure.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal so held in dismissing an appeal by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis from a decision of a London industrial tribunal on July 6, 1992, ordering disclosure of such statements in proceedings by the applicant, Mrs Sarah Locker, against the commissioner under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Race Relations Act 1976.

Mr Paul Goulding for the commissioner; Miss Vivienne Gay for Mrs Locker.

MR JUSTICE KNOX said that, at almost the same time as Mrs Locker, a police officer since 1980, had presented a complaint of racial and sexual discrimination in relation to her application for a post as a CID officer, she initiated an internal grievance procedure.

That procedure had been established by a special police order and was specifically designed to cover grievances of discrimination which was unlawful either under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 or the Race Relations Act 1976.

In Neilson v LaugharneELR ([1981] 1 QB 736, 752) Lord Justice Oliver identified the true test of public interest immunity as whether the production of the documents in issue was likely to impede the carrying out of the public statutory purpose for which they were brought into existence.

The documents involved in that case had been generated in the course of a complaints procedure under section 49 of the Police Act 1964 and Lord Justice Oliver found they satisfied the test.

The central issue in the present appeal was, therefore, whether the grievance procedure differed in principle from the police disciplinary and complaints procedures.

A feature which weighed heavily in the industrial tribunal was that, in view of a comment in the special police order, those dealing with grievance procedures were aware that statements made could be used in industrial tribunal proceedings.

The appeal tribunal did not find that to be of any great weight because the question to be answered was whether the class of documents was by virtue of the nature of the procedure in which they were generated of a type to which class protection attached. Foreseeability of disclosure was...

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