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King's academic gives evidence in landmark legal case

A King’s College London academic has provided testimony in a constitutionally important judicial review examining the use of digital technologies – such as private e-mail and messaging apps – in government.

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A case is being heard in the High Court this week. Picture: STOCK IMAGE

The defendants in the case, which is being heard in the High Court this week, include the prime minister and other members of cabinet.

Professor Andrew Blick, head of the Department of Political Economy, submitted written evidence to the court, drawing on his expertise as a historian familiar with the use of public records and the impact of digital technologies upon politics.

The judicial review, brought by the non-profit campaign organisation the Good Law Project, is seeking to ensure that lawful, adequate arrangements are in place to govern the use of non-government communications systems by ministers and officials when conducting government business of substantial public importance and public interest.

Digital technology has transformed the way in which all of us, including policy-makers, communicate. We need to make sure that record-keeping practices are able to accommodate these changes, for the good of democracy and our collective memory– Professor Andrew Blick

The project believes the current arrangements are unlawful and can impede public access and transparency.

Prof Blick said: “Storing information is crucial to the integrity and effectiveness of government. It is also vital to the reconstruction, after the fact, of decision-making processes, for instance as part of public inquiries or by historians.

“For these reasons, communications involving ministers and officials need to be conducted in a way that enables important information to be retained and preserved, for the benefit of people working inside government, and others on the outside.

“Digital technology has transformed the way in which all of us, including policy-makers, communicate. We need to make sure that record-keeping practices are able to accommodate these changes, for the good of democracy and our collective memory.”

Find out more about the Good Law Project’s action here.

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Andrew  Blick

Andrew Blick

Head of the Department of Political Economy and Professor of Politics and Contemporary History