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Attorney General v Jonathan Cape Ltd

[1976] QB 752

Case summary last updated at 07/02/2020 16:40 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Attorney General v Jonathan Cape Ltd

Richard Crossman kept a diary detailing cabinet discussions etc from 1964-66 and after his death 10 years later the Sunday Times wanted to publish them. The AG sought an order to “restrain” publication. The QBD asserted that it had the power, under the doctrine of confidence, to restrain publication and would do so where collective responsibility doctrine was threatened (since it was in public interest). Since this was 10 years on, the court did not believe publication would harm collective responsibility and would not harm free cabinet discussion now. Lord Widgerey accepted that generally collective responsibility establishes confidence and that it would be against the public interest that this confidential info be made public. However 10 ears is sufficient time for it to pass into history. 

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