Motive behind Data Subject Access Request can be considered by the Court

It is already established that, in having the right to access, individuals are entitled to check their data is being processed lawfully but is not a right to all information and it is not intended for discovery purposes with a view to litigation. In the case of Ali Babitu Kololo and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2015] EWHC 600 (QB), 9 March 2015, the High Court considered the purpose behind the data subject access request and ordered the Metropolitan Police Service (“MPS”) to grant the request.

Mr Kololo was appealing his conviction and death sentence in Kenya for robbery with violence and the kidnapping of two British nationals; he made data subject access requests to the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the MPS. The MPS refused to disclose the information as the request was considered to be an improper attempt to use the Data protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) and an abuse of process.

The principal reason for Mr Kololo’s request was deemed by the court to be for the purposes of assisting his case but, for the information to be of any assistance, he would need to correct any inaccuracies. The Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) contains a right to rectification; Mr Kololo’s request therefore accorded with the DPA and, as he had been sentenced to death, ordering disclosure, was proportionate. The court did not consider his request to be an abuse of process.

The circumstances in this case are dramatic and perhaps not akin to the background of most data subject access requests; however, the prevalent point arising from this case that should be noted, is that an individual’s reason for making such a request, must be taken into account.

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