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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71050
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Is the fact that a person has been arrested and questioned

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Is the fact that a person has been arrested and questioned under caution confidential or public domain?

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

-Could you explain your situation a little more?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Is the fact that a person has been arrested and questioned under caution a fact that another person who is not involved has to keep confidential or is that person free to tell other people of this fact? Seems counter-intuitive to think that it is confidential as newspapers report matters such as the arrest of XXXXX XXXXX Travis, but is there a distinction in that he has been charged as well? This is really just a case of coming to know that a person was arrested and questioned and wondering if it is something that can be publicly repeated legally.


Yes, it can be repeated publicly in short.

The fact that a person is charged with an offence is a matter of public record and so can reported. We all have views over whether people like XXXXX XXXXX Travis should be named while his accusers hide behind anonymity even now that some of them have been rejected by the jury but thats another point for Parliament.

The fact that a person is arrested and cautioned is something the police are also free to reveal. They owe no duty of confidentiality over that particular fact. Some Constabularies do have a policy of not naming a person arrested for a sexual offence until charge although not in every case and that is only policy.

The justification for naming a person under investigation is that it can encourage other witnesses to come forward.

The downside is that it creates a public order problem, destroys a person's reputation with some offences even if acquitted or never charged and, indeed, encourages false witnesses to jump on the bandwagon in search of attention and compensation.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Jo, this is helpful. Can you cite any authority for your answer (i.e. an Act or SI)? This is not a XXXXX XXXXX Travis-type issue, really a case of whether anyone could object if a person told others that a third party (business competitor) had been arrested and questioned under caution (as opposed to being given a Formal Caution after admitting guilt). Thanks.

Its just a general principle of law.

Its not an issue of statute or statutory instrument.

The only time a defendant could object is if a person who owed him a duty of confidentiality told another - like his solicitor.

If the police disclosed this information then it would be possible to consider their motives. If an officer was just gossiping then that could be a source of complaint to the IPCC but if he had a duty to disclose in the public interest then that would be lawful.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I did view your answers on line in real time at the time you answered. I even rated the three exchanges.
You were responsive and expressed yourself clearly. You did not suggest that notwithstanding the view you took, care should be taken to avoid possible defamation or, so far as I recall, not risking contempt proceedings by prejudicing any prosecution... But that's just me trying to think around the issue. If I am mis-remembering your answer, I of course apologise.
You did help me focus my thoughts which I appreciate. I would have been even happier had you been able to cite authority - such as a case where this was tested. But with an unwritten constitution and common law set by custom and precedent, it is possible that no such authority exists.
I hope you find this helpful (and free!).



Good luck.