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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Sale of electoral roll challenged
Electoral roll sample
Brian Robertson objects to personal details being sold
The legality of councils selling information from electoral registers is being tested in court.

Retired accountant Brian Robertson, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, refuses to put his name on the register, leaving him unable to vote.

He objects to receiving junk mail as a result of his information being sold to companies for commercial purposes.

Mr Robertson argues that his right to vote has been violated by being made conditional on him agreeing to have his name passed on.

Wakefield City Council has refused to grant his request that his name and address will not be supplied to companies without his consent.

Damages claim

He is seeking a declaration that the failure to give this assurance is contrary to the Data Protection Directive and the Human Rights Act.

Mr Robertson is also claiming 1,000 nominal damages for the loss of his voting rights at the recent General Election.

His counsel, Nicholas Blake QC, told Mr Justice Maurice Kay that personal information should only be used for electoral purposes.

"This case is not at all concerned with access to data by the police, security forces or public authorities which would need such data for social security or other proper checks against fraud or crime," he said.

Internet use

"It is concerned with those who are concerned to get access to copies of the list in paper or data form and use it for their own commercial purposes by selling it on the internet or in CD form."

Mr Robertson hoped the Representation of the People Act 2000, which came into force in February, would end the practice, but no action has been taken by the government

The government is contesting the case, arguing there has been no interference with Mr Robertson's rights.

Judgment is expected to be reserved with a written decision at a later date.

See also:

07 May 99 | UK Politics
Voters' details for sale
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