Who? Caroline Kean, partner and media litigation specialist at Wiggin in London.
Why is she in the news? Acted pro bono for regional newspaper Bolton News during its three-year campaign to name two councillors who failed to pay their council tax. Bolton News, via a freedom of information request, discovered that two councillors had been summonsed for failing to pay their council tax.
Bolton Council refused to disclose their names. One councillor subsequently revealed his identity to the newspaper voluntarily. On 10 March the Upper Tribunal ruled that the name of the other councillor should be disclosed.
Thoughts on the case: ‘I believed it was manifestly wrong for this information to be withheld. A councillor who does not pay council tax is excluded from voting on budgets. The people he represents have a right to know. I came across the story online. Regional newspapers have very tight budgets and so I offered [to represent them in the Upper Tribunal] for free.’
Dealing with the media: ‘I’m a media lawyer. I see the media as friend not enemy. I’ve acted for newspapers for most of my professional career, which is why I was so incensed. There was no legal right to privacy when I started my career and I believed that hiding behind a privacy right in these circumstances was a step too far which had to be challenged. This case has set an important precedent in the ongoing debate over where private information should be disclosed in the public interest.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘It was as a result of a chance remark made by someone I had a crush on when I was 16. I became a media lawyer because I had always been interested in the arts and journalism.’
Career high: ‘Successfully defending the author Tom Bower over a claim for libel brought by [publisher] Richard Desmond and getting indemnity costs.’
Career low: ‘Just after I qualified, I discovered I had missed the deadline for filing papers at Companies Court and had to go and tell the senior partner that I had done this. He just asked me if it was possible to reissue: it was. It showed me if you ever think you have made a mistake, you put your hand up straight away.’