A police force’s failed attempt to force a satirical magazine to hand over a list of its subscribers cost taxpayers more than £12,500, it can be revealed.
Hertfordshire police demanded Private Eye hand over the names of all subscribers in Hertfordshire in an attempt to identify who had cut out a joke related to the Manchester terrorist attack and sent it to a Muslim female police employee in the internal mail.
When the magazine refused, police sought a production order under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. At a hearing in September at Cambridge crown court, Judge David Farrell, QC, rejected the application and accused police of taking a “shot in the dark”. The force was ordered to cover the hearing costs, including Private Eye’s legal fees.
Lawyers for Private Eye said that subscriber lists would not narrow down potential offenders because it is bought by thousands of non-subscribers.