It is in the news that a campaign group Led by Donkeys has made prank calls to politicians to show how willing they are to work with commercial companies for £10,000 a day. Former minister Stephen Hammond's spokesperson is quoted as describing this as “illegal publication of a private conversation”.

What law(s) could have been broken here, and by whom (the recorder or the publisher)? It seems like the sort of prank call that has been the mainstay of many TV programs over the years, and I have not heard of any police investigations into those so it is not obvious that this is against the law.

  • Politicians (in true democracies) tend to have more limited circumstances when they can invoke privacy than ordinary people simply because they have voluntarily entered the public eye and their reputation is a key aspect of their image for political purposes. The campaign group could argue they were acting as journalists. There's no practically positive outcome for a politician here, but a lot of pratfalls are possible, and saying nothing is actually the best thing they can do while waiting for the media to get bored and move on. Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 12:11

1 Answer 1


Audio recording laws

It is illegal to give an audio recording to a third party unless you have the consent of all the participants to the recording and the purpose for which it is being given. It seems unlikely they had this

  • Would it be legal to publish a written account of the phone call, either made from a recording or by a stenographer wh is fast enough to keep up?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 11:48
  • 3
    Journalists aren't public bodies, though, so why does RIPA apply?
    – user35069
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 12:42
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    Could you add a bit more details about what specific law is being broken? From the link, it would seem to be Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, I guess sections 21 and 22 would be relevant but this says "Pt. 1 Ch. 2 omitted (22.7.2020) by virtue of Investigatory Powers Act 2016" for both sections. I wonder how this could be illegal but so much similar apparently is not.
    – User65535
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 13:09

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