Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



A television company broadcasts a program criticizing a nationalized corporation and disclosing documents passed to it secretly by one of the corporation's employees. The corporation asks the television company to reveal the identity of the employee. The television company refuses and eight of nine judges ultimately decide that the refusal is unjustified.

That, in essence, is the story of British Steel Corp. v. Granada Television, Ltd. If this situation had arisen in the United States, legal consequences probably would be unremarkable in view of the law's considerable experience with such matters. The novelty posed for English law, however, and the reaction prompted from all three levels of the judicial hierarchy make the tale and its implications worthy of some elucidation. This Article will explain the case, its implications for the confidentiality of journalists' sources and, more generally, the judicial attitude toward freedom of the press in the United Kingdom, as exemplified by other, more recent decisions.