When the Data Protection Act was blamed for the withholding of vital information about the dangerous past of Soham murderer Ian Huntley, many regional editors could only shake their heads in sad resignation.
To them, it was an accident waiting to happen. For years, they have railed against the constant misapplication of this much misunderstood law – sometimes by ignorant accident, often by misleading design – to deny them basic information on stories their readers had a legitimate interest in.
But at least the ensuing review would give them a chance to air their own data protection grievances.
Wouldn’t it? As is often the way, the media’s input was far from the top of the inquiry’s list of priorities.
Now, thanks to lobbying by the Newspaper Society, Home Secretary David Blunkett has pledged to allow editors to make their views heard.
For too long data protection has been used as a handy shield by the police, local government, and others, to protect them from awkward questioning by journalists.
Let’s hope that the working group responsible for the review hears the press’s plaintive cry that it’s time that shield was lifted.