The Webber Wentzel media law team represented the M&G in intervening as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in an application brought by the Righ2Know Campaign against the Minister of Police (Minister) for disclosure of a list of all the places that have been designated as national key points under the National Key Points Act.
The application was brought in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) after the Minister of Police refused to disclose a list of national key points on the basis that doing so would harm the security of all places designated as national key points.
The applicants argued that the ground of refusal relied upon by the Minister was baseless for several reasons, including the fact that several national key points were already a matter of public record, because various ministers have disclosed lists of national key points that fall within their department in response to Parliamentary questions. The applicant also submitted that the public interest override in PAIA was applicable, because the disclosure of the list may reveal that various laws have been breached, for instance, by the government's failure to maintain a separate account for funds related to the upkeep of national key points as required by the National Key Points Act.
The amicus made the additional submission that, in light of the offences created in the National Key Points Act, it would be unconstitutional to interpret the Act as requiring secrecy regarding the identities of national key points, because such an approach would make it impossible for members of the public to know whether they were potentially committing an offence under the Act.
Judgment was handed down on 3 December 2014. Judge Sutherland agreed with the submissions made by the applicants as well as the amicus and ruled that the Minister had failed to lay a sufficient basis for his contention that the safety of all national key points would be compromised merely by disclosing the list. Judge Sutherland further ruled that it was clearly in the public interest for the list to be disclosed. The Minister was ordered to release the list within thirty days.