Parliamentary privilege in the United Kingdom

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The Liberal Democrat politician John Hemming used Parliamentary privilege to reveal the litigant involved in the case CTB v News Group Newspapers.

Parliamentary privilege in the United Kingdom is a legal immunity enjoyed by Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords designed to ensure that Parliamentarians are able to carry out their duties free from interference. The privileges are freedom of speech, freedom from arrest on civil matters, freedom of access to the sovereign and that 'the most favourable construction should be placed on all the Houses's proceedings'.[1] Parliamentary privilege is however something that forms part of the law rather than putting Members of Parliament above the law.[2] The doctrine of Parliamentary privilege was unsuccessfully used to try and prevent details of 2010 MPs expenses scandal from emerging.[3] In recent years the doctrine of Parliamentary privilege has made headlines in relation to the arrest of Damian Green and several cases relating to super-injunctions such as RJW & SJW v The Guardian newspaper & Person or Persons Unknown ('Trafigura') and CTB v News Group Newspapers leading to calls to reform the law relating to privilege.


Parliamentary privilege has two main components:


The doctrine was first enshrined in law after the Glorious Revolution following the passage of the 1689 Bill of Rights.[4]

Reform proposals[edit]

Case law[edit]


See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Loveland, I. (2012) 'Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Human Rights: A Critical Introduction, Chapter 8

External links[edit]