What is the “Public Interest”?

Chris asks what sort of “public interest” a campaign to launch public jury to investigate how to regulate banks, the media and political and corporate life should aim for. Sadly, I don’t think Richard Murphy et al will enjoy the definition of public interest I have in mind.

The 1911 Official Secret Act offered the possibility that an individual could reveal information deemed secret if it were in the public interest.

After something of a kerfuffle following the Belgrano affair, and the trial of Clive Ponting, the public interest was helpfully redefined by the 1989 Official Secrets Act to be something along the lines such that the ‘”public interest” is what the government of the day says it is.’

Something of a problem for this jury, I suppose. Actually, something of a problem for everyone.