Archives for information commissioner

Fees for FOI appeals

The Ministry of Justice is consulting on proposals that fees should be introduced for appeals to the Tribunal against Information Commissioner FOI decisions. The proposals would have serious implications for individual FOI requesters and the general public. However, figuring out precisely where these proposals can be found is a little tricky.
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MPs debate amendment to bring contractors’ information under FOI Act

On 17th November, MPs debated John Hemming’s Transparency and Accountability Bill, which contains measures drafted by the Campaign to strengthen the public’s right to know about public services which have been contracted out.
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MP’s policy correspondence protected on privacy grounds

In a remarkable decision the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ruled that an MP’s letter to a local council about its parking policy should be withheld to protect the MP’s privacy – though there is no suggestion that the letter contained anything about the MP’s personal circumstances (ICO Decision Notice FS50530093).
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Information Commissioner should clamp down on excessive FOI delays

The Information Commissioner should clamp down on authorities which make requesters wait months before replying to their freedom of information (FOI) requests, according to the Campaign for Freedom of Information.
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Ombudsman prohibition does not apply to other authorities

The Tribunal has agreed with a submission from the Campaign that the Information Commissioner was wrong to find that NHS bodies are prohibited from releasing information which they have supplied to the Health Service Ombudsman.

The Tribunal allowed the Campaign to take part in an appeal on this issue, despite the Information Commissioner’s objections. It accepted the Campaign’s arguments that a statutory bar on disclosure applied only to the Ombudsman and not to those supplying information to the Ombudsman. The Tribunal’s decision is available here

Decision on private emails prevents “industrial scale evasion of FOI”

The Campaign for Freedom of Information welcomed today’s decision by the Information Commissioner that the FOI Act applies to emails dealing with government business sent from ministers’ or officials’ private email accounts. The decision follows an FOI request by the Financial Times for details of emails between the Education Secretary Michael Gove and his special advisers dealing with departmental business sent using private email accounts.

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Freedom of Information and rejected honours

Letter to The Times responding to an article by Matthew Parris arguing that “the advance of Freedom of Information should be reversed.”

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Does the public interest test include the benefit to the public overseas?

A short submission to the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) on an aspect of the FOI Act’s public interest test. The submission argues that the public interest test can include the potential benefit from disclosure to the public in countries other than the UK and is not limited to the benefits to the UK public only, as the Information Commissioner has argued.

FOI discussed at Lib Dem fringe meeting

The Campaign held a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat conference in Liverpool on 18 September 2010. The meeting was addressed by Lord McNally, the Ministry of Justice minister responsible for freedom of information, and Sir Alan Beith MP, the chair of the House of Commons Justice Committee.

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Time limit for prosecution of offences under section 77 of the FOI Act

The Information Commissioner’s office statement that the university at the centre of the ‘climategate’ email scandal did not deal with FOI requests as it should have done under the legislation has received a lot of media attention. Section 77 of the Act makes it an offence for any person to deliberately destroy, alter or conceal a record after it has been requested with the intention of preventing its disclosure. The offence is triable only in the magistrate’s court. However, under section 127(1) of the Magistrates Court Act 1980, proceedings for all such offences must be brought within 6 months of the offence occurring.

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