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Filing cabinet with papers flying outDecisions Round-up 30 June to 4 July 2014

 

 

We published two decisions this week – details, links and learning points below.

Key messages

  • Check that information is actually available before claiming that it is already published

Authorities don’t have to disclose information if it’s already publicly available and easily accessible. But do make sure the information is actually available before relying on this provision! In Decision 140/2014, an authority refused to disclose information, telling the requester that it was available on its website. Although the information was due to be put on the website, it hadn’t been. This meant the authority wasn’t entitled to apply this provision.

  • Third party data: when will disclosure be “necessary” to meet a legitimate interest?

When considering whether third party data should be disclosed in response to an FOI request, authorities have to consider whether the requester has a legitimate interest in the personal data and whether disclosure is necessary to meet that legitimate interest (see the Commissioner’s guidance for more on this). When considering whether disclosure is necessary, authorities should think about what information is already available and whether disclosing the personal data would actually add anything to what is already known. Decision 141/2014 is an example of the considerations in these cases.

Decisions issued:

  • Decision 140/2014 Catherine Birley and City of Edinburgh Council

    Ms Birley asked the Council for information about a development in Edinburgh.  The Council told Ms Birley that they did not have to provide her with the information as it was already available on its website.  During the investigation, the Council accepted that the information was not available on its website, and disclosed the information to Ms Birley.

This involved a request for a copy of an external auditor’s report into the handling of a complaint by Scottish Borders Council.  Audit Scotland disclosed a copy of the report, but blanked out some third party personal data.  We agreed that it had been entitled to do this.

           

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