Decisions Round-up: 16 to 20 December 2013

Seven decisions were published this week 


Key messages:


  • Make sure that response notices set out the rights of review and appeal
    In Decision Decision 280/2013, the authority’s response notice did not provided information about the requester’s right to request a review and then to appeal to the Commissioner. Had the authority addressed this technical point, there would have been no grounds for appeal and it would have avoided an adverse decision.


  • A third party’s personal data will not be released without sufficient legitimate reasons
    As highlighted in Decision 282/2013, it is important when requesting a third party’s personal data to provide reasons why the information requested should be released to you. The Commissioner cannot presume what your “legitimate interests” may be.


  • Searches must be thorough
    As noted in Decision 284/2013, thorough searches should always be carried out before responding to a request and any related request for review to ensure that all relevant information held is identified. Searches should also be proportionate, but in each case you must ask yourself whether your search has been wide enough and, if not, think carefully where else you should look.


Decisions issued:


  • Decision 280/2013 – Mr X and the Scottish Prison Service
    Mr X asked for information about the prison hall regime. Although initially withheld, upon review the SPS provided Mr X with the information he requested. Mr X’s appeal was on the grounds that he was dissatisfied with the accuracy of the information provided. The accuracy of information supplied is not a matter for the Commissioner to determine (our role is in determining whether the requested information is held and the request is appropriately treated under the terms of FOI law). Mr X was also dissatisfied that the SPS’s response to his initial request did not provide his right to request a review and to apply to the Commissioner for a decision. Although the review response had correctly set out the right of appeal, we found that there had been a technical breach in the handling of the original request.     


  • Decision 281/2013 – Mr Michael Roulston and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland
    Mr Roulston asked for information about the costs of on call/standby allowances. We found that Police Scotland had correctly notified Mr Roulston that they did not hold the information requested.


  • Decision 282/2013 – Mr G and the Scottish Ministers
    Mr G requested information about a specific farm code used in the administration of Rural Payments. Following our investigation, we agreed with the Ministers that the information was personal data, the release of which would be in breach of data protection law.  Mr G had not provided sufficient information to demonstrate a legitimate interest in receiving the information. 

  • Decision 283/2013 – Storas Uibhist Limited and Transport Scotland
    SUL asked Transport Scotland for information about the introduction of a ferry service. Some information was provided by Transport Scotland. The remaining information was withheld on the basis that disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the effective conduct of public affairs and the operators’ commercial interests. Following our investigation, we found that, although Transport Scotland had correctly withheld some of the information, it had failed to demonstrate that disclosing the remainder of the information would cause substantial prejudice.  We ordered Transport Scotland to disclose that information.     


  • Decision 284/2013 – Mr William Speirs and Scottish Water
    Mr Speirs asked for information about works undertaken at a named pumping station. During our investigation, Scottish Water located additional information falling within the scope of Mr Speirs’ request. Although we concluded that, by the end of the investigation, all information had been correctly identified and provided to Mr Speirs, we also found that in failing to identify, locate and provide all relevant information at the time of the request and request for review, Scottish Water had failed to comply with regulation 5(1) of the EIRs.   


  • Decision 285/2013 – The Inverness Courier and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
    A technical decision, where we found that the Fire and Rescue Service had not responded to either the Courier’s information request or request for review within 20 working days.


  • Decision 286/2013 – Mr Peter Hammond and Tayside Health Board
    In this technical decision, we found that the Health Board had failed to respond to Mr Hammond’s request for review.


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