Decisions Round-up: 17 to 21 March 2014

There were four decisions published this week. 


Key messages:


  • It's not only names that can identify individuals
    In Decision 061/2014, a requester asked for an anonymised list of individuals with learning difficulties in two local towns. In asking for anonymised information, the requester hoped to prevent the identification of individuals. However, the request also asked for information about their care needs, as well as details of the (small) towns they lived in. We concluded that this information would be enough to identify the individuals, even if their names were withheld.


  • If you can't demonstrate why an exemption applies, don't apply it!
    Our website contains a large amount of guidance on the appropriate application of the FOI Act's exemptions (and the EIR exceptions). If you're not sure whether an exemption applies, remember you can refer to this guidance, or can contact our enquiry line. Any exemption that you do apply must be supported by clear reasoning. If you find that you can't provide appropriate evidence to support the application of an exemption, it's likely to be because the information should, in fact, be released...


Decisions issued:


  • Decision 061/2014 - Peter Burke and Angus Council
    Mr Burke asked the Council for an anonymised list of adults with learning difficulties with unmet respite and residential needs in particular towns in Angus. The Council withheld the information. Our investigation found that the Council had been entitled to withhold the information, on the grounds that its release would identify individuals and breach data protection law.


  • Decision 062/2014 - Alain Laing and the Scottish Ministers
    Concerns a failure by Ministers to respond to a request for information about Ministerial visits. The decision requires that Ministers respond.


  • Decision 063/2014 - Mr Tom Gordon and the Scottish Ministers
    Another decision relating to a failure to respond, which requires Ministers to provide a response.


  • Decision 064/2014 - Mr John Pentland and the Scottish Ministers
    A complex and lengthy decision concerning a request for correspondence about a Ministerial review of NHS Lanarkshire's proposals for mental health services. The investigation involved the consideration of a large number of documents, to which a total of five exemptions had been applied. Some information was disclosed by Ministers during our investigation. At the conclusion of our investigation we found that the majority of the withheld information should be disclosed, either because the exemption(s) did not apply or, where they did, the public interest favoured disclosure.

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