PL&B FOI E-news, Issue 50

1. Authorities must separate DP subject access request from FOI requests

The Information Commissioner expects public authorities to recognise where a request is for the personal data of the requester and to treat it as a subject access request, even if the requestor has submitted his/her request under FOI. In a recent case where the complainant requested a report commissioned by the police as part of an investigation into a perjury allegation made by him, the Commissioner found that any information falling within the scope of the request would be the personal data of the complainant.

See the ICO decision notice of 27 October 2009. 

2. Council right not to disclose data of a senior executive

This FOI case concerns information requested from South Kesteven District Council relating to the termination of contract of its Chief Executive. The Council withheld this information on the grounds that section 40(2) of the Act applied. The information requested constituted the Chief Executive’s personal data and to release it would be unfair to him.

The Information Commissioner agrees with the Council’s decision. In considering whether disclosure of this information would be unfair, the Commissioner has taken the following factors into account:

  • The existence of a compromise agreement between the parties (a confidentiality agreement which limited the information that would be made available to the public about the termination of his employment).
  • The Chief Executive’s reasonable expectation of what would happen to his personal data.
  • The Chief Executive’s position as a senior employee of the Council. Although seniority can be a factor in disclosure decisions, the Commissioner also considers that HR information should remain private.

The ICO decision notice of 29 October 2009.  

3. Scottish Information Commissioner assesses FOI compliance

The Scottish Information Commissioner has now conducted assessments of seven Scottish public authorities, and will assess a further seven authorities in the remainder of 2009-2010. The Commissioner has been encouraged by the level of good practice being followed and authorities are cooperating on voluntary action plans to remedy any deficiencies identified by the assessment.

The public authorities assessed so far include:

Transport Initiatives Edinburgh Ltd (tie) – assessment report published
Queen Margaret University - assessment report published
Northern Constabulary - assessment Report published
University of Glasgow - assessment Report not yet published
Lothian and Borders Fire Board - assessment Report not yet published
Perth and Kinross Council - assessment Report not yet published
Stevenson College, Edinburgh - assessment Report not yet published

Assessment reports are available here.

4. FOI and EIR cases snapshot / October 2009

Information has been provided by the ICO about cases that have been under consideration for 30 days or more and are currently open. The oldest cases date back to 2005.

For further details on the Privacy Laws & Business UK Newsletter, please click here.

Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2009