Department of Health
16 November 2016, Central government
The complainant has requested information relating to the DH’s Private Finance Unit (PFU), including diary entries of its staff, minutes of meetings and correspondence between its staff and various other parties. Under section 11 he expressed a preference to have the information communicated in a particular format. The DH advised the complainant that the PFU unit no longer existed but ultimately identified two individuals who it said most closely fulfilled the roles referred to in the request and responded to the request on that basis. The DH did not provide the diaries, it said that it did not hold any relevant minutes and although it provided some email correspondence, it redacted information from those emails under section 40(2) – personal information and section 43(2) - commercial interests. At the internal review stage the DH applied section 12 to refuse the request in its entirety and during the Commissioner’s investigation it also applied section 14(1) on the basis that the request was vexatious due to it being burdensome. The Complainant has also raised concerns over the quality of the refusal notice issued under section 17 and the level of advice and assistance provided under section 16. The Commissioner’s decision is that the DH is not entitled to rely on sections 12 or 14 to refuse the request. That it is entitled to refuse to provide requested information in the complainant’s preferred format under section 11(2) because of the costs involved in doing so. In respect of the information redacted from the email correspondence initially disclosed to the complainant, the Commissioner finds that the exemptions provided by sections 40(2) and 43 are only partly engaged. The Commissioner finds that there have been no breaches of section 17 or 16. In respect of the diary information the Commissioner requires the public authority to issue a fresh response in accordance with the FOIA without relying the procedural exemptions provided by section 12 or 14(1). In respect of the information withheld from the emails the DH is required to provide the information which does not attract the exemptions provided by sections 40(2) and 43.
Not upheldFOI 12:
Not upheldFOI 40:
Partly upheldFOI 43: