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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50122432
  • Date: 28 July 2008
  • Public Authority: Department of Health
  • Summary: The complainant made a request to the Department of Health (the “DoH”) regarding the release of details of abortion statistics for 2003, where those abortions had been carried out under ‘ground (e)’. This request was made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the “Act”). Some information had already been published by the DoH in the annual abortion statistics for England and Wales. However, it suppressed statistics where the number of occurrences was less than 10, instead marking it as “…”. The DoH refused to disclose this information, and cited section 36 of the Act. After carrying out an internal review the DoH upheld the use of section 36, and also cited sections 40 and 44, as it believed that the disclosure of this information would be in breach of the Abortion Regulations 1991. During the course of the investigation the DoH informed the Commissioner that it was only relying upon sections 40 and 44 to withhold the information in question. After considering the circumstances of the case the Commissioner decided that the requested information was not personal data, and that therefore section 40 was not engaged. He also decided that the disclosure of the withheld information would not be in breach of the Abortion Regulations 1991, and therefore section 44 was not engaged. Therefore he requires that the withheld information be released. Additionally the Commissioner also decided that the DoH had acted in breach of section 17(1), as it had taken longer than 20 working days to issue a refusal notice. Information Tribunal appeal EA/2008/0074 part allowed.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]